Two of the country's most storied college basketball programs will tip late Friday in the Sweet 16. One of them will move to the Elite Eight, and the other will have a generally impressive season end prematurely.
Together, Indiana and North Carolina have played in 86 NCAA Tournaments, reached 26 Final Fours and won 10 national titles (five apiece) under legendary coaches ranging from Dean Smith and Bob Knight to North Carolina's current coach, Roy Williams. There's a lot of history here.
History, though, won't define what should be a terrific game. It pits the Hoosiers, with an elite offense and a vastly improved defense, against the Tar Heels and their comprehensive dominance on both sides of the ball. The Heels are the clear favorite, but Indiana will give them a run for their money if the Hoosier defense can prevent Carolina forward Brice Johnson and his friends from running completely wild on offense.
Johnson probably won't win National Player of the Year, but he deserves consideration. He has averaged 17 points and 11 boards for Carolina, and he's posted 39 points on 14-of-20 shooting over the first two games of this tournament – wins over Florida Gulf Coast and Providence. Point guard Joel Berry has been critical in the backcourt, with fellow guard Marcus Paige injured early in the season and then providing spotty play after returning. In the frontcourt, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks team with Johnson to make Carolina one of the nation's best offensive rebounding teams.
Indiana's story has to start with Yogi Ferrell, the senior point guard who's been electrifying the Bloomington faithful for four years now. Ferrell might well be saving his best for last. He has averaged 17 points this year, and he's averaging 19 over his last seven games after an uncharacteristic dry spell in the middle of February. The Hoosiers have also gotten a lot of mileage out of athletic forward Troy Williams (13 points, six rebounds per game) and freshman center Thomas Bryant (12 and six). Together, they'll be a handful for North Carolina.
How to watch
Who: No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 1 North Carolina
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
When: 9:57 p.m. ET
TV information: TBS
Online: NCAA March Madness Live
Radio: Westwood One
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