In the finale of what turned out to be a very exciting and highly competitive tournament, the University of North Carolina took down the University of Virginia in the first ACC Championship win for the Tar Heels since the 2008 season by a final score of 61-57. If i were to say this was a game in which flashy offensive play took a backseat to tough defensive play, you would probably assume this would be a game that Virginia would win. This was not the case on Saturday night as UNC put on the type of smothering and gritty defensive performance we are used to seeing Virginia give their opponents.
The first half actually looked to go in Virginia’s favor. The half ended in a 28-28 tie, however Virginia was in control of the pace and definitely looked to be outplaying North Carolina on both ends. UVA missed a lot of open threes and mid range shots that you usually see Brogdon and Perrantes make at the end of the half that could have given the Cavaliers a bit of a lead heading into the locker room.
In the second half North Carolina came out much faster and tougher on defense. They forced an 8 minute period in which Virginia was not able to score a field goal that allowed to tar heels to open up an 8 point lead with 2 minutes left. It wasn’t North Carolina’s most impressive offensive performance, but the second half was one of the most complete halves of basketball I have seen the Tar Heel’s play all season long.
Malcolm Brogdon led Virginia with 15 points, but was limited to just 6-22 from the field as UNC threw a lot of different players at him to slow him down.
The ACC tournament MVP was not Marcus Paige or Brice Johnson as one might expect, but rather it was Joel Berry. He led the way for the Tar Heels on Saturday night, scoring 19 points in a variety of different ways. Berry has been one of the most improved players in all of the country from last season to this season in my opinion, and his emergence is what has allowed this UNC team to really take off. In the post game press conference, coach Roy Williams referred to Berry as his teams, “most consistent player” which is a big time compliment when you consider the amount of talent this roster has.
Obviously both teams were a lock for the tournament before this game happened, but this game did a lot for potential seeding in the upcoming NCAA tournament. With the win UNC essentially locked up a one seed while Virginia left their seeding up to the hands of the selection committee. A lot of the decision will come down to weather or not Michigan State is able to win the Big 10 tournament against Purdue on Saturday afternoon.
Regardless of seeding, both teams showed they are ready for March and are ready to compete for a national championship in the upcoming weeks.
Virginia Tech ’18