It was a matchup of the ACC's two best and most consistent teams. And on Saturday in Washington, DC, North Carolina earned a 61-57 win over Virginia by beating the Cavaliers at their own game.
Joel Berry scored 19 points for UNC and the Tar Heels held Virginia to just under 37 percent shooting from the field, blunting the effect of 16 offensive rebounds. Virginia senior Malcolm Brogdon, a strong candidate for All-American honors, needed a staggering 22 shots just to get his 15 points.
The ACC Tournament title is North Carolina's first since 2008, ending the program's second-longest drought between tournament crowns since 1967.
The game itself was a role reversal for the run-and-gun Tar Heels, who played at the delightfully deliberate Cavs' pace for basically the entire night. Rather than getting bogged down or trying to speed up Virginia's attack, North Carolina simply defeated Virginia straight up, a promising sign for its NCAA Tournament aspirations.
Don't cry too much for the Cavaliers, though. While falling in the ACC Tournament final probably means no No. 1 seed for Virginia, the Cavs should fall no further than the No. 2 line. And they might still be ahead of Carolina on it, given that Virginia's resume had many observers thinking a No. 1 seed was a likely outcome with a win on Saturday, and the Tar Heels' list of big wins is a bit short for a prospective top seed.
* * *
Greatest Cinderella: Was it the NC State Wolfpack or Butler Bulldogs?
Be sure to subscribe to SB Nation's YouTube channel for highlight videos, features, analysis and more