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North Carolina Basketball: Coach Davis vs. Coach Izzo in Round of 32

A win over Wagner for Carolina has secured them a date with Michigan State for the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Davis will have his first-ever head to head battle with Michigan State's, Coach Tom Izzo.
Coach Davis will have his first-ever head to head battle with Michigan State's, Coach Tom Izzo. / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages
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It was a standout performance by Jae'Lyn Withers for the Tar Heels, who helped carry the 90-62 win over the No. 16-seeded Wagner Seahawks. Armando Bacot and RJ Davis rightfully completed their scoring duties as they strive to return and make it on the big stage once more. If you recall, the last NCAA Tournament game those two played in was the 2022 National Championship against the Kansas Jayhawks. An incredible run that featured knocking off the No. 1-seeded Baylor Bears in an absolute thriller that ended in overtime and a history-defining conquest over their long-time rivals, Duke, in the Final Four, ending former Duke leader Coach K's career. 

Jae'Lyn Withers capped off his 22-minute outing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists. He finished shooting the ball, going 5-7 and making 6 out of his 9 attempts from behind the free throw line. The duo of Armando Bacot and RJ Davis combined for 42 points, accounting for 47% of the team's total output. Bacot extended his double-double streak to seven games in the NCAA Tourney with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Davis deposited 22 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists as he shot over 50% for the game while swishing 4-7 from outside the arc.

Wagner stuck around for a little bit, as at the 9:10 mark in the first half, the Seahawks found themselves within 5 points of the Heels. Coach Copeland's squad logged in three different players in the double-figures column. Melvin Council Jr. (18), Julian Brown (18), and Keyontae Lewis (13) filled in those spots. Unfortunately, the team from Staten Island, New York, had seven available scholarship players due to various injuries that only limited the possibilities to strategize against Carolina. 

One down, five more to go for the No. 1-seeded Tar Heels.

The No. 9-seeded Michigan State Spartans, led by one of the best, Coach Tom Izzo, were paired up with the No. 8-seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs. Normally, these 8–9 competitions during March Madness are the more highly competitive games. However, the Spartans were able to turn the corner first and never drove back. The fifth-year senior Tyson Walker had a game-high of 19 points on top of his 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Jaden Akins scored 15 points, including a monstrous slam to put Michigan State up in double figures, and snatched 7 rebounds. All of these factors punched Michigan State's spot in the Round of 32 closing a 69-51 triumph over the Bulldogs.

This will be the first meeting between UNC and MSU since their previous outing on November 26th, 2017, in the title game of the PK80 Tournament. That game featured seniors Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson, juniors Kenny Williams and Luke Maye, then rounded off with a freshman Garrison Brooks, at the center position. 

Theo Pinson was the only player for former Coach Roy Williams with at least 10 points. Pinson entered 16 points and 6 rebounds, making 6-13 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line. It was not the best shooting performance by the Tar Heels whatsoever. They only mustered 25% FG and went a disastrous 1-18 from three. It helped neither to get clobbered on the glass as the Spartans held a 52-36 rebounding margin afterward. These components led to North Carolina losing by a score of 63-45.  

UNC-Michigan State has a history filled with epic endings, endings such as Tyler Hansbrough's 18 points in the 2009 National Championship game, giving Roy Williams his second of three titles as the head man at UNC. Or the entertaining outing that found both teams on the USS Carl Vinson for the Carrier Classic back in 2011 as the Heels claimed success, 67-55. Then Sophomore Harrison Barnes reached 17 points, marking a game-high during the one-of-a-kind event. 

Next. Top 20 players in West Region of NCAAT. Top 20 players in West Region of NCAAT. dark

Now, it's 2024, a chance for another piece of history to be created, as on Saturday, March 22nd, these teams will square off.