NCAA championship preview | April 3, 2005 | NCAA Tournament coverage on ESPN.com
We have the national championship game everybody has been waiting for! It should be awesome, baby, with a capital A!
||The Tar Heels must come out with the proper intensity. This is for all the marbles. It took a half to wake up against Michigan State. Illinois won't allow any letting up.
Will Roy Williams get his first national title? Will Bruce Weber and the Illini complete a Cinderella season? It's the Big Ten vs. the ACC! Great players, great coaches, great fans. The Edward Jones Dome here in St. Louis will be rocking and rolling!
In breaking this game down, there are so many factors. Here are a few keys to the championship game.
Let's start with the Tar Heels ...
1. North Carolina has to get the ball inside to Sean May. He had four points in the first half against Michigan State and 18 in the second half.
2. Raymond Felton has to be in the game distributing the rock and scoring. He was a different player in the second half against the Spartans.
3. The Tar Heels must come out with the proper intensity. This is for all the marbles. It took a half to wake up against Michigan State. Illinois won't allow any letting up.
4. Marvin Williams has to contribute. He has done little in the last two games. Bench support will be a factor.
5. Jawad Williams has to repeat his Saturday performance. He had 18 points in the first four games of the tournament, then came through with 20 points and eight rebounds Saturday.
Now for Illinois ...
1. Dee Brown has to score and shoot better. He probably remembers his last game vs. North Carolina in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in December 2003; 3-17 from the floor, eight points.
2. Deron Williams needs another strong defensive performance. He shut down Salim Stoudamire and Francisco Garcia. Williams may be the best guard in America. He reminds me so much of Jason Kidd with his brilliant passing and floor generalship.
3. Roger Powell and James Augustine must neutralize May inside.
4. The Illini need bench help from Jack Ingram and Nick Smith.
5. Illinois has to limit turnovers (only seven vs. Louisville) and contain North Carolina's transition game.
It should be something special Monday night. In the end, I give the slightest of edges to the Tar Heels. I picked them at the end of last year's Final Four and I am staying with them.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.