SC is led by fiery coach Frank Martin, in his fifth year with the school, and senior Sindarious Thornwell, the SEC Player of the year.
To a man, the Tar Heels said that what gave them trouble a year ago, and what the team needs to prepare for this season, is the fact that the seats are so far behind the basket.
Oregon Spotlight: Dana Altman's team found a way to win the Pac-12 regular season title in one of the conference's most competitive seasons in recent years. The Tar Heels pulled down 13 offensive rebounds against Kentucky in the Elite Eight, leading to eight putback opportunities - seven in the second half. "Nothing to figure out, really", he said. "But you can get some kids to buy into that and believe in it, then I think they're well rewarded for it".
North Carolina's continuity starts with the approach of Coach Roy Williams, an acolyte of Dean Smith and relentless proponent of prioritizing the needs of the program over the individual. Few has heard from numerous colleagues, including longtime friends and Final Four veterans Billy Donovan and Brad Stevens, both now coaching in the National Basketball Association.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Roy Williams could hear his own footsteps as he padded through the near-silent locker room, still trying to wrap his mind around a question that couldn't be answered: What do you say to a group of players who did nothing wrong, but lost anyway? "Everyone tells him he's at what people perceive as a mid-level league".
And that may be the area where Carolina's experience pays off the most.
"I've gained a couple more "friends" from home", he added with a laugh. "Think about how many have jumped and it didn't work". "I just wish it could have lasted longer".
"It's a doozy, don't act like it comes around all the time", said Mack, who previously noted the parallels between the two Jesuit schools and accomplished programs. "I didn't respond to him because I'm not really big on Twitter".
The Zags, which they don't like to be called, are 36-1. On the one hand, you can say that the Ducks will be a bit looser considering they weren't supposed to be here, but you could also see them start out real tight and struggle offensively from the start.
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The group played a pivotal role in the failure last week of the House Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. This is part of the reason many in the group were big Trump backers - they felt like he shared their "outsider" roots.
Barnes stopped for a few seconds to consider his next words.
But two starters in every Gamecocks contest are Canadian senior guard Duane Notice - who has 10.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals a game - and Gabonese sophomore forward Chris Silva, who averages 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
SC handled the Vols twice, including a 27-point rout. The Oregon Ducks are allowing 31.1 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 33.3 rebounds per game. That was before last year's seniors arrived on campus, so certainly this team had no players involved.
At a time where teams can not afford to waste offensive possessions, Meeks acts as a reset button for North Carolina.
While five-time victor North Carolina (31-7) boasts an all-American lineup, semi-final foe OR (33-5) and last-four rivals SC (26-10) and Gonzaga (36-1) all have five players from beyond U.S. borders gathering at Glendale, Arizona.
Barnes described both teams as having elite defenses, which is reflected in their stats. South Carolina, the team that received a No. 7 seed heading into this tournament and was universally considered to be vastly overseeded? "Their defense is terrific". The one that was informed, incorrectly, that it had made the NCAA Tournament last season?
"Gonzaga's tough to guard". I'm not convinced Bell will be able to produce against the 'Heels big men like he has done all March. Oregon? Heavens, South Carolina?
Barnes is torn about Saturday's matchup. "That's a hard game for me". And maybe he would have if not for coaching Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson and their teammates to within the 2016 championship game. The Final Four isn't old hat to them. "Mark is a great person, great dad, great family man".