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UNC named a weekend winner by USA TODAY

A few college basketball teams punched their NCAA Tournament tickets over the weekend, while several others won big rivalry matchups and locked up the top seeds in their respective conference tournaments.

North Carolina happened to be one of those programs.

The Tar Heels gained a two-for-one special on Saturday night: beating archrival Duke, 84-79 – in Cameron Indoor Stadium – while clinching their first outright ACC regular-season championship since 2016.

UNC is playing its best basketball at the right time. While an ACC Tournament championship is likely the next thing on players and coaches’ minds, North Carolina is chasing a greater prize.

With the Tar Heels’ massive win Saturday, it was named USA Today’s top Weekend Winner.

“In what will go down in the lore of the rivalry as the Cormac Ryan game, UNC led wire-to-wire and staved off Duke’s late rally, capping the night by waving goodbye to the Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd,” USA TODAY sportswriter Eddie Timanis said. “Ryan finished with a career-high 31 points, keying the Tar Heels’ first-half surge with a barrage of three-pointers and sealing the deal with the clinching free throws in the final minute. That win, the biggest of the weekend, keeps the Tar Heels in the mix for a No. 1 NCAA regional seed with the major conference tournaments on deck this week.”

That’s something we’re not talking about a lot: North Carolina improving its odds for a top-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Winning the ACC Tournament title will likely solidify UNC’s chances for a 1 seed.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire