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Heel Tough Blog: ACC Quarterfinals - Virginia Preview

After last night’s win over Boston College in the second round of the ACC Tournament, Carolina is back in action tonight, as they’ll take on Virginia, in the ACC quarterfinals. The Tar Heels are coming off one of their best performances of the season, as they took down BC 85-61, as four starters scored in double figures. Armando Bacot left in the first half, after turning his left ankle. Bacot would return to play in the second half and even told Hubert Davis after the game that this ankle injury isn’t as bad as the ones he suffered against Kansas in the national championship game last season or even the one he endured against Virginia earlier this season.

Virginia finished tied for the first in the ACC this season, but off of tiebreakers, they are the #2 seed in this year’s ACC Tournament. Earlier this week, Reece Beekman was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, as the Cavaliers are once again one of the best defensive teams in the country this season. Tony Bennett’s squad is led in scoring by Armaan Franklin, and his 12.6 points per game, as he shoots 39% from behind the arc. Additionally, Jayden Gardner (11.8), and Kihei Clark (11.1) also average double figures scoring. As a team, Virginia shoots 36% from behind the three-point line, as they have four players in their rotation that shoots 36% or better from behind the arc.

As of right now, Virginia is ranked 30th in the NET, meaning that Carolina’s win over them back in February still registers as their lone Quad 1 win this season. Tonight also serves as another Quad 1 opportunity, and if UNC were to win, and if Virginia does not fall out of the top 30, they’d have two Quad 1 wins, boosting their NCAA Tournament resume.

The vibes are as good as they’ve been all season long after the way that Carolina played last night. Carolina played very well on offense, competed defensively, and even got major contributions from a bench that has struggled all season long. Now the challenge is for that to carry over into tonight’s game, against a much better opponent, while still needing a win if they want to make the NCAA Tournament:

  1. Fast Start: Just like in the matchup back in February, it’s imperative that Carolina gets off to a fast start, and not fall behind. Last night, after the game was tied at 10, UNC used a 16-2 to take control of the game, and never looked back. There will be an even larger contingent of Tar Heel fans in the building tonight, and Carolina needs to use that energy to their advantage.

  2. Ball Movement/Shot Selection: Last night, Carolina had 16 assists on their 34 made baskets. That needs to carry over tonight against the best defensive team in the league. One of the issues that have plagued Carolina’s offense this season, is that the ball has stuck on either one side of the court, or in one player’s hands altogether. Against Boston College, they moved the ball from one side of the court to the other, inside-out, which led to quality looks from the perimeter, and opened up driving lanes to the basket. That all needs to be on display tonight.

  3. Rebounding: In the previous two matchups, UNC won the rebounding margin, even though they didn’t have Armando Bacot for the majority of the first matchup. They need to own the glass to help ensure that they can control the pace of the game. Furthermore, they need to capitalize on their offensive rebounds. In the second round against BC, Carolina grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and turned them into 16 second-chance points. If that carries over tonight, it increases Carolina’s chances of advancing and picking up a much-needed Quad 1 victory.

  4. Turnovers: Maybe the most important key to winning outside of making shots, is making sure they don’t turn the basketball over. Possessions will be limited as they always are against UVA, and Carolina needs to value the basketball. In the win back in February, Carolina turned it over 12 times, but they were able to overcome those turnovers because they made double-digit three-pointers. Carolina only committed 7 turnovers, a number they’d like to repeat once again tonight.

ACC Tournament History: Carolina boasts a 151-50 record all-time in the historic event, having won it all 18 times, with the last time coming in 2016. UNC ranks first in the ACC in championship game appearances (35), No. 1 seeds (26), top-two seeds (40), and top-three seeds (50), second in titles (18), wins (105), and winning percentage (.677). As a seven seed, UNC is 2-2, having beaten Maryland in 2002, and Boston College just last night.

Greensboro History: The Tar Heels are 128-39 in Greensboro, including 120-35 in the Greensboro Coliseum. Carolina is 43-20 in Greensboro in the ACC Tournament as they’ve won the ACC Tournament titles in Greensboro, in 1967, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1997, and 1998.


North Carolina - 42nd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 112.6 (58th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.5 (43rd)

Virginia - 37th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 111.4 (73rd) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 95.9 (31st)


North Carolina - 44th.

Virginia - 30th.

TV Info: Tonight’s game will start at 7 PM on ESPN.


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