ACC Men's Pairings are set

Regardless of what happens Sunday during the final two regular season games in Durham and College Park, the pairings are already set for the 49th annual ACC Men's Basketball Tournament in Charlotte.

Regardless of what happens Sunday during the final two regular season games in Durham and College Park, the pairings are already set for the 49th annual ACC Men's Basketball Tournament in Charlotte.

The action begins Thursday at 7:00 p.m. when 8th-seeded Florida State and 9th-seeded Clemson tangle in the first round for a second straight year.

Carolina could clinch sole possession of 7th place in the final standings if the Tar Heels win for a second straight year Sunday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium. But should Carolina finish in a tie with Florida State and Clemson at 4-12 in league play, the Tar Heels will still get the 7th seed by virtue of their combined record against the Seminoles and Tigers.

Carolina is 3-1 in those four games, while Florida State--which lost Saturday, 86-78, to Georgia Tech in Tallahassee--is 2-2, and Clemson is 1-3.

As the 7th seed, which is the first time the Tar Heels have been out of the top four since 1964, the Tar Heels will face 2nd-seeded Duke in Friday's quarterfinals at 7:00 p.m. The second game against Duke in five days will mark the first time the two old rivals have ever met in the tournament quarterfinals. Overall, it will be their 18th matchup in the tournament, and the fourth time they have squared off over the last five years.

The Blue Devils hold a slight 9-8 edge in ACC Tournament games including a 5-2 advantage in the semifinals. The Tar Heels, despite losing their last two showdowns, have a 7-3 lead in their championship confrontations.

Friday's first quarterfinal game at 12:00 Noon will match top-seeded Maryland, the winner of its first ACC regular season since 1980, against the winner of the Florida State-Clemson game. Since the first round games were added to the format in 1991 Carolina and Wake Forest are the only two teams who have not played on Thursday. Carolina would have played in this year's first round had Georgia Tech not gotten past Florida State on Saturday.

Friday's second game at 2:30 p.m. will pit 4th-seeded N.C. State against 5th-seeded Virginia. The Wolfpack, which chewed up the Cavaliers twice during the regular season, lost at Wake Forest, 83-71, on Saturday, and even though both teams wound up 9-7 in conference play, the Deacons got the 3rd seed by virtue of their two wins over State during the regular season.

The 3rd-seeded Deacons will meet 6th-seeded Georgia Tech in Friday's last quarterfinal game at 9:30 p.m., following Duke-Carolina at 7:00 p.m. Virginia and Georgia Tech could tie for fifth place should the Cavaliers lose at Maryland on Sunday night, and since they split their two games during the regular season the higher seed goes to Virginia after its win Thursday night over Duke.

Next week's lineup...

Thursday, March 7th

7:00 p.m. - (8)Florida State vs (9)Clemson

Friday, March 8th

12:00 p.m. - (1)Maryland vs #8/#9 Winner

2:30 p.m. - (4)N.C. State vs (5)Virginia

7:00 p.m. - (2)Duke vs (7)North Carolina

9:30 p.m. - (3)Wake Forest vs (6)Georgia Tech

No 7th-seeded team has ever won the ACC Tournament, but for Carolina it'll be just like it was prior to 1975 when a team had to win the championship tournament in order to be the only team able to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heel Sports Network, with Woody Durham, Mick Mixon and Phil Ford, will offer coverage of all eight games during the four days of the ACC Tournament.


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