Between the playing style of the opponent and the fact that this North Carolina team has been prone to hangovers, it would not have been shocking if the Tar Heels had come out sloppy in their ACC Tournament quarterfinal against Virginia. The Cavaliers were likely playing for their NCAA Tournament lives and, prior to their meeting earlier this season, it had been a while since UNC had beaten them. Mess around, and this game could’ve been a frustrating affair.
That did not happen. About halfway through the first, UNC extended their early led to double digits and never looked back from there. By halftime, they were up 20, and the game stayed around that margin, with the Heels eventually winning 63-43.
A large reason Carolina were never really in a fight was the play of Brady Manek. In his ACC Tournament debut, Manek went for 21 points (8-15 shooting, 3-7 from three), seven rebounds, three assists, and a steal, helping the Heels cruise to a win.
Manek did most of his damage in the first half, outscoring Virginia all on his own in the opening 20 minutes. He dropped 19 on the Cavs in the first half, including knocking down three threes. In the final nine minutes of the first half, UNC went on a 15-2 run, with Manek scoring 11 of those points. For all intents and purposes the game was over there. In the second half, Manek only added two points to his total in the second half, but he only played 10 minutes as the starters weren’t needed for crunch time.
While Manek gets a lot of plaudits for his offensive performance, another reason for the margin was the defensive performance, of which Leaky Black deserves credit and a POTG nomination. Black spent a lot of time on Kihei Clark, and the UVA senior, and UVA as a whole, could not get into any sort of rhythm.
Clark scored just seven points on 3-9 shooting, and turned the ball over three times. Meanwhile, Black and the rest of the UNC defense held Virginia to just 34.6% shooting, a number which was greatly buoyed by them shooting well in the second half after things had already been decided. In the first 20 minutes, Carolina held them to 5-27, as they scored zero points in the final six minutes of the half.
Outside of those two, no one truly went off, but Armando Bacot did continue his double-double run, putting up 10 points and 11 rebounds.
An easy win where you can get your starters some decent rest is close to the perfect way to start a potential games on consecutive days scenario. Hubert Davis and UNC were able to do that thanks to an impressive offensive performance by Brady Manek.