North Carolina and Duke will renew their storied rivalry on Sunday when the two basketball powerhouses from the Old North State clash in the 2011 ACC Tournament championship game at 1 p.m. EST (ESPN) in Greensboro, N.C.
The Tar Heels lead the all-time series against the Blue Devils, 131-100. Duke (29-4) beat UNC (26-6), 79-73, in the first meeting of the season on Feb. 9. However, the Tar Heels got the last laugh, trouncing the Blue Devils, 81-67, on March 5 to win the regular season ACC title.
As a result, North Carolina was awarded the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament while Duke was awarded the No. 2 seed. The top four seeds in the ACC Tournament received a first-round bye, meaning that the Tar Heels and Blue Devils were exempt from the first-round action.
Both teams took different routes to Sunday's championship game. Duke coasted through its competition, beating No. 7 seed Maryland, 87-71, in the quarterfinals on Friday March 11th and No. 6 seed Virginia Tech, 77-63, in the semifinals on Saturday.
Nolan Smith is the leading scorer for Duke, averaging 21.1 points, and is also leading the team in assists (5.1 APG). Smith was named the ACC's Player of the Year and was the only player in history to lead the ACC in both scoring and assists.
Kyle Singler is right behind Smith, averaging 17.5 points, and also averages 6.7 rebounds. Mason Plumlee leads the team in rebounding, averaging 8.8 boards per contest.
Duke ranks ninth in the country in scoring (81.4 PPG) and 32nd in field goal percentage (46.8%). In addition, the Blue Devils are 66th in the nation in assists (14.5 APG) and 24th in rebounding (38.4 RPG).
North Carolina's road to the ACC Tournament title game was much more turbulent. The Tar Heels overcame a 19-point deficit in the second half to defeat the No. 9 seed Miami Hurricanes, 61-59, and needed a last-second layup from Tyler Zeller to advance to the semifinals.
UNC looked like it would fall shot in its semifinal tilt against No. 4 seed Clemson on Saturday. The Tar Heel trailed, 38-28, at halftime but outscored the Tigers 45-35 in the final twenty minutes to force overtime. UNC outscored Clemson, 19-14, in the extra period to escape with the 92-87 win and move on to the finals.
Harrison Barnes scored a career-high 40 points in UNC's win over Clemson. In addition, Barnes set an ACC Tournament record for scoring by a first-year player.
The Tar Heels rank 23rd in the nation in scoring (76.8 PPG) and 96th in team field goal percentage (45.2%). UNC is also ranked 26th in assists (15.5 SPG) and is the top-ranked rebounding team in the country, averaging 42.6 boards per contest.
Zeller is the leading scorer for North Carolina, averaging 14.5 points, and is second on the team in rebounding with 7.2 boards per game. Barnes is second in scoring, averaging 14.2 points on 41% shooting from the field.
The winner of Sunday's championship game will clinch the ACC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2011 ACC Tournament Schedule
Thursday, March 10 - First Round
#9 Miami defeats #8 Virginia, 69-62 (OT)
#5 Boston College defeats #12 Wake Forest, 81-67
#7 Maryland defeats #10 N.C. State, 75-67
#6 Virginia Tech defeats #11 Georgia Tech, 59-43
Friday, March 11 - Quarterfinals
#1 North Carolina defeats #9 Miami, 61-59
#4 Clemson defeats # 5 Boston College, 70-47
#2 Duke defeats #7 Maryland, 87-71
#6 Virginia Tech defeats #3 Florida State, 52-51
Sunday, March 13 - Championship
#1 North Carolina vs. #2 Duke, 1:00 p.m. ACC Network/ESPN