Caulton Tudor

No. 4 ACC seed could be a plus for Heels

Posted March 3, 2014

The Tar Heels react to a foul that sent T.J. Warren (24) to the line for the game tying free throws. NC State lost to UNC in overtime, 85-84, on February 26, 2014 at the PNC arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photo by: Jerome Carpenter

When is fourth place better than second or third?

In North Carolina’s case - Duke as well for that matter - that sort of reverse logic could make sense at next week’s ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

Entering tonight’s game in Chapel Hill against Notre Dame (7 p.m., ESPN), the Tar Heels (22-7, 12-4 ACC) are tied for third with Duke (23-6, 12-4).

But technically, Carolina is third. Thanks to a 74-66 win over Duke on Feb. 20, the Tar Heels currently have the tiebreaker edge. That could change after Saturday’s final regular season game in Durham (9 p.m., ESPN).

The Devils go to Wake Forest (15-14, 5-11) on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPNU).

Both still have a chance to overtake Syracuse (26-3, 13-3) for second place, but the Orange will be favored against Georgia Tech (13-16, 4-12) Tuesday and at Florida State (17-7, 8-8) on Sunday.

Virginia (25-5, 16-1) has clinched the regular season race regardless of the outcome at Maryland on Sunday.

In Greensboro, all four will not have to play until Friday’s quarterfinals. But if you happen to be among those who believe Duke and Syracuse are both actually better teams than Virginia, the No. 4 seed could be a nice landing spot.

In the brackets, No. 1 and No. 4 should wind up facing each other in Saturday’s first semifinal (1 p.m, WRAL-TV) in with No. 2 facing No. 3 in the 3:30 p.m. semi - assuming the favorites win on Friday.

For the first time a few years, Virginia will have a large fan turnout for the event and those fans will make their share of noise. But in Greensboro Coliseum, it’s a lock there will be will more light blue than any other color. It won’t be a full-blown home-court atmosphere, but Saturday could find half the 19,000 or so seats filled by Carolina fans.

There’s not much of a quarterfinal drawback either. The 4th-seed will likely will face 5th-seed Pitt (22-7, 10-6), who plays tonight against N.C. State (17-12, 7-9) at 9 p.m. The 5th seed will open the tournament on Thursday against the survivor of a Wednesday Nos. 12 vs. 13 game.

The third seed, for now, is in line to face No. 6 Clemson (18-10, 9-7). The No. 2 seed would face No. 7 (FSU at the moment) if the favorites win Thursday.

Virginia, on a 13-game win streak, would get No. 8 - possibly Maryland or State.

Roy Williams wouldn’t dare get caught talking about the tournament seedings yet, but it’s safe to assume neither he nor Mike Krzyzewski would like a third Duke-Carolina game in the ACC semifinals. 

Duke was the only league team to beat Virginia (69-65 Jan. 13 in Durham) and there’s the fact that the Cavaliers buried Carolina (76-61, Jan. 20 in Charlottesville).

Shooting still the Heels’ X-factor

Regardless of where everyone is seeded in Greensboro, the Tar Heels will be a tougher challenge than Virginia and Syracuse faced in regular season.

During an 11-game win streak - dating back to that game at Virginia - UNC’s chemistry has gelled, the rotation has stabilized and no team in the conference is better on the boards. Add in the fact that the overall defense has improved significantly and it’s no surprise the Heels’ NCAA stock is such that a No. 2, 3 or 4 regional seeding is entirely possible.

There is, however, the lingering issue of perimeter and free throw shooting. If Carolina was a 70 percent free throw team (rather than 62 percent) and had a dependable perimeter option to go with point-guard Marcus Paige, there would not be a better team in the country.

But at this late date, it’s difficult to believe the shooting accuracy will make a sudden about-face. It’s not an impossibility but more than likely, Carolina will have to find ways to overcome the problem.
During the win streak, Carolina’s primary assets have been the offensive play of Paige and front-court depth.

