DETROIT - Take a trip back through Villanova's Final Four run. That little speedburner point guard for American who threw a scare at 'Nova in the first round. The future pros from UCLA and Duke who went away quietly. Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair, a force of nature inside.

North Carolina, tonight's opponent at the Final Four in the NCAA national semifinals at Ford Field, has all the parts, so Villanova could accomplish its keys to winning and still not win.

Ty Lawson is the best little speedburner point guard in college hoops. Other future pros start and come off UNC's bench. Tyler Hansbrough may not be as physically impressive as Blair inside, but he was national player of the year in 2008.

The Tar Heels are 71/2-point favorites, since when UNC wins, it often wins big, fastbreaking opponents into submission.

Early on, look for whether Villanova's defense can again play the aggressor, as it has since halftime of the first round, when the Wildcats trailed American. That is how they knocked out two schools, Duke and Pittsburgh, that did brief stints on top of the national polls.

With his team at the Final Four for the first time since beating Georgetown in the 1985 "Perfect Game," and the lowest seed left in the tournament, Villanova coach Jay Wright said: "Our players believe they can win. . . . We use a term - we don't have to play perfect. We just have to play together."

North Carolina (32-4, the No. 1 seed from the South) and Villanova (30-7, the No. 3 seed from the East) both got taken out by eventual champion Kansas in last year's tournament. For 'Nova, it happened at Ford Field, in the Sweet 16. For North Carolina, it happened in this round, in the national semifinal game. Neither team gave Kansas that much of a game.

The Tar Heels, a unanimous preseason choice for No. 1 in the AP poll, hope their Final Four experience is a factor, at least telling them how not to do it since they trailed Kansas big from the start.

"I think maybe we were a little tight because we weren't used to being on the big stage like a Final Four," Hansbrough said.

Asked this week about being in awe of the whole thing, 'Nova senior Dwayne Anderson said: "We're definitely brainwashed to this point. This is definitely a business trip."

Anderson said the raised-floor arrangement at Ford Field reminded him of a boxing ring, with everybody looking up at the combatants. Last year, Anderson said, "we came out and we were like in awe."

North Carolina players professed their respect for Villanova's physical style of play, and Tar Heels guard Wayne Ellington, the Episcopal Academy graduate, said of 'Nova, "their guards like to get in the lane, just make plays. Coach Wright, he's usually about his guards making plays. They're a tough team."

At his seventh Final Four, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said the feeling hasn't gotten old yet.

"I've got some crazy sayings, and one of them is that you can't go out there and tiptoe through the tulips," Williams said. "You have to be ready to plant your feet and take a stand."

Wright is here after declining to pursue the Kentucky job two years ago. He shut the door quickly that time when Billy Gillispie was hired, but he probably could have had the job. He was asked if he second-guessed that decision.

"I heard John Calipari say, if he didn't do that this time, he'd always be wondering what if," Wright said of the coach who has just replaced Gillispie at UK. "Right after you do it, and you see what the guy signs for, you know, for a second, you go, 'Wow, that will buy a lot of horses.'

"Once you get back to what you're doing with your school, and after that, honestly, I love where I am. Once I got back coaching Villanova, I just know this is why I love Villanova, working with the people there, so since then, honestly, never."

Of this year's team, "They just have a confidence about them," Wright said. "They have a belief in what we do. It's the most enjoyable, probably easiest coaching job we're ever had."

So Wright said there will be no great inspiration pregame speech tonight.

"I haven't throughout this tournament," Wright said. "They bring it every day. That's what makes this group special."

Tonight, we'll find out how special.