We are officially here, friends: the North Carolina Tar Heels are set to take on the UCLA Bruins in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament. This is the furthest that the Heels have made it since the 2018-19 season, which was a game that I live to forget not because the team was bad, but because of how everything transpired. I will go to my grave salty that Cam Johnson and Nassir Little got sick, but it just furthers the point that these are humans playing this fantastic game that we call basketball. At least we weren’t supposed to go to the College World Series and had to bail because of COVID, right?
Anyways, at the time of writing this UCLA is the 2.5 point favorite according to Draftkings.com. The key players to watch in this one for the Bruins are Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Johnny Juzang, They enter tonight’s game as UCLA’s best scorers, with Juzang leading the team. UNC is going to have to bring one of their better defensive performances of the season, because this is a lengthy team that can get it done in various ways.
As far as what the Heels have to do on offense, the recipe for the tournament has been either RJ Davis or Caleb Love having a hot game mixed with Armando Bacot and Brady Manek having strong performances. Manek in particular has been lights out, and is arguably the most important player right now. If him and Bacot can both stay on the floor, and one of the guards have a good night, the Elite Eight could be calling for them Sunday night.
As always, we’ll be back following the game with post-game analysis and takes. Until then, Go Heels!