In a classic case of men vs. boys, North Carolina never gave Villanova much chance to breathe, let alone whip up a fresh dose of Final Four magic.
Ty Lawson scored 22 points, Wayne Ellington had 20 more, and the Tar Heels, with their four, five, maybe more NBA-caliber players, eased to an 83-69 win Saturday night over the plucky but overmatched Wildcats.
Tyler Hansbrough had 18 points and 11 rebounds to mark a quite successful return to the Final Four after a remarkable dud last year in a semifinal loss to Kansas. Next up, North Carolina (33-4) goes for its second title in five years Monday against Michigan State, an 82-73 winner over Connecticut.
Villanova (30-8) ends a successful season two wins short of its first title since 1985, when Rollie Massimino coaxed one of the greatest upsets in sports history out of his guys -- 66-64 over Patrick Ewing, John Thompson and Georgetown.
Thompson was on press row doing radio and Massimino was chomping his gum nervously behind the Villanova bench, part of the record crowd of 72,456 at Ford Field -- which was half gone and streaming toward the exits with 5 minutes left.
Though the rest of the second half was a jumbled mess for both teams -- which allowed Villanova to stay in shouting distance -- the Wildcats never got it back under double digits.
Scottie Reynolds will always have that indelible end-to-end game-winning layup against Pittsburgh last weekend that got Villanova to its Final Four since '85. His first basket in this one, however, didn't come until more than 9 minutes were gone and the deficit was in double digits. He finished with 17 points on 6-for-18 shooting.
Dante Cunningham, the Wildcats' leading scorer and rebounder this season, led them again with 12 and 12.
A lot of the Villanova stats didn't look so bad. They got five more rebounds and were even in the turnover battle. They hustled and dove on the floor all night. But as the game was getting out of reach early, they simply couldn't defend. North Carolina shot 67 percent while opening that 17-point lead in the first half. The Tar Heels led 49-40 at halftime.
The Wildcats just couldn't shoot for some reason. 'Nova shot 33 percent from the floor, not exactly the 78.6 percent from that "perfect game" back in '85. They were even worse from 3-point range -- 5-for-27. And there were way too many scenes reminiscent of big brother vs. little brother: Where the Villanova player would drive the middle, make a few head fakes and the Carolina guy would just stand there, wait for the histrionics to end and block or alter the shot.
It was, quite simply, what it looks like when a roster of very good college players goes up against a team full of NBA-caliber talent.