MARCH 12, 14/HARTFORD
1 North Carolina
Coach Bill Guthridge
Team scoring 82.6 (FG%: 52.7) (3-pointers: 159-430, 37.0%)
Opponents' scoring 65.8 (FG%: 38.7)
Rebound margin +7.3
Team FT% 71.4
Whom not to foul Shammond Williams (90%), Ed Cota (82%)
Whom to foul Brendan Haywood (62%), Ademola Okulaja (64%)
Quality wins UCLA 109-68, Duke 97-73 and 83-68
Player to Watch
Probable national player of the year, 6'9" junior forward Antawn Jamison, is the one to focus on—if you can, for Jamison scarcely stops moving. Here's the season's most telling stat: Against Duke on Feb. 5 Jamison touched the ball for only 53 seconds and scored 35 points.
The Tar Heels are vulnerable to the three, whether launched by teams that beat them (N.C. State's C.C. Harrison knocked down eight) or almost did (Princeton got a lot of good looks among its 22 missed treys). Guthridge even had two blowups with Williams over his poor perimeter defense. An often ignored strength, though, is Okulaja. Whether screening, taking charges or making deflections, the junior forward provides the steadying force that Matt Doherty did for the 1982 Tar Heels title team and Henrik Rödl did for the '93 edition.
North Carolina has the easiest road to San Antone, with just a short stopover down I-40 in Greensboro.
Coach Don DeVoe
Team scoring 71.7 (FG%: 44.1) (3-pointers: 93-313, 29.7%)
Opponents' scoring 63-9 (FG%: 40.6)
Rebound margin +6.2
Team FT% 66.2
Whom not to foul Michael Heary (87%), Matt Sladky (86%)
Whom to foul Hassan Booker (59%), Josh Williams (59%)
Quality wins None
Player to Watch
Sitapha Savane led the Patriot League in blocked shots this year, but that's nothing. He also speaks four languages and hopes someday to be president of his native Senegal. (His father, Landing, came up short in the 1996 presidential election.) What more could you ask for? How about a boundless learning curve. As a freshman last year, Savane, a 6'7" center, played on the jayvee; this year he made the Patriot all-tournament team.