The No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels bounced back in incredible fashion on Saturday afternoon. A few days after blowing an 8-point lead to the Duke Blue Devils, the Tar Heels destroyed the No. 11 Miami Hurricanes, 96-71.
Despite North Carolina’s (22-5, 11-3) record, their 25- point win over the Hurricanes was the most impressive performance of the season. The victory gave the Tar Heels a one game lead in the ACC. With three road games left on the schedule, they needed a cushion heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
Once again, Brice Johnson had another double-double, but the Tar Heels provided plenty of offensive help. Johnson scored 16 points, and grabbed 15 rebounds on 7/11 shooting. Overall, the Tar Heels had six players reach double figures. However, Marcus Paige was the lone starter not reach double figures. He scored seven points on 2/8 shooting. If the Tar Heels expect to reach the Final Four, they’ll likely need better performances from their former star.
Unlike the Tar Heels, the No. 20 Duke Blue Devils weren’t victorious on Saturday. The shorthanded Blue Devils fell to the No. 18 Louisville Cardinals 71-64 in a bizarre game. Grayson Allen led Duke with 29 points. He was the only player to reach double digits. However, Allen let emotions get the best of him, moments after fouling out. After receiving his fifth foul on a questionable charging call, Allen shouted some expletives, receiving a technical.
With Matt Jones sitting out due to an injured ankle, Brandon Ingram picked an inopportune time to have his worst game in college. Ingram started the game with two straight 3-pointers, but finished the game with eight points and 10 turnovers. The Louisville pressure hounded Ingram the entire game.
The Cardinals win forged a three-way tie for second place in the ACC. One team that could have been tied for second place are the No. 19 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Instead, their 63-62 loss to Georgia Tech was a minor setback for the Fighting Irish. Now they sit two games back in the ACC race.
The ACC has quite a few teams on the bubble and only one of them earned a win over the weekend. The Pittsburgh Panthers dominated the Syracuse Orange late in the second half, for a 66-52 win. The victory gave the Panthers a sweep over the Orange. While holding the Orange to 37 percent from the field, the Panthers also out rebounded Syracuse 43-23. Jamel Artis led Pittsburgh with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Florida State and Clemson both took losses. Due to Louisville’s self-imposed NCAA Tournament ban, there’s an extra spot available in the field of 68. However, these four teams are in must-win situations.