ACC Tournament 2012: Duke Will Win Rubber Match with UNC in Final

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIMarch 4, 2012

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03:  Ryan Kelly #34 of the Duke Blue Devils has the ball knocked away by John Henson #31 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 3, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There will be tons on the line in the ACC tournament for Duke and North Carolina. Not only do both teams want to win the conference tournament for obvious reasons, but if things transpire as one would expect, Duke and UNC will meet in the season's rubber match.

The two teams' biggest challenger will be Florida State. The Seminoles own a victory over both Duke and UNC, but the Tar Heels and Blue Devils are still the major favorites in the ACC tournament.

On a neutral floor, I don't see Florida State defeating either again in the postseason. Postseason victories are much harder to come by than regular season wins. The Seminoles victory over UNC was at home, and they shot 44 percent from three as a team.

They would have to duplicate that shooting performance to pull another upset, and that is unlikely.

The win over Duke was more impressive, as it took place at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and they outplayed Duke down the stretch.

Still, this is a different Duke team, with Austin Rivers as the clear go-to man in crunch time. The Blue Devils will not be denied a shot at a third and deciding matchup with UNC. 

Duke, UNC, Miami and Florida St will get the first-round byes. UNC would face the winner of the Clemson-Va.Tech eight versus nine matchup as the top seed. Duke is the second seed and would face the winner of Maryland and Wake Forest.

Neither of these scenarios should pose a problem for either team.

The Seminoles would likely be there waiting for Duke in the semi-finals. After Duke exacts revenge for their loss to Florida St in January, they will move into the ACC title game.

I predict the Blue Devils and Tar Heels will battle in the final with a conference championship, series supremacy and a top seed in the Southeast region at stake.

We won't see another blowout, Duke will show up defensively, and the shots will fall from the perimeter to nullify UNC's obvious advantage in the paint.

The Tar Heels are so strong inside, the only way to beat them is on the perimeter. Watch for Austin Rivers to add another notch to his belt going into the NCAA tournament.

Duke will take the rubber match, win the ACC tournament and gain the top seed in the Southeast region.


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