Those are going to be the keys in Greensboro and beyond, too. With the improvement of Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and J.P. Tokoto, the Heels gradually have meshed into a unit with entirely too much depth and diversity among its big men for opponents to counter.

Paige, in turn, has mushroomed as an offensive weapon and floor leader. He needs to stay healthy and get a few more rests during games, but there’s no reason to think he’ll go into a shooting slump now.

So in a nutshell, if they can convert a few more free throws and just get a decent offensive effort from Leslie McDonald, the Heels will win three in Greensboro and lock up an NCAA starting spot in Raleigh on March 21 and 23.

But dodging Duke until Sunday in Greensboro’s ACC title game would be a plus in both camps.

18 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • JPDOhio Mar 6, 1:53 p.m.

    Still think Syracuse is better than UVa?

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Nope. 'Cuse has been living on borrowed time and it's finally caught up to them. The ACC Tourney is wide open and it wouldn't surprise me if a team seeded lower than 4 wins it all. I think UVa is best in the conference right now, with UNC right behind. Then Duke, then Syracuse. Any one of those teams can be upset and probably will be. Don't count out the Pack with its deep rotation. The key will be whether TJ can hold up over 3 straight days with major minutes.

  • Ken D. Mar 5, 8:43 a.m.

    Still think Syracuse is better than UVa?

  • wahoo81 Mar 4, 1:09 p.m.

    i love how everyone cites UVA's easy schedule as the reason they won the ACC. Sure they didn't play at UNC or at Syr., but if they had and assuming they lost both games they would drop all the way to (oops) still in first!

  • ncdedhed Mar 4, 10:31 a.m.

    "So in a nutshell, if they can convert a few more free throws and just get a decent offensive... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Agree. They can't even guarantee wins over NC State or VA Tech away from the Dean Dome right... View More

    — Posted by 903 Hail Providence

    lol....yet they still managed to whup your beloved devils, boy.....hurts, apparently..

    you poor... View More

    — Posted by sheisacoward

    SHEISACOWRD...I am a diehard Heels fan (have my degrees from there), and hate all things dook and iNCeST, but you crossed way over the line on this comment!

  • StunGunn Mar 3, 10:59 p.m.

    "So in a nutshell, if they can convert a few more free throws and just get a decent offensive... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Agree. They can't even guarantee wins over NC State or VA Tech away from the Dean Dome right... View More

    — Posted by 903 Hail Providence

    Please tell me what team in the ACC can guarantee a win over any other team in the ACC.

    — Posted by Dreamchaser

    Agree, Dream. There are NO guarantees in the ACC. State came within a whisker of beating Syracuse and Carolina, two of the top four teams. Carolina beat Duke in the first game, BC beat Syracuse. Any team can beat any team. There are no guarantees.

  • avidreader Mar 3, 9:40 p.m.

    I'm sure the 'Hoos are happy that they are still being underrated.

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Why do you say they are underrated? They are ranked 5th behind Duke. Are you saying Duke is over... View More

    — Posted by Mary is a liar

    Yes, Duke is over rated.

  • Mary is a liar Mar 3, 4:34 p.m.

    Well Duke beat Virginia in a close one that could have changed a lot of things if that last shot had gone in, but Virginia beat Syracuse pretty badly. IMO, I think Syracuse is a easier route, but anything can happen. There's no certain outcome to any of these games, and either could lose on Friday. I'd rather play Syracuse than Duke ( 3times), or Virginia. It would be nice to win the ACC Championship, but if you lose you get to rest up for the big tournament.

  • Ken D. Mar 3, 3:10 p.m.

    I'm sure the 'Hoos are happy that they are still being underrated.

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Why do you say they are underrated? They are ranked 5th behind Duke. Are you saying Duke is over... View More

    — Posted by Mary is a liar

    It's the whole premise of the article. It would appear Tudor thinks they are no better than fourth in the ACC. Their body of work says otherwise.

