Joel Berry II scored 21 points in his final game for the second-seeded Tar Heels (26-11), who were trying to reach their third straight Final Four. But they ended up falling to 34-2 in NCAA games in their home state, the only other loss coming in 1979. The Tar Heels shot just 33 percent, including 6 of 31 (.194) on 3-pointers after entering the game shooting nearly 37 percent from behind the arc. It came on the same court where, two nights earlier, UMBC made history by becoming the first 16-seed to beat a 1 when the Retrievers upset top overall seed Virginia. And as with that game, the upstart dispatched the favorite with surprising ease. And, yet again, the reigning champs lost in the second round. Last year, Villanova was bounced by Wisconsin. Meanwhile, the Aggies — who peaked at No. 5 in the AP Top 25 in December — is moving on to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons. The Tar Heels were a very different team than last year’s title winner, namely in the way they leaned on a small-ball lineup. But expectations grew that they could make a third straight Final Four run as UNC found a final-month groove, including two wins against Duke and a trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship game.
This will be the 11th consecutive year (and 16 out of 17) that the defending champions have failed to get past the Sweet 16. The exception was Florida (champs in 2006 and 2007). Of the 16 others, 7 lost in Sweet 16, 5 lost on first weekend, 4 didn’t make tournament.#MarchMadness— David Worlock (@DavidWorlock) March 18, 2018