Talking Points: Canes top Heels in thrilling ACC Championship
Posted March 17, 2013
1. My goodness, anyone need a cigarette after that? Quite a show from Miami and North Carolina.
The Hurricanes and Tar Heels provided enough excitement inside Greensboro Coliseum to make everyone forget about some of the slugfests from earlier in the week. These squads also made all the hand-wringing about the state of the ACC Tournament rather moot. Folks simply want to see high-level basketball played by NCAA Tournament worthy teams, and they delivered.
2. Miami and North Carolina combined for 25 made 3-pointers, besting a finals record set between North Carolina and Wake Forest in 1995. They also tied an overall ACC Tournament record.
Shane Larkin was plain filthy with his four from beyond the arc for Miami. Trey McKinney-Jones was 6-of-9 on 3-pointers, while Rion Brown chipped in two more.
P.J. Hairston knocked down six 3-pointers for North Carolina, while Reggie Bullock and Marcus Paige combined for six more.
In fact, Hairston was in such a zone for the Tar Heels that Roy Williams didn't take him out when he picked up his third and fourth fouls midway through the second half. Considering Williams' affinity for dice games, it made perfect sense to keep the hot hand out on the court.
3. Miami ultimately grabbed momentum away from North Carolina after forcing the Tar Heels into shot-clock violation with 2:40 left in the game.
The Hurricanes pushed their lead out to 76-71 after Larkin knocked down a jumper on the following possession. The Canes then grabbed a long rebound following Bullock's missed 3-point attempt and McKinney-Jones buried one from outside the ring. The Heels then missed four field goals in the time remaining, including a missed 3-pointer from Hairston under pressure.
4. Despite the loss, North Carolina improved their seeding in the NCAA Tournament with their trip to the ACC Tournament final and will become a trendy "surprise" team for bracketologists.
"Guys, I got no problem with my team." said head coach Roy Williams. "I'm proud of what they've accomplished and how far they've come."
Analyzing North Carolina's run following the lineup change ultimately becomes an exercise in what fans and pundits choose to highlight. The Heels certainly pass the eyeball test and didn't suffer any bad conference losses. Then again, they also didn't beat a squad better than them during this stretch.
Ultimately, the March cliche holds true – it's all about the matchups going forward.
5. Miami is the first team from outside the state of North Carolina to win the ACC regular season outright and league tournament. Oddly appropriate considering this was the final year original conference teams will outnumber original Big East teams.
But it's not like the fabric of the ACC Tournament hasn't been evolving since the conference began expanding with Florida State. Florida State and Miami winning it back-to-back years simply crystalizes the change.
This could also be the last of Duke and North Carolina being Championship game staples. The additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Louisville takes the difficulty level of up a notch.