Rick Fox Previews UNC-Villanova Title Game

Villanova is 5-0 in the NCAA Tournament with an average margin of victory of 24.2 points. After three early blowouts, the Wildcats survived Kansas – the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed – before tearing apart Oklahoma, 95-51, on Sunday. Villanova led 42-28 at halftime and outscored the Sooners 53-23 in the second half.

It was the most lopsided carnage in Final Four history.

“There was no mercy or let-up in their approach,” former Tar Heel and three-time NBA champion Rick Fox said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “They seemed really hungry. They seemed intense on the defensive end. They did a good job to collectively handle the pressure of the Final Four in that first matchup. It may have been better if there was a little more of a challenge heading into tonight’s game, but I have to think they’re coming in soaring high with a lot of confidence, that’s for sure, facing a team, my Tar Heels, who came into the season ranked No. 1 and now are finishing up with an opportunity to end as national champions.”

North Carolina, which has won all five of its tournament games by 14 to 19 points, must take care of the basketball to prevent Villanova from getting easy buckets.

“Their assist-to-turnover ratio is third in the nation,” Fox said of UNC. “It’s the best of any Tar Heels team since turnovers were first recorded, and that goes back to ’81-82 – and we know what happened in the ’82 season.”

What happened is Michael Jordan hit a last-second jumper in the national championship to give North Carolina a 63-62 win over Patrick Ewing and Georgetown.

“So I take care of the basketball,” Fox said, getting back to this year’s Tar Heels. “The presence inside, they’ve shot a high clip the last four games – 50 percent or better. When you shoot the ball at that high of a percentage, you’re going to give yourself a shot, especially if defensively you’re attentive. There hasn’t been a Tar Heel team that I know of that has reached this point that hasn’t been a great defensive team.”

North Carolina, which boasts an NCAA-best 19 Final Fours, can win the program’s sixth national title Monday, including its third over the last 12 years. Plenty of former Tar Heels, including Fox, will be in attendance to cheer on Brice Johnson, Marcus Paige and others.

“They’ll be feeling the love,” Fox said, “but the edge here doesn’t go either way. They’re going to have to play against a really good Villanova team (with plenty of support of their own).”

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