Another ticket to the Sweet 16 has been punched with 1-seed North Carolina fighting its way past 9-seed Michigan State and March Madness legend Tom Izzo.

Saturday’s game arrived with plenty of intrigue with Izzo already adding to his NCAA Tournament record of victories as the lower-seeded team in the opening round. His Spartans also started the game on fire, but things swung in a major run leading up to halftime.

After the Tar Heels wrestled control of the game away from MSU, it was all UNC to the finish line.

4 Tar Heels scored in double figures while forcing Michigan State into 11 turnovers for the game. Here are the key takeaways from the 85-69 victory for UNC:

UNC undefeated vs. the Spartans in March Madness

North Carolina has historically dominated Michigan State, entering Saturday with a 12-4 head-to-head record in the series between the marquee programs. Things are tilted even further in favor of the Tar Heels in the Big Dance.

Prior to the Round of 32 matchup, UNC was 5-0 all-time against the Spartans in the NCAA Tournament, including some major wins on the biggest stage. During the 2005 Final Four, the Tar Heels delivered a massive second half to pull away for an 87-71 victory en route to the national title.

North Carolina delivered another double-digit victory in the 2007 tournament with Tyler Hansborough starring. Then, the most recent matchup before Saturday came in 2009 when the two sides met for the national title.

With a shot to win the championship in front of a Ford Field crowd in Detroit, Michigan State was blown away by UNC in an 89-72 victory by the Tar Heels. As you can tell, none of those games were incredibly close, and that was the same outcome this time around.

North Carolina improves to 6-0 against the Spartans in the tournament.

Wild first-half swing sets tone for Tar Heels

In the first half, it looked like Michigan State was up to the task of keeping this one close. After all, the Spartans entered the game as just a 3.5-point underdog per ESPN Bet and are traditionally up to the task of not getting blown out of the postseason under Izzo.

At the 9:40 mark of the first half, Michigan State held a 12-point lead after a 3-pointer from Tyson Walker made it 26-14. Malik Hall would make a layup at the 8:09 mark to make the score 28-17, but that is when North Carolina came alive, shortly after a fiery Hubert Davis delivered an in-game interview.

The Spartans would add just 3 points over the final 8 minutes of the first half with Harrison Ingram and Armando Bacot powering a 23-3 swing for the Tar Heels. Instead of trailing by double digits, UNC entered the break up by a score of 40-31.

The second half was a more back-and-forth affair with a number of runs by either team. However, the Tar Heels were ready any time the Spartans started to close things in.

Harrison Ingram the spark but one question for Tar Heels remains

Ingram finished the game with 17 points, but most of his heavy lifting came when the Tar Heels needed a spark in the first half. He delivered 9 points in UNC’s decisive first-half push with a trio of 3-pointers.

Overall, Ingram went 5-for-7 from 3-point range as Michigan State never had an answer for the sharpshooter:

A question that could pose a problem for UNC moving forward is 3-point shooting outside of Ingram. The rest of the Tar Heel roster finished Saturday’s win just 5-for-19 (26%) from deep.

The biggest issue was young point guard Elliot Cadeau who went 0-for-4 from deep as Michigan State continually sagged off and forced him to try from range. On Saturday, the Heels had enough firepower to withstand without Cadeau making much of an impact, but it could be a playbook future opponents try to follow.