It’s one more time — with a berth in the ACC final on the line — for North Carolina and Duke.
The two will meet for the third time this season on Friday in the ACC tournament semifinals.
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Second-seeded Duke earned its semifinal slot with an 88-70 win over No. 10 seed Notre Dame on Thursday. Even before sixth-seeded UNC topped third-seeded Miami 82-65 to set up the pairing, at least one Duke player was hoping for another shot at the Tar Heels.
"I don't know if the rest of the guys do, but I (want to play the Tar Heels) because we need to break that tie,” Duke guard Trevon Duval said. “We lost over there and we won at our house, so we kind of need the tie breaker."
It’s the second year in a row Duke and UNC will meet in the ACC tournament semifinals in Brooklyn.
Their situations are reversed this year.
In 2017, Duke was the No. 5 seed and had to win two games before reaching the semifinals. UNC, seeded No. 1, started tournament play in the quarterfinals.
Duke beat the Tar Heels 93-83, part of becoming the first team to win four games in four days to claim the ACC tournament championship.
This year, the Blue Devils (26-6) will be the more rested team.
UNC (24-9) started tournament play Wednesday night with a 78-59 win over Syracuse before Thursday's win over Miami.
Duke made its tournament debut Thursday against Notre Dame.
In the regular season, UNC beat Duke, 82-78, in Chapel Hill on Feb. 8. Joel Berry scored 21 points for the Tar Heels that night, while Kenny Williams added 20.
On March 3 in Durham, Duke topped the Tar Heels 74-64 behind freshman Marvin Bagley III’s 21 points.
“I mean, I know all about the rivalry,” UNC senior guard Theo Pinson said. “I've been here four years. It's a big-time game. Everybody and their mama is going to be watching the game. Everybody knows that. I'm going to be ready. My teammates are going to be ready. We understand we lost the last game, so that's going to get us even more hyped up about it, but at the same time, you can't be bigger than the game. You've got to be settled down and just play.”
The pairing of the two rivals in the semifinals means, for the 22nd consecutive year, the ACC tournament final will feature either Duke or UNC. The last time a final was played without Duke or UNC was 1996, when Wake Forest beat Georgia Tech, 75-74.
A year ago, Duke beat UNC and won the ACC title the next night but saw its season end with an NCAA tournament second-round loss to South Carolina.
UNC coach Roy Williams led the Tar Heels to six consecutive wins — and the NCAA tournament title — after the ACC tournament loss to Duke. He offered a sarcastic reminder of that fact Thursday night.
“You know, last year we lost this game,” Williams said. “I think we kept playing. I think, my memory is not as good as it used to be, but I think we kept playing.”