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Is A Good Tournament Start Important?

In historical terms it seems to be, at least according to Adam Lucas' Tuesday Talking Points.

Carolina's combined margin of victory (70 points) in the NCAA's first two rounds is the largest two-game combined margin of victory in school history. This year's total surpasses 1993 (65 points) and 2005 (60 points).  The Tar Heels won the national title in each of those years.

Over the last 20 years, Carolina is 8-0 in the NCAA Tournament's third round when the Tar Heels win their second-round game by double-digits.

The last five Carolina teams to post a pair of NCAA Tournament wins by at least 15 points advanced at least to the Final Four (1991, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2005).

So UNC started the NCAA Tournament this season the same way they did in 1993 and 2005 with resounding wins by huge margins.  In some ways this might be a correlation that really proves nothing however I think in all three cases the quick starts point to UNC playing their best basketball at the right time of year.   Of course this does not ease the difficult nature of the road ahead.  The 2005 team almost lost in the Sweet Sixteen versus Villanova, then had a tough fight with Wisconsin in the East Regional Final.  In 1993, UNC had a tough game with Arkansas and then needed OT to beat Cincinnati in the regional final.  However, I do think the great start serves to build confidence and spring board the team into the round of tougher games knowing they are playing top notch basketball.

I think all three talking points illustrates the need for a national championship contender to be a dominant team when facing certain competition.  The kind of games UNC had to win, in the past, to advance to the Final Four shows that being able to win dogfights is a neccesity as well.  Basically title teams respond well to the circumstances. They crush inferior teams but adapt to tough games in an effort to fine some way to win.  Sound familiar?  It should because that is what this team has been doing all season.  We have seen, in several games, this team can be tough and win regardless of what the other team throws at them.  Now with everyone healthy and playing their best games this weekend UNC played with a killer instinct from the outset which I think was noticeably missing during the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Heading into Thursday we will find out if they can continue to play with that instinct and the knack for winning games when everything goes wrong. If they can, I like the odds going forward.