The third-seeded Florida State Seminoles will seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game at Philips Arena.
The Seminoles have never won the conference tournament title. Although UNC holds a 42-11 edge in the all-time series with FSU, the Seminoles completely dominated the Tar Heels in their only regular season meeting on Jan. 14. FSU coasted to a 90-57 victory in that matchup behind a career-high 32 points from shooting guard Deividas Dulkys. The blowout was the biggest losing margin in the Roy Williams era for UNC.
FSU's 90 points versus UNC was a season-high for the team. Coach Leonard Hamilton has used a strong defensive effort to keep his team on the winning end this season. The Seminoles' stingy play helped them finish third in the ACC in scoring defense (62.3 ppg). FSU continued that success on Saturday as it ended Duke's three-year run as ACC Conference Tournament champ by forcing the Blue Devils into 14-first half turnovers and holding them to 37.3 percent shooting overall.
A win for North Carolina today would solidify the Tar Heels as a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. That victory will not come easy though, as UNC faces the only team to beat it by more than 10 points this year. UNC barely escaped its semifinals bout with NC State, as it won 69-67 after a controversial no-call allowed Kendall Marshall to knock down the game-winning shot. The Tar Heels had easily defeated NC State by double-digit margins in a pair of regular-season bouts, but struggled in the semifinals without the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, John Henson, who was hurt earlier in the tournament and will probably remain sidelined with a wrist injury. .
The Seminoles continued to follow Michael Snaer's lead on Saturday versus Duke. The star shooting guard scored a team-high 16 points and handed out six assists to push his team past Duke and give it a chance at its first-ever ACC Tournament title. Forward Bernard James will look to continue his strong inside play, as he finished with 13 points and seven rebounds on Friday. FSU might need an additional player to step up to get past the high-scoring Tar Heels. Ian Miller could be that third-option as he had scored in double- figures in eight of nine games before being held to seven by the Blue Devils.
UNC will hope its trio of Marshall, Harrison Barnes, and Tyler Zeller can lead it to an 18th ACC Tournament championship, provided Henson remains out. Marshall has developed into one of the best point guards in the nation. His excellent passing ability helped him break the program's all-time single season record for assists in a season already, and lately he has been a scoring threat as well. The sophomore guard finished with 12 points and 10 assists on Saturday in the win over NC State. Zeller led the way against the Wolfpack, as he scored 23 points and grabbed nine boards. Zeller's season-long dominance of opponents earned him the ACC Player of the Year award. Barnes has been a significant part of the UNC's success since he arrived on campus. The sophomore forward added 16 points in Saturday's win.