Seedings and pairings are out for the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament and one thing is for sure.
There will be three teams in the semifinals that have never won the tournament during its 10-year run in Greensboro.
Maryland is the defending champion, UNC won four in a row before that and Duke five in a row before that.
And they're all in the same group of three, only one of which can advance to Saturday's semifinals this time.
The top-seeded Blue Devils (24-5), who have lost in the finals each of the last two seasons, will play in the quarterfinals on Friday at 3 p.m. The opponent will be the winner of Thursday's 3 p.m. contest between No. 8 seed UNC (18-10) and No. 9 seed Maryland (18-11).
The matchup between the Tar Heels and Terps will be the second of four games on Thursday.
The tournament tips off at 11 a.m., with No. 5 seed Wake Forest (17-12) taking on No. 12 seed Miami (17-12), with that winner advancing to Friday's 11 a.m. quarterfinal against No. 4 seed Georgia Tech (22-8).
Thursday's 6 p.m. contest will have No. 7 seed Boston College (15-14) taking on No. 10 seed Virginia Tech (15-14), with that winner taking on No. 2 seed Florida State (26-4) in the same time slot on Friday.
The nightcappers on Thursday at 8 are No. 6 seed N.C. State (17-12) and No. 11 seed Clemson (13-17), with the winner advancing to Friday's 8 p.m. nightcap against No. 3 seed Virginia (21-8).
The semifinals are at 1 and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, with the title game on Sunday at 1.
No. 6 Duke (24-4, 12-1) has already clinched the ACC regular-season championship and will have the No. 1 seed for the tournament in Greensboro beginning on Thursday, while the Tar Heels' season has bordered on a nightmare.
UNC (17-10, 5-8) was the preseason favorite to win the ACC - at least before it was determined that star forward Jessica Breland would not be able to play as she recovers from Hodgkin's lymphoma - but comes into the matchup having lost seven of its last eight games and desperately needing to do something to impress the NCAA Selection Committee.
It's a day of dedication for the arena, even though the first game was played here back on Jan. 6, and Gov. Bev Perdue is among those on hand for a halftime ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Duke had embarrassed the Tar Heels on Feb. 8 in Durham, rolling to a 79-51 victory. But today UNC gets some payback in a 64-54 shocker, and Coach Sylvia Hatchell has a very happy 58th birthday.
The win does not come easily for the home team.
The Tar Heels, who start Trinity Bursey and Martina Wood on Senior Day, get out to an 11-5 advantage on a Krista Gross 3-pointer with 16:16 left in the first half and never trail before the break, taking a 30-26 advantage into the locker room.
Duke shoots 26.8 percent from the floor before the break to UNC's 39.3, and the Blue Devils really never find the hoop all day.
The Blue Devils make a run and then get a big break leading 42-39 with 13:12 to play, when the elbow of UNC freshman Cierra Robertson-Warren's connects with the neck of Duke winger Karima Christmas and Robertson-Warren is ejected. It's the first ejection call in ACC women's basketball this season.
But the Blue Devils' performance at the free-throw line foreshadows the conclusion. Before Duke gets the ball back Jasmine Thomas misses two on the ejection, then Christmas misses three, then Keturah Jackson misses the front of a one-and-one.
UNC takes the lead for good on a steal and layup from Cetera DeGraffenreid (pictured) with 10:21 to go, and it seems that she takes over the game from that point. The Tar Heels have to endure the mine field of having their two biggest players foul out - Chay Shegog at 5:02 and Waltiea Rolle at 4:20.
Talk about a balanced effort.
N.C. State didn't put anyone in double figures, but the Wolfpack upset No. 22 Georgia Tech 54-46 to win its Senior Day women's basketball game at Reynolds Coliseum.
It was the first win of the season against a ranked team for the Wolfpack (17-13, 7-7 ACC), which earned the No. 6 seed for the ACC Tournament and will take on Clemson in the first round on Thursday night at 8.
Brittany Strachan hit a clinching 3-pointer for the Wolfpack.
Sharnise Beal and Inga Muciniece joined fellow seniors Lucy Ellison and Nikitta Gartrell in the starting lineup for the first time this season for State, which got nine points from Marissa Kastanek (pictured) and eight from Bonae Holston.
Brigitte Ardossi had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead Tech (22-8, 8-6), while Alex Montgomery added 11.
It's the final day of ACC women's basketball before the tournament starts in Greensboro four days from now.
All three Triangle teams are, well, in the Triangle on a very big day for all involved.
It has been a long time since UNC has still been fighting for an NCAA berth in late February, but that's the case for a Tar Heel team that has lost seven of its last eight games.
