newsvirginia win sets up rematch with duke for acc tournament championship

Virginia win sets up rematch with Duke for ACC Tournament championship

uva vs. duke
Photo: ACC/Jaylynn Nash

Virginia had its full arsenal on display in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Friday night, devouring the Clemson Tigers, 76-56, at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The win sets the stage for Saturday night’s championship of the 70th edition of the tournament and a rematch with red-hot Duke, which has won eight straight.

The Blue Devils’ last loss came exactly a month ago in Charlottesville, when they fell to the Cavaliers, 69-62, in overtime.

A controversial late foul on Virginia in the last second was overturned, sending the game into overtime. In the extra five minutes of play, the Cavaliers took it to Duke, outscoring the Blue Devils 11-4 to win going away.

One popular narrative was that the officials made an incorrect decision to waive off the foul, and that cost the Blue Devils the game.

In reality, it simply added five minutes to the contest. Duke laying an egg in the overtime was the real culprit.

Friday night, Virginia was balanced on offense and determined on defense as they had little trouble with Clemson.

Virginia is certainly not endearing themselves with the ACC. For the second straight evening, the Cavaliers may have cost the conference another team in March Madness.

The Tigers, who are squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, must now hope the Tournament Selection Committee ignores the curb-stomping by Virginia.

Thursday night, Virginia handed North Carolina a defeat that according to UVA radio play-by-play announcer John Freeman said sent “the Tar Heels into the abyss.”

Virginia held Clemson scoreless for a near eight-minute stretch spanning halftime, allowing a 14-0 scoring run. UVA ended up going on a 21-2 run, turning a four-point game into a 23-point lead game.

The Tigers would never get closer than 14 points the rest of the way.

Saturday night, Duke looks to build on its eight-game win streak in what has unofficially been a redemption tour for the last few weeks.

The win streak for the Blue Devils has included wins over Virginia Tech, NC State and on Friday night in the other semifinal game, Miami.

All three schools defeated the Blue Devils earlier in the season.

Since the loss in Charlottesville, Duke hasn’t lost a game.

What’s at stake?

Duke last won the ACC Tournament championship in 2019 in Charlotte. The Blue Devils also won in 2017 in Brooklyn.

Duke and Virginia met in the 2014 ACC Tournament final here in Greensboro, with Virginia posting a 67-62 win.

The Cavaliers last won the ACC Tournament championship in 2018, when they topped North Carolina 71-63 in Brooklyn.

Both Duke and Virginia will play in the NCAA Tournament when it begins next week. Likely both schools will find themselves right back in the Greensboro Coliseum.

But this game Saturday night is about pride and earning a championship.

Virginia and Duke both have had plenty of success over the years, but they’ve only met once before in the ACC title game.

Saturday’s tourney finale may be a glimpse of many more to come.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.