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Know Thy Enemy: North Carolina Tar Heels

Here are some questions with a North Carolina blogger, Sportz Assassin of the AOL Fanhouse. Also, for more UNC coverage, check out SB Nation site Carolina March.

Rock Chalk: What is your take on the whole Roy scenario? Do you think Kansas fans, the one who call him a traitor and everything, are justified in their feelings, or do you think they are being too hard on a guy only following a dream?

Sportz: I do understand the harsh feelings. UNC still hasn't gotten over Mack Brown leaving for Texas about a decade ago. You sit and watch the Longhorns in BCS games and winning a National Championship and you pine for what may have been here. And we're just a second-rate football program. Kansas basketball is one of the elite programs in the nation and doesn't see their coaches leave for other jobs.

What I've gathered from KU fans is the "forever" comment he made in 2000 hits hard. If he came here then, I think Jayhawk fans would've dealt with it a bit better. But after shunning us and then swearing his allegiance to KU, fans really believed you had your Dean Smith. That crumbled three years later and I can see where the feelings of betrayal come from.

Rock Chalk: Beyond Tyler Hansbrough, who is the most important player to the Heels' success and why?

Sportz:  Everyone has their part ... but the most important of them is Ty Lawson.  When Lawson was out for a month with his ankle injury, the Heels really struggled in their transition game and really didn't have a guy who could break down his defender in the half-court.  In retrospect, it did help us become a much more balanced and dangerous team.  However, you've seen the element a healthy Lawson brings to Carolina.  We are much more explosive, we're tough to press and we have a guy that is a matchup nightmare for opponents.  To put it in Kansas terms ... he's a faster Jacques Vaughn.

Rock Chalk: If North Carolina wins on Saturday night, it will be because of....what?

Sportz:  Defense.  I know that's an obvious answer and something we're not know for.  We won't shut KU down but we've been able to lock in at key moments in games.  Louisville was killing us with their high post game, but UNC did a nice job adjusting and stuffing those plays.  We did a nice job against Duke and Clemson late in the year choking off their offensive momentum.

We don't need a great defense when we can score like we do.  Yet, it is necessary to get stops to frustrate Kansas and get us those transition baskets.  We cannot allow the big guys to get easy buckets and let guards penetrate to the lane.

Rock Chalk: If North Carolina loses on Saturday night, it will be because of...what?

Sportz:  Kansas' length gets to us.  Clemson and Maryland gave us trouble because they have size.  Kansas is the same type of team.  They have big guys who can cause Tyler Hansbrough some problems.  They have long guys who can get a hand in Wayne Ellington and Danny Green's faces.  And while we are one of the nation's best rebounding teams, it will be tough to dominate that facet of the game tonight.  Most teams can do one or the other ... you have both.  

Rock Chalk: How do you see the game playing out? Winner and score?

Sportz: I see this game in the 70s ... something like 78-72.  I do see North Carolina winning just because they can find different ways to score ... even against a great defense like Kansas.  However, I don't see the up and down game from UNC as we've seen them previously.

If I had to pen a script for it, I'd see it as a competitive game throughout.  I think, somehow, the Kansas frontline will get in some sort of foul trouble (either by guarding Hansbrough or fighting for rebounds) that will hurt late in the game.  Heels hit their free throws and sneak out with a gutty win.

Check back a little later on for some breakdown.