The Miami Hurricanes and the North Carolina Tar Heels played one of the best college basketball games of the season on Sunday in Greensboro, going back and forth for the 2013 ACC tournament championship.
Behind the strength of an amazing performance from sophomore point guard Shane Larkin, Miami won its first-ever ACC tournament title, knocking off North Carolina in a thriller, 87-77.
Although the score doesn't necessarily suggest it, Sunday's showdown was an instant classic. Kaleb Oldham certainly wasn't alone in his assessment of the matchup, and neither was Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk:
This UNC / Miami game is one of the best college basketball games I've seen in awhile.— Kaleb Oldham (@JKOldham3) March 17, 2013
Man, this UNC-Miami game is some entertaining basketball. 14 lead changes in 17 minutes. Just going back and forth.— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) March 17, 2013
ESPN Stats & Info set the stage for Sunday's matchup with a little history prior to tipoff:
Miami has beaten UNC twice this season. Before those wins, the Hurricanes had lost 10 in a row against the Tar Heels.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 17, 2013
Former Tar Heel Sean May pointed out Miami's game plan early on:
The first half featured some thrilling back-and-forth action that saw the teams swap the lead more than a dozen times. The shooting of Miami's Shane Larkin and North Carolina's P.J. Hairston highlighted the fast-paced period.
Larkin and Hairston led their respective teams with 15 points each at halftime, prompting this tweet from Joe Stewart:
P.J Hairston and Larkin are on another level #UNCvsMiami— Joe Stewart (@BrosephStalin55) March 17, 2013
I'm sure Corey Ware wasn't the only college basketball fan on the edge of his seat during the first half on Sunday:
This Miami UNC game is the most exciting first half of basketballI've seen all season.— Corey Ware (@thewarecat) March 17, 2013
In the second half, Larkin continued his phenomenal point guard play, adding 13 more points to keep Miami in front for good. This tweet from Miami athletics' official Twitter account best sums up how unstoppable Larkin was for stretches during Sunday's game:
"It's almost illegal what he can do offensively." - Mike Gminski on Shane Larkin— HurricaneSports (@hurricanesports) March 17, 2013
The teams combined for 15 three-pointers in the first half alone and finished the game with 25 total between them. To put the two teams' remarkable shooting in perspective, consider this fact: The Hurricanes and Tar Heels accounted for as many made three-pointers as made free throws on Sunday.
Shane Larkin, Miami: A
Larkin was sensational on Sunday, delivering for Miami all day long and keeping the Hurricanes in the game when P.J. Hairston got hot from downtown. The sophomore floor general played with tremendous poise throughout and finished the game with seven assists to go with 28 points.
P.J. Hairston, North Carolina: A
The argument can be made that Hairston was the most dominant player on the court on Sunday. The sophomore guard matched Larkin shot for shot and poured in six huge three-pointers for Roy Williams' bunch.
If Hairston wasn't on the very top of his game this weekend, North Carolina may have been blown out in the first half.
Durand Scott, Miami: B
Hurricanes star Durand Scott was quiet for the most part on Sunday, scoring just six points while content to let Larkin take over. Despite his lack of production, Scott's leadership was key for Miami as it won its first-ever ACC tournament.
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina: B
So many players stepped up for both teams on Sunday, including James Michael McAdoo, who scored 12 points and pulled down five rebounds for the Tar Heels. Although he will want a few of his missed shots back, it's hard to criticize McAdoo, who played hard throughout what was an excellent all-around basketball game.
Watch Selection Sunday at 6 p.m. ET to find out which ACC teams make the Big Dance and get a first look at the paths Miami and North Carolina will have to take to reach the Final Four. Also, be sure to download our printable 2013 NCAA tournament bracket.
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