UNC Basketball kicks off 2024 NCAA Tournament with matchup with Wagner

Hubert Davis and the UNC basketball program will look to begin their run toward a potential national title with a matchup against the Wagner Seahawks.

North Carolina v NC State
North Carolina v NC State / Greg Fiume/GettyImages
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It's finally here.

The 2024 NCAA Tournament will kick off on Thursday when the No. 1-seeded UNC basketball program will face Wagner in their first-round matchup in Charlotte, North Carolina.

27-7. 2:45 PM EST. 2434. CBS . Thursday, March 21, 2024. 441. . 17-15. UNC Wagner

The Seahawks already have a NCAA Tournament game under their belt, as they held off Howard in a play-in game on Tuesday night to advance to this first round matchup.

In case you're unfamiliar with Wagner as a whole, we took some time to provide you with some key information.

UNC Basketball: Getting to know the Wagner Seahawks. dark. Next. UNC Basketball: Getting to know the Wagner Seahawks

The Tar Heels will come into this one as a heavy favorite, but as we all know: anything can happen in March. North Carolina will look to get back on track after a loss to NC State in the ACC Tournament finals, while Wagner looks to keep its late season surge alive.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

Wagner has been playing with seven scholarship players, as the Seahawks have lost quite a bit of depth due to various injuries.

For the Tar Heels, the key will be to control the tempo and force foul trouble on the Seahawks, as any bit of foul trouble could be a huge issue for this No. 16-seed as they look towards mounting a huge upset.

To add to this, North Carolina will have a size advantage, as Armando Bacot needs to make his presence known in the paint. Look for Wagner to throw double teams his way, as the open shooters must find a consistent stroke from beyond the arc to make them pay for focusing too much on the fifth-year big man.

The Tar Heels may very well go just eight guys deep into their bench, but at least there's assurance that there's more capable pieces behind that regular rotation. For Wagner, foul trouble (especially early) could be costly, as the Seahawks key contributors have grown into the "Iron Five" of sorts, playing 36+ minutes per-game.

Something to Watch For

North Carolina didn't put together its best performance against NC State, as other than RJ Davis and Armando Bacot, the rest of the team struggled to find a rhythm offensively.

In order for the Tar Heels to make a deep NCAA Tournament run, they are going to need other guys to score the basketball at a consistent rate.

Will this matchup be one where a scorer (or two) emerge to provide some more offensive stability?

It would be really nice to see Harrison Ingram and Cormac Ryan put together some solid performances in this first round matchup.

Projected Starters

No. 2 Elliot Cadeau (Fr. 6-1, 180) 7.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.1 apg
No. 3 Cormac Ryan (Sr. 6-5, 195) 10.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
No. 4 R.J. Davis (Sr. 6-0, 180) 21.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.5 apg
No. 5 Armando Bacot (Gr. 6-11, 240) 14.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.5 apg
No. 55 Harrison Ingram (Jr. 6-7, 235) 12.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.2 apg