UNC Women's Basketball opens up NCAA Tournament with clash against Michigan State

Courtney Banghart and the UNC women's basketball program will look to make a run in this year's NCAA Tournament as they open up against Michigan State.

North Carolina v Virginia Tech
North Carolina v Virginia Tech / Ryan Hunt/GettyImages

It's NCAA Tournament time for Courtney Banghart and the UNC women's basketball program, as they kick off March Madness with a clash against Michigan State.

Both UNC basketball programs will take on the Spartans over the next two days, as the men's team will take on Michigan State in the second round on Saturday afternoon. Before we get to that point, the women's teams will square off in a game that should be very competitive.

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The Tar Heels earned the No. 8-seed, while the Spartans come in as the No. 9 seed. Regardless of how they are seeded, as we all know, anything can happen in March!

Key to Victory for North Carolina

Michigan State essentially plays a smaller starting lineup, as they list their five regulars as guards. As we know, the UNC women's basketball program not only features Alyssa Ustby, who is very versatile, but also has Maria Gakdeng and Anya Poole who provide height and athleticism down in the paint.

Winning the battle on the glass will be huge, as the Tar Heels need to take advantage of opportunities on both sides of the floor. Second chance opportunities may become a consistent theme if the Tar Heels' bigs can in good position when the ball goes up.

Additionally, the Spartans are a good three-point shooting team, as they knock down over 37% of their opportunities from deep. Look for North Carolina to lock in defensively, as they will look to avoid allowing Michigan State's shooters to get open looks.

Something to Watch For

The UNC women's basketball program has been idle since March 7, which could bode well for a team that has dealt with various injuries this season.

Banghart has had to rely on her starters quite a bit, as the trio of Deja Kelly, Lexi Donarski and Alyssa Ustby have logged a ton of minutes. The rest period could greatly benefit the Tar Heels and provide them with a second wind as they hope to make a run in this year's tournament.

With that rest could come with a bit of rust, as both teams haven't played in essentially two weeks. Will the start of the game be a bit sloppy, or will one of the teams be able to shake the rust off first to get an early lead?

Projected Starters

No. 1 Alyssa Ustby (Sr. 6-1) 12.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.6 apg
No. 5 Maria Gakdeng (Jr. 6-3) 9.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 0.5 apg
No. 20 Lexi Donarski (Gr. 6-0) 10.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.3 apg
No. 25 Deja Kelly (Sr. 5-8) 16.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.4 apg
No. 31 Anya Poole (Sr. 5-10 ) 3.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.4 apg