GREENSBORO -- Duke and North Carolina in an ACC championship game.
Makes all the sense in the basketball world, right?
It hasn’t turned out that way since 2001, when Duke won 79-53 in Atlanta.
But this season and at this ACC Tournament, there really wasn’t another logical way to see the four-day event ending.
Other than the top-seeded Tar Heels (26-6) and second-seeded Blue Devils (29-4), the rest of the conference was so far off the traditional ACC pace that the 10 others were the longest of shots to reach Sunday’s 1 p.m. finale in Greensboro Coliseum.
Carolina made it plenty interesting by winning on the last shot against Miami in Friday’s quarterfinals and escaping in overtime on Saturday against Clemson in the semifinals.
Duke was rarely troubled in wins over Maryland and Virginia Tech.
A hand-painted sign hoisted by a Carolina fan in the upper deck late Saturday summed it well, though.
“HEELS-DOOK -- WHAT WE CAME TO SEE!!!”
After swapping home-court wins in regular season, the famous rivals will bring a slightly different personality into the championship game.
Carolina of late has been led by freshman forward Harrison Barnes while Duke is beginning get new lift from senior Kyle Singler, who led the win over Maryland after Nolan Smith suffered a toe injury Friday.
Smith returned Saturday with 27 points to step on Virginia Tech in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Four quick things to watch Saturday:
• Singler vs. Barnes: Duke will give Singler some help on the wing by slacking off Dexter Strickland. But Barnes suddenly is the hottest 3-point shooter around, as his 40 points against Clemson established without doubt.
• Foul trouble: Carolina bigs John Henson and Tyler Zeller continue to show an uncanny knack for avoiding foul trouble and give the Heels an imposing board presence in the process.
The Devils need to drive the lane enough to at least make Zeller and Henson take a few chances.
• Smith’s left foot: The senior guard looked fine against the Hokies, but Duke’s staff is still concerned that the pain could increase after playing 39 minutes. If Smith needs a lot of rest, Carolina should have a significant perimeter edge.
• UNC offense early: The Heels fell far behind Miami and Clemson and still won. Duke is far less likely to be a late-rally victim.
My guess: Duke 82-80 in overtime. That’s the score I picked Tuesday, so it’s too late to change now.