UNC Basketball handles Wagner in opening round of 2024 NCAA Tournament

The UNC basketball program took care of business against No. 16-seeded Wagner to open up NCAA Tournament play on Thursday afternoon.

Wagner v North Carolina
Wagner v North Carolina / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, it's very important to take things one game at a time. Each win is a stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of six consecutive wins in the big dance.

For the UNC basketball program, they accomplished win No. 1 on Thursday afternoon, as the Tar Heels took care of Wagner in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

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Coming in, we knew that Wagner was going to be short-handed. In their victory over Howard in the First Four play in, the Seahawks only had seven available players, as it was evident that would be the case when they matched up with the No. 1-seeded Tar Heels.

North Carolina took advantage of its size early on, as Armando Bacot dominated to lead the Tar Heels to a blowout victory.

Bacot recorded his seventh consecutive double-double in NCAA Tournament play, as he finished the afternoon with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Jae'lyn Withers scored a season-high 16 points and recorded 10 rebounds of his own, as he went to the free throw line 9 times over the first 20 minutes of action.

For a team with not a lot of depth, getting into foul trouble wasn't ideal by any means, especially with North Carolina imposing its will in the paint.

Of course, there were some things you'd like to see improve, as the Tar Heels had some instances where they were extremely sloppy. Four of the Tar Heels 9 turnovers came from freshman Elliot Cadeau, as they'll need their point guard to protect the basketball better moving forward.

However, there's plenty to like, including how North Carolina was able to knock down 50% of its three-point field goal attempts. Although Wagner hung around, the Tar Heels were able to extend the lead and put the game out of reach throughout the early portion of the second half.

To add to what Bacot and Withers produced, RJ Davis led all scorers with 22 points. Cormac Ryan added 13 of his own, while Harrison Ingram scored 9 points while recording five rebounds. Withers scored more than half of the Tar Heels' 26 bench points, as every player on the roster saw some game action.

Up next for the Tar Heels is a meeting with Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday in the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

dark. Next. UNC Basketball: Armando Bacot named to USBWA Third-Team All-America team. UNC Basketball: Armando Bacot named to USBWA Third-Team All-America team