For North Carolina to come out of Cameron Indoor Stadium with an 88-70 win over the Duke Blue Devils in the final game of the season, that's big. Perhaps not even as big as the fact it was win-or-bust for the 2012 ACC regular season championship.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. This is the ACC Tournament.
Even if Carolina meets Duke again in the title game, it's no sure bet. We don't have to turn the page back very far to see how similar this ending was just one year ago. In 2011, the same teams played for the regular season title. The Tar Heels came out with an 81-67 win and another title belt—they really should give out belts, by the way.
They followed that up with two close-calls against Miami and Clemson and a miserable 75-58 loss in the ACC Championship—to Duke.
Do you see where I'm going here?
Just because Carolina left their mark on Tobacco Road doesn't mean they won't be pushing daisies in the Jackets' nest. The tournament isn't in friendly Greensboro, NC, this year. It's taking place at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga. Fortunately, UNC wouldn't have to face Georgia Tech until a potential championship game.
It was a rough road for the Heels last year, and I don't see it getting easier. There are four teams that I see as legitimate threats to UNC's title hopes in Duke, Florida State, Miami and Virginia. The good news is, three of them are in the other bracket. The bad news is, any of the other seven teams could still beat them on any given day. This is the way of the ACC Tournament.