Commentary

Insider Intel: Sweet indicators

In Friday's South and Midwest games, follow the early clues to determine each outcome

Originally Published: March 25, 2009
By John Carroll | Scouts Inc.

You can tell a lot from the first five minutes of a basketball game, especially in the Sweet 16, when coaches have had four or five days to prepare for their opponents. The way each team attacks and defends out of the gate should offer strong clues as to how the rest of a game will progress. With that in mind, here are the key factors to watch during the opening minutes of the Sweet 16 games in the South and Midwest regions. To read about the East and West, click here.

SOUTH REGION

[+] EnlargeJosh Heytvelt
Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesJosh Heytvelt has tracked down the Heels once in his career -- can he do it again?

North Carolina (1) vs. Gonzaga (4)

Tyler Hansbrough has a score to settle with Josh Heytvelt, and the first few minutes will indicate whether he is up to the task. When these teams met two years ago in Madison Square Garden, Heytvelt dominated Hansbrough with his length, going for 19 points and eight rebounds. Hansbrough scored just nine points, attempting only five shots from the field. Hansbrough will have seen plenty of tape of that matchup and will attempt to reverse that performance. But if Heytvelt has another big game left in him, the Zags could pull off the upset.

• Check out whether Mark Few elects to open with a zone. The other thing he'll no doubt remember from that November 2006 matchup is that North Carolina shot 6-for-26 on 3-pointers and that UNC's top perimeter players -- Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Bobby Frasor -- all played that night. Not only might a zone be a way to slow down Lawson if his toe is healthy, but sometimes in a game of this magnitude, a zone can make players uncomfortable, especially if they're forced to rely on jump shots.

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John Carroll

Scouts, Basketball Recruiting
John Carroll joined Scouts Inc. after nine years as an NBA coach, including a seven-year tenure with the Boston Celtics that concluded with a four-month stint as interim head coach in 2003-04. Before joining the NBA, Carroll spent six years as head coach at Duquesne University and seven years at Seton Hall as an assistant to head coach P.J. Carlesimo.