Rapid Reaction: Duke 77, Virginia Tech 63

March, 12, 2011
3/12/11
6:39
PM ET
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The more you’re around the ACC the more you realize how much Duke and North Carolina dominate this conference. You also realize how desperate the league is for these two programs to play the last game of the tournament.

Greensboro’s community certainly needs it to occur. A Clemson-Virginia Tech final would have brought crickets to Greensboro Coliseum.

So the ACC gets what it needs this season as Duke and Carolina will play for the ACC tournament title Sunday afternoon. The winner gets the nets, a trophy and a possible No. 1 seed while the loser probably only drops to a No. 2.

North Carolina did its part earlier in the day when the Tar Heels knocked off Clemson in overtime. Duke took care of business later in the afternoon by beating Virginia Tech 77-63.

Turning point: When Nolan Smith was running up and back during pregame warm-ups. His jammed left second toe was not a factor. He was supposed to be questionable for Saturday’s semifinal after injuring the toe against Maryland. Well, Smith scored 27 points and was flying up the court, scoring in a variety of ways, making 3-pointers, converting 9 of 13 free throws and making the easy plays look well, rather easy, including a reverse layup.

Key stat: The Hokies couldn’t shoot. Virginia Tech was 2-of 16 on 3s and shot 37 percent. To beat Duke, Virginia Tech had to shoot well.

Star player: See Smith. Kyle Singler scored 29 points in the win over Maryland. He was not as much of a factor but still had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He did what was needed for Duke to win.

What’s next: Duke versus North Carolina on Sunday. The game matches the ACC player of the year (Smith), freshman of the year (UNC’s Harrison Barnes) and six of the 15 players on the 2011 ACC teams. The game also features two Hall of Fame coaches in Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of North Carolina. Shockingly, this is only the 11th time the two teams have met in the ACC tournament title game with the last one being in 2001.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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