The Tar Heels will host No. 6 Duke today at 3 p.m. at Carmichael Arena in a game to be shown live nationally on the Fox Sports cable channels, and an upset of the Blue Devils on Senior Day might be just what Sylvia Hatchell's club needs to nail down a bid.
That won't be an easy task, as Duke routed the Tar Heels 79-51 on Feb. 8 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. In its third season under Joanne P. McCallie (pictured), the Blue Devils have already clinched an ACC regular season championship and want to keep making the case for a No. 1 seed going into the NCAA Tournament.
Today will be the final home game before the tournament for Tar Heel seniors Trinity Bursey and Martina Wood.
An hour before that one starts N.C. State, which has been one of the surprises of the ACC in its first season under Kellie Harper, will look for an upset over visiting No. 22 Georgia Tech in the Senior Day game for Nikitta Gartrell, Lucy Ellison, Sharnise Beal and Inga Muciniece.
State's only home ACC loss this season has been to UNC.
There are six games on today's ACC slate, and the only seeds already set for the tournament are Duke at No. 1 and Florida State at No. 2. Georgia Tech is also guaranteed a bye into the quarterfinals.
Ordinarily, a win over a fringe NCAA Tournament team wouldn’t generate much excitement in Chapel Hill. But there was genuine elation in town on Saturday afternoon, after North Carolina marched to Wake Forest and brought back a 77-68 victory.
The Heels did a much better job handling the ball, dishing out 16 assists against a relatively low 12 turnovers. Some of the better ball control can be attributed to UNC playing at a slightly slower pace and focusing harder on getting better shots.
Which isn’t to say Carolina shot especially well. The Heels hit just 40 percent from the field, and they were a truly horrific 58 percent from the foul line, including just 4-for-12 by Larry Drew.
Drew, for the record, denied transfer rumors after the game based on a published report that surfaced Friday on the internet. Overall, the beleaguered sophomore point guard did a good job containing speedy Wake guard Ishe Smith, and he contributed eight assists with only three turnovers.
Carolina’s defense was the overwhelming factor in the win. Certainly, the Demon Deacons missed far too many open shots, but it could be argued convincingly that the Heels have caught some bad breaks along those lines throughout the bulk of the season. In this contest, Wake hit only 30 percent of its shots, a devastatingly poor performance at home.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke is one win from gaining its first No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament for the first time in three years.
But tonight's opponent for the No. 6 Blue Devils is not an easy one.
No. 21 Virginia, led by probable ACC player of the year Monica Wright, has 20 wins and is in a bye spot for the tournament, and is certain to get an NCAA bid.
Unfortunately because of the unbalanced ACC schedule, this is the teams' only meeting of the regular season. And the Blue Devils use a big second half to win 83-65, tying Virginia's worst defeat of the season for their 17th straight victory in the series.
It's Senior Night for the Blue Devils, and the final regular-season home game for Joy Cheek (pictured), Keturah Jackson and Bridgette Mitchell. And it's on regional cable TV.
They'll play at home again, as Duke will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament on March 20 and 22.
N.C. Central has hit the double-digit win mark for the second straight women's basketball season.
Joanna Miller (pictured) poured in 27 points, leading three Eagles in double figures in a 74-66 win over Longwood at McDougald-McLendon Gym.
The news wasn't so good for reeling UNC, as the Tar Heels fell 64-57 to No. 22 Georgia Tech on the road and lost any chance for a bye in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
Blaire Houston added 18 points for NCCU (10-16), while Latoya Bennett chipped in 16 in her final home game as an Eagle.
Brittani Billups led Longwood (8-19) with 16 points while Chelsea Coward added 14.
Georgia Tech 64, UNC 57
Alex Montgomery had 20 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to lead Georgia Tech (22-7, 8-5 ACC) to the win over the Tar Heels and a split of the two-game season series. Brigitte Ardossi added 18 points for the Yellow Jackets, who clinched a bye in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
Cetera DeGraffenreid had 25 points to lead UNC (5-7, 7-19), but was the only Tar Heel in double figures.
DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK/DURHAM Duke has a new primary home for its baseball team, and the Blue Devils are hosting their first home game on a very nippy afternoon.
For their sake, at least the sun is out.
The opponent is Fordham in the opener of a three-game series. It's the first meeting with the Rams since the spring of 1941. Before World War II, even. History.
Duke will play 18 games at the Durham Bulls' facility and 13 at Jack Coombs Field, with every home ACC series here except the one against Florida State April 16-18 during the Bulls' opening homestand.
Duke will try to qualify for the ACC Tournament for the second straight season, making its first appearance since 2005 last season when the event was in Durham. The Blue Devils are 1-3 after playing in an event at Baylor last weekend that included a victory over No. 22 Georgia.
