|North Carolina Earns Bye in 1st Round with Win Over Duke|
|Written by TheSpread|
|Sunday, 04 March 2007 08:41|
Tar Heels Clinch Top Seed in ACC With Win Over Duke
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With a win, North Carolina (24-6, 10-5 ACC) - which is also looking to sweep the Blue Devils (22-8, 8-7) for the first time since 1995-96 - ensures itself of no worse than a second-place finish in the conference. If No. 21 Virginia Tech also loses to Clemson, the Tar Heels would earn the top seed.
A loss, however, would drop North Carolina to either fourth or fifth depending on the outcome of Sunday's other games, and a fifth-place finish would make the Tar Heels need to win four games in four days to be crowned ACC tournament champions.
"Hopefully this will get us fired up for the Duke game," Tar Heels guard Marcus Ginyard said. "I mean, that's what everybody wants."
North Carolina needs to snap out of its current funk, though, which includes an 89-87 loss at Maryland last Sunday and an 84-77 defeat Thursday at Georgia Tech.
In Thursday's loss, Brandan Wright scored 22 points and Tyler Hansbrough added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who allowed the Yellow Jackets to shoot 52 percent from the field and make 10 3-pointers.
"We were just so bad defensively in the first half, but I still go back and say that just because you're open doesn't mean you make shots, and they made shots," said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who will make his third bid for his 100th win with the Tar Heels.
North Carolina, which is 6-0 against ranked teams, is trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since a five-game skid from Jan. 22-Feb. 5, 2003.
Duke had its four-game winning streak snapped with an 85-77 loss to No. 24 Maryland on Wednesday. The 85 points allowed were a season high by the Blue Devils, who are 17th in the nation in scoring defense at 59.9 points per game.
"Their offense beat our defense," said Mike Krzyzewski, who is 31-31 all-time as Duke coach against North Carolina. "I thought their offense was very mature and our defense was very immature. We didn't communicate well and we didn't follow some of the things we would have liked to have done against their offense."
Sophomore point guard Greg Paulus scored 20 points in Wednesday's defeat, and has averaged 16.6 points and 4.2 assists in his last five games while shooting 18-for-32 (56.3 percent) from 3-point range.
The Blue Devils can finish no better than sixth in the ACC, and would fall to seventh with a loss and a victory by Georgia Tech over Boston College on Sunday.
Win or lose, this will be Duke's worst league finish since going 8-8 in the 1995-96 season. That Blue Devils team finished 18-13 and made a first-round exit in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
Wright and Hansbrough combined for 35 points as North Carolina held off Duke for a 79-73 win at Durham on Feb. 7. Freshman guard Jon Scheyer had a season-high 26 for the Blue Devils as Krzyzewski benched leading scorers Josh McRoberts and DeMarcus Nelson to spark the team.
North Carolina holds a 125-96 lead in the 87-year-old rivalry.
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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