ACC Tournament 2013 Bracket: Previewing the Conference Finals

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIMarch 16, 2013

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 31:  Defenders of the Miami Hurricanes watch as Ty Lawson #5 of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels goes to the basket while teammate Wayne Ellington #2 watches on at the Dean E. Smith Center on January 31, 2007 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

One half of the bracket developed as you would expect, and the other saw some surprises. But either way it's all led to the same place: the 2013 ACC tournament finals.

Taking up one finalist spot is Miami, whose hot NCAA season continues. The Hurricanes dominated their field of play, coasting into the finale with ease.

Their opponent will be the UNC Tar Heels. UNC had the pleasure of not playing Duke—thanks in part to Maryland's huge upset—and it outlasted the Terrapins 79-76 to find itself in the conference finals.

With the two teams set, here's a recap of the bracket so far as well as a look towards Sunday's matchup between Miami and UNC.


Breaking Down UNC


The Tar Heels have had an uncharacteristically shaky season, but a timely hot streak has helped UNC push itself deep into the conference tournament.

The big problem for UNC is that it beats who it's supposed to beat but has constantly struggled against elite teams. It was trumped by Miami on two occasions this season by an average margin of 17.5 points a game.

The Tar Heels remain one of the best offensive teams in the NCAA, scoring 77.2 points per game.

The real downfall of the team has been inconsistent defense, which allowed them to be dominated by Miami earlier in the season.

They'll have to find a way to settle down on defense come Sunday, or that finals matchup will get real out of hand real quick.



Key Player: Reggie Bullock

Just as he has been all season long, Reggie Bullock remains the biggest factor for any UNC win.

The junior guard is having a phenomenal season, averaging 14.2 points per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field.

He's been the Tar Heels' best sharpshooter, going 76-for-172 (44.2 percent) from beyond the arc. Bullock also has the third best assist to turnover ratio on the team (2.5).

Defensively he's been just as big a contributor. Bullock is second on the team in rebounds (6.4) and steals (1.3) per game, and he has 64 offensive boards.

Bullock has had the hot hand in March, averaging 15.8 points per game on 63 percent shooting this month. As long as that continues against Miami, the Tar Heels will be a tough team to overcome.



Breaking Down Miami


Miami continues its historic run in this year's ACC tournament, and for the first time in the program's history the team is in the finals.

The 'Canes have won game after game, going 25-6 overall and 15-3 in conference. They've gotten this far playing efficient offense and shutdown defense.

The Hurricanes have the ACC's second best defense this year, with opponents averaging 59.8 points a game. Offensively they've been middle of the pack, but are averaging a solid 69.0 points per game.

As mentioned above, Miami dominated UNC in the two teams' regular-season matchups. And it's coasted into the conference finals, beating Boston College by 11 and North Carolina State by 10.

One thing's for sure: Miami is one of the toughest schools to beat right now.



Key Player: Kenny Kadji

Despite a star-studded cast of players, one young man constantly shines above the rest. That's senior forward/center Kenny Kadji.

Kadji has been the do-everything guy for Miami this season. He's second on the team in points per game (13.6) and is shooting 49 percent from the field.

He's also had a hand on the outside at times, hitting 44-of-114 from three on the season.

Kadji's been a main contributor on that Canes defense, averaging 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. His 206 rebounds on the season are best on the team.

Then there's the fact that Kadji has been a dominant force all March long.

In five games this month the big man is averaging 16.2 points a game on 45 percent shooting. He's accumulated six blocks, with double-digit rebounds in all but one game.

Unless UNC has an answer to Kadji, the Hurricanes are sure to roll.





It's been a fun ACC tournament to watch, and these two teams are sure to make a great pair in the finals.

It's a pretty even matchup, so we have to look to the intangibles to find an X-factor.

Right now Miami has all the swagger in the world and a level of confidence that comes from having beat this opponent twice in the regular season.

Even though Bullock comes in with the hot hand, so too does Kadji. And while the Hurricanes have the defense to contain Bullock, it's not so clear that the Tar Heels can stop Kadji and crew.

UNC exudes dark horse, but Miami is exuding too much confidence right now. Expect the 'Canes to roll, just as they have all tournament long.



Miami 60, UNC 49