Mount St. Mary's (19-14) vs. North Carolina (32-2)
Friday, March 21st, 7:10 p.m. (et).
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: RBC Center (19,722) -- Raleigh, North Carolina. Television: CBS. NCAA Tournament Record: Mount St. Mary's 1-2, North Carolina 92-38. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels begin what they hope will be a six-game road to the National Championship, as they take on the 16th- seeded Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Up next for the winner of this game is an East Region second-round clash with either eighth-seeded Indiana or ninth-seeded Arkansas. Mount St. Mary's earned the right to face the Tar Heels by beating Coppin State in the opening-round game on Tuesday night by a 69-60 final. That victory was the first for the Mountaineers in the NCAA Tournament, as they had lost their first game in their only two previous appearances. They have won their last six outings overall, and they captured the Northeast Conference Tournament title along the way. As for North Carolina, it is coming off an 86-81 victory over Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship game, the 17th ACC crown for the program. The Tar Heels also won the league's regular season title and are the top overall seed in this NCAA Tournament. They are making their 40th all-time appearance in the "Big Dance" and own an eye-popping 92-38 record at the event. UNC recently won the national title in 2005 and reached the Elite Eight a year ago. This game marks the first-ever meeting between Mount St. Mary's and North Carolina on the hardwood.
Jeremy Goode came up big for Mount St. Mary's in the victory over Coppin State on Tuesday, as he scored 21 points. Chris Vann added 13 points for the Mountaineers, who got 10 points from Shawn Atupem and 15 rebounds from Kelly Beidler. Mount St. Mary's trailed 29-20 in the first half, but the team slowly fought its way back and got the job done with strong defense in the second half. Over the final 20 minutes, Coppin State was only able to connect on 7- of-24 field goal attempts. The Mountaineers connected on only 34.5 percent of their field goal attempts in the contest, but they earned a 26-6 edge in points from the foul line, an obvious key to the win. Also, a 41-34 rebounding advantage certainly helped the cause. Vann carried an average of 14.4 ppg into Tuesday's game, and Goode was netting 14.3 ppg. Clearly, both players contributed to the victory, but they will have to be even better tonight to give the squad a chance to even remain competitive against the Tar Heels.
There is certainly no shortage of talent in the lineup for North Carolina, and Tyler Hansbrough has been the best of the best for the Tar Heels. The standout forward is scoring 23.0 ppg on 54 percent shooting from the floor, and he is ripping down 10.4 rpg as well. It is difficult for opponents to concentrate all of their efforts on stopping Hansbrough, as he has tremendous teammates such as Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson and Danny Green. Ellington is posting 16.7 ppg on the strength of his 41.8 percent shooting from three-point range. Ty Lawson checks in with 12.4 ppg, and he has dished out 143 assists. As for Green, he is scoring 11.6 ppg and is a tremendously gifted athlete. The Heels are racking up 88.7 ppg on 48.2 percent field goal efficiency, and they are limiting foes to 72.7 ppg. Strong rebounding has been key to the success of UNC, as it is ripping down 11.4 rpg more than the opposition.
Expect this game to get out of hand in a hurry, as North Carolina is far superior to Mount St. Mary's in every aspect of the game. Hansbrough and the other standouts will likely get a chance to rest for much of the second half.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 89, Mount St. Mary's 53
03/21 10:27:47 ET