Sneak peek at the Sweet 16
Many thanks to Andy Katz of ESPN.com for this one…
• No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA vs. No. 4 WASHINGTON STATE, Thursday, 7:27 ET
Was this expected? Of course, given that the Tar Heels were the top seed in the tournament and there didn’t seem to be a movement to go with Indiana or Arkansas in a second-round upset. Not reaching the Sweet 16 for this North Carolina team would have been deemed a major disappointment.
How did they get here? UNC scorched its first two opponents, tossing up 100-plus points in both games. The offense is clicking at its best pace this season. The Tar Heels made 50 percent of their 3s and 67.7 percent of their shots in running away from Arkansas.
What does this mean for the program? More than anything, it just validates the Tar Heels. Clearly, getting back to the Sweet 16 isn’t an easy chore (just ask Georgetown). But clearing this hurdle for this group was a must after last season’s disappointing Elite Eight loss to Georgetown in New Jersey. Getting to the Sweet 16 two years in a row — especially when its chief rival, Duke, gets bounced in the first weekend both times — never hurts in any rivalry boasting.
Drama factor so far? None. Nada. Boring. Unlike UCLA, another favorite for the title, the Tar Heels haven’t had their gut-check moment to date. Who knows? Maybe they won’t need one.
To read the rest of Andy’s sneak peek, click here.