ACC Tourney: Florida State at North Carolina - Carolina Favored
64% of Bets Placed on N Carolina -11.5 | Matchup | CBB Picks
A nasty hit left Tyler Hansbrough's nose bloodied and broken in North Carolina's regular season finale. That won't stop him from trying to help the Tar Heels win an ACC tournament title.
After sharing the regular season conference championship, No. 8 North Carolina will try to enhance its chances of earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament when it plays Florida State in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament Friday in Tampa, Fla.
Oddsmakers have made N Carolina -11.5 point spread favorites
The Tar Heels (25-6) shared the conference crown with Virginia, but earned the top seed this weekend by beating the Cavaliers 79-69 on Jan. 10.
After starting the season 20-2 and climbing to the top of the rankings at one point, North Carolina slipped toward the end of the season, losing three of five games before beating archrival Duke 86-72 in its regular season finale Sunday. That game turned ugly for the Tar Heels with 14.5 seconds remaining when Hansbrough went up for a shot after grabbing his own rebound.
He was stripped of the ball and on his way down, was hit in the face by Duke's Gerald Henderson, who claimed he was going for a block. Hansbrough's nose was broken, his face and the court were covered in blood and he sustained an inch-long bruise below his right eye.
Henderson was ejected and suspended one game for the flagrant foul, although Hansbrough said there's no bad blood between him and the Duke freshman.
"I was upset when it happened," Hansbrough said. "I don't think he did it intentionally. I don't really like talking about it because I really don't know how to handle the situation, but I'm fine right now. I feel fine. I was kind of shocked my nose was broken. ... I just thought it was a really bad nosebleed."
Hansbrough might have to wear a protective face mask during the tournament this weekend, but that shouldn't slow down the All-ACC sophomore, who led North Carolina in scoring (18.8 points per game) and rebounding (8.0) for the second straight season.
"I'm not too crazy about the mask," Hansbrough said. "It's one of those things where they strongly recommend me wearing it. But at the same time, I have no problem taking it off."
The Tar Heels might need to win the ACC tournament to earn a top seed for the NCAAs. They've haven't won the conference tourney since 1998, when they captured the second of back-to-back crowns.
North Carolina hasn't even reached the ACC final since 2001, the first time since 1960-66 that the team has missed the title game in at least three straight seasons.
The Tar Heels beat Florida State 84-58 at home Jan. 7 for their fifth straight win over the Seminoles (20-11). North Carolina has won 16 of the last 19 meetings between the teams and is 2-0 against Florida State in the ACC tournament.
The Seminoles, though, will be playing desperate as they try to earn an NCAA bid. They've rebounded from a potentially damaging five-game losing streak to win their last three games, including a dramatic 67-66 win over Clemson on Thursday in the tournament's opening round.
After missing his first free throw, Al Thornton made the second with 1.5 seconds remaining to lift Florida State, which advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003.
"I had to calm down. ... I'd never been in that type of situation before, and the pressure was on," Thornton said. "I was able to shoot the second free throw very relaxed and with confidence."
Thornton, who had a career-high 45 points in the Seminoles' season-ending victory over Miami, finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds Thursday. He led the ACC in scoring at 20.1 points per game in the regular season.
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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