Logging his fourth 20-plus point performance in a row, and coming off the best game of his short pro career (29 points, eight rebounds), Tyler Hansbrough seems to be carving himself a niche in the Pacers rotation. Despite his recent surge with the navy and gold, it’s still difficult to get used to him donned in anything but Carolina Blue. Not too far removed from his playing days as a Tar Heel – where he was regarded as a deity – you would think UNC would be the only No. 2 seed he’d be cheering for in this year’s tourney. Think again.
Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family; a mantra made famous by Michael Corleone in the first installment of The Godfather. With little brother Ben Hansbrough – the Big East Player of the Year – playing for No. 2 seed Notre Dame, this begs the question as to where Tyler’s allegiance lies. The answer may surprise you.
*** *** ***
Dime: What do you think about the Tar Heels’ chances this year?
Tyler Hansbrough: We definitely have to start playing first halves. In the ACC Tournament they had me on my seat the whole time…but I do like [Tyler] Zeller‘s game, [John] Henson is pretty long and Harrison [Barnes] is starting to come around. I think we’re peaking at the right time.
Dime: Who are the teams to beat this year? Who are you pulling for?
TH: I’ve got to pull for Notre Dame to be honest with you… it’s my little brother. But I think as for the teams to beat, Pittsburgh’s going to be tough. You know what’s crazy is I think this year’s going to be wide open, I don’t think there’s any dominant team. I think Pittsburgh’s going to be tough. I think Duke is going to be tough.
Dime: Have you had a chance to talk to your brother and give him some advice going into this year’s tourney?
TH: No, I try to stay away from him. He’s on the right track and I want him to stay focused. He knows what I’m going to tell him, I’m going to tell him to go out there and bust somebody’s ass! But that’s not the thing he needs to hear. He’s already juiced up enough, I think that would just overdo it.
Dime: Are you going to try and make it out to any of his games?
TH: I hope they play in Chicago so I can jet over for a game or something if it works out in the schedule.
Dime: Any sleeper picks?
TH: Hmm… UNC. Who else… I can’t believe Virginia Tech didn’t get in. Maybe St. John’s.
Dime: Who are some of the players you’re excited to watch?
TH: Umm… Ben Hansbrough, favorite player alive! I would say after that I really like watching John Henson play. The way he plays defense, his ability to block shots, I like watching John Henson.
Follow Arie on Twitter at @arnie_starkish.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.