If you’re a North Carolina fan, there’s almost no way you could have enjoyed the final 30 minutes of tonight’s NCAA Tournament contest. A No. 8 seed matched against No. 9 Villanova, the Tar Heels burst to a quick 20-point first half lead and then gradually and painfully collapsed thereafter, actually falling behind during the second half before hitting just enough key shots to defeat the Wildcats 78-71.

This season’s Heels haven’t achieved much easily, and tonight proved no different. Villanova out-rebounded Carolina 35-23, and the Wildcats also forced 17 UNC turnovers.

But during this season’s latter half, this Carolina squad has demonstrated impressive fortitude fending off the teams they should beat. They still have not defeated an elite opponent, but versus Miami last weekend they at least rapped on the door and appeared to be playing their best ball. Even if things do go awry on Sunday (opponent TBD), Carolina at least did ultimately resemble Carolina.

Click here for the UNC/Villanova box score.