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Heel Tough Blog: ACC Quarterfinals - Virginia Recap/ACC Semifinals - Virginia Tech Preview


The State


In dominant fashion, Carolina cruised into the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, after blowing out Virginia 63-43, to validate last Saturday’s win at Duke. Carolina led 33-13 at the break, as Brady Manek outscored UVA by himself in the first 20 minutes, as he scored 19 points. UNC put three players in double figures scoring, led by the aforementioned Brady Manek’s 21 points. Armando Bacot added 10 points, and 11 rebounds, as he recorded his 24th double-double of the season, the most in a single season in Carolina Basketball history. Caleb Love was the only other Tar Heel to score double figures, adding 10 points, on 2-10 shooting. For the game, Carolina shot just 38% from the field, but they held UVA to 35%, and only allowed Jayden Gardner to score double-digit points.


After dropping seven straight games to the Cavaliers entering this season, UNC has now beaten Virginia twice in blowout fashion, as the change in philosophy has made it easier to generate offense against the stingy pack-line defense they deploy. The win also solidifies Carolina’s NCAA Tournament seeding, as it can only get better over the rest of the weekend in Brooklyn.


UNC has struggled with prosperity during Hubert Davis’ first season, but this is a team that has now was 12 of its last 14 games, and after the Duke win last weekend, is playing as confident as they have all season long. Tonight was another example of how good this team can be when they are committed to the defensive end of the floor. Here’s what to take away from Carolina’s blowout win over UVA:


  1. Armando Bacot: Props to Bacot for setting the record for most double-doubles in a season in program history. He’s now third on the list for most rebounds in a single season, trailing marks set by Tyler Hansbrough and Brice Johnson.

  2. Turnovers: UNC may not have shot the basketball well, but they took care of it, as they turned it over only 7 times. Of those 7 miscues, Virginia only converted them into 5 points. Meanwhile, Carolina forced 11 turnovers and scored 13 points off those takeaways.

  3. Defense: Carolina competed at a high level defensively, allowing only 13 first-half points, and 43 points for the entire game. For the game, UVA shot 35% from the field, and 27% from behind the three-point line. The 43 points are the fewest allowed in an ACC Tournament game since giving up 43 points against Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals of the 1982 event.


Carolina now turns their attention to Virginia Tech, who they’ll play in the semifinals later tonight. UNC will be looking for their third win over the Hokies this season, after sweeping the two games in the regular season. Carolina won in Blacksburg three weeks ago, in what has turned out to be the turning point of the season.


Like Virginia last night, Tech is playing for their NCAA Tournament lives, despite winning two games already in the ACC Tournament. Wake Forest’s loss to Boston College on Wednesday, has opened the door for a team like Tech to win their way into the Big Dance.


The Hokies are led by Keve Aluma and his 15.6 points per game. As a team, they shoot 39% from behind the arc, which is best in the ACC, and fourth-best in the entire country. They have 5 players in their rotation, that shoot 35% or better from behind the three-point line.


Dean Smith always said it’s hard to beat a team three times in a single season, but that is what they’ll have to do if they want to play for a conference championship. Here’s how they can advance to their first ACC Tournament final since 2018:


  1. Defend 3 Point Line: When UNC defends the three-point line, their defense looks the part of a team that can play with anybody in the country, when they don’t, they usually get run out of the gym. In the two matchups during the regular season, they held Tech to below their average shooting from deep, if they do that again tonight, they give themselves a chance to win the game.

  2. Dominate the Glass: On average, Carolina grabs roughly 7 more rebounds per game, than VT, as UNC is the best rebounding team in the ACC. It’s important that Carolina controls the glass, as it allows them to control the tempo of the game. If Carolina wins the rebounding battle, it’s going to increase their chances of playing for the title tomorrow night.

  3. Energy: Tonight is the second game in as many days for Carolina, and for a team that usually only plays 7-8 players, rest is as important as ever. No starter played more than 34 minutes last night, as Hubert Davis expanded his bench, playing reserves Puff Johnson, Justin McKoy, Dontrez Styles, and Kerwin Walton more minutes than they are accustomed to. With that in mind, Carolina will need to come ready to play and match the intensity of a team playing for their NCAA Tournament lives.


KenPom:


UNC - 25th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.8 (24th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.1 (62nd)


Virginia Tech - 27th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.7 (26th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.5 (69th)


NET:


UNC - 29th.


Virginia Tech - 33rd.


TV Info: Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 9:30 PM on ESPN.


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