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Saturday, March 17, 2012
UNC notes: upsets, rules, superstitions

By Robbi Pickeral

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall said Saturday afternoon that watching the NCAA tournament games so far has been “a little scary … because after the first day there weren’t that many upsets, and it’s like, ‘Wow, I don’t want to be that one.’”

Friday’s matchups, which saw two No. 2 seeds fall, underscored that point.

“To see a couple of the higher seeds go down, you realize it’s still a game of basketball and there’s still five players on the court, and seeding doesn’t matter when you’re out there,’’ Marshall said. “So you hope it doesn’t happen to you. You want to prepare and put your best foot forward no matter who you’re playing against.”

Including No. 8 seed Creighton, which the top-seeded Tar Heels face Sunday in the NCAA Round of 32.

“The biggest thing I saw was just energy and intensity,’’ forward Harrison Barnes said. “All those quote-unquote 15 seeds that were so much less talented came out with just so much more energy than those two seeds, and that ended up winning them the game. So just our focus is to always come out to at least match or exceed the other team's energy.”

KNOW YOUR VIOLATIONS: Lane violation calls have impacted two games in the tournament: Syracuse vs. UNC-Asheville on Thursday and Xavier vs. Notre Dame on Friday.

UNC coach Roy Williams said he didn’t feel the need to discuss the rule with his team again, because he already has.

I had both of them [the violations in the games] described to me; if they were described properly they made the right call,’’ Williams said. “…There is a difference where you line up. If you line up on the lane, you cannot leave until the ball leaves the shooter's hand. If you're lined up anywhere else, you can't leave until the ball hits the rim.

“… If it's in the rulebook, it should be called. If it's not in the rulebook, it should not be called."

Tyler Zeller
Tyler Zeller sprained a finger on his left hand during the ACC tournament and had it wrapped during UNC's game against Vermont.
FINGER WATCH?: UNC forward Tyler Zeller sprained a finger on his left hand in the ACC tournament and had it taped against Vermont on Friday after he re-aggravated the injury.

He’ll be fine, which is probably why, so far, there doesn’t seem to be a Twitter account watching his recovery, a la @hensonswrist (which John Henson, who has missed three games with a sprained left wrist, said he actually follows). Or like @lawsonstoe, which hasn’t been updated since 2009, when then-point guard Ty Lawson’s toe injury made headlines every day.

But who knows?

“I don’t think I complain enough for it to get the media attention,’’ Zeller, who doesn’t even have a Twitter account, said, laughing. “So I don’t think I’ll get one.”

SUPERSTITIONS: Williams is known to be superstitious. Barnes and Marshall, who were answering questions at the official tournament podium on Saturday, were asked to name three of their favorites.

One: “Usually if he loses a game, he throws away the tie, potentially the suit,’’ Barnes said.

Two: “We always eat before we watch film,’’ he added.

Marshall chimed in with the third: “One of my favorites is before he comes in the locker room before games, there's always a blue marker and a black marker. Blue is on right; black's on the left. Sometimes we'll switch it just to mess with him, but he always goes and finds the right marker.”

LICENSE TO BUM RIDES: There was lots of talk Saturday about how Creighton's Doug McDermott used to give plenty of rides to Barnes when they were teammates in high school. The sophomore got his driver's license over the summer, and takes turns driving his Tar Heels teammates around.

"I still bum rides, though,'' he said, smiling.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.