What If Final Four
We've whittled our What If Tar Heel Tournament from 17 teams down to the Final Four: 1996-97, 1995-96, 1983-84 and 2005-06. We asked David Culp to help us break down the matchups. Check out the capsules and be sure to vote in both games.
Here's David's take on game on, 1996-97 vs. 1995-96:
The first semi-final matchup features two teams that mirror each other. Literally. The top-seeded 1996-97 team will square off against their younger selves, the fifth-seeded 1995-96 team. Other than the classes, the starting lineups are the same, and both teams are coached by Dean Smith. The only other differences between the two are senior Dante Calabria coming off the bench for the 96 team to give some outside shooting and freshman Ed Cota backing up senior Jeff McInnis on the 97 team. The 97 team has a slightly deeper bench as well, with freshman Vasco Evtimov and transfer Makhtar Ndiaye joining Cota. Will the addition of Cota and the additional experience and depth be enough to propel the older bunch to move on to the championship game? Or will youth (and better outside shooting) be served?
The 97 starters have the advantage simply due to experience. The bench is basically a wash with the 97 team having Cota and the 96 team having Calabria. Obviously, the head coach is a tie.
Here, David previews game two:
The second semi-final game should be a classic. The completely healthy 3rd seeded 1983-84 team (coached by Dean Smith) versus the loaded 2-seed, the 2005-06 team (coached by Roy Williams). The 84 team ran the table in the ACC and was clicking on all cylinders when the Jet went down with a wrist injury. Experience, leadership, athleticism and some guy named Michael all add up to an electric team. The major question with this team is can the reserves maintain the high level of play? The 2nd seeded 06 team is deep and talented. A senior backcourt of Felton and McCants lead the way and senior Sean May anchors the front line. David Noel starts at small forward and sophomore Marvin Williams is once again a super sub, as freshman Tyler Hansbrough steps into the starting lineup. The bench is young, but talented as the aforementioned Williams is joined by freshmen Bobby Frasor, Marcus Ginyard and Danny Green, and juniors Wes Miller and Reyshawn Terry. Will the NBA-ready starting five be enough for the 84 team to prevail? Or will the defending NCAA champs have enough with Hansbrough to oust Jordan, Perkins, Daugherty and the Jet? How much would you pay to see this game?
The 84 team comes out on top at the shooting guard position (Jordan) and the Head Coach; the other positions are either a tie (Perkins v Hansbrough) or advantage 06.