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ACC Roundup - UNC Escapes..Tennessee?

As the Heels nearly volunteered for an upset.

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Tennessee v North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 11: Isaiah Hicks #4 of the North Carolina Tar Heels denies a shot attempt from Shembari Phillips #25 of the Tennessee Volunteers during their game at Dean Smith Center on December 11, 2016 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Not many people thought Tennessee had a shot against UNC, with or without Joel Berry - certainly we didn’t.

It came down to a blocked shot by freshman Tony Bradley with UNC up 73-71 and just :02 left. He was fouled after the block and missed, but Tennessee couldn’t get a shot off in time.

Part of it obviously was the absence of Berry, who some have called the best point guard in the country so far.

But Steve Schramm says there were plenty of mistakes and errors to go around.

Part of what everyone watches in the ACC is the back-and-forth between Duke and UNC. Not long ago, it seemed like UNC was on a major uptick and Duke was falling back because of injuries.

At least for the moment, that has reversed.

As ACC fans know though, it tends to go back and forth during any particular season. Perceptions will swing back and forth for a while yet.

In Sunday’s other two games, both Florida State and Virginia Tech got solid wins.

Florida State beat Florida for the third straight time, winning 83-78.

It’s a good win for FSU - Florida is ranked #21 and is a major rival.

The ‘Noles got a test but came through despite letting Florida come back late. Dwayne Bacon and Terrance Mann led the way.

Bacon had 24 points while Mann had 16 and 10 rebounds.

In Blacksburg, Virginia Tech moved to 8-1 with the win over Ole Miss. After the game, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy - who played for Jim Valvano at NC State before transferring to UAB where he had an outstanding career - said some very nice things about Virginia Tech’s program under Buzz Williams: “I’ve got great respect for Buzz. He’s going to be in the NCAA Tournament here in a few months. He’s done a great job of rebuilding this thing.

“All of the pieces of the puzzle fit. It’s one thing to go out and recruit talent — and that’s very important for us all — but the puzzle has to fit.”

The unsaid but inferred idea is that it does fit and we think he’s right. Williams has his two most experienced players - Zach LeDay and Seth Allen - happy to come off the bench. The team sticks together. It’s easy to say but in Virginia Tech’s case it seems to be true: it’s a happy team.

All three teams have just one loss - the Hokies lost to Texas A&M by three, Florida State fell to Temple, also by three, while UNC was defeated by Indiana 76-67.

Big game: UNC plays Kentucky on Saturday in Las Vegas. Bet that’ll be fun.

It’s part of the CBS Sports Classic and will be in the same arena where Duke just dismantled UNLV over the weekend.

Ohio State and UCLA will be the warmup. Lonzo Ball buzz is building and TJ Leaf is also getting a lot of attention with some extravagant praise so that’ll be a fun one to watch as well.

For the most part, the ACC is doing really well so far. Everyone is above 6-2 except for Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Boston College, and only BC is under .500.

The Eagles play Auburn Monday, for some reason in New York. It’s hard to imagine a game drawing less interest in the Garden than BC and Auburn.

On the other hand, it is going to be cold out, so there’s that.

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