Throughout the regular season, UNC's defense got a bad rap, and rightfully so as they were at times inconsistent and lacking in effort. Throughout the NCAA Tournament, UNC's defense has been the reason why they've blitzkrieged through all the rounds so far and will play for the national championship tomorrow.

Last night, they once again did a great job against a hot Villanova team. They really focused in on stopping penetration and forcing the Wildcats to beat them over the top. Villanova struggled to shoot from the outside and therefore could never really get close enough. The added bonus being that their defense led to offensive transition baskets. I've highlighted a few key plays in the second half as the Wildcats were trying to close in, the Tar Heels got some big defensive plays which led to their primary and secondary break offense, and ultimately ran away with the game,

UNC did switch a couple of times in the second half to zone to protect Hansbrough and his 3 fouls, but for the most part they were M2M. What was really the key was that they stopped penetration through great help defense,

Part of the problem was Villanova taking bad shots and not being patient. But once again, I believe that those quick shots were more a product of playing from behind and UNC's tough interior defense than just bad offense. Because UNC was only allowing Villanova to take 3-pointers, and because Villanova was playing from behind, they didn't have the luxury of going side-to-side against UNC, they had to play hurry up and shoot 3-pointers.

Now, if Villanova got lucky and hit some of those open 3-pointers, that could've changed the whole complexion of the game. Then all of a sudden, UNC could not help as much on penetration and Villanova could spread out the defense. But all that is a moot point, because Villanova didn't hit the outside shots.


If there is one team that can beat UNC, it conveniently is Michigan State. Because MSU is a patient half-court team, they can and prefer to use the whole shot clock, which can wear down UNC's defense. The key to the game will be who gets the early lead. If UNC gets an early lead, then MSU will have problems catching up by playing a patient style. If MSU stays with or leads early, than they can continue to grind in the halfcourt and then it comes down to who can make the clutch plays.

If you are a big UNC or Coach Roy Williams fan, then check out Roy Williams's DVD on Man Defense Practice Drills. As always, head over to the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk with other coaches about your favorite basketball topics.