Busting Brackets

North Carolina Basketball: Sweet 16, ACC-SEC Showdown in Los Angeles

The Sweet 16 is here!

Elliot Cadeau managed the game well for North Carolina on Saturday against Michigan State.
Elliot Cadeau managed the game well for North Carolina on Saturday against Michigan State. / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

The Sweet 16 is now set! Let's dive in.

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide this coming Thursday, March 28th. After wins over Michigan State and Grand Canyon, it has resulted in this highly touted ACC-SEC matchup. RJ Davis-Mark Sears, Armando Bacot-Grant Nelson, winner to the Elite 8 round.

The Heels were bodied around for the majority of the first half against the Spartans before being able to mount a comeback that brought them a nine-point edge heading into the locker room. By the 9:40 mark, after Tyson Walker sparked two back-to-back threes, the Spartans were up 26-14, and the Heels looked all out of sorts. North Carolina could not find any answers offensively until an Elliot Cadeau drive to the rim, sinking the forced shot, and drawing the foul ignited a beautiful offensive performance.

And just like that, exactly seven minutes later, it's 34-28 in favor of Carolina.

The Tar Heels, ever since that point on, never let up and pounced on their lead during the last half of regulation. What once was a 12-point deficit turned into a 16-point blowout as Coach Davis and North Carolina succeeded over Coach Tom Izzo and Michigan State, 85-69.

It was a huge day for the starters, RJ Davis, Armando Bacot, Harrison Ingram, and Cormac Ryan, who sent MSU packing home. Cadeau captained the ship to keep everything intact, dishing out four assists with zero turnovers during his 22 minutes of game action. Davis dropped 20 points on 7-15 FG while cashing in 3-7 from around the three-point line. Bacot had 18 points and eight rebounds; Ingram had 17 and seven; and, to top it off, Ryan contributed with 14.

The bench trio of Seth Trimble, Jae'Lyn Withers, and Jalen Washington were all productive, coming off the bench when called upon. Trimble, despite only scoring two points and handling a single rebound, was able to impact the game elsewhere. His defense. Trimble hounded Michigan State's guards and took off for two emphatic blocks. Withers and Washington piled in eight points and seven rebounds combined.

What about Alabama?

Nate Oats and Alabama ran away in the end through the course of their battle against Grand Canyon. Closing in amongst the final moments of regulation, both teams were within just a single point of each other. The Crimson Tide held that minuscule advantage but was able to further it, and the Lopes had no response in return. A score of 62-61 became 72-61 on a 9-0 run by Nate Oats' squad.

Alabama star Mark Sears plugged in a double-double on the stat sheet with 26 points and 12 rebounds, standing at just six-foot-one. Rylan Griffen created 13 points of his own. The bench production served well, with 20 points in total.

The Crimson Tide snagged 50 rebounds, 20 of which were offensive, in addition to their 13 assists, 10 steals, and nine blocks. On top of forcing the Lopes into 14 turnovers and trading them in for 21 points.

What happened the last time out between these two schools?

North Carolina and Alabama will step into the ring yet again, for the first time since their insane quadruple overtime fight last season during the Phil Knight Invitational. That battle ended in a 103-101 victory for Nate Oats in a game that lasted for what felt like a century.

Former UNC star Caleb Love racked up 34 points with nine rebounds, four assists, and three swipes on the defensive end. Armando Bacot and RJ Davis joined in with 20 and 19, respectively. The fifth-year senior, Leaky Black, mustered 10 in the scoring column.

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It's another edition of UNC-Bama, this time on the West Coast for a trip to the Elite 8.