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11 March 2018, 12:49 | Ken Black
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Duke Blue Devils Odds Preview 03/09/18
At this time past year, eight-loss Duke won the ACC tournament, and some made a case for the Blue Devils to leap to the top seed line.
The biggest rivalry in college sports will be on full display yet again.
Though Thursday's win won't erase the sting of that Senior Night disappointment, it still meant a lot to Williams and his Tar Heels.
Partly it was the brutal physicality of the game that made it deteriorate at the end.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett was chosen the USBWA Henry Iba National Coach of the Year for the third time.
The Tar Heels now sit on the No. 2 line in the NCAA Tournament according to multiple bracket projections and may have an outside shot at a No. 1 seed with a win over Virginia on Saturday. And North Carolina isn't interested in anyone who is ready to declare their run over. The Tar Heels shot just 39 percent from the floor in the win, but connected on 11 threes and turned the ball over only twice in the game.
"I think we're much better prepared for the NCAA Tournament than we were a month ago".
"It's a big-time game", Pinson said.
"I thought they were doing okay defensively and I just wanted to shake them a little bit and put those five guys in".
The way the Razorbacks have played since, they're arguably the hottest team in the Southeastern Conference and looking to do far more than just reach the NCAAs for a third time in the last four seasons. Meanwhile, Duke destroyed any hope Notre Dame had of winning this year's tournament with an 18-point blowout on Thursday. Gary Trent and Grayson Allen can shoot the lights out, Trevon Duval is a playmaking point guard capable of creating for others, and Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter make up probably the most talented frontcourt in the country.
North Carolina's success is due to its veteran backcourt. Officials stopped play and went to the courtside monitor to check a replay. Allen clearly stuck his backside out enough to bump the unsuspecting Brooks while 6-foot-9 freshman was in the middle of a stride. Then the Tar Heels surged to start the second half, with Williams dropping in a 3 to make it 51-33 with 15:35 left. He got a flagrant foul - and got roasted on social media.
Brooks told reporters he felt Allen intentionally bumped him, and when Allen was asked about it coach Mike Krzyzewski jumped in.
"I thought Theo was sensational ... really controlled the whole tempo of the game on the offensive end", Williams said. "So that was another foul in a game". "And when we're playing defense and we're out there just running around and being active and competing-you know, it's hard to stop us". It was different than the mostly half-court view viewers are accustomed to. They got it. It's done.
Clemson: Headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, the team's first season under coach Brad Brownell.
Allen, a senior, was reprimanded by the ACC for tripping two opponents in his sophomore season.
But on the ensuing possession, North Carolina got a deflection on a post entry pass, and Berry came away with the steal. Both are 100-45 in the conference tournament. And he fits nicely into the North Carolina rotation this season.
While Williams said he has attempted to recruit numerous prolific one-and-done players that end up signing with Duke, he also acknowledged he wouldn't choose to rely so heavily on the one-and-done model that Duke and Kentucky have had so much success with.
Duke: The Blue Devils had six turnovers on their first 14 possessions and just one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Blue Devils have won seven of their last eight games.
"It's about practice and finding our team", Krzyzewski said earlier in the week. "We look for each other and we're very unselfish". Duke leads 13-8, including six wins in a row since North Carolina's victory in the 1998 championship game. The Blue Devils won the last two, beating North Carolina in the tournament final in 2011 then again in the semifinals previous year.
Were the quadrant system in effect last season, Duke would have been 6-5 against the top tier. Duke doesn't have as many high-end wins as North Carolina and the Blue Devils dropped two of three head-to-head against the Tar Heels.
Brey said his squad would emphatically accept whichever postseason tournament they're invited to, adding his team would welcome the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden, the site of the NIT semifinals and championship game and a venue his players have yet to experience.
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