ACC Semifinals: #3 UNC vs #7 Maryland

Streeter Lecka

The Heels avoid a third game with Duke but face a Maryland team with a hot player.

ACC Semifinals
North Carolina(23-9, 12-6 ACC) vs Maryland(22-11, 8-10 ACC), 3:30 PM, ESPN/ACCN

Results: UNC def. FSU 83-62, MD def. WFU 75-62, Duke 83-74

For the third time this season UNC will face Maryland and possibly do so without P.J. Hairston who tore the webbing in between two fingers on his left(non-shooting) hand. His status for the semifinal game against the Terps is likely a game time decision. If he plays, his effectiveness will be a concern. If he does not play, then Roy Williams has said he will move back to the traditional lineup which would mean Desmond Hubert would start at center. Williams said none of the other players, like Reggie Bullock, are prepared to play the four and could not be readied for it with a short turnaround.

Going back to the original starting lineup is not the end of the world especially since UNC beat Maryland by ten in Chapel Hill before the lineup change occurred. Bullock carried the team in that game and Hairston was a non-factor on the offensive end. This is all to say that beating Maryland is doable without Hairston but not ideal. The small lineup is now 7-2 and UNC has seemingly figured itself out for the most part. Plus, with the ACC Tournament being played in Hairston's hometown, there is a good chance he will play if cleared to do so. After going 5-6 from three versus FSU, Hairston is clearly locked in and on a mission.

Of course the biggest concern might not be UNC's performance as much as it is answering the question of which Maryland team shows up. After stumbling to the end of the regular season and having the proverbial NCAA Tournament bubble burst, Maryland had worked it's way into the ACC Semifinals with a win over Wake Forest then an upset of Duke. In both games the Terps played fairly well with Dez Wells being a nigh unstoppable force. If UNC sees the team that played Duke, it will be a very tough contest and one UNC could drop, especially if Hairston cannot play effectively. It is possible two games in and a fat win over Duke under the belt the Terps come out flat, fatigued or both. If that is the case, UNC's chances will be much improved.

The bottom line is UNC has a chance of getting to the ACC Championship for either a rematch with Miami or huge rivalry game against NC State. The door is open, if only a little, for the Heels to try and win the program's first ACC Championship since 2008. UNC has to get to the game first and doing that means a third straight win over an ACC foe for the second straight day.

UNC 76 Maryland 72

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