As North Carolina was losing its grip, the Tar Heels remembered how to win.
The seventh-ranked Tar Heels blew a 16-point lead, but Rick Fox made a key three-point basket to power North Carolina past Virginia, 76-71, Saturday and into today's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game at Charlotte, N.C.
"We were frustrated that the game was as close as it was," Fox said. "But we were running down the court a couple of times and said, 'Let's play like we're ahead.' It gave us a little more confidence--and it gave us about an eight-point lead."
Virginia (21-11) rallied to tie, 61-61, with 4:29 left, but Fox answered with a three-point basket and followed with a feed to George Lynch to make it 66-61.
After a basket by Virginia's Kenny Turner, North Carolina's Hubert Davis hit a jump shot, Pete Chilcutt made a free throw and Rice a three-point basket to make the score 72-63 with 43 seconds left.
The Tar Heels reached the final of the ACC tournament for a record 19th time. They will be seeking their 12th ACC title today against Duke, which beat the Tar Heels last Sunday to win the regular-season crown.
Fox had 13 points and 15 rebounds, and Chilcutt added 13 points and 11 rebounds for North Carolina.
John Crotty scored 23 points and Stith had 21 for Virginia.
No. 6 Duke 93, North Carolina State 72--Christian Laettner scored 20 points and the Blue Devils beat the Wolfpack to reach the ACC championship game for the 17th time.
Duke (26-6), which has won the title nine times, opened the second half with a 19-7 run on nine points from Laettner and North Carolina State (19-10) never got within nine points.
Rodney Monroe had 19 points for the Wolfpack.
The victory put Seton Hall (21-8) in the Big East championship game for the first time. The Pirates face Georgetown today.
But then Taylor, whose driving layup with one second left beat Pittsburgh Friday, took over. He made two baskets and Terry Dehere added a three-point basket to give the Pirates a 72-70 lead with 50 seconds left.
Marc Dowdell tied the score for Villanova with 28 seconds left before Taylor scored the last of his 25 points.
Georgetown 81, Providence 55--The Hoyas outscored the Friars, 25-7, over the last 8 1/2 minutes and virtually assured themselves a berth in the NCAA tournament.
The Hoyas (18-11) have won their previous six Big East championship games.
Alonzo Mourning had 17 points and eight rebounds for Georgetown. Dikembe Mutombo added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Eric Murdock, who scored 17 points, gave Providence (17-12) a 48-46 lead with 9:12 left, but the Friars made only three baskets the rest of the way.
Missouri 94, No. 14 Oklahoma State 92--Doug Smith's two free throws with 2.8 seconds left in the second overtime lifted the Tigers over the Cowboys and into the Big Eight championship game at Kansas City.
Smith scored 29 points, and Byron Houston had 35 points and 16 rebounds for Oklahoma State (22-7).
Missouri (19-10) reached today's championship game against Nebraska despite losing a 16-point lead in the second half. The Tigers are on probation and can't play in the NCAA tournament.
No. 13 Nebraska 87, Kansas 83--Tony Farmer had 15 points and 13 rebounds as the Cornhuskers beat the Jayhawks to reach the Big Eight title game for the first time.
Clifford Scales and Carl Hayes added 17 points each for Nebraska, which had an 82-77 lead with 3:15 left. Kansas made it close when Alonzo Jamison and Steve Woodberry each sank two free throws before Keith Moody made two free throws with 34 seconds left to increase the lead to 84-81.
Kansas (22-7) got to within 85-83 with 11.6 seconds left on a free throw by Adonis Jordan, but he missed his second shot and Nebraska (26-6) controlled the rebound.
Allan Houston scored 26 points and Tennessee (12-21) made 60% of its shots for its third tournament victory after defeating Mississippi and top-seeded Mississippi State. The Volunteers lost twice to all three teams during the regular season.
Jody Patton scored 23 points for Georgia (17-12).
No. 24 Alabama 77, Auburn 59--Melvin Cheatum and Gary Waites sparked an 11-0 surge in the second half that carried the Crimson Tide past the Tigers and into the SEC championship game for the eighth time in 10 years.
The Tide (20-9) will be seeking its third consecutive championship against Tennessee.
Ronnie Battle scored 19 points for Auburn (13-16).
No. 5 Arkansas 109, Rice 80--Roosevelt Wallace and Arlyn Bowers, two of the Razorbacks' unsung heroes, provided the firepower in a victory over the Owls in the SWC semifinals at Dallas.
Arkansas (30-3) plays Texas in today's championship game.
