Following consecutive wins over No. 1 seed Baylor and No. 4 seed UCLA, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will face a different sort of challenge in the Elite Eight on Sunday.
No. 15 seed St. Peter’s — a team that has advanced further than any No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history — stands between the Tar Heels and their first Final Four appearance since 2017.
Despite their modest rating entering the Big Dance, the Peacocks have proven capable of beating some of college basketball’s best teams — including Kentucky and Purdue, two teams that North Carolina lost against early in the regular season.
“They have a chip on their shoulder,” UNC head coach Hubert Davis said. “On Sunday, it will be our toughest game of the year.”
Here are the main keys for the Tar Heels to avoid the upset and earn a trip to New Orleans.
Executing down the stretch
In its three tournament games, the Peacocks have won by an average of 6.3 points. No team has managed to get big leads on them, and the team has excelled in pulling away at the end of games.
Whether the game is high-scoring or a defensive battle, the team hangs around and takes control late.
“We've kind of played games like this all year,” Peacocks head coach Shaheen Holloway said. “We didn't really blow nobody out. We're not built like that. That's not the culture of our team.”