It's two of college basketball's most-storied programs. It's "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk" vs. Carolina Blue. But the biggest subplot in Kansas-North Carolina is the man who has basked in each team's respective spotlights.
But, of course, it won't be Williams who will be running the vaunted Tar Heels' secondary break Saturday in San Antonio against the team he took to four Final Fours. His Tar Heels storm into the Alamodome having won their first four tournament games by an average of 25.5 points behind
Kansas is the only team that isn't coming into the Final Four off a blowout. The Jayhawks edged pesky Davidson 59-57 in the Elite Eight, but don't read too much into the margin of victory: Kansas is deep and talented with four players averaging double digits. Is finally making a Final Four going to be enough for
The most unsung of the Final Four floor generals, Robinson doesn't deliver eye-opening offensive stats. He makes up for it with his abilities as a lockdown defender (a la his shutting down of Villanova's
The maestro of the Tar Heels' offense, his value to the team's transition game was on full display when he missed six games with a sprained ankle and Williams had UNC focusing on its half-court game. But with Lawson fully healthy, North Carolina's offense is once again operating at cheetah-like speed because of Lawson's ability to create fast breaks on his own. He's a tough task for any defender.
Chalmers can deliver form outside but he is, without a doubt, the Jayhawks best perimeter defender. With his long limbs and quickness, last season's Big 12 co-defensive player of the year can be disruptive. Chalmers is also an efficient and clutch shooter (52 percent shooting from the field). If it comes down to a final shot for KU, look for Chalmers to take it.
When Ellington's on, the pressure's off
Hampered by a knee injury suffered in a pickup game last May, Rush has caught fire the last six games, averaging 17.5 points and has hit 20-of-40 three-pointers in that span (though he wasn't exactly shooting lights-out against Davidson, finishing 4-for-14 from the field). He has the ability to drive the lane or create his own shot off the dribble, and he's invaluable with his defensive prowess.
Ginyard isn't going to bring much offensively, having reached double digits in scoring nine times all season, but as the Tar Heels' best defender he's the other half of what should be the most pivotal matchup in the game. Rush has a slight size advantage on Ginyard, but if Ginyard he can disrupt Rush's rhythm, it could pose trouble for the Jayhawks.
Jackson made strides this season in establishing himself as a legit scoring threat in the paint, but in the tourney he's largely been an invisible man, hitting double figures just once -- with 10 points against Portland State in the first round. Despite his slip in offense, he remains aggressive on the glass, but if Kansas is to advance he will need to contribute on both ends of the floor.
Thompson is a capable scorer and has increased his production in the tourney, averaging 11.7 points on 68.8 percent shooting. But his deficiencies as a defender have made
"Shady" is coming off a rather lackluster performance in a slow-paced game against Davidson, with seven points and five rebounds in 31 minutes. He does have the size to bang inside with Hansbrough and could pose problems, though struggles when defending outside, which could become an issue of Psycho T is hitting that short jumper that ended Louisville's season in the Elite Eight.
What can you say about the National Player of the Year that hasn't already been said? He's tenacious. He's intense. He's virtually unstoppable down low. Basically, he's a nightmare for defenders and as he goes, so do the Tar Heels. Hansbrough is going to get his points, though KU is bound to try what every other team has done and throw two and three bodies at him.
The Tar Heels may have the best sixth man in the nation in 6-5 swingman
This is new territory for Self, who has finally shaken the "Best Coach Never To Make a Final Four" tag. But what's he going to do with it? Self hasn't waited this long to waste the opportunity and he has the luxury of an experienced, veteran group that shouldn't be frazzled by playing on the sport's biggest stage.
Williams is no stranger to the Final Four, with this, his sixth appearance, tying him with