Sunday, March 13, 2011

5 things to watch in the ACC final

GREENSBORO - For the first time since 2001, Duke and North Carolina are meeting in the ACC tournament final.

The teams split during the regular season, with each of them winning at home. The Tar Heels have needed a buzzer shot by Tyler Zeller against Miami and overtime against Clemson to reach the final.

Duke has won by an average of 15 points over Maryland and Virginia Tech.

Here are five things to watch in the 1 p.m. ACC title game:

1. Harrison Barnes vs. Kyle Singler. Barnes is coming off a brilliant, 40-point performance against Clemson and outplayed Singler badly in the Tar Heels' 81-67 win in the regular-season finale.

Barnes is the more talented player, and Singler has missed 33 of his last 39 3-point attempts. But Singler has come up big in championship games before. Don't count him out.

2. Duke's 3-point shooting. After North Carolina's win in Chapel Hill, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said the Blue Devils needed to make 3-pointers because the Tar Heels are so strong in the low post.

But the Blue Devils have shot less than 30 percent from 3-point range in each of their last three games. Singler, Nolan Smith, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins are capable of decimating the Tar Heels from 3-point land.

Recently, though, Duke has shown few signs that it can rely on its 3-point shooting.

3. Mason Plumlee. The Duke center has been held to two and zero points in the two games against the Tar Heels.

It's too much to expect Plumlee to match North Carolina counterparts Tyler Zeller and John Henson in the low post. But Plumlee needs to score some points and can't afford to be dominated by the Tar Heel big men.

4. Heels in transition. North Carolina is best on offense when its players are getting loose on the fast break.

The best way for Duke to keep that from happening is to make shots, but that won't be easy against one of the strongest defenses in the nation.

5. Fantastic finish? This has been one of the most outstanding tournaments in years.

The opening day had one of the greatest comebacks in history when Miami rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 42 seconds to defeat Virginia. The quarterfinals had Zeller's buzzer beater to defeat Miami and Florida State's buzzer beater that was overturned against Virginia Tech.

In the semifinals, North Carolina used a second straight dramatic comeback to defeat Clemson in overtime.

It would be good for the conference to close out the tournament with one more spectacular game.

Ken Tysiac

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am a Carolina fan, but I am really excited that Duke made it as well. These are clearly the league's 2 best teams this year and it is nice to have a rubber match to decide the league Champion. I hope Carolina wins...but it should really be a tremendous game. (I also hope that neither team sustains an injury, as we have both had scares with Smith and Henson at various points of this tournament)...

ROY>RAT said...

BLOW OUT CITY. Heels by 18. Dook has regressed since mid season, the Heels are playing some of the best basketball in the nation. SUCK IT DOOKIES.

Anonymous said...

Oh, uh oh...Heels getting jacked! Sorry ROY>RAT. Duke rules ACC again!

Anonymous said...

UNC-CHeat!

MichaelProcton said...

Damn. UNC must be a HELL of a team if a regressed Duke team can blow them out on a neutral site like they did today.

Anonymous said...

ROY>RAT, I think you mean "BLOW OUT CITY. Duke by 17." Same concept, though.