The North Carolina Tar Heels advanced to the ACC Tournament Championship game with a 69-67 win over in-state rival N.C. State Wolfpack. It was a closely-called game that was marred by foul trouble. In the end, however, the officials swallowed their whistles on a game-winning drive by Kendall Marshall, who was plagued by foul trouble for much of the afternoon. On his final drive, he made significant contact with Alex Johnson but no call was made and as Johnson tumbled to the floor, Marshall stopped and put one off the square to take the lead. An animated gif of the play below:
Second Team All-ACC selection C.J. Leslie was on his way to one of the best games of his career before he fouled with eight minutes remaining in the half. Leslie picked up his fourth on a questionable charge call and then fouled out thirty seconds later on the defensive end trying to block a shot. Down four, it first appeared that Mark Gottfried was taking a risk and going to ride Leslie until the final buzzer but later replays showed Gottfried admonishing his assistant coaches for not making him aware that the star forward had picked up his fourth on the charge call. In a limited 29 minutes of action, he still had 22 points and seven rebounds. Lorenzo Brown and Richard Howell picked up some of the slack for Mark Gottfried's club, but they couldn't come up with the crucial bucket in the final minute.
The Tar Heels were in foul trouble for much of the game as well. Already without John Henson, who was down with a wrist injury, UNC big men James Michael McAdoo and Tyler Zeller also battled foul trouble all afternoon. Zeller fouled out with a little over a minute to play and DeShawn Painter would hit one of two free-throws to give the Wolfpack the 67-66 lead. Harrison Barnes would split a pair to tie it up with 50 seconds to play. After an N.C. State turnover, Marshall would seal the win and finish with a 12 point, 10 assist double-double performance. Zeller added 23 points and nine boards for the Heels.
N.C. State was looking for their first win over Carolina in six years and their first trip to the ACC Tournament Championship game in five years. Instead, UNC will go one to face the winner of second semifinal game between Duke and Florida State. The Wolfpack are now at the mercy of the selection committee. They just snuck into the field in Saturday's edition of SB Nation's bracketology, but a win today would have likely locked up an at-large berth.
For more on this game, check out North Carolina blog Carolina March and N.C. State blog Backing The Pack. For more on the ACC tourney, make sure to follow this StoryStream. For more on college tournaments nationwide, head over to SB Nation's dedicated NCAA basketball hub.