top of page

Heel Tough Blog: Wagner Recap (NCAA Tournament First Round)

Greg Flume - Getty Images

Today was the start of what Carolina is hoping will be a long NCAA Tournament run, and they started it with a blowout win over Wagner 90-62, to advance to the Second Round of the Big Dance. Carolina's two best players had big games, as R.J. Davis scored 22 points to lead the Heels, followed by 20 points from Bacot, and a huge game from Jae'Lyn Withers off the bench with 16. Carolina took an early 6-0 lead, making their first three baskets, and never looked back, even though the scrappy Seahawks refused to go away quietly. Carolina would build an eventual 40-28 halftime lead, using their size on the inside to get whatever they wanted offensively in a game where they would shoot 55% for the game.

The last time the NCAA Tournament was in Charlotte, we saw the first ever #1 seed go down to a #16 seed, as UVA got upset by UMBC, After Purdue got upset last season, and Carolina entered this tournament as the weakest #1 seed, you know that message was driven home, to a team that was looking to bounce back after the loss to NC State in the ACC Tournament final. The defense has been the key to the success this team has enjoyed this season, and they remain undefeated this season when they give up fewer than 70 points in a game.

It's important for this Carolina team that another scorer emerges, and while Cormac Ryan scored 13 and Harrison Ingram added 9, Jae'Lyn Withers provided the scoring punch off the bench, scoring 16 points, on 5-7 shooting. UNC's bench added 26 points today, with three members of the Biscuit Boys scoring, but that is what you need this time of the year if you want to make a deep run in a single elimination tournament.

Hubert Davis improved to 2-0 in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, as Carolina as a program improved to 35-2 in NCAA Tournament games played in the state of North Carolina. Here's what to takeaway from today's win:

  1. More History for Bacot: Armando totaled a 20-point, 15-rebound double-double, the sixth straight NCAA Tournament game where he totaled at least 15 rebounds, and in the process tied a record held by Tim Duncan, with his seventh straight double-double in the Big Dance. Bacot was 7-13 from the field, and 6-7 from the foul line, in a dominant performance that started right away, and persisted as the game moved along. He needs to be at his best this time of the year, and tonight was a great first step for him, anchoring a long run in the NCAA Tournament. With his scoring output today, Bacot officially passed Phil Ford, for second all-time at UNC.

  2. Efficient Offense: It was obvious that Carolina wanted to take advantage of their size in the front court, and they did that, by living in the painted area, on their way to shooting 55% from the field. More importantly, they shot 50% from behind the arc, as three different starters made triples. Ingram was 1-2 from deep, Ryan was 2-6, and that production needs to be consistent for the rest of the season.

  3. Withers Shines Off the Bench: Jae'Lyn Withers hasn't experienced the offensive success he thought he'd enjoy when he transferred in from Louisville, but he's shown flashes throughout the season. Today, he energized the team, scoring 10 points, and grabbing 4 rebounds in a 7 minute stretch in the first half. With his perimeter shooting taking a dip, he's settled into more of a scoring role in the paint, which is where he operated all game long. It's not fair to expect that type of production against Michigan State, but it's as good a time as ever for Withers to emerge as a scorer off the bench.

  4. Council Shut Down: Melvin Council Jr entered the game as Wagner's leading scorer, at nearly 15 points per game. He scored 18 points today but was 6-20 from the field, and 1-3 from three. A hallmark of this team all season long has been taking away their opponent's best player, and that certainly happened today.

  5. Cadeau's Struggles Continue: March is all about guard play, and it looks like freshman point guard, Elliot Cadeau has hit the rookie wall. He's struggled since the win over Florida State last week in the NCAA Tournament, and today he was scoreless and was 0-2 from the field. He did add 3 assists, but Carolina needs him to get back to the level we saw him play during the middle of the conference season.

Up Next: Carolina has advanced into the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, where they will face Michigan State. The game will tip on Saturday, with a time to be announced later tonight.


bottom of page