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Heel Tough Blog: UNC takes on Wisconsin in 1st Round


  • Carolina is playing in its 51st NCAA Tournament, including its 16th in 18 seasons under head coach Roy Williams.

  • UNC has won six NCAA Tournaments – 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009 and 2017.

  • The Tar Heels rank second in NCAA Tournament history in appearances (51), games (173), wins (126) and winning percentage (.728).

  • Carolina has advanced to an NCAA-record 20 Final Fours – 1946, 1957, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2016 and 2017.

  • Carolina has been a No. 1 seed a record 17 times, including eight times under Roy Williams.

  • This is the fourth time the Tar Heels have been a No. 8 seed. Carolina is 7-3 as a No. 8 seed. In 1990, the Tar Heels beat No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the second round before losing to Arkansas in the Sweet 16; in 2000, Carolina beat top-seed Stanford in the second round and Tulsa in the Elite Eight to reach the Final Four, but lost to Florida in the national semifinals.

  • In 2013, No. 8 Carolina defeated No. 9 Villanova and lost to No. 1 Kansas in Kansas City.

  • Carolina is 2-3 in the Hoosier State in NCAA Tournament play. That includes a 2-0 record in South Bend in 1985 and an 0-3 mark in Indianapolis (Final Four losses in 1991, 1997 and 2000).

  • Carolina's 45 NCAA Tournament wins from 2004-19 were more than any other school in the country.

  • Carolina's No. 8 seed follows a four-year stretch of playing in the NCAA Tournament (2016-19) during which UNC's seed was the best over any four-year stretch in school history (1 in 2016, 1 in 2017, 2 in 2018 and 1 in 2019).


  • The 2021 NCAA Tournament is Roy Williams' 30th in 33 seasons as a head coach (16th as head coach at his alma mater).

  • Williams has led the Tar Heels to three NCAA titles (2005, 2009 and 2017) and two other Final Fours (2008 and 2016).

  • Williams has taken nine teams to the Final Four – four at Kansas and five at UNC. His Jayhawk teams won regional titles in 1991, 1993, 2002 and 2003.

  • He is second all-time in NCAA Tournament wins (79), second in No. 1 seeds (13), third in appearances (30), third in games (105), third in winning percentage among coaches with at least 50 games (.752), third in championship game appearances (6), fourth in Final Fours (9) and tied for fourth in titles (3).

  • His teams are 29-0 in first-round games, the best record in opening-round play in NCAA Tournament history.

  • Williams' 54 NCAA Tournament wins from 2002-2019 were more than any other coach in the country.

  • This is the third time Williams enters the NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed. In 2000, Kansas beat No. 9 DePaul and lost to No. 1 Duke. In 2013, the Tar Heels beat No. 9 Villanova and lost to No. 1 Kansas in Kansas City


  • This is the fifth game between the Tar Heels and Wisconsin. All five have been in tournaments/special events, including three in NCAA Tournament play.

  • Carolina is 3-1 against the Badgers, all under head coach Roy Williams.

  • The schools have split two previous NCAA Tournament games with Carolina beating the Badgers in the 2005 East Regional final in Syracuse and Wisconsin knocking off the Tar Heels in the 2015 Sweet 16 in Los Angeles in the West Region.

  • Carolina also defeated Wisconsin in the 2011 ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Chapel Hill and the 2016 Maui Invitational title game.

  • UNC has never played the Badgers in Madison, Wis., although the Tar Heels played their first two of 173 NCAA Tournament games there in 1941 against Pittsburgh and Dartmouth.

  • Carolina is 16-6 against Big Ten schools in the NCAA Tournament. This is the first time UNC has played a Big Ten opponent in the NCAA Tournament since beating Indiana in Philadelphia in the 2016 East Region semifinal.

  • Carolina and Wisconsin have three common opponents this season– Iowa, Louisville and Marquette. Both went 0-1 vs. Marquette, Iowa was 1-0 vs. Carolina and 3-0 vs. the Badgers and both teams trounced Louisville (Wisconsin by 37 and UNC by 45).

  • Should the Tar Heels defeat Wisconsin and advance, it would be UNC's first game ever against Baylor or Hartford.


#8 UNC is 18-10 overall (10-6 in the ACC)

#9 Wisconsin is 17-12 overall (10-10 in the Big Ten)

I wanted to start this preview off by giving a big shout out to the other teams on campus. UNC is 1 of only 3 schools to reach a new year’s 6 bowl game and the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in 2021. On top of that, 5 of our teams are currently ranked #1 in the nation. Men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and field hockey all sit at the top of their respectful national rankings. That my fellow Tar Heels is pure excellence. And people say we are just a basketball school. This is why we ,as fans, have such high standards. We are used to excellence throughout the athletic department. Carolina is consistently good on the court, field, etc. And maybe this is where the source of a lot of fans’ frustrations have come from this season. There were times throughout the season where it looked as though we wouldn’t go dancing, but it’s march and here we are.

Now to the NCAA tournament part of this preview with a little venting. I don't know what the tournament committee used for seeding but some things seem off. Joe lundari has both UNC and Wisconsin listed as “losers'' in the bracket and as underseeded. Both teams were ranked at some point throughout the year. Florida as the number seven seed in our bracket is a joke. They are 14-9 to our 18-10 and also didn't go as far in their conference tourney. Georgia Tech received a 9 seed after winning the ACC tournament. I am not a Georgia Tech fan but they definitely got robbed. What else did the committee want them to do? I would definitely feel slated if I was a part of the yellow jacket nation. Oklahoma State being allowed to participate in the tournament after supposedly having a postseason ban also throws up red flags. They have a good year and all of a sudden the rules don't matter, just push it to next year when they probably won’t be as good of a team. Just proves the NCAA only cares about profits. I know UNC had their fair share of NCAA issues but we were cleared and never actually received any plenties.

