By R.L. Bynum
No. 20-ranked North Carolina plays on Ohio State’s home court for a berth in the Sweet 16 at 4 p.m. Monday in a game that will air on ESPN.
The No. 6-seed Tar Heels’ game against the No. 12-ranked and No. 6-seed Buckeyes (26–7) at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, is the initial second-round NCAA tournament game of the day. Carolina got there with a thrilling 61–59 victory Saturday over St. John’s.
Junior guard Deja Kelly scored a game-high 18 points and made clutch plays down the stretch for the Tar Heels, who had to play the last 6:15 without junior forward Alyssa Ustby after she fouled out. With the victory, UNC became the 10th women’s program in the country with 50 NCAA tournament wins.
Carolina (22–10) has won five of the nine meetings with Ohio State, including the last matchup in Columbus. UNC beat the Buckeyes 76–69 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 29, 2018.
The Buckeyes are in the second round for the sixth consecutive tournament, and the Tar Heels are there for the second straight year.
The winner of that game will play in a semifinal in Seattle Regional 3 on Saturday against the winner of Monday’s 9 p.m. second-round game (ESPN) in Storrs, Conn., between No. 6-ranked and No. 2-seed UConn (30–5) and Baylor (20–12).
On the other side of the Seattle Regional 3 bracket, No. 4-ranked, No. 1-seed and host Virginia Tech will face No. 9 South Dakota State at 5 p.m. Sunday (ESPN) and No. 24-ranked, No. 4-seed and host Tennessee meets No. 12 Toledo at 6 p.m. Monday (ESPN2).
Sophomore 6–0 guard Taylor Mikesell leads six Buckeyes averaging double-figure points at 17.2, with a team-leading 104 3-pointers on 40.6% shooting from outside the arc. Sophomore 6–0 wing Taylor Theirry averages 14.0 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds.
At the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio
Thursday’s play-in result
St. John’s 66, Purdue 64
Saturday’s first-round results
No. 3-seed Ohio State 80, No. 14 James Madison 66
No. 6 North Carolina 61, No. 11 St. John’s 59
Monday’s second round
Ohio State 71, North Carolina 69
|9||Wednesday||W, 91–59||Jackson State||Home||1–0|
|16||Wednesday||W, 93–25||South Carolina State||Home||3–0|
|20||Sunday||W, 76–65||James Madison||Harrisonburg, Va.||4–0|
|Phil Knight Invitational|
|27||Sunday||W, 73–64||No. 17 Iowa State||Portland||6–0|
|December||ACC/Big Ten Challenge|
|1||Thursday||L, 87–63||No. 2 Indiana||Bloomington, Ind.||6–1|
|16||Friday||W, 89–47||USC Upstate||Home||9–1|
|20||Tuesday||L, 76–68||No. 18 Michigan||Charlotte||9–2|
|ACC season begins|
|29||Thursday||L, 78–71||Florida State||Home||9–3, 0–1 ACC|
|1||Sunday||L, 68–65||No. 4 |
|Blacksburg, Va.||9–4, 0–2 ACC|
|5||Thursday||L, 62–58||Miami||Coral Gables, Fla.||9–5, 0–3 ACC|
|8||Sunday||W, 60–50||No. 10 |
|12||Thursday||W, 70–59||Virginia||Charlottesville, Va.||11–5, |
|15||Sunday||W, 56–47||N.C. State||Home||12–5, |
|19||Thursday||W, 61–56||No. 13 Duke||Home||13–5, |
|22||Sunday||W, 70–57||Georgia Tech||Home||14–5, |
|26||Thursday||W, 72–57||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||15–5, |
|29||Sunday||W, 69–58||Clemson||Clemson||16–5, |
|2||Thursday||W, 73–62||Virginia||Home||17–5, |
|5||Sunday||L, 62–55||Louisville||Louisville||17–6, |
|9||Thursday||L, 75–67||Syracuse||Syracuse||17–7, |
|12||Sunday||W, 73–55||Boston College||Home||18–7, |
|16||Thursday||L, 77–66, OT||N.C. State||Raleigh||18–8, |
|19||Sunday||W, 71–58||Wake Forest||Home||19–8, |
|23||Thursday||L, 61–59||No. 4 |
|26||Sunday||W, 45–41||No. 13 Duke||Durham||20–9, |
|3||Friday||L, 44–40||No. 13 Duke||Greensboro||21–10|
|18||Saturday||W, 61–59||St. John’s||Columbus, Ohio||22–10|
|20||Monday||L, 71–69||No. 12 Ohio State||Columbus, Ohio||22–11|
Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications