Louisville Takes Last Big East Title, Miami Reaches First ACC Tournament Final

#4 Louisville took home the final Big East conference tournament title by defeating #19 Syracuse (26-9, 11-7) 78-61 on Saturday evening. It was a lopsided game as the Orange had a dominant first-half lead before the Cardinals came roaring back in the second half. They overcame a 16-point deficit, then took an 18-point advantage and ultimately grabbed the win.

Defense was key for the Cardinals as Syracuse had 20 turnovers, which resulted in 32 points for them.

Louisville guard Peyton Siva

Louisville guard Peyton Siva

With the win, it represented Louisville’s (29-5, 14-4) 10th straight one. It is also only the fourth school to have been the Big East tournament champion two consecutive times. Peyton Silva won his second consecutive MVP honor; this was last achieved by Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing.

For the night, Louisville freshman Montrezl Harrell led in scoring with a season-high 20 points while Russ Smith and Luke Hancock both added 10 points. Gorgui Dieng came in with nine points, nine rebounds as well as eight assists.

Syracuse had C.J. Fair as its top scorer with 21 points, followed by Michael Carter-Williams with 11 and nine assists; Brandon Triche contributed 10 points.

For these two teams, they’ll meet again but it won’t be in the Big East conference; instead it will be in the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

In the short-term, the teams will wait to hear their Big Dance fates on Sunday evening. The Cardinals will hope the title win has secured them a No. 1 seed but it may go to Indiana (27-6, 14-4). However, the Hoosiers lost in the semifinals on Saturday to Wisconsin (23-10, 12-6), 68-56.

The Cardinals have one less loss than Indiana but the Hoosiers’ wins are higher quality ones. For now, winning it all in April is 12 to 1 for Louisville while Indiana is at 11 to 2.

Syracuse comes in at 20 to 1 and will hope to grab a No. 4 tournament seed.

Also on Saturday, the #9 Miami Hurricanes (26-6, 15-3) defeated NC State (24-10, 11-7), 71-61. With the win, they are in their first ACC tournament final. This follows its first conference title win earlier this month.

Saturday’s semifinal was only the team’s second visit. In 2010, they lost to Duke, who later the Big Dance winners.

In the NC State win, Miami’s Duran Scott (from the field, 12 for 18, 5 for 8 in 3-pointers) led the team in scoring with 32 points, followed by Shane Larkin’s 23.

Miami guard Shane Larkin

Miami guard Shane Larkin

He said of the Hurricanes via ESPN, “We’re a very hungry team, and we want more and more. We’re not satisfied with winning the regular season. We want the ACC championship, and then eventually we want to make the national championship game. We’re hungry, and we’re not going to settle for anything less.”

Just how hungry the team is, will be tested on Sunday against North Carolina (24-9, 12-6) at 1:00 p.m. ET.

The Tar Heels reached the finals by defeating Maryland (22-12, 8-10), 79-76 on Saturday. Reggie Bullock and Dexter Strickl both had 15-point games while James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston each contributed 13 points.

With Hairston as a starter, the team has gone 8-2.

But for North Carolina, they’ll face a more challenging team against the Hurricanes. Tournament experience is on their side as they’ve been there the last two years and overall, they have 17 tournament championships.

Miami may have this team’s number as they defeated them twice in regular season meetings. The first victory,  68-59, came on Jan. 10 at Chapel Hill, followed by a Feb. 9 87-61 home win.

In the game, they saw a Miami record-tying 15 3-pointers. Kenny Kadji and Scott each had three but Larkin had five, along with 18 points and nine assists (career high).

For Miami, their prize for a Sunday win could be a No. 1 tournament seed.

For North Carolina, it has a No. 8 seed per CBS Bracketology at this time.

The winning nod for Sunday’s game goes to Miami (-3, 138 o/u).





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