Harrison Ingram (55) of North Carolina reacts during the first half of Saturday, March 23, 2024, during the second round of

the NCAA Tournament at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, after trimming the Michigan State advantage to one point. NC. Williams, Robert (rwillett@newsobserver.com).In college basketball, few images more evoke the

atmosphere of the NCAA Tournament than that of Tom Izzo, the Michigan State coach whose squad and program have long since established themselves as yearly mainstays. He is, in a sense, the last surviving member of a generation of coaches who have retired from the Hall of Fame.

Thus, on Saturday at the Spectrum Center, it felt as much like March and the competition as it could. The West Region’s second round featured a traditional and timeless clash between top-seeded North Carolina and No. 9 Michigan State. Izzo vs. Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis, in his third year in charge, with who knows how many opportunities remainSaturday, March 23, 2024, during the second half of the NCAA Tournament at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, during the second half. Cormac Ryan (3) of North Carolina and the Tar Heels’ bench react after Cormac’s three-point basket extended the Tar Heels’ lead to 12 points against Michigan State. Ryan scored fourteen points during their 85-69 triumph. Willett Robert

He’d spoken warily the day before, on Friday, of playing against an old and distant rival. This was the sixth time UNC and Michigan State had met in the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels had won all of them, including the 2009 national championship game, and as much as Izzo looked forward to Saturday night the history “doesn’t feel very good at all” he said with a smile.

This couldn’t have, either. After a sluggish start that belied their season-long goal of making a deep tournament run, UNC awakened from that early malaise during the final 10 minutes of the first half and, buoyed by a partisan crowd and a fighter’s will, persevered for an 85-69 victor

By Fafa T

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