Busting Brackets

UNC Basketball: 3 takeaways from an 85-69 Carolina victory over Michigan State

North Carolina kept its perfect NCAA Tournament against Michigan State intact to advance to yet another Sweet 16.

Seth Trimble provided his Tar Heels with a much-needed spark off the bench
Seth Trimble provided his Tar Heels with a much-needed spark off the bench / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages
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Two down, four to go. That's where the North Carolina Tar Heels are at after an impressive win over a Michigan State team that came out firing in the round of 32. UNC will now await the winner of Alabama and Grand Canyon in the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles next week. Why is Carolina still dancing, and what do RJ Davis and company need to do to make the Final Four for the second time in three years? Here are three takeaways from a big win.

1. The Tar Heels showed they can handle adversity

When Michigan State took a 26-14 lead midway through the first half on Tyson Walker's second three-pointer in 25 seconds, it appeared that the ninth-seeded Spartans had the top-seeded Heels on the run. Michigan State ran away from first-round opponent Mississippi State on Thursday, so it wasn't unreasonable to think that although the Heels are a higher-caliber opponent than the Bulldogs, they were on their way to meeting the same fate.

Carolina is one of the most experienced teams in the country. For Armando Bacot, Cormac Ryan, and probably RJ Davis, this is it. There is no tomorrow. We've heard so many times from each of those three how much it means to them to wear the best uniform in college sports. It would stand to reason, then, that they would do whatever they could to make that feeling last as long as possible.

They responded in that moment. Across the board, the Heels ratcheted up their defensive intensity, and the results paid off on both ends, as they went on a 26-5 run to end the half.

Hubert Davis gave a fiery but brief interview with Allie LaForce during this run, where he made it clear that getting outworked was unacceptable.

If there was ever any question from the Carolina faithful that Hubert was the man for the job, let that feeling be discarded like a tray at the Top of Lenoir. Just as Roy Williams bleeds Carolina blue, so too does Hubert. Like his mentor, Coach Davis combines a reputation as the nicest guy you'll ever meet with the reality that he's as intense a competitor as anyone in college basketball, and he's got the chops to outcoach one of the best to ever walk the sidelines, Tom Izzo.

The best teams are a physical manifestation of their coach. Davis demanded toughness, and toughness is what he got. This will serve Carolina well as they head to L.A.