March Madness | The title holder takes the door!

The March Madness is well and truly launched! Opposed in the second round of the NCAA tournament in the East Region, North Carolina, seeded No. 8, and Baylor, seeded No. 1, put on a crazy spectacle, with many twists and turns, which ended in victory narrow but heroic Tar Heels after extra time (93-86).

There were two matches in one: the first during the first half, outrageously dominated by UNC. On fire behind the arc (6/13), and very skilful overall (14/28), the Tar Heels marched on the Bears, under the impetus of an RJ Davis on a cloud (17 points at mid- time). After the first 20 minutes, North Carolina is in very, very good shape: 42-29. At the start of the second half, everything is still rolling for the Tar Heels, who enter an impressive zone in attack. Prize-winning shots rained down, and on a pellet from Brady Manek, the gap reached 25 points (67-42)! There are then 10 minutes left to play, and the match, a priori, is folded.

Then comes the incredible revolt of Baylor. Taking advantage of the expulsions of Brady Manek (because of a flagrant foul 2) and Caleb Love (for 5 fouls), and overall of many refereeing decisions in their favor which destabilize North Carolina, the Bears thus completely reverse the course of the match , notably under the impetus of an excellent Adam Flagler. During the last ten minutes of the match, they unpin an incredible 38-13 to snatch the extension (80-80)! An absolutely heroic end to the match from the defending champions, which suggests that UNC will crack mentally during the extra period.

But it won’t. Despite Brady Manek’s expulsion, Caleb Love’s premature exit and Armando Bacot’s foul problems (4th foul from the start of extra time), Hubert Davis’ troops drew on their last resources and held on. RJ Davis scores a decisive basket with the fault (30 points), before Bacot and Justin McKoy register the decisive free throws.

At the end of a match of madness, in the « money-time » unbreathable, North Carolina finally remains standing and signs a narrow, but resounding success: the defending champion is indeed eliminated in the second round (93-86). The Tar Heels, six-time NCAA champions, reach the Sweet 16 (3rd round) for the fifth time in six seasons. They will face the winner of the upcoming game between Saint Mary’s and UCLA, for a spot in the Elite 8.

Following this « upset », the hierarchy of the Eastern region is turned upside down: the first two seeds, Baylor and Kentucky are already eliminated! Alongside UCLA and Purdue, North Carolina has a big card to play.

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