Men's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament East Region Elite 8 Game Breakdown

East Region Elite Eight Game Breakdown
In Thursday afternoon’s press conferences, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams was mum about his defensive matchups. However, Marcus Paige was more open, exclaiming that Joel Berry would at least start by covering Yogi Ferrell. Well, Berry did start on Ferrell, and Paige never switched onto him. That left Paige open to concentrate on his offense, and boy did he. He started by hitting his first shot, a three; then his second, another three; he kept going until he began 4-of-4 from behind the arc, reminding us of his shooting touch from his prior Carolina seasons. Paige’s Tar Heel teammates joined in the outside onslaught, as they shot six of their first six from three and finished 11-of-20 from distance. They shot 51.6 percent from the floor as a team. Indiana didn’t stand a chance. If North Carolina shoots like that, no one in the country is going to beat them. And UNC didn’t even excel at the other things it normally does: rebounding, points in the paint, fast-break points. Indiana played it pretty evenly in those aspects. But, ironically, the Hoosiers couldn’t hang with Carolina from the outside. They began pressing with just under five minutes remaining in the game, but the deficit was already 20, and it was too little too late.
In the bottom half of the East regional, for the third straight round, a match was more of a rock fight than a basketball game. In the contest between Notre Dame and Wisconsin though, even the rocks were missing. Neither team shot better than 35 percent in the first half, but it wasn’t thanks to great defense. Both teams were getting into the paint and getting open threes; they were simply missing. The second half was where Wisconsin and Notre Dame came alive a bit. The Irish shot 57.7 percent in the game’s second half to close the gap. Then they made the biggest plays down the stretch to win. Demetrius Jackson had a pretty bad game overall. He forced a number of bad shots when a lob to Zach Auguste would have been preferable and was open, but Jackson did make the two biggest plays of the game: two steals in the final 30 seconds to grab the lead and then secure the lead and the win. The Badger defense rotated numerous players onto Auguste all game, and ND really shied away from getting him touches. He finished with just nine field-goal attempts, and many of those were off second chances. Overall, Notre Dame forced 17 turnovers, none bigger than Jackson’s two in the final minute.
In the Elite Eight, the top-seeded Tar Heels face an opponent they are familiar with in the Fighting Irish. During the regular season, the two teams split their home-and-home series, though UNC quite handily dispatched ND in its win, while the Irish barely escaped the first time around. With the way these two teams are playing right now, with a trip to the Final Four on the line, Notre Dame has to hope the Heels cool off from the outside. At that point, it will come down to the normal things in a game with Carolina: the aforementioned paint points, rebounding, etc. The Irish will need to utilize Zach Auguste much more often than they did this round. Even still, the advantage lies with UNC. It is the one seed for a reason, and it is playing like a team ready to win a National Championship.