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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3. When Carolina is playing its best, it's as good as anyone in the country

As we reach the second weekend of the tournament, the margin of error gets thinner. Cinderella's carriage, more often than not, turns into a pumpkin, which leaves the best teams in the country to fight it out for the right to reach the Final Four and cut down the nets.

In the first two rounds, the top teams might be able to survive while playing less than their "A" game. That's not going to cut it anymore, not if the mission is championship or bust, which for Carolina, it is.

Nobody can argue that the Heels were at their best in falling behind by double digits. What they showed in the last 30 minutes of the game, though, is that when they're clicking, they're capable of blowing teams off the floor. Who beats Tom Izzo by 16 in March? Not many teams, especially after digging a double-digit early hole.

Carolina's most important players showed up in this game. RJ Davis scored 20. Armando Bacot went 8-10 from the free throw line and finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. That final stat gives just a small glimpse into how well he handled the Michigan State double team, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Bacot had just one turnover, and the Carolina offense ran through him, and kept running, even when he made the prudent decision to kick it out.

Perhaps no development in this game was more important than the contributions of Harrison Ingram. Ingram was a shocking no-show in the ACC Tournament final loss to NC State, but he was fantastic in this one. Maybe it was getting hit with his own patented "too small" post-basket celebration by Malik Hall in the game's first minute, but Ingram was locked in. He made five of seven from deep, and he grabbed seven rebounds to go with his 17 points.

Next. Biggest winners from Round of 64 in NCAAT. Biggest winners from Round of 64 in NCAAT. dark

When Davis, Bacot, and Ingram are all operating at peak efficiency, the Heels are a scary team. Throw in important minutes from Trimble, Ryan, Jae'Lyn Withers, and Paxson Wojcik, and there are few teams that can match Carolina's best.