North Carolina will challenge top-seeded Baylor in Fort Worth

The top-seeded Baylor Bears and the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels will open the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament on Saturday at 11:10 a.m. when they meet in an East Region game in Fort Worth at Dickies Arena.

On Thursday, Baylor, the defending national champions, advanced with an easy 85-49 victory over Norfolk State (Va.), while North Carolina also dominated, taking out ninth-seeded Marquette, 95-63.

First-year Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis suggested on Friday that just because the Bears have lost center Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to an injury, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are vulnerable on the inside, an area where North Carolina excels with big man Armondo Bacot.

“Baylor is the defending national champions and the No. 1 seed because they have more than one guy,” Davis told reporters in Fort Worth. “They’re an outstanding team. And one of the areas that they are terrific at is rebounding the basketball on both ends of the floor.

“It’s something that we have talked about, you know, yesterday, today, in terms of trying to limit Baylor to one shot every possession. Because we know that a huge part of their offense is getting second-chance opportunities,” Davis said.

Davis said the same is true for the Tar Heels in terms of how they stress the need to hit the offensive boards.

“I always say, ‘Let’s get shots, let’s get good shots,’ ” he said. “But if we get good shots, we’re either going to make them. And if we miss, because of our pursuit of the offensive glass, we’re going to get second-chance opportunities.

“So it’s a great matchup of two teams that — talented teams that like to get out in transition, they like to get second-chance opportunities, that get after it on the defensive end.”

Baylor coach Scott Drew told reporters that injured guard LJ Cryer, who also sat out the opener, will not play against North Carolina.

“I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I can’t,” he said.

Notable

The NCAA posts transcripts of all press conferences for credentialed media. The JB Replay gained access to the transcripts Friday afternoon.

Charting the top seeds

After Friday’s games, the top four seeds in each region produced a 15-1 record against lower seeds in the Round of 64. The only one to lose was East Region No. 2 seed Kentucky, which lost to Saint Peter’s Thursday night.

In the South Region, with the games cycling though San Antonio next week, top-seeded Arizona, No. 2 Villanova and No. 3 Tennessee all won in blowouts. Fourth-seeded Illinois was taken to the wire before downing Chattanooga, 54-53, Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Five from Texas stay alive

Five of the seven teams from the state of Texas that made the 68-team tournament field are still alive going into the Round of 32. After Baylor won easily on Thursday, while Texas Tech, Houston, Texas and TCU all won on Friday to advance.

Texas Tech, Houston and Texas all hit double-digits in 3-pointers made on Friday. The Red Raiders had 12 and the Cougars and the Longhorns both made 10. Texas Tech hit 12 of 20 from beyond the arc in a 97-62 victory over Montana State in the West Region.

In the South Region, fifth-seeded Houston opened the tournament in Pittsburgh and nailed nine from long distance in the first half alone. The Cougars held off the UAB Blazers, 82-68, on Friday night to set up a Sunday game against Illinois.

Also in the South, the ninth-seeded TCU Horned Frogs blew out the Seton Hall Pirates, 69-42. With the victory, TCU earned a Round of 32 game Sunday in San Diego against Arizona.

Sixth-seeded Texas won its first tournament game since 2014 with an 81-73 East Region victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies. The Longhorns will also play next on Sunday, drawing the third-seeded Purdue Boilermakers.

Meanwhile, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was eliminated from the tournament on Tuesday. The Islanders lost to the Texas Southern Tigers.

The Tigers advanced to play Kansas on Thursday. The Jayhawks won, 83-56.

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