March Madness Live Blog: Wisconsin vs. UNC

Heels open NCAA play against Badgers
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North Carolina opens its 2021 NCAA Tournament as the No. 8 seed, against No. 9 seed Wisconsin. The winner will face top seed Baylor, who cruised to a win over No. 16 seed Hartford earlier in the day.

The game will be at Purdue’s Mackey Arena, which has been a horror show for the Big Ten so far in the tournament. Michigan State and Ohio State have both lost in overtime over the last two days, with the Buckeyes getting eliminated by No. 15 seed Oral Roberts.

Wisconsin ended the regular season with five losses in the last six games, although four of them came to current or recent Top Five teams Michigan, Iowa (twice) and Illinois.

The Badgers finished 17-12, 10-10 in the conference, and haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Jan. 27.

The Tar Heels have won four of their last six to finish 18-10, 10-6 in the ACC.

Carolina will need to control a Badgers team that hits 36 percent of its threes, good for No. 68 in the country. The Badgers also have the No. 80 interior defense in the country, which will be going up against the Tar Heels’ strong inside game.

Wisconsin expects to have 6-foot-9 freshman Ben Carlson back for the game. He’s returned to practice and coach Greg Gard was optimistic he would see time. Carolina will also need to defend Micah Potter, a 6-foot-10 post player who also hits from outside at a .375 clip. 

Usual starters for UNC: Black, Love, Walton, Brooks, Bacot

Your officials: Terry Oglesby, Jeff Clark, Mike Reed

Kerwin Walton got introduced as a junior, which ... is off by two years. 

Wisconsin with an early 6-0 run to create some room. 

Brad Davison is driving to the rim at will, which is going to be a problem if Carolina can't adjust. He's fouled (at the rim) to send us to the under 16, 8-5 Wisconsin

Sharpe called for an offensive foul, UNC's third turnover in five minutes 

Wisconsin gets its second offensive rebound of the game. 

UNC's size on display: Potter faked Kessler into the air, but before he could shoot and draw a foul, Sharpe blocked him from behind. 

UNC cuts it to one, but a Potter three and Kessler turnover puts it back to 16-12, Wisconsin ball. Badgers call time to keep possession. 

Wisconsin with its fourth offensive rebound, leading to an open baseline dunk. UNC has one offensive board. 

Brooks gets a block on another baseline dunk attempt by Wisconsin, leading to a shot clock violation. UNC ball after the under 8. Heels down 22-18

Carolina with its fifth turnover coming out of the time out, and Wisconsin gets a baseline drive to the rim for the third straight possession. Brooks stuffed at the rim twice on the other end. He goes to the line and misses the first. Heels reeling a bit right now 

Davison drives to the rim again. Wisconsin up 8. Danger zone for Carolina 

Brooks blocked again. He's 1-of-7. 

Sharpe turns it over. Wisconsin is all over the UNC bigs. 

Potter for three. Wisconsin up 11. Sharpe with a foul fighting for an offensive rebound. Heels in their familiar double-digit hole just before half. At the under four, it's 32-21.

Wisconsin is faster, stronger and tougher in the early going. Carolina bigs are a combined 2-of-11 with four turnovers 

UNC runs the shot clock down and is forced to take a super long bank attempt from Davis. Leaky Black fouls on the rebound and Wisconsin goes to the line. Lead is now 13. 

Wisconsin. Three. Lead is 16. Heels again struggle to get off a shot. 40-24 at the half. 

Wisconsin scored the last 8 points of the half and closed on a 13-3 run. Badgers outrebounded UNC and hit 6-of-14 from three. Hard to lose when you're doing both.

UNC shot 6-of-21 from INSIDE the three-point line

Heels come out of locker room with 2:12 left on the clock, four and a half minutes after Wisconsin

Brooks blocked at the rim again to start the second half. He's now 1-of-8 and has been blocked at least three times. 

Wisconsin has hit 3-of-4 threes to start the half. UNC trading twos for threes right now, down 16. 

At the under 16, UNC down 53-37 but headed to the line. 

After going 1-of-2 in the first half, Bacot is 5-of-7 in the second. UNC has it down to 13, 58-45, time out Wisconsin. 

Garrison Brooks blocked at the rim. Again. Some more. He's 2-of-10 with at least four blocked bys. Ball out of bounds taking us to the under 8, 68-50 Wisconsin. 

Both teams clearing the bench with just over a minute left. Second half run never came. Heels just kind of stayed down. 

That'll do it. Wisconsin ends UNC's season, 85-62