A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 9 North Carolina at No. 5 Duke. The regular season comes to a close with the second matchup of the fierce rivals and they’re both coming off losses on last-second baskets. The Tar Heels (22-8, 11-6) – who won the first meeting – lost at home to Miami on Ja’Quan Newton’s long running 3-pointer to beat the buzzer Tuesday. The Blue Devils (24-6, 12-5) are coming off a loss at Virginia Tech on Chris Clarke’s putback with 4.1 seconds left Monday. The winner claims the No. 2 seed at next week’s ACC Tournament in Brooklyn.
LOOKING AHEAD: The ACC Tournament begins Tuesday for the second half of its two-year stay in New York. The first day of three games features seeds 10 through 15. Four games are set for Wednesday, while the quarterfinals begin Thursday with the top four seeds. The championship is Saturday, March 10 – less than 24 hours before the NCAA Tournament field is unveiled.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Preseason Associated Press All-American Bonzie Colson is back for Notre Dame. He missed 15 games with a broken left foot before returning in Wednesday’s win against Pittsburgh , finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes. Now he gets a matchup with top-ranked Virginia in Saturday’s regular-season finale. Coach Mike Brey had been open about his goal of having the Fighting Irish (18-12, 8-9) simply stay afloat and be at least within range of an NCAA Tournament bid once Colson returned; now the Irish have a couple of chances to make their case with Colson, who helped them win the Maui Invitational and reach No. 5 in the AP Top 25 in November.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Speaking of Pittsburgh, the Panthers (8-23, 0-18) became the seventh team to go winless through regular-season ACC play. They joined Boston College (2016) as the only teams to do it since the league moved to an 18-game schedule for the 2012-13 season. And those are the only two teams to go winless since Maryland went 0-14 in 1986-87. Pitt has now lost 22 straight ACC regular-season games dating to last season, tied with Wake Forest (1985-87) for the second longest streak in league history. Clemson owns the record of 26 regular-season ACC losses in a row, set from 1954-56.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: The ACC Tournament began Wednesday in Greensboro, North Carolina, while the top seeds – No. 4 Louisville, No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 11 Florida State and No. 18 Duke – open play Friday. The semifinals are Saturday and the championship is Sunday.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25
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