Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
When: Saturday, March 21st, 5:45 PM
TV: CBS or MMOD
Live Stats: SCACC Hoops
Records: UNC 29-4, LSU 27-7
NCAA Tournament Results: UNC-def. Radford; LSU-def. Butler
Will he or won't he.
Given the way the Heels played against Radford, I think confidence is the best description for this team. UNC most certainly has flipped the switch for March and had all cylinders firing versus Radford. LSU is not Radford however and will test the Heels a little more than the Big South champion did. Roy Williams stated that while he does not want to make it appear they overlooked Radford, a first round game with a #16 seed is somewhat of an easy mark because of the disparity in the talent level. This was the case on Thursday and the reason why Roy was willing to sit Ty Lawson. Now that thought process is out the window and risking a loss by keeping Lawson on the bench is really no longer an option assuming he has been cleared to play.
In short, I think he plays. Will he be 100%? Probably not and there could be issues of rust, especially in terms of shooting the basketball. That means Lawson's primarily responsible will be facilitating the offense which is fine because Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson and Ed Davis for that matter appear to be more than ready to provide the offensive punch.
LSU, based on the game with Butler, has some interior play but not enough to check all the post options UNC brings to the table. LSU does shoot the ball fairly well from the perimeter(37%) which has a way of becoming 10% higher versus UNC. Despite that if UNC can push the pace, LSU will wear out. The Tigers play four guys over 30 mins, a fifth at 25 mpg and the bench has three guys with 10-16 mpg. The Heels simply have more depth and I would surmise more quality in that depth, assuming Lawson plays.
Last season UNC drew Arkansas from the SEC and I sat in the RBC Center watching the Heels throttle the Razorbacks. The difference is Arkansas was a 23-12 team who was in the bubble prior to making the SEC Tournament. LSU is 27-7, was a ranked team prior to the tournament and in my mind better than what the Heels faced in Arkansas last season. That being said, LSU has not beaten a single ranked team this season and despite finishing with the best record in the SEC was seeded eighth in the South Regional. If UNC has the parts working together, the Heels should handle the Tigers.
UNC 90 LSU 74