No. 23 Texas 82, SMU 74--Joey Wright scored 25 points and the Longhorns downed the Mustangs in the other semifinal.
Locksley Collie had 19 points and Dexter Cambridge 17 for the Longhorns (22-7).
Nate Call of BYU (20-12) made two free throws with eight seconds left to break a 49-49 tie.
Utah (28-3) had a chance to win it at the end of regulation when Walter Watts dunked in the final second to tie, 44-44, and was fouled. He missed the free throw.
Florida State 76, Louisville 69--On their way out the door, the Seminoles took the championship trophy with them by beating the Cardinals at Roanoke, Va.
The Seminoles (20-10), who will play in the ACC next season, rallied from a 20-point deficit in the final 17 minutes.
Charlie Ward's three-pointer with 23 seconds left broke a 69-69 tie and powered Florida State to its seventh consecutive victory and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
LaBradford Smith had 26 points for Louisville (14-16), which had only four baskets in the last 17 minutes.
Montana 76, Idaho 68--Kevin Kearney scored 20 points and the Grizzlies won their first Big Sky tournament in six tries by beating the Vandals at Missoula, Mont.
Montana (23-7) earned its first NCAA tournament bid since 1975.
Xavier 81, St. Louis 68--Jamie Gladden scored 18 of his 24 points in the first half and the Musketeers defeated the Billikens at Dayton, Ohio, to win their fourth MCC tournament in the last five years.
Michael Davenport added 19 points for Xavier (21-9), which will play in the NCAA tournament for the sixth year in a row.
Quitman Dillard scored 18 points for the Billikens (19-14).
Northeastern 57, Maine 46--Tournament MVP Ron Lacey scored 18 points and the Huskies defeated the Black Bears in the NAC championship game to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Maine (13-16) had a 22-16 lead with 6:38 remaining in the first half, but Northeastern (22-10) scored 16 consecutive points to take the lead for good.
Eastern Michigan 72, Bowling Green 66--Lorenzo Neely scored 19 points, including a basket to send the game into overtime, and the Hurons moved into today's championship game at Detroit.
Neely's basket put the Hurons (23-6) ahead at the outset of overtime, and Eastern Michigan hit 11 of 13 free throws down the stretch.
Toledo 62, Ball St. 61--Craig Sutters scored 25 points, including the go-ahead basket with 57 seconds left and the Rockets slipped past the Cardinals in the other semifinal game.
Chandler Thompson scored 13 points for Ball State (17-12).
Stephen Howard scored 17 points as DePaul (20-8) avenged an 80-77 overtime loss to Notre Dame (12-20) last month, the Blue Demons' only defeat in their last 13 games.
The Irish lost 20 games in a season for the first time since Digger Phelps became coach at Notre Dame in the 1971-72 season.
Michigan State 66, Michigan 59--Steve Smith scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half and the Spartans defeated the Wolverines in a Big Ten game at Ann Arbor.
Michigan (14-14, 7-11) fell behind, 43-31, but got back into the with seven consecutive points, four by Eric Riley, and tied the score, 48-48, with 8:06 left.
Purdue 77, Northwestern 48--Jimmy Oliver scored 26 points at West Lafayette, Ind., and the Boilermakers (17-11, 9-9) routed the Wildcats, who became the first Big Ten team to finish 0-18 in conference games.
Kevin Rankin scored 17 points for Northwestern (5-23, 0-18), which lost its last 19 games this season, has lost 22 consecutive Big Ten games and 46 conference road games in a row.
Willie Simms scored 23 points for Wisconsin (14-14, 8-10). Kevin Lynch had 18 points for Minnesota (12-16, 5-13).
Schools (23) that have received automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. The Big Ten, Ivy League and Pacific 10 bids are by regular-season title; all others are by conference tournament championship or NCAA qualifying (play-in) game.
SCHOOLS CONFERENCE Arizona Pacific 10 Brigham Young Western Athletic *Coastal Carolina Big South Creighton Missouri Valley East Tennessee State Southern Florida State Metro Athletic Georgia State Trans America Louisiana Tech American South Montana Big Sky Conference Murray State Ohio Valley Northeastern North Atlantic *NE Louisiana Southland Ohio State Big Ten Penn State Atlantic 10 Pepperdine West Coast Princeton Ivy League Richmond Colonial Athletic *St. Francis (Pa.) Northeast St. Peter's Metro Atlantic South Alabama Sun Belt Towson State East Coast Wisconsin Green Bay Mid-Continent Xavier (Ohio) Midwestern Collegiate
* Receives automatic bid by winning NCAA qualifying (play-in) game.