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No. 5 North Carolina locks up outright ACC title with win over No. 17 Duke

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Joel Berry II scored 28 points, Isaiah Hicks added 21 points and nine boards and No. 5 North Carolina finished off their outright ACC regular season title, beating the field by two full games, in a 90-83 win over No. 17 Duke in the Dean Dome on Saturday night.

And with the win, the Tar Heels have just about locked up a No. 1 seed in the south, regardless of how the ACC tournament plays out. It’s not totally safe, not if, say, Louisville beats Duke, UNC and Notre Dame en route to the ACC tournament title, but as long as UNC wins a game or two next week in Brooklyn, they should be just fine.

The biggest story here, however, is that Duke cost themselves a shot at being the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament, and what that means is that the Blue Devils are going to have to win four games in four days if they want to be the ACC tournament champs. It also means that their beat-up superstar, Grayson Allen, has one less day to try and get his ankle right.

To be frank, it makes me wonder if it’s worth it for Duke to truly make a run at this thing.

Think about it like this: Duke’s season isn’t going to be determined by how they do in the ACC tournament. With the expectations this group had coming into the year, it’s about Final Four and national titles. This is also a team that doesn’t have certain guys practicing due to injuries, and now they’re going to be asked to play 40 minute games on, potentially, four consecutive days?

That’s seems like an unnecessary risk when winning the ACC tournament would very likely require Duke to go through Louisville and North Carolina before they even get to the title game.

It’ll also never play out that way.

Competitiveness has a way of winning out in situations like this.

Anyway, back to Carolina, they sure did make me look smart for calling them the nation’s best team a few weeks ago. When this group has Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson healthy, they are very, very good even on the nights that one of Justin Jackson or Berry doesn’t play all that well.


VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.