ACC title game preview: North Carolina vs. Florida State


The most curious aspect of the ACC title game isn’t the game itself.

It’s John Henson.

On Friday, Henson was on the receiving end of a hard foul as he went up for a layup, landing on his left wrist and having to leave the game to get x-rays. The injury doesn’t look to be all that serious, but it was bad enough that Henson sat out UNC’s win over NC State on Saturday. Whether or not he plays in the 1 p.m. tip against Florida State is still unclear.

And as a result, it creates all kinds of wild scenarios for us to speculate about.

You see, North Carolina is currently in the running for one of the two No. 1 seeds that aren’t going to be occupied by Kentucky and Syracuse. An ACC Tournament title puts them in very good position to get it. But what if they lose? Do the Tar Heels deserve to get a No. 1 seed over Kansas? Or Missouri? Or whoever loses the Big Ten Tournament title game?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But what if they lose and Henson doesn’t play? Does that factor into the committee’s decision? And if it wouldn’t factor into the committee’s decision, what motivation is there for Roy Williams to play Henson? He’s already stated that the ACC Tournament means less to him than the NCAA Tournament, and if he can reduce the repercussions of losing while allowing his most intimidating defensive presence an extra day to recover, why wouldn’t he?

But there’s more to this equation which could throw a wrench into Ol’ Roy’s plans.

You see, back in January, Florida State absolutely pummeled North Carolina. They beat the Tar Heels by 33 points. 33 points! Say what you want about strategy and tournament positioning, I know that every single one of the kids on that North Carolina roster is a competitor, including Henson. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that, to a man, North Carolina wants to serve out a dose revenge. The Seminoles never made a return trip to Chapel Hill. This will be the first chance that the Tar Heels have to get them back.

Will that play a role in Williams’ decision-making process on Henson? I doubt it. And if I were a betting man, I would say that Henson probably sits out again as a precautionary measure. And with Henson in street clothes, UNC suddenly has a thin front court rotation to go up against the trees that Leonard Hamilton can run out there.

Back in October, did you ever imagine that the ACC Tournament would end with Florida State taking down both Duke and UNC en route to the title? It could happen this after noon.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.