NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Michigan State vs North Carolina

No. 1 seed North Carolina dug out of an early 12-point deficit and ran away from No. 9 seed Michigan State late to punch a ticket to this year's Sweet 16 with a 85-69 second-round win over the Spartans in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. The Tar Heels trailed by a dozen midway through the first half but rallied on the strength of a 15-0 run to a 40-31 halftime lead and never looked back, clinching its second second-weekend appearance in the last three seasons.

All season UNC (29-7) has gone as RJ Davis has gone, and that was again the case vs. the Spartans, as Davis carried UNC amidst its slow start and helped will them to the win late. Davis finished with 20 points and co-star Armando Bacot added 18 points and seven rebounds. Four different Tar Heels finished in double figures and freshman Elliot Cadeau led the team in assists with four.

Michigan State (20-15) opened the game making seven of its first 10 shots from the field to break the game open and put the pressure on Carolina from the jump. It struggled to keep pace with the Tar Heels' offense once it started clicking, though. Sparty couldn't collect second-chance points and it went cold in the final frame, finishing 3 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half.

North Carolina advances to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years under coach Hubert Davis and 31st time in school history, where it will face the winner of Sunday's second-round game between No. 12 seed Grand Canyon and No. 4 seed Alabama in Thursday's the West Regional Semifinals in Los Angeles.

Here are three takeaways.

1. UNC has Michigan State's number

North Carolina improved to 6-0 all-time against Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament, tying for the most wins without a loss by one team over another in NCAA Tournament history, per CBS Sports Research. UNC leads the all-time series (regular season and postseason) 13-4.

2. Davis the picture of consistency

Davis' 20-point outing against Michigan State marked his fourth consecutive game of 20 or more points and helped pace the Tar Heels early as the tone-setter. The ACC Player of the Year finished 7 of 15 shooting and made three 3s to further burnish his bonafides as one of the best guards in the country.

"Coach Davis does a good job of bringing the energy out of us. We rely on that," said Davis. "I think we responded well."

3. Hubert Davis joins elite company

Carolina's third-year coach improved to 7-1 as head coach at UNC in NCAA Tournament games, becoming the fourth head coach in the last 50 years (!) to win at least seven of his first eight career NCAA Tournament games. The others all won national championships: Steve Fisher, Billy Donovan and Kevin Ollie.