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North Carolina cruises to a big win over Marquette

Mar 25, 2011, 9:45 PM EDT

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North Carolina beat down Marquette.

There really is no other way to describe it.

The Golden Eagles took a 10-8 lead with into the under 12 timeout. When Buzz Williams was forced to call a timeout with 18:55 left in the second half, the score was 46-15. The Tar Heels had gone on a 38-5 run in the span of 12:25.

By the time Marquette finally came alive, it was too late. The Tar Heels cruised to an 81-63 win.

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My task here is to find deeper meaning in this game and to provide it to you in the form of a blog post. And sometimes, there just isn’t anything deep.

North Carolina is a better basketball team than Marquette. For a 12:25 stretch, Carolina absolutely caught fire while Marquette completely disintegrated. The Tar Heels were jumping passing lanes and forcing turnovers — Marquette coughed the ball up 14 times before their first assist. North Carolina was getting up and down the floor as well as they have all season, and the Golden Eagles were completely unable to get back on defense. UNC got to the offense glass at will. Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, and John Henson dominated the interior.

It was an overwhelming performance by North Carolina, one that came on a night when Marquette played about as poorly as they are physically capable of.

These things happen.

But if you dig through the rubble, you’ll see some interesting results.

Marquette’s most effective player tonight was Davante Gardner. He’s a 6’9″ freshman that is likely sitting on the wrong side of 275 lb. He’s a big boy, he eats up space, and he pushed around Henson and Zeller on the block, finishing with 16 points and six boards (four offensive) on 6-9 shooting. He’s also half the player that Jared Sullinger is, which is concerning for Tar Heel fans should Ohio State pull out the win tonight.

The inverse of that?

Zeller beat Marquette down the floor on seemingly every transition bucket. He finished with 27 points, 15 boards (nine offensive), four assists, three steals, and at least four transition dunks that I can think of off the top of my head. That right there is our Sullinger-counter measure.

North Carolina is a very good basketball team.

We knew that before they played Marquette. How much can we learn from a blow out win over the 11th place team from a conference that has sent just 6.1% of their league members to the Elite 8?