GAME NOTES: The North Carolina Tar Heels get their postseason started on
Friday, as they meet the Florida State Seminoles in quarterfinal action of the
ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels got off to a slow start this season, as North Carolina
struggled to gel early on. UNC used strong play down the stretch to finish up
22-9 overall and 12-6 in conference play, good for third place. A loss to arch
rival Duke in the regular-season finale ended a six-game win streak for North
Carolina, which remains as dangerous a tournament team as there is in the
field. UNC is second in ACC history with 17 tournament titles, although its
last came in 2008.
Leonard Hamilton's squad finished the regular season at 17-14 overall,
including an even 9-9 in conference play. However, it was considered a down
year for a team that was supposed to take the next step after winning this
event a year ago. Still, the Seminoles took a step in the right direction in
terms of successfully defending their tournament crown with Thursday's 73-69
win over Clemson in the first round.
This is a rematch of last year's championship game won by Florida State.
Overall, North Carolina holds a 44-12 series advantage after sweeping a pair
of regular-season matchups this year.
The winner of this game will move into Saturday's semifinal round against
either Maryland or Duke.
Moving among the ACC elite this season for FSU was derailed by inconsistent
play, especially at home, where the Seminoles were a disappointing 10-7 on the
year. Part of the problem was a lack of offensive firepower, with Florida
State netting a modest 67.0 ppg on .442 shooting. Despite that, no player in
the conference proved to be more clutch when it counted most than Michael
Snaer (14.5 ppg). The senior guard has won more than his share of games with
buzzer-beating shots in his career, including a couple this season. Okaro
White (12.2 ppg) has provided some scoring help and is tops on the team in
rebounding (6.1 rpg).
White opened tournament play in grand fashion, tallying a career-high 24
points in the win over Clemson. Devon Bookert and Terrance Shannon each added
12 points, while Snaer finished with 10 points and five assists.
Scoring points wasn't an issue for North Carolina, which put up 77.0 ppg
this year. Sophomore James Michael McAdoo may not have lived up to all the
hype surrounding him coming into the year, but he still put up big numbers,
leading his team in both scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg). Players
like Reggie Bullock (14.2 ppg) and P.J. Hairston (13.6 ppg) provide plenty of
scoring support for UNC. Dexter Strickland (7.8 ppg) and Marcus Paige (7.6
ppg) don't add much to the scoring column on a regular basis, but contribute
much more as facilitators, each going over 100 assists this season. Just a
freshman, Paige leads the team with 137 assists, with Strickland (124) not far
behind, ranking fourth and sixth in the conference, respectively.
North Carolina's offensive arsenal should once again prove to be too much for
FSU, as the Tar Heels complete the three-game sweep of the Seminoles and move
on to the next round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 75, Florida State 64