Syracuse (8) – 74
Wake Forest (9) – 77
Pitt (5) – 89
Georgia Tech (13) – 81
Boston College (10) – 61
North Carolina (7) – 85
Virginia Tech (11) – 77
NC State (6) – 97
The day began auspiciously, with 9-seed Wake Forest landing an exciting win against 8-seed Syracuse on a 3-pointer from Daivien Williamson with 1 second left on the clock. The win advanced Wake to the quarterfinals and gave Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boheim the last loss of his career in his least-favorite place to play. Then 5-seed Pitt took down 13-seed Georgia Tech 89-81 in a game that, on this day, no one in the Greensboro Coliseum cared too much about because of the drama with UNC and the prospect of an early end to their season.
Last week, during the last regular-season game, UNC fell to Duke in miserable fashion, shooting a lowly 30.4 percent from the field and just 21.7 percent from 3-point range. UNC scored just 57 points, tied for the season low, which was also against Duke back in February, giving the Blue Devils a sweep of the series and likely knocking the Tarheels out of contention for the NCAA Tournament next week.
UNC’s only hope of making the big dance is a strong showing here at the ACC Tournament, where they hold a 7 seed, and they started their run in fine fashion with a rout of 10-seed Boston College.
While nothing was working in their season finale against Duke, everything was dropping tonight. Carolina shot 55 percent from the field, dropped 10 of 24 threes and sealed the deal with a dunk in the final second by Justin McCoy.
Throughout, their defense swarmed over BC players, denying entry into the lane, breaking up drives, thwarting any semblance of organized play. An injury to Armando Bacot late in the first half freaked out the Carolina faithful, but he came back in the second half, if somewhat diminished, scoring just 2 of his 10 points. Lots of scoring from RJ Davis, 18 points, and Caleb Love, 22, carried the day.
Final score: 85-61.
But the media types are saying that Carolina will need to win at least two more to make the NCAA, and if they do, there’s a good chance they will face Duke in the final, an opportunity for retribution. They’ll have to maintain this level of play tomorrow against 2-seed Virginia, and then again on Friday if they hope to make it.
This whole storyline relegates another local favorite, 6-seed NC State, into something of a sideshow. On Wednesday night against 11-seed Virginia Tech, they came out like a true protagonist, quickly opening up a 9-point lead that would open up to 27 by halftime. NC State guard Terquavion Smith dropped 19 points in the first half alone, along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
The game could have ended there, really. The Wolfpack looked as sharp as any team out there today; there was nothing the Hokies could do about it.
Smith finished with 30 points, including five 3-pointers, and 8 rebounds. Jarkel Joiner was right behind him with 20 points and 7 rebounds.
Final score: 97-77.
Tomorrow sees 1-seed Miami making their tournament debut against Wake Forest, Duke vs Pitt and 3-seed Clemson trying their hand against NC State. But all eyes will be on Carolina as they fight for their lives against 2-seed Virginia. For the Tarheels, the NCAA Tournament has already begun.
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