North Carolina has two-game lead in the ACC
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina’s win over rival Duke ended up putting the fifth-ranked Tar Heels two games better than anyone else in the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference. Coach Roy Williams is hoping that has his team prepared for what’s to come.
“Winning the league and winning it by two games is something we’ll always be proud of,” Williams said after Saturday’s 90-83 win over the No. 17 Blue Devils. “I think it is the best league. Top to bottom, there’s no league in the country like it. Now we’ve got to back it up and do in the postseason what we did last year.”
Last year, the ACC put a record six teams in the NCAA Sweet 16, four in the Elite Eight and two in the Final Four.
The league’s final day of the regular season featured three games featuring two ranked teams — No. 15 Florida State beat No. 25 Miami 66-57 , No. 8 Louisville beat No. 19 Notre Dame 71-64 , and UNC’s home win — to highlight the week of action for AP Top 25 teams.
The Tar Heels (26-6, 14-4) had already clinched the No. 1 seed for the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn to start the week, but stumbled to 43 points in a loss at No. 23 Virginia . But the Cardinals’ win against the Irish ensured the Tar Heels would win the ACC regular-season crown outright, then UNC’s win later that night gave it the two-game margin in a league with a national-best seven ranked teams.
“We are where we want to be,” UNC’s Theo Pinson said.
BIG UPSET: The week’s biggest upset involving ranked teams also came in the ACC, with Wake Forest beating the Cardinals 88-81 on Wednesday night. That, along with the Demon Deacons’ win at Virginia Tech on Saturday, moved coach Danny Manning’s program onto more solid footing in its pursuit of the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid since 2010.
And if Wake Forest can get in, that could help the ACC make good on its post-realignment goal of getting 10 bids for the first time.
TOP-HEAVY PAC-12: The Pac-12 has three national-title contenders atop the league with No. 3 UCLA, No. 6 Oregon and No. 7 Arizona. But the Ducks managed to secure the No. 1 seed for the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
Oregon (27-4, 16-2) beat Oregon State 80-59 on Saturday, clinching a share of the regular-season title alongside with Arizona. But the Ducks had the head-to-head tiebreaker through its 85-58 win against the Wildcats (27-4, 16-2) on Feb. 4 for the No. 1 seed.
That left the Bruins (28-3, 15-3) as the No. 3 seed after their 77-68 win against Washington State on Saturday.
That tournament begins Wednesday.
JAYHAWKS STILL ROLLING: No. 1 Kansas (28-3, 16-2 Big 12) closed the regular season with Saturday’s 90-85 win at bubble-team Oklahoma State for its eighth straight victory.
The Jayhawks — who took over the top spot after Gonzaga’s first loss last weekend — had already locked up their 13th straight Big 12 regular-season title and will open play in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri.
WILDCATS, WILDCATS: No. 2 Villanova and No. 9 Kentucky both closed out the regular season with titles.
Villanova (28-3, 15-3) beat Georgetown 81-55 and will open the Big East Tournament in New York with the top seed Thursday.
In the Southeastern Conference, Kentucky (26-5, 16-2) didn’t have an easy week. First the Wildcats had the biggest comeback of the John Calipari era by rallying from 19 down to beat Vanderbilt , then rallied from 15 down early to win at Texas A&M .
Kentucky opens the SEC Tournament as the No. 1 seed in Friday’s quarterfinals in Nashville, Tennessee.
BOILERMAKERS ON TOP: No. 16 Purdue wrapped up the outright Big Ten regular-season title with Tuesday’s win against Indiana , followed by Iowa’s win against No. 22 Wisconsin on Thursday.
The top-seeded Boilermakers open the Big Ten Tournament on Friday in Washington.
SHOCKERS ARE IN: No. 21 Wichita State took care of any possible question about its NCAA Tournament chances, beating Illinois State 71-51 on Sunday to win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title and the automatic bid that comes with it.
Gregg Marshall’s Shockers (30-4) have won 15 straight and haven’t lost since Jan. 14.