The North Carolina Tar Heels advanced to face the Washington Huskies in Sunday’s second round of the NCAA Tournament and while the Heels will only have roughly 40 hours to prepare for their next opponent, there is a little familiarity there.
The Huskies employ the “Syracuse Zone” – a defensive scheme that the Tar Heels, namely freshman guard Coby White, have had great success against. White scored 34 against that Syracuse zone, but he’s quick to acknowledge that the Huskies are a new foe regardless of the defense they run. “They are a really good team. They’re really active, very athletic, and you know they can score the ball so it’s gonna be a big game; a good game, very competitive. We’re just going to stay focused and locked in.”
Washington senior forward Dominic Green said that UNC is beatable if the Huskies can limit the Heels behind the arc and stop the transition baskets. Carolina Blitz asked UNC freshman Nassir Little if he felt that the Huskies would switch up the defense to take away that 3-point weapon. Little says that from watching the Huskies in their first round game against Utah State, he’s aware that the Huskies like to bait their opponent into taking low percentage jumpers. “Their zone baits people into shooting a lot of jump shots. I watched them play against Utah State so if they want to limit our 3-point shooting, they’re going to probably have to man up. But if the zone is what they do, then that’s probably what they’re going to stick with.”
Huskies forward Noah Dickerson said he and his teammates plan to do exactly that. When it was pointed out that Carolina sees Syracuse’s zone during the regular season, Dickerson insists that the Huskies’ zone is much more dangerous. “We tend to try to take away the 3 completely. We extend our zone out so we don’t give up 3s and no layups.” Dickerson also looks to the zone to keep the Heels off the glass. UNC leads the nation in rebounding but Dickerson says that Washington’s zone is meant to stop that.
Speaking with media on Saturday, North Carolina head coach Roy Willliams said that as much as Washington and Syracuse are the same, they are just as different.
“It’s a little different, but the basis is the same. They’re long, athletic, quick to the ball. They’re aggressive. They’ll probably double team in the corner maybe more than Jimmy’s (Boeheim) teams have done in the last couple of years. But for us we try to get the shot that we want, not just the shot that they want us to take. And so for us it’s got to be a balance. We want to get the ball inside and attack the basket area and shoot open 3s, but not just be content to just pass the ball around the perimeter and do what they want us to do.”
The Tar Heels and Huskies tip off at approximately 2:40pm EST from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
— Carolina Blitz (@KeepBlitzin) March 24, 2019