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NC State shocks Virginia with buzzer-beater to force OT, notches 4th win in 4 nights to reach ACC tourney final

North Carolina State guard Michael O'Connell (12) shoots over Virginia guard Isaac McKneely (11) to tie the game 58-58 and sends the game into overtime at the end of the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Friday, March 15, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Michael O'Connell made the shot to keep NC State's run going. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

NC State has its fourth win in four nights, and this might have been the most preposterous one yet.

One day after stunning No. 2 seed Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC men's basketball tournament, the 10th-seeded Wolfpack beat No. 3 seed Virginia in overtime 73-65. NC State will face top seed UNC, who beat Pitt earlier Friday, in the final.

Virginia appeared on track to end the dream run in the final minute of the game, particularly when it took a 58-52 lead with 51 seconds remaining. However, an ill-advised foul on a 3-point attempt by Ryan Dunn on the next possession allowed NC State to cut the lead to 58-55 with 43 seconds left.

Virginia came up empty on its next two possessions, the final one being a one-and-one free throw by Isaac McNeely with five seconds left. You can probably guess where this is going.

NC State had no timeouts. Virginia had a foul to give. Wolfpack guard Michael O'Connell had about four seconds to get into Virginia territory and find a 3-pointer. Which he somehow did, though it took a wild bank and a favorable spin to tie the game:

NC State proceeded to outscore Virginia 15-7 in overtime for a 73-65 win.

It's pretty hard to overstate how out-of-nowhere this run is from NC State. The Wolfpack finished the regular season on a 4-10 skid with losses in their final four games. They beat conference doormat Louisville by only nine points, then dominated Syracuse and convincingly beat Duke to stay alive in Washington.

NC State is now one win away from becoming a full bid thief in the March