It's here, folks: the ACC Tournament Championship Game. Your Virginia Cavaliers and Brian Leung's North Carolina Tar Heels tip off around 9 PM tonight, after the conclusion of the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game. The game will air on ESPN.
How we got here
The Hoos held off a spirited rally and edged Miami by five, 73-68. Malcolm Brogdon led the scoring with 24 and hit several clutch free throws to ice the game in the closing minutes. It was a balanced offensive effort, as London Perrantes and Marial Shayok were both in double figures, and eight different Cavaliers filled the scoresheet. Anthony Gill had a rough night as foul trouble limited his playing time, but Isaiah Wilkins and Mike Tobey combined to provide a solid effort from UVa's bigs.
North Carolina cruised over a tired and overmatched Notre Dame team, winning by 31 points and holding the Irish to their lowest scoring output of the season—a mere 47 points. Five different Heels scored in double figures, led by Marcus Paige's 16. Paige was 4-of-7 from beyond the arc and contributed 7 assists as well. Isaiah Hicks grabbed fifteen boards.
What happened last time
Virginia asserted itself and won a back-and-forth affair, 79-74 in Charlottesville. Brogdon's 26 points paced the Cavaliers, but he got plenty of help from his teammates. Gill scored 15, Perrantes added 12, and Devon Hall contributed a very solid 11 points as well. UNC's Joel Berry threatened to turn the game in the Heels' favor, exploding for a 5-of-9 performance from three en route to 21 points. But late turnovers doomed the Heels, and Virginia kicked off what's become a five-game winning streak.
Who to watch
Everyone? Talent runs deep on both rosters, with All-ACC first-teamers on both sides in Brogdon and Brice Johnson. Hicks has been a force for Carolina off the bench, winning ACC Sixth Man of the Year and leaving many UNC fans wondering whether he should be getting the starting nod over Kennedy Meeks. Justin Jackson provides matchup nightmares with his length and athleticism, and is always a serious threat from deep.