Kansas State is not very good.
Northern Iowa lost its National Player of the Year candidate, Seth Tuttle.
Yet, both teams made North Carolina look very pedestrian this past week.
As you know, Northern Iowa defeated North Carolina 71-67 while hosting them November 21st. Senior point guard Marcus Paige watched from the sidelines in what was scheduled to be a homecoming in his native state. However, his hand injury kept him out and his teammates failed to raise a hand to guard the 3-point line.
The Panthers shot 39.3% from behind the arc on 28 attempts. To put that into perspective, Reggie Miller averaged 39.5% for his NBA career.
The Panthers trailed by 16 with 16 minutes left in the game. They won by four points. We’re learning that North Carolina is a team that can go on a run, but is also susceptible to those swings.
Marcus Paige is clearly a catalyst for the offense, but the Tar Heels defense is showing major deficiencies in this recent rut.
Two days before Thanksgiving, North Carolina again failed to guard the 3-point line. A very inexperienced Kansas State squad shot lights out, especially in the first half, taking a 32-30 lead into the lockerroom. The Wildcats finished the game shooting 50% from three-point-land (8-16).
In the game North Carolina’s guards contributed a total 7 assists to their combined 7 turnovers. That’s not the type of production you’d want from a bench in a Sweet Sixteen game against Michigan State or UCONN, let alone K-State.
The Tar Heels rallied with a 14-1 run on 2:59 game-time to avoid a bad loss in front of a boisterous Kansas City crowd.
If Roy Williams wants his bunch poised for the Final Four, it’s going to take more than just getting Marcus Paige back.