Virginia Defeats North Carolina for ACC Championship


Tennessee's Rick Barnes is the seventh coach to take at least four programs to the NCAA Tournament, joining Lon Kruger, Tubby Smith, Rick Pitino, Eddie Sutton, John Beilein and Lefty Driesell.

The Retrievers, the winners of the American East Conference, will play top-seeded Virginia on Friday in Charlotte.

The Cavaliers (31-2) likely will land the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament.

The selection committee didn't do the Cavaliers any favors on their side of the bracket.

Arizona (26-7) labored offensively before Ayton sparked the Wildcats in the second half. More than that, the squad is a symbolic standard-bearer for a sport that is marked by parity and a tournament that figures to be wide open.

"This was a blue-collar game where you're going to just have to fight for everything", Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said while sitting on the stage next to Salt and guard Ty Jerome. "UMBC, I just started to know more about them". You just see the teams in your bracket, and there are some real quality teams.

The top-seeded Cavaliers (30-2) got several crucial plays from role player Jack Salt down the stretch and will face f12th-ranked and sixth-seeded North Carolina for the tournament title Saturday night in Brooklyn. Guy has ramped up his production in year two while maintaining a 39.3 3-point percentage on 6.4 attempts per game, and is the first line of defense for arguably the nation's stingiest defensive team. "Those are heartbreakers. Davidson is a heck of a team, so everyone says, well this team won and steals a bid, this and that".

Michigan State (29-4) won the Big Ten regular season championship and lost in its tournament semifinals to rival Michigan, which handed the Spartans two of their four losses.

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Also making the tournament was the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Coach Ryan Odom, who is a Reynolds High School graduate who went on to play basketball at Hampden-Sydney. Most notably, Guy hit two big jumpers in the middle of the second half: One stopped a 7-0 UNC run to give UVA a 50-46 lead, and the other pivotal basket occurred with 7:47 remaining.

REGION OF DEATH?: The South is tough, but the Midwest Region may be tougher.

N.C. State may not have gotten a good seed, but the Pack could beat Seton Hall and take its chances against top seed Kansas.

The Aztecs, who haven't won a tournament championship since 2011, will play in the title game for the fourth time in five years, and eighth time in 10 seasons. It's why there are many that believe Duke is not one of, if not the favorite to win the national title in San Antonio three-and-a-half weeks from today.

Both the Aggies and Tigers had one common opponent during the season as New Mexico State defeated the Miami Hurricanes in a tournament in Hawaii 63-54. The last team not named North Carolina or Duke to do that was Wake Forest in 1995-96, led by a soon-to-be NBA Hall of Famer in Tim Duncan. UCLA (21-11) matched Arizona almost shot for shot, tying the game with about 5 minutes to go.

Marshall won't be able to match Marshall's Shockers in terms of talent, but plays a freewheelng style under coach Dan D'Antoni that's hard to prepare for on short notice. Villanova was a No. 1 a year ago and has consistently been a high seed under coach Jay Wright. "I think we're much better prepared for the NCAA Tournament than we were a month ago, and these two games will help us, even though we lost (Friday night) and could have played better".

Villanova opens against the LIU Brooklyn-Radford victor on Thursday in Pittsburgh.