East Regional Final - 3 Louisville vs 1 North Carolina

Posted: Saturday, March 29, 2008 by Travis Cody in

This is an intriguing match up between a couple of outstanding big men, David Padgett from Louisville and Tyler Hansbrough from North Carolina. Padgett is comfortable running things on the perimeter, which could have an impact on Hansbrough's ability to be an effective rebounder.

Louisville is a tremendous pressing team. North Carolina must make them pay for that pressure with early offense. It has been rare that the Tarheels have been unable to do just about anything they wanted in a game this season. Therefore I think the key to this game is going to be whether Lousiville can show patience on the offensive end.

It's an odd thing to suggest that an up tempo, pressing team needs to slow the game down to be effective, but I think the Cardinals need to do this on the offensive end to minimize the number of possessions for North Carolina.

So far the Tarheels have broken the press pretty easily behind the speed and ball handling of Ty Lawson. North Carolina's defense is forcing turnovers, which the Cardinals can't afford.

The Tarheels are terrific in the open court and so often Hansbrough out races everyone, even after a rebound he can trigger the outlet and get down the floor quick enough to follow up a miss or even score the goal himself.

North Carolina is dominating the offensive glass, in addition to playing tough defense and getting out on the break. The Tarheels are showing just why they are the overall #1 seed in the tournament.

Louisville is trying to hang in on the strength of its defense, but the Cardinals must stop turning the ball over. They have the athleticism to match up with North Carolina, so they just need to adjust to the defensive pressure and be more patient offensively.

That's the way...run the offense through Padgett. He's a terrific passer from the high post and he just proved it by hitting a cutter for a layup. Louisville needs more of that kind of play.

Just as Louisville started to get in a rhythm and close the gap, North Carolina went on a run to extend the lead again. The Tarheels are so good at running their break after a made basket.

They run the fast break offense very much the way the Lakers of the 1980's used to run Showtime. Hansbrough will grab the ball quickly out of the hoop and fire an outlet pass. The ball will rarely hit the floor as the Tarheels quickly move downcourt to score within 3-5 seconds after the made goal.

This is a complete basketball team, hitting its stride at just the right time. North Carolina is in control, leading at the half by 12.

Start of the second half...if Hansbrough is going to throw the ball at the basket and have it go in, then that's that for Louisville. He flicked an off balance jump hook from the baseline, and then heaved a lay up as he was falling down and out of bounds. Both shots went in.

Good things happen for Louisville when they run the offense through Padgett. He gets a jump hook on a baseline spin move. Then he gets a defensive move and keys the break with a strong outlet pass.

The game is in reach for Louisville, down only 10 in the first four minutes of the second half. The must show consistent patience and execute their offense. Then they must hustle back defensively and challenge North Carolina's shots.

The other thing the Cardinals need to do is keep Hansbrough off the boards. They must control their defensive glass and not allow the Tarheels to get second shots. At the same time, getting a few offensive rebounds of their own would help...as they just did with Padgett getting a rebound and passing cross court for a three point shot.

But just as Louisville cuts the lead to four, here comes Hansbrough's tenacity as he barrels down the lane to get the rebound for a dunk.

North Carolina continues to attack the pressure. Sometimes they are stunningly successful, but now Louisville is starting to create more turnovers. And the lead has been cut to one with just over 11 minutes to play.

The Tarheels still have Hansbrough. He gets a pass in the lane and scores to restore momentary order. Plus he's fouled, making the free throw to push the lead back to four.

But Louisville has found the range from the three point line. They have also minimized the fast break points, creating more turnovers and forcing North Carolina to run offense. That minimizes the number of possessions for the Tarheels and keeps the game close.

Now the Cardinals have tied the game with 10 minutes to play.

Louisville can't afford turnovers from impatience. Two times down the floor they have been called for travelling, allowing North Carolina to push the lead back out to four. But they did just pick up the fourth foul on a key player for the Tarheels, which could be significant as the game goes under eight minutes.

Hansbrough is so difficult to deal with on the low block. He is so strong that a guard won't be able to dig the ball out of his hands. The best strategy is to try and push him off the low block and make him receive the ball more than five feet from the goal. Then you play him straight up and do your best to stay between him and the basket. You can't foul him because he is an outstanding free throw shooter.

Easier said. He's got 23 points and 12 rebounds with just over six minutes to play.

Louisville is trying to hang in, but they've turned the ball over on three straight possessions and trail by five with about three minutes to play. North Carolina shows patience on offense, as running clock is now as important as scoring.

And Louisville turns it over yet again.

North Carolina has taken advantage of the turnovers to extend the lead to 11 with one minute to play behind the excellence of Tyler Hansbrough on both ends of the floor. Hansbrough finishes with 28 points and 13 rebounds, 20 of those points coming in the second half.

And to tell you what kind of player Hansbrough is, with less than 10 seconds to play and his team up by 10, the kid dove on the floor after a loose ball.

So the second #1 seed has advanced to the Final Four next weekend.

There are two more spots and the Final Four dance card will be filled.


  1. jennifer says:

    Hey Travis! Thank you for the visit and B'day wishes to my kiddo. She has had a great day, and the cake really was good. Wish you could have had some!!


  1. DrillerAA says:

    I think this year the Final Four will be populated entirely by No. 1 seeds. I don't think Texas can hang with Memphis and I think Cinderalla will pick up her slipper and go home after playing Kansas tomorrow. Soooo, we will see Kansas, Memphis, UCLA, and NC in San Antonio next week.
    Ya gotta love the Hansbrough kid. Being born and raised in Big 8(12) country, I'm hoping for a KU win, but I wouldn't be disappointed if NC was the last team standing.

  1. Travis says:

    Jennifer: You are most welcome!

    Drilleraa: You may be right, but I'm still not convinced that Memphis can sustain that effort over two games. And I'm not quite ready to count out the Curry kid. We'll see how things go.

  1. them tar heels are going to be hard to beat, them good ol boys play roundball.

  1. Linda says:

    Travis you do some of the most amazing reviews on things! You really should be writing for a newspaper or something similar!

  1. the teach says:

    Hey Travis, how are you? Thanks for commenting on my Skywatch Friday post. I don't know anything about college basketball - this is college basketball isn't it? :)

  1. Akelamalu says:

    This is sport again isn't it? :)

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Hang on I just read it again and you mentioned dance card???

  1. Travis says:

    Sarge: I can't disagree.

    Turn: Just too talented.

    Linda: Awwww shucks!

    Teach: Yes it is and only one more week to go.

    Akelamalu: Yes dear, more sport. And the NCAA Tournament is often called the Big Dance, thus the reference to the Final Four dance card.

  1. Shelby says:

    I'm number two in my office pool.. woohoo!! Lost Tennessee tho.. Love the brackets...

  1. Kimmie says:

    Is it almost time to Dance and Sing???? Yawnnnnnnnnn....wake me up when it is. :-)


  1. Travis says:

    Shelby: Congrats!

    Kimmie: We'll Dance tomorrow dear.