The park isn't quite ready for prime time, as the concrete in the grandstands is being resealed and almost every seat in the primary seating bowl except for the box seats has been temporarily removed for the project. The Blue Devils' first workout here was Thursday.
Duke goes today with Michael Ness (0-0, 1.80), while Max Krakowiak (0-1, 0.00) starts for the Rams. And the Blue Devils survive with a bottom-of-the-ninth rally in a 5-4 victory.
Fordham scores a run in the first when leadoff man Brian Kownacki doubles past first and scores on Chris Walker's double to right.
Duke retaliates in the bottom of the frame, as Ryan McCurdy hits a one-out double to left and scores on Jeremy Walker's two-out double to right.
The Blue Devils add a run in the third as Marcus Stroman leads off with a triple to left and scores on a wild pitch.
Fordham gets two in the fourth on Nick Martinez's two-out single to left. But the Devils tie it in the bottom of the frame as Will Piwnica-Worms reaches on an error to shortstop Kownacki and later scores on Gabriel Saade's single to third.
Duke scores a go-ahead run in the eighth off lefty Rich Anastasi. Dennis O'Grady draws a leadoff walk, then takes third on a single to left by pinch-hitter Will Currier. Saade's fly ball to right scores the run.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC hasn't had a women's basketball season typical of its recent tradition.
But Tar Heel coach Sylvia Hatchell (pictured) said there's no reason the redemption can't start tonight.
Tonight at 6:30, the Tar Heels will be on the road looking to complete a season sweep of a Georgia Tech team ranked No. 22 in the country. It's the opener of a TV doubleheader on Fox Sports South, which will conclude with No. 6 Duke hosting No. 21 Virginia at Cameron Indoor Stadium at 8:30.
The Duke game is one of two women's contests in Durham tonight, as N.C. Central hosts Longwood on the Eagles' Senior Night. Duke alumna Wanisha Smith is an assistant coach for Longwood.
Hatchell's Tar Heels were the media's preseason picks to win the ACC regular-season title, albeit before All-America candidate Jessica Breland was determined to be out for the season with lymphoma. Breland is almost ready to play, but will take a redshirt and do her senior season in 2010-11.
And the last time UNC played Georgia Tech - that in the Tar Heels' conference opener - it was 13-1 after the 89-78 victory. Now Hatchell's club is 17-9, 5-7 in conference play and scratching to try to wrap up an at-large NCAA berth.
JOEL COLISEUM/WINSTON-SALEM Things are coming down to a photo finish for some spots in the ACC women's basketball race, and a couple of teams that weren't expected to be contenders are still fighting for a first-round bye in next week's tournament.
N.C. State and Wake Forest come in to tonight's tussle with identical 16-11 records, 6-6 in ACC play. The Wolfpack, picked ninth in the preseason media poll, would finish fourth with a win tonight and another in Sunday's Senior Day game against Georgia Tech and would have an inside track for yes, an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Deacons need to win both of their remaining games, including Sunday's visit to sub-.500 Clemson, and have Georgia Tech lose twice including Friday night at home to UNC to get the fourth spot themselves.
State beat Wake Jan. 22 at Reynolds Coliseum 51-49 with five points over the final 15 seconds, perhaps the Deacons' most bitter loss of the season. Wake's RPI is 100 while the Wolfpack's is 32, meaning perhaps that the Deacons need four more wins to get an invite to the NCAA instead of the WNIT or the new WBI.
Of course it's Wake's Senior Night, but there are lots of Wolfpack fans in the house - perhaps 300 - including a noisy contingent of students that rode up on a pair of buses from Raleigh. The Wolfpack is coming off a Sunday win at UNC and the fans are feeling pretty good about their team.
There are about 2,000 fans in a 14,000-seat arena, but it's certain to be pretty vocal.
Tonight Wake gets revenge, winning 66-50 to assure itself its best finish in ACC play since 1988.
The Deacons take the lead 12-10 on a Brittany Waters jumper with 10:22 left in the first half and hold it the rest of the way.
Wake is up 24-20 at the break, after a rough 20 minutes during which the Wolfpack shoots 26.7 percent and Wake 33.3.
State pulls to within 45-44 on a Brittany Strachan layup with 4:45 left, but the Deacons dominate the rest of the action.
Secily Ray finishes with 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Waters adds 15 points and 10 rebounds for Wake, while Sandra Garcia has a team-high 16 points and Brooke Thomas 11.
Nikitta Gartrell (pictured) has 14 points and Bonae Holston 11 for the Wolfpack.