By R.L. Bynum
GREENSBORO — Days after No. 18 North Carolina finished off a regular-season sweep of Duke, the two will go at it again.
Carolina junior Alyssa Ustby wouldn’t want it any other way, as the rivals will face off at 6 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“So excited for it,” Ustby said. “There’s no other team I’d rather want to play than Duke. I love playing against Duke. It’s such a traditional rivalry. There’s a lot of passion and competitiveness in that game and I can’t wait to play them.”
Deja Kelly was more succinct.
“I’m ready. That’s all I’ve got to say. Round 3; we’re ready,” she said.
While the Tar Heels (21–9) had to beat Clemson 68–58 to make it to the matchup, No. 13 Duke (24–5) is rested and probably stewing about its 45–41 senior-day loss to UNC on Sunday.
Cameron Indoor Stadium had so many Tar Heels fans that it almost felt like a Carmichael crowd. Kennedy Todd-Williams doesn’t know what to expect.
“This one is a good one,” she said. “It’s a neutral site. I feel with our crowd and their crowd, we’ll see who has the most fans. It’s gonna be loud. We’re just very excited to be able to play them for the third time. You can’t get rid of them. But we know how they play, and as long as we play our game, we’ll be fine.”
There might be different emotions coming into the game, given how Sunday’s game transpired, but the goal for each is the same.
“Obviously both have a commonality of it’s win or go home,” Ustby said. “And, so, that’s a lot to play for in itself. Even though we won those last few games, that’s not going to affect how we come out tomorrow. So it’s just putting our heads down and working.”
UNC coach Courtney Banghart said that prep for the game would be easier since she’s already seen the Blue Devils twice.
“They haven’t played since the last time we played them, so tonight I’ll sleep a little bit longer than I typically do in these type of events,” Banghart said. “I think we know them well. There’s a familiarity of opponent that’s helpful.”
Carolina has won four consecutive games against the Blue Devils.
Final on ESPN; all other games on ACC Network
Wednesday’s first round
No. 12-seed Wake Forest 68, vs. No. 13-seed Virginia (15–15) 57
No. 10 Clemson 71, No. 15 Pittsburgh (10–20) 53
No. 11 Boston College 62, No. 14 Georgia Tech (13–16) 57
Thursday’s second round
Wake Forest 65, No. 5 Florida State (23–9) 54
No. 8 N.C. State 83, No. 9 Syracuse (18–12) 58
No. 7 North Carolina 68, vs. Clemson (17–14) 58
No. 6 Miami 84, vs. Boston College (16–16) 69
No. 4 Louisville 74, Wake Forest (16–16) 48
No. 1 Notre Dame 66, N.C. State (20–11) 60
No. 2 Duke 44, North Carolina (21–10) 40
No. 3 Virginia Tech 68, Miami (19–11) 42
Louisville 64, Notre Dame (25–5) 38
Virginia Tech 58, Duke (25–6) 37
Virginia Tech (26–4) 75, Louisville (23–11) 67
Photo courtesy of the ACC