The Washington Huskies were less than 2 minutes away from making it four routs in four games in Charlotte.
Then Georgia came up with a late rally that generated the closest thing to a fantastic finish here.
The margin was tighter, but the result was the same.
And in the end, it was a rough day for the underdogs at the Charlotte Bobcats' arena: Four games, four wins by the teams wearing white uniforms.
Michigan started an upset-free day with a huge second-half push and routed Tennessee 75-45. Duke followed that by an even more dominant showing against Hampton, rolling to an 87-45 victory.
North Carolina had a moderate early scare but held off Long Island 102-87, before Washington edged Georgia 68-65 in the finale.
Indeed, for most of the day, the favorites made it look easy in the Queen City, where the first three games were decided by an average of 29 points.
Then came the nightcap and a frantic finish by Georgia that came up just short against the Huskies (24-10).
Isaiah Thomas scored 19 points and made a clutch defensive play to hold off Georgia (21-12), which trailed by 10 with 2 minutes left but made things interesting in the closing seconds.
Trey Thompkins hit a 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds remaining to make it 67-65. With 3.7 seconds left, Georgia fouled C.J. Wilcox, who made the first free throw but missed the second. Jeremy Price grabbed the rebound for Georgia and flung the ball downcourt, and Thomas got a hand on the pass. Travis Leslie snatched it and hoisted an awkward 3 that bounced high off the glass after the buzzer.
"I tried to throw up a lucky shot, but it just didn't fall," Leslie said.
Duke (31-4), the No. 1 seed in the West, never trailed and nearly doubled up the outmanned Pirates, opening the game on a 16-4 run and scoring 14 straight points to push its lead well into the 20s.
And once Kyrie Irving got comfortable on the court again, after more than three months on the sideline, the flashy freshman put on quite a show.
Irving — out since Dec. 4 with an injured big toe on his right foot — came up with his signature highlight when he stole an inbound pass, sped downcourt, jumped for a right-handed layup and then switched to his left in mid-air. The helpless Hampton defender under the basket never stood a chance.
He also knocked down 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in the final 2 minutes to finish off the Pirates (24-9), who didn't have a double-figure scorer.
"I haven't played in three months, so this game was really nerve-racking," Irving said. "But once I got the butterflies out, I started to play really well."
That sent the Blue Devils into the third round to face No. 8 seed Michigan (21-13), which coasted past Tennessee behind 14 points and 10 rebounds from Zack Novak.
Novak hit two 3-pointers while the Wolverines scored the first 16 points of the second half to break open a tight game and cruise to only their second NCAA win since 1998.
"We're having so much fun we just want to keep it going," Novak said.
Michigan became the first team to win an NCAA tournament game without hitting a free throw (0-1), and the Wolverines did it largely by shooting 52 percent from the field and holding a 36-26 rebounding edge against the bigger Volunteers.
Tennessee's Tobias Harris scored 19 points on perfect shooting in the first half to keep the game tight, then missed all five of his attempts in the second and failed to score after halftime. The Volunteers were outscored 42-16 after the break.
"We just didn't play with heart out there," Harris said.
Tennessee (19-15) ended the year by losing eight of 12, and now enters an uncertain offseason with coach Bruce Pearl's future is in question after he admitted lying to NCAA investigators. Athletic director Mike Hamilton, who had strongly supported his coach, wavered this week in a radio interview in which he said "the jury is still out" on whether Pearl will return.
Local favorite North Carolina (27-7) faced some resistance early in this one. The East's No. 2 seed never trailed, but was stuck in a 33-all tie with 15th-seeded Long Island with 5 minutes left before halftime.
And then the Tar Heels got things clicking.
Harrison Barnes scored 12 points during the 20-6 run that put North Carolina up comfortably. Barnes' dunk with 48 seconds before the break made it 53-39, and the Tar Heels held off a late rally by the Blackbirds (27-6) to win their seventh straight NCAA tournament game.
North Carolina hasn't lost in the tournament since the 2008 Final Four; after coach Roy Williams' team won the 2009 national title, it stumbled to a dismal 2010 in which it missed the field of 65 entirely. Tyler Zeller scored 32 points, John Henson finished with 28 and Barnes had 24.