Men's Basketball: 42 Could Be The Magic Number Against UNC

By
Matt Archibald
Blake Brodie
Rob Guliano
Grant Burkhardt

Dateline
Updated Thu, Mar 22, 2012 8:35 pm

"Shot Ready."

That's what Ohio guards Nick Kellogg and Walter Offutt said they will be Friday night when No. 13 Ohio takes on No. 1 North Carolina in the Sweet 16 in St. Louis.

The three-point shot is said to be the great equalizer and has been just that for teams before in the NCAA Tournament. Think VCU over Kansas or Butler beating Pittsburgh in last year's dance.

The Bobcats may need all of the equalizing power they can find from 20 feet, 9 inches against the Tar Heels.

Ohio could be at a serious disadvantage in the front court against UNC. The Tar Heels have size - John Henson (6-foot-11) Harrison Barnes (6-foot-8), Tyler Zeller (7-footer) - and the Bobcats know it.

"Obviously against them with their size you have to make shots at a certain level to give yourself the best chance," Ohio head coach John Groce said.

Ohio guard Walter Offutt agreed.

"I think teams that are good shooting teams always have a chance."

Fellow back-courter Nick Kellogg knows UNC is big, but the three-point shot could be the Bobcats' ace in the hole.

"It's an equalizer for a team that's maybe bigger physically than you or stronger. If you're able to knock down the outside shot you can always give yourself a chance."

When UNC's forwards score, they only count for two points (unless they convert on a hoop and harm). If Cooper, Offutt, Kellogg and others get hot from deep they could make up for the potential hole they will be in in the paint. It sounds like the Green-and-White will be locked and loaded from trey bomb range, especially because, not to insult your intelligence, 3 > 2.

"Thats a huge part of our game plan," Kellogg said of how the 'Cats will use the three-ball Friday night. "We're going to get good looks and a huge part of getting the job done will be if we're able to knock down those things."

Offutt said the team will be aggressive but responsible from distance.

"We're going to hunt good shots, but we're not going to force the three ball."

"We've got to be ready from jump street," Groce said.

A double-digit seed has beaten a one or two seed six times since 2006. Here's what those teams did from distance.

- In 2006, George Mason became everybody's darling. The 11th-seeded Patriots made it all the way to the Final Four before getting knocked off. George Mason took out the top-seeded UConn Huskies 86-84 in the Regional Finals, with help from a 9-for-18 performance from beyond-the-arc.

- Then, in 2008, No. 10 Davidson beat No.2 Georgetown 74-70, but was just 6-28 (21 percent) from deep (a little surprising because most people remember Steph Curry draining three after three in that tournament). One upset had the deep touch, one didn't.

- 2010 featured another No. 10 over No. 2 upset. St. Mary's clipped Villanova 75-68. The Gaels shot a pedestrian 7-19 (almost 37 percent) in that second round upset.

- Another upset in 2010 was the 14th-seeded Bobcats over No. 3 Georgetown, it doesn't fit the double-digit seed over a one or two, but it was Ohio's last tournament win (before this year's tournament) and the Bobcats lit up the Hoyas for 13 three-pointers on 13-23 shooting (56 percent).

- 2011 provided another one of these types of upsets when No. 10 Florida State beat No. 2 Notre Dame. The Seminoles were one extra make away from shooting 50 percent from deep with a 9-19 performance.

This year's tournament saw two 15-over-2 wins (on the same day, no less) with Lehigh beating Duke and Norfolk State over Missouri.

- Lehigh was 6-18 in its win over Duke. Norfolk State one-upped the 2011 Florida State performance with a 10-19 showing from deep (nearly 53 percent).

The six double-digit seeds to beat a one or a two seed and the 14th-seeded Bobcats shot a combined 60-144 (41.7 percent) in their upset victories.

After pouring through the numbers this season, the magic number could be 42 percent.

Ohio is 10-0 this season when it shoots 42 percent or better, while UNC has lost three of its five games this season when its opponent has shot better than 42 percent.

The Tar Heels have shown the ability to overcome hot shooting from the outside. UNC is 4-3 when the opponent shoots 42 percent or better.

Photo Credit: 
Ryan M. L. Young
The Bobcats were the first team in 13 games to score 60 points against USF.
The WOUB guys talk about Ohio and North Carolina from the floor of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. For some proper perspective, the guys look at the teams NOT in the Sweet 16 and touch on some keys to Friday's clash with UNC.
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