Six-time NCAA champion North Carolina will aim to keep Auburn from making only its second Elite Eight. The Tigers haven’t advanced that far since 1986, which is also the farthest they’ve ever been.
Matchup to watch: The Tar Heels and the Tigers are fast-paced, up-and-down teams. North Carolina ranked third in the country in regular-season scoring, averaging 86.1 points per game, while Auburn averaged 79.4. They’re second and third in points per game in this tournament.
X-factor: Auburn’s winning streak. The team has won its past 10 games, including an SEC tournament title. The Tigers shredded Kansas in the second round and are arguably the hottest team in the nation. On the other side, UNC’s best bench player, freshman forward Nassir Little, is battling the flu.
Three stars to watch
1. Tar Heels starters, UNC: They have started all but one game together and are a near-perfect combination of leadership, youth and about 75 percent of UNC’s points. Cameron Johnson, Coby White and Luke Maye are their big three.
2. Bryce Brown, Auburn: The senior can shoot it, hitting 40.8 percent of his threes. One of the SEC’s best.
3. Jared Harper, Auburn: The junior averages 15.3 points per game, second to Brown’s 15.9.
Auburn, because doesn’t everyone want to see Charles Barkley progressively and exponentially lose his mind the farther his alma mater advances? This might be the most entertaining game of the tournament, regardless of who wins.