DETROIT – In a classic case of men vs. boys, North Carolina never gave Villanova much chance to breathe, let alone whip up a fresh dose of Final Four magic.
Ty Lawson scored 22 points, Wayne Ellington had 20 more, and the Tar Heels, with their four, five, maybe more NBA-caliber players, eased to an 83-69 win Saturday night over the plucky but overmatched Wildcats.
Tyler Hansbrough had 18 points and 11 rebounds to mark a quite successful return to the Final Four after a remarkable dud last year in a semifinal loss to Kansas. Next up, North Carolina (33-4) goes for its second title in five years Monday against Michigan State, an 82-73 winner over Connecticut.
The Spartans, located 90 miles up the road in East Lansing, will certainly have the crowd on their side. The talent gap, though? Eek. They'll have to be at least 35 points better than they were in December when the teams met in this same building — a 98-63 UNC romp.
Meanwhile, Villanova (30-8) ends a successful season two wins short of its first title since 1985, when Rollie Massimino coaxed one of the greatest upsets in sports history out of his guys — 66-64 over Patrick Ewing, John Thompson and Georgetown.
Thompson was on press row doing radio and Massimino was chomping his gum nervously behind the Villanova bench, part of the record crowd of 72,456 at Ford Field — which was half gone and streaming toward the exits with 5 minutes left.
But James Naismith himself probably couldn't have helped 'Nova out of this one.
North Carolina simply has too much talent.
Last year, in one of the more inexplicable performances in Final Four history, the Tar Heels trailed Kansas 40-12 midway through the first half.
This time, they led 40-23.
Ellington made five of his first six shots, including a 3-pointer after a perfect crosscourt pass over the top from Danny Green. Nobody had an answer for Hansbrough, who once found himself bodied up with Dante Cunningham, faked left, then turned right to the baseline and saw no more resistance — a way-too-easy layup.