UNC, the top seed in the South Region, plays against No. 2 Kentucky on Sunday, a trip to the Final Four at stake.
The Tar Heels (31-7) will play Midwest champ OR on Saturday in Glendale, Arizona, in the national semifinal.
"The Kentucky players think that De'Aaron Fox is still in attack mode, but I think he's more deliberate", UNC head coach Roy Williams said.
It was almost the play on which North Carolina lost the 2016 NCAA title. Monk's second shot with 7.2 seconds left and defenders in his face tied it up at 73. Kentucky hadn't collected itself on defense, and Maye slipped free while Theo Pinson drove toward the basket.
Jackson scored 34, a career-high for the junior who earned ACC Player of the Year honors. After barely 13 minutes, this Sweet 16 game had become the thing that Butler games rarely become - a mismatch. In perhaps the best game of the regular season, Kentucky edged North Carolina 103-100 at T-Mobile Arena behind Monk's 49 points and Fox's 24 points and 10 assists. Justin Jackson and Joel Berry II seem nearly as guaranteed to pace the offense.
The Wildcats had one last chance, but Derek Willis' inbounds pass went out of bounds on the far end.
The lights show in Las Vegas 99 days ago surrounded Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk, who blistered the Tar Heels for 47 points on 18-of-28 shooting.
United Kingdom eventually was able to pullout to a 64-59 lead surprisingly behind the play of sophomore Isaac Humphries. They've brought it again this year, as the Wildcats are a top-10 unit in the country.
Although the Tar Heels were able to contain Monk (12 points) and Fox (13 points), Isaac Humphries was a force off the bench, seemingly not being able to miss a shot.
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The Tar Heels and Bulldogs have never played in the NCAA Tournament.
But with 5:50 to play, Butler cut North Carolina's lead to 10 points. "So it just seemed like a great matchup of two blue bloods that have had tradition like no other, long before I was at UCLA or even Cal was at Kentucky".
Maye took a pass from Theo Pinson and rose for the jumper that would give him the last of his 17 points, sending the Tar Heels (31-7) into a national semifinal against OR on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
North Carolina is second only to Kentucky with its 48 NCAA Tournament appearances and 120 wins. UNC held the lead for a total of 260 seconds (4 min 20 seconds) in the first half and 22 seconds described above in the second half.
Forward Kennedy Meeks said this is the last chance for the seniors. SC built an even larger lead in an eventual 70-50 win over Baylor in Friday's earlier game at Madison Square Garden, but coach Frank Martin never made the same mistake. The Tar Heels led 38-33 at halftime.
Kentucky finished with a 32-6 record.
A group of Butler University students is headed to Memphis today to watch the Bulldogs take on number one seed North Carolina in Memphis.
North Carolina advances to face No. 3 seed OR in next weekend's Final Four.
"I'm glad we have somebody who knows how it feels to win a national championship behind us", North Carolina point guard Joel Berry II added. The Wildcats may have had their best showing of the season on Friday when they defeated UCLA 86-75. North Carolina took care of that, winning a South Regional semifinal 92-80 Friday night. All of those things will be important tonight, but it will be very hard for the Bulldogs to score against the length and athleticism of North Carolina.