The North Carolina Tar Heels were favored by three and a half points. Everyone anticipated a battle. Head coach Hubert Davis prepared his team for a physical battle.
Needless to say, Carolina was up to the challenge.
UNC beat Marquette 96-63 in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and there was a ton to like in the dominating victory.
Here are three things we learned during win number one of six.
Faster and More Physical
In the pregame press conference, Davis had a different message than we have seen in the past:
I’ve been clear and straightforward with the guys about what kind of game it’s going to be. And my expectation is for us not to kick back or push back or elbow back, it’s for us to make the first kick, the first punch, and to stand our ground and plant our feet. That is what is required for Thursday’s game. And if you’re not ready for that, then let me know.
The Tar Heels answered the call. It was obvious that a physical game was the Marquette players and coaching staff game plan.
The Golden Eagles were beat at their own game.
From the opening tip, UNC was the faster team. Carolina was the more physical team.
And it was not even close.
There are still concerns about consistency, but this team demonstrated how it can dominate a team.
A Little Bit of Roy
The Carolina shooters were excellent. In fact, UNC’s 45.9 percent shooting from three was a program record.
So that was not eminence of Hall of Fame head coach Roy Williams.
Here is the takeaway: the Tar Heels absolutely dominated the glass.
Even with their excellent shooting, Carolina held a 32-16 rebounding advantage in the first half.
Their offensive rebounding lead was 21-2 in the first stanza.
UNC scooped up the rare misses and made Marquette hurt.
A little bit of Hubert with the best three-point shooting percentage in program history in the NCAA Tournament, and a little bit of Roy with absolute dominance on the glass.
This Team is Ready
Did you know that the Tar Heels have the most no. 1 seeds in NCAA Tournament history?
Did you also know that this was the largest halftime lead in Carolina program history?
Out of all those great UNC teams, the one yesterday built the biggest lead ever heading into the locker room.
Let’s hope that the roller coaster team of the regular season is gone, and that the Tar Heels continue to get better.
If so, it will be a delicious March for Carolina fans.
Welcome to March.