Setting the Stage: UK vs. UNC preview

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – No. 2 Kentucky (32-5) vs. No. 1 North Carolina (30-7)

South Regional final, 5:05 p.m. EDT

BOTTOM LINE: No NCAA Tournament game has ever featured so much history as this regional final. North Carolina and Kentucky have combined for 244 tournament wins with this Kentucky’s 56th NCAA berth, ahead of only North Carolina (48) for the most appearances ever. Only North Carolina has earned more No. 1 seeds (16) than Kentucky’s 12. Nobody has made more Final Fours than North Carolina (19), and now the Tar Heels are a win away from making their 10th Final Four as the No. 1 seed. A win means moving even closer to padding an already stunning resume.

REMATCH: Kentucky avenged a regular-season loss against UCLA in the regional semifinal. Now it’s the Tar Heels’ turn to seek payback for a 103-100 loss on Dec. 17 in Las Vegas. Justin Jackson scored 34 points for North Carolina in that game, only to be topped by Malik Monk’s 47, including the game-winning 3-pointer. North Carolina didn’t have stingy defender Theo Pinson for that game. The Tar Heels did have starting guard Kenny Williams III before losing him to a season-ending injury.

TAR HEELS’ EDGE: North Carolina leads the all-time series 23-15 and is the only school with both 10 or more wins and a winning record against the Wildcats. This will be the fourth game between the programs in the tournament – all in regional finals with the Tar Heels holding a 2-1 edge.

NUMBERS TO KNOW: Kentucky has all the momentum with a 14-game winning streak that is the longest in the nation. These teams both average 85.2 points a game, though Kentucky shoots a smidge better (47.5 percent) than the Tar Heels (47.2 percent). The key likely will be on the boards where North Carolina leads the nation averaging 43.7 rebounds per game.

DID YOU KNOW: North Carolina coach Roy Williams has 73 tournament wins, second only to Mike Krzyzewski’s 91. Williams is 8-4 in the Elite Eight, including 4-3 at North Carolina. But nobody has more tournament wins since 2010 than Calipari with 26.

Categories: Basketball, Solid Blue, Sports

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