The Tar Heels will face the Badgers Friday night at 7:10pm on CBS. The game will be played in Mackey Arena, the home of the Purdue Boilermakers. Wisconsin last played there on March 2nd in a 69-73 loss.This matchup belongs in the Sweet 16 in most NCAA tournaments, but I guess the committee wanted to set up a usually powerhouse showdown in the first round. This is our 51st tournament appearance (the most among teams in the field). This is our 4th time as an 8 seed. Carolina has reached the Sweet 16 and Final Four as an 8 seed, but most recently lost in the second round in 2013. The Tar Heels have played the Badgers 3 times in the tourney. The schools have split two previous NCAA Tournament games with Carolina beating the Badgers in the 2005 East Regional final in Syracuse and Wisconsin knocking off the Tar Heels in the 2015 Sweet 16 in Los Angeles in the West Region. The Heels most recently beat the Badgers in the Maui Invitational Championship game in 2016. Carolina doesn’t have a great mark in the Hoosier State going 2-3 and 0-3 in Indy. Don’t fear though, Roy Williams' record in the first round is pretty darn good.

Wisconsin finished 2-6 in their last 8 games but those were against some top tier opponents Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Purdue. They also have some solid wins over Loyola Chicago, Louisville and Maryland. They have the lowest turnover rate in the country. They are led by seniors Trice (13.7 PPG), Micah Potter (12.9 PPG) and Brad Davison (9.2 PPG). They have also made just 32.7% of their threes in league play. So what to expect from the Badgers? Its kind of a mystery.

This is an incredibly experienced team. They start 4 seniors. Reuvers and Ford in the front court and Davidson and Trice in the back court. They are joined by Wahl, a sophomore forward. They have 7 players that average over 20 minutes per game (Trice, Potter, Davidson, Ford, Reuvers, Davis, Wahl). Davis has only played in 10 games though. Anderson averages 15 minutes a game. Carlson averages 10.5 minutes but has only seen action in 6 games. All the other players mentioned above have played in all the Badger’s games.

Reuvers stands at 6’11” and Ford stands at 6’8”. Wahl is 6’9’. Potter is 6’10”. Wisconsin has some size obviously, but they aren’t a good rebounding team despite their size. Potter leads the team in rebounds averaging 6 per game, the next closest player is Wahl at 4.4. We have almost a 10 rebound per game advantage and Wisconsin has a negative rebounding margin. This is something we have to take advantage of. Wisconsin plays good defensive and we tend to struggle getting the ball down low against good defensive teams. Jump shots lead to longer rebounds which are harder for our bigs to collect. We need to get the ball down low to allow for more second chance opportunities. With that being said, it would just be easier to make those easy shots in the first place. Bumping in the post usually, not always, leads to fouls. In a game that will have limited possessions (Wisconsin plays at UVA/Clemson’s pace) we need to make free throws. Empty possessions after working hard to get the ball down low are deflating.

With limited possessions we also can’t afford to give up possessions. Taking care of the ball will be key. Wisconsin averages just 9 turnovers a game, so we won’t be getting a lot of run out opportunities. The most turnovers the Badgers have had all season was 15 in a game against Penn St. 15 is around our season average. Wisconsin just doesn’t allow you to have free possessions. We can’t be careless with the basketball. Love and Davis need to be smart against a more experienced Badger backcourt. Trice leads Wisconsin in points and assists. He has better than a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. If anyone is wondering what our guards ratios are… well they aren’t nearly that good. Play smart. Play together.

A big part of the Badger’s game is the 3 ball. They made 16 in their win over Louisville and shot 34 in their loss to Iowa on 2/18. They made 13 of those attempts. They average around 23 attempts a game from behind the arc. They have shot over 50% from behind the arc 5 times this year. We did it once at Duke. They are 4-2 in games where they make 10 3’s or more. We have reached that mark twice. One in a loss at FSU and the win in Durham. Unfortunately this is an area we struggle in. Remember when we played their Big Ten counterpart, Iowa? The 3 point line needs to be locked down. Trying to hit 2’s when the other team is making 3’s ,especially a team that plays slow, isn’t going to be a good recipe for getting out of the first round. Run them off the 3 point line. Plain and simple.

Wisconsin has shot over 50% from the field 5 times, but we have done it 6. They average a little over 56 FG attempts a game and hold their opponents to 53.6. We average almost 63. Again it is no secret that Roy wants to play at a faster pace. It is something we have done at times this year. Speeding up Wisconsin will be key yet tough since they are smart with the ball. Trapping probably won’t work against their experienced guards. We need to look to run off rebounds and makes (hopefully that doesn’t happen a lot).

Wisconsin went 12-23 from 3 in their first Big Ten tournament game against Penn St. In their 57- 62 tournament loss to Iowa they went 7-17 from 3. They were led by Trice who scored 19 and went 3-7 from 3. Davidson had 10 and went 2-5 from 3. Potter had 17. It is worth noting that the Badgers do get some contributions from their bench.

As noted above we have the same results against all common opponents. We have both lost to Marquette and Iowa. Wisconsin lost to Iowa 3 times. We both absolutely beat the brakes off Louisville. So can you take much from that? Not really.

Carolina is listed as Andy Katz’s #1 dark horse team, but it depends which Carolina team shows up. If we do advance to the second round it will be the first time playing either Baylor or Hartford.

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