Roy Williams got his 700th win and the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels nearly squandered a 20-point lead as they pushed past the No. 9 Villanova Wildcats to advance to the third round, 78-71, on Friday evening.
It was all North Carolina all the time in the beginning of the first half, with the Tar Heels leading, 32-12, with seven minutes left. But Villanova would go on a 28-8 run to close out the first half and start the second to make it a game worthy of March Madness.
Every time the Tar Heels seemed to extend enough of a lead for Roy Williams to light the candles on his Happy 700th Win cake, the Wildcats came roaring back to make it a one-possession game. The Tar Heels used big outside shots to extend each lead, going 11 of 21 from beyond the arc. But North Carolina had a hard time getting past the Villanova press, turning the ball over 18 times.
The Wildcats struggled with their outside shot, not hitting a three until the second half and finishing just 4 for 21 from beyond the arc. They kept it close by heading inside, pounding the Tar Heels inside the paint.
Assuming No. 1 Kansas wins later on Friday evening, this victory sets up Williams with a game against the team he coached for 418 of his 700 total wins. The two teams have met just twice since then, with Kansas winning both games.
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