  • Mary is a liar Mar 3, 2:58 p.m.

    I'm sure the 'Hoos are happy that they are still being underrated.

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Why do you say they are underrated? They are ranked 5th behind Duke. Are you saying Duke is overrated?

  • heelsforever Mar 3, 2:48 p.m.

    I don't care what the numbers say or what the seeds are as long as the Heels keep winning.

More...

 

 

  • ACC: Clemson at NC State

    Tomorrow at 9:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at Georgia Tech

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Florida

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Waste Management Phoenix Open

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • HSBB: Broughton at Leesville Road

    Tonight at 7:00 on 620am

  • NHL: Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay

    Tonight at 7:30 on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: Duke at Notre Dame

    Tomorrow at 7:30 pm on 620am

  • ACC: NC State vs. Clemson

    Tomorrow at 9:00 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 55
DELST 54
 
Final
UNC 93
SYR 83
7:30pm Tonight
CAR
TAM
 
7:30pm Monday
BRK 0
POR 0
7:30pm Monday
NYK 0
SAC 0
Final
OKC 92
MIN 84
Final
MEM 103
ORL 94
Final
NOP 99
PHI 74
Final
UTA 90
BOS 99
Final
LAC 102
DEN 98
7:00pm Tonight
IND
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
CLE
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
MIL
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
MEM
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
CHI
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
WAS
 
Final
AMER 66
ARMY 68
 
Final
OU 59
CLST 56
 
Final
NCCU 55
DELST 54
 
Final
PBY 54
HIGH 63
 
Final
UNC 93
SYR 83
Final
DET 53
WRST 64
 
Final
NCAT 71
COPST 84
 
Final
SCST 65
HAMP 56
 
Final
COOK 42
HOW 45
 
Final
NWST 80
NICST 51
 
Final
NO 87
CARK 67
 
Final
CAMP 78
GWEBB 59
 
Final
FAM 65
MDES 72
 
Final
INCWORD 86
MCNST 84
 
Final
SAV 54
NORST 70
 
Final
ABCHRIST 63
SHSU 80
 
Final
LAM 65
STEPH 82
 
Final
SELA 61
TAMCC 70
 
Final
VALPO 73
UWMIL 48
 
Final
ALAAM 78
ALCOR 66
 
Final
ALAST 63
SOUTH 59
 
Final
ARKPB 105
PVU 68
 
Final
ISU 89
TEX 86
Final
MVSU 84
TXSOU 85
 
7:00pm Tonight
AKR
BST
 
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
CMICH
 
7:00pm Tonight
VCU
GWU
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
UMO
 
7:00pm Tonight
MICH
NEB
 
7:00pm Tonight
BGU
NILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
EMICH
OHIO
 
7:00pm Tonight
VT
PITT
 
7:00pm Tonight
LAS
STJOE
 
7:00pm Tonight
TULA
TULSA
 
7:00pm Tonight
UGA
VANDY
 
7:00pm Tonight
KYST
WVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
WMICH
 
7:00pm Tonight
GEOR
XAV
 
8:00pm Tonight
EVAN
INDST
 
8:00pm Tonight
ORU
TABOR
 
9:00pm Tonight
OKST
BAY
 
9:00pm Tonight
PROV 0
DEP 0
 
9:00pm Tonight
ALA
UF
 
9:00pm Tonight
RUTG 0
MSU 0
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARK
TENN
 
9:00pm Tonight
AUB
TEXAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTST
WYO
 
9:05pm Tonight
SDST
FRES
 
10:00pm Tonight
CALST
SDCHR
 
10:00pm Tonight
NEV
UNLV
 
11:00pm Tonight
BSU
COLST
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
ARI
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
NYR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
WAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
WIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
MON
DAL
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
DET
 
7:30pm Tonight
CAR
TAM
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
COL
 
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
BUF
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
MIN
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
ANA