Representing the # 1 and # 6 seeds of the East bracket, the 28-6 North Carolina Tar Heels will take on the 21-11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Elite Eight on Sunday night. North Carolina advanced by beating the Indiana Hoosiers 101-86 and is seeking to make the Final Four for the first time in 7 years. Notre Dame made a great comeback in the final minutes to beat Wisconsin 61-56 to move on. Wisconsin was up 1 with 30 seconds left when they turned the ball over and Notre Dame scored the go ahead basket with 14 seconds left and held on for the win.
The whole starting five scored in double digits for North Carolina and they did so very efficiently. The team shot 51.6 percent from the field including 55 percent from three-point range as they made 11 o f their 20 attempts. Marcus Paige led the way with 21 points and 6 assists while making 6 three-pointers. Brice Johnson had a double-double for the second consecutive game with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Defensively, they allowed Indiana to shoot over 40 percent from the field and from three-point range. They had 7 steals, 5 blocks and forced Indiana into 12 turnovers. They won the rebounding battle 37-32 and only committed 9 turnovers. If there was a negative it was they allowed Indiana to grab 15 offensive rebounds.
Notre Dame forced Wisconsin into 17 turnovers but it was the last one which hurt the most. Demetrius Jackson stole the ball and hit the go ahead layup with 14 second left and they stopped Wisconsin on their final possession. Junior forward V.J. Beacham led the way in scoring with to go along with 2 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Zach Auguste had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Defensively, they had 10 steals, 6 blocks, and held Wisconsin to just 30 percent from behind the arc as they made just 6 of their 20 attempts. They limited Wisconsin to just 6 foul shots while they made 13 of their 14 attempts. If there was a negative for Notre Dame it was that they turned the ball 12 times and they were outrebounded 36-32.
These 2 teams squared off twice during the regular season with each team winning at home. Notre Dame defeated UNC 80-76 back on February 6th while North Carolina destroyed Notre Dame 78-47 on March 11th. In 3 games so far Notre Dame has went 1-2 against the spread in the tournament while North Carolina has gone 2-1. North Carolina enters this game as winners of 7 of their last 8 games with their only loss coming to Virginia. Notre Dame has won 5 of their last 8 games with losses to Florida State, Miami and North Carolina. North Carolina has scored at least 83 points in all 3 of their tournament games and is favored by 10 points.
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