Heels Clinch ACCT Bye

Heels Clinch ACCT Bye

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Seven weeks ago, North Carolina sat alone at the bottom of the ACC standings. The 19th-ranked Tar Heels clinched a top-4 seed and a bye until Friday of the ACC Tournament with their 60-56 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday.

The Tar Heels (22-7, 12-4 ACC) were the last team to notch a win in conference play, but have since won 12 of their last 13 games, including 11 in a row. UNC's current 11-game winning streak is its longest in ACC play since Matt Doherty's squad opened the ‘00-01 conference slate with an 11-0 mark.

The victory over Virginia Tech (9-19, 2-14 ACC) guarantees that UNC will finish no worse than 12-6 in ACC play. Pittsburgh could also wind up at 12-6, although UNC would win the tiebreaker due to its 75-71 win over the Panthers on Feb. 15.

The Tar Heels could also improve its seeding over the final week of the regular season. While the regular season title is out of reach – Virginia (16-1) secured that ring with its 75-56 victory over No. 4 Syracuse – UNC could claim the third seed in the ACC Tournament with a second victory over Duke (12-4) at Cameron Indoor on Saturday night.

If UNC wins out to finish at 14-4, it could also slide into the No. 2 seed if Syracuse (13-3) loses its remaining two games (home vs. Georgia Tech, at Florida State).

Given UNC's difficulty with the likely top-two seeds in Virginia and Syracuse, the No. 4 seed could be seen as more preferential due to its 2:30pm tip time as opposed to a 9:30pm tip for the No. 3 seed on Friday, Mar. 14.

History, however, may suggest otherwise. UNC is 4-5 all-time as the No. 4 seed, although its last appearance in that spot occurred way back in 2000 (a 58-52 loss to No. 5 seed Wake Forest). The Tar Heels won the ACC Tournament Championship as a No. 4 seed in 1989.

The Tar Heels are 13-8 as the No. 3 seed. UNC won the 1997 ACC Tournament from that position and advanced to the title game last season as the No. 3 seed.

As expected, head coach Roy Williams and his Tar Heels didn't put much stock into the importance of securing a bye with two games left on the schedule.

"It's a goal because I knew it was going to happen if we won today, but it hasn't been something that we've talked about," Williams said following his team's victory at Cassell Coliseum. "I told the team in the locker room and they had no idea.I told them after the game…

"I don't know if I care much about getting a bye as much as I do meaning that you've had a pretty good run. I like winning games. I did tell them that in the locker room and now we've got a big time game on Monday."

UNC closes its home schedule against Notre Dame on Monday before its season finale against Duke next weekend.


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