UNC, UVA, Duke, ‘Cuse advance in Ultimate ACC Tournament
Syracuse (2002-03) as the No. 5 seed advanced with a 2-1 decision over No. 4 seeded NC State (1982-83).
All three other quarterfinal games saw the higher seed school moving on.
No.1 seed North Carolina (1981-82), led by the trio of James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and Michael Jordan, was just too much for No. 9 Wake Forest (1995-96), advancing to the semis with a unanimous decision by the panel.
Wake had all-everything Tim Duncan, who is regarded as one of the best bigs to play the collegiate game. As alluded to earlier in the tournament, though, when Jordan is regarded as your third best player, then you’re ready for all challengers.
No. 5 Syracuse’s advancement over No. 4 seed NC State was not without debate. Senior panelist Jerry Ratcliffe, who is regarded as one of the ACC’s most respected writers, gave NC State his pick. Having actually seen the Wolfpack play that season, he was well aware of the chemistry and magic State put together in post season.
Ratcliffe made valid points, but in our tournament, majority rules.
No.3 Duke (1991-92) advanced with a surprising 3-0 decision by the panel over No. 6 seed Louisville. Both teams won it all in their respective seasons, but the panel agreed that Duke’s star-studded lineup that included Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill offered too much for a great Louisville team that had All-American “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison.
The push for me that gave Duke the nod was that if the game came down to a game-ending winning shot, well, the Blue Devils had that one covered.
What was thought to be the most intriguing pairing of the day proved to be not so much.
No. 2 Virginia (2018-19) won in a 3-0 decision over No.7 FSU (1971-72).
The Cavaliers’ 2018-19 season has been well documented. The Big Three, De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy, paced Virginia to the national championship. The Cavaliers were equally impressive on both ends of the floor, rated No. 2 in both defensive and offensive efficiency by KenPom.com.
FSU had a great 1971-72 year that ended with a hard-fought loss to one of the most dominant teams in NCAA history, a 30-0 UCLA squad that featured Bill Walton.
History may regard the 1971-72 Seminoles as a footnote, as one team among the seven in a row that UCLA conquered in the NCAA title contest, but FSU gave the Bruins all they wanted.
In our Ultimate ACC Tournament, though, FSU had the misfortune of facing a Virginia team that had a chip on its shoulder.
Ultimate ACC Tournament Semifinals
No. 5 North Carolina (1981-82) vs. No.5 Syracuse (2002-03)
No. 2 Virginia (2018-19) vs. No.3 Duke (1991-92)
This semifinal quartet is easily capable of making up an Ultimate Final Four Tournament.
Each school capped their greatest season ever with a national tile.
The semifinal participants are led by three Hall of Fame coaches and one (Tony Bennett) destined to earn that honor as well.
Story by Scott German
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