North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Florida State Seminoles Pick & Prediction MARCH 14th 2024

It already has been a noteworthy season for No. 4 North Carolina.

The Tar Heels are banking on it becoming even better in the postseason, starting against Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals Thursday afternoon in Washington.

“We’re desperate to win this tournament,” North Carolina forward Armando Bacot said.

Ninth-seeded Florida State (17-15) topped eighth-seeded Virginia Tech 86-76 in Wednesday’s second-round game, boosted by Jamir Watkins’ 34 points.

“I think our effort was good and our focus was good, and hopefully we can carry that over into our next game,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.

The top-seeded Tar Heels (25-6), who received byes into the quarterfinals, secured the regular-season ACC title outright for the 22nd time by winning Saturday night at Duke. They’ve also shared the crown 11 times.

“We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves,” Bacot said. “This was one of our smaller goals. We want to win a regular season, but we want to win the (ACC) tournament. It’s something we haven’t done in a long time.”

North Carolina, which last won the league tournament in 2016, could be in line for a No. 1 regional seed for the NCAA Tournament. Winning three games this week in Washington might help that quest.

Improving along the way would be ideal for coach Hubert Davis even after conquering Duke for the second time.

“I really feel like we can get a lot better,” he said. “I think we can get better defensively. We can do a better job of defending without fouling. I think we can do a better job of communicating and talking.”

It had been since the 2016-17 season that North Carolina won the outright league title and it certainly wants to back this up with the tournament hardware.

“We knew how special this group was,” said graduate transfer Cormac Ryan, who pumped in a season-high 31 points Saturday night at Duke.

North Carolina guard RJ Davis was named ACC Player of the Year earlier this week, with Hubert Davis picking up ACC Coach of the Year honors.

“Just so happy for him, how he’s been celebrated and recognized for what an unbelievable season but really a career and just the type of person he has been,” Hubert Davis said of his player, who isn’t related to him. “The teammate, the leader on the court, off the court in the classroom, and it couldn’t go to a better person.”

North Carolina defeated Florida State twice this season, needing a comeback from a double-digit deficit to win 78-70 at home in early December and then prevailing 75-68 on Jan. 27 at Florida State. RJ Davis had 27 and 24 points, respectively, in those two games.

The Seminoles led in the second half of both games.

“But the game is 40 minutes, and we played 30 each game,” Hamilton said. “So hopefully we can play 40 minutes, a complete game this time.”

Over the last 10 years, this will be just the second ACC tournament meeting between the teams. Florida State won 69-66 in 2021 in Greensboro, N.C., though the Tar Heels have won all four regular-season games since then.

–Field Level Media

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