• WHEN/WHERE: 6:20 p.m. Friday at the Sprint Center
• TV: TNT
• ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (24-10): The Tar Heels changed their approach two-thirds of the way through the season, inserting P.J. Hairston into the lineup for 6-foot-9 Desmond Hubert. North Carolina got smaller, but quicker, and it’s worked. “I’m still not comfortable with it,” Carolina coach Roy Williams said, “(but) P.J. has really added a great deal to us offensively.” … Marcus Paige is the latest in a long line of freshman point guards who have started for Williams, including Jacque Vaughn, Aaron Miles, Jeff Boschee and Kirk Hinrich at Kansas and Ty Lawson at North Carolina. … The Heels went 2-8 against NCAA Tournament teams this season, beating UNLV and N.C. State. … Friday marks Roy Williams’ first game in Kansas City since beating UMKC in a 2003 contest at Kemper Arena.
• ABOUT VILLANOVA (20-13): The ninth-seeded Wildcats are back in the tournament after missing out last season. … A key might be Villanova’s three-point defense. The Wildcats don’t defend it well, surrendering 36.6 percent, and the Tar Heels hit at a 37.4 percent pace. “That is an area we have struggled with all year,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. … But Villanova holds opponents to 64.7 points per game, about 13 below North Carolina’s average. When the Wildcats reach 70 points, they’re 12-1 this season. … The teams have a nice NCAA Tournament rivalry. They’ve played five times, and in three of those years the winner went on to win the national championship, Villanova in 1985 and North Carolina in 2005 and 2009.
• BOTTOM LINE: North Carolina wants to move things along, Villanova would prefer to use some shot clock on possessions and make it physical. The Tar Heels have too many scoring sources for the Wildcats and advance to the round of 32.
| Blair Kerkhoff, firstname.lastname@example.org