Virginia, North Carolina clash for ACC tourney title
In a rematch of the 2016 ACC Championship Game, Saturday night in Brooklyn, N.Y., will feature No. 1 Virginia and the sixth-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels.
North Carolina (25-9) will be playing its fourth game in as many days and the Tar Heels are coming off an emotional win over bitter rival Duke in one of Friday night's semifinal games.
The Tar Heels will be looking for their 19th ACC Tournament title with their last one coming in that 2016 meeting, a 61-57 win over the Cavaliers in Washington D.C.
Virginia (30-2) dispatched No. 4 seed Clemson 64-48 in Friday's first semifinal and the Cavaliers are playing in their third ACC title game in five seasons.
"It's a big step in the right direction," Virginia guard Ty Jerome said after Friday's win. "We're just going to rest up and get ready to play a good team, whoever it is, tomorrow."
That team, North Carolina, is a team that Virginia held to 49 points back in early January in a 12-point Cavalier win in Charlottesville, Va. In that game, the Tar Heels shot just 29 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 19 times, which led to 25 Virginia points.
With the best defensive team in the country on the horizon, North Carolina will certainly need to shoot the ball better than they did in their first matchup with Virginia, and better than they did Friday night in a 74-69 win over the Blue Devils.
The Tar Heels shot just 39 percent in their semifinal win over Duke but escaped with a five-point win as they forced 18 Duke turnovers. Against a sound Virginia squad, forcing turnovers won't be easy as the Cavaliers lead the country in fewest turnovers per game.
"We've just got to make sure we're taking good shots and making sure we're moving them on the defensive end," North Carolina's Joel Berry II said about Virginia. "They're great defensively and we've just got to make sure we limit our mistakes."
Five Tar Heels scored in double figures against Duke, led by Luke Maye, who put up a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Maye was limited to just six points on 2-for-10 shooting against Virginia earlier this season as ACC Defensive Player of the Year Isaiah Wilkins clamped down on the Tar Heels' second-leading scorer.
"I'll say that we've got to play a heck of a lot better," North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said of their impending game against Virginia. "Guys, they're the No. 1 team in the country. They beat us by 77 points or whatever it was. We've got to go in there and play the perfect game."
Sophomore guard Kyle Guy has scored 34 points in two ACC Tournament games this week, which matches the total number of points he had in his last five regular-season games combined.
With their win over Clemson, Virginia secured its fourth 30-win season in school history with three of those coming since 2014. It is the first time in their history that they have won 30 games before the start of the NCAA Tournament, which will begin next week.
Updated March 10, 2018