March 21, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Villanova Wildcats are set for their first encounter with the University of North Carolina (24-10 overall, 12-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) since the teams met at the 2009 NCAA Final Four. This battle begins at 7:20 p.m. eastern time here Friday at the Sprint Center.
The contest will air nationally on TNT (Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and Craig Sager) and the Villanova/IMG radio broadcast can be heard in Philadelphia on Sportsradio 610 WIP with Ryan Fannon and Whitey Rigsby on the call.
Villanova (20-13 overall, 10-8 BIG EAST) dropped that '09 decision to the Tar Heels and also was defeated by North Carolina 67-66 in the 2005 NCAA East Regional semifinal in Syracuse, N.Y.
Among the current Wildcats, only seniors Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton and junior James Bell have prior NCAA Tournament experience. Yarou and Sutton played two NCAA Tournament games in 2010 and one in 2011 while Bell was on hand for the 2011 NCAA Tournament game against George Mason played in Cleveland.
"This is a North Carolina team that does things with a lot of speed and quickness," noted Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "They have always gotten up and down the floor but they have had more size (before). Now, they rely more on their perimeter quickness."
The Tar Heels convert .374 of their 3-point field goal attempts and forced opponents into 520 turnovers this season - an average of 15.2 per outing.
"This is the style that has given us trouble all year long," noted Wright.
Given that these Wildcats have made their mark this season with wins over Top 10 teams Louisville, Syracuse and Georgetown, Wright says he doesn't fret much about any sense of satisfaction setting in now that an NCAA Tournament berth has been secured.
"For whatever reason, I don't worry about this group feeling satisfied," he explains. "Our MO has been to win two or three games and then relax. I think after the Louisville game they are very hungry. They want to go out and prove themselves.
"We felt really bad after the Louisville game. But then you watched their next two games, and Notre Dame and Syracuse had the same problems we did. Our mistakes didn't look very pretty. They played very well and I think we're feeling better about ourselves now. For the most part, I thought we played well down the stretch."
The Wildcats won 7 of 11 after falling at home to Providence on Feb. 3.
Tipoff is set for 7:20 p.m. eastern time on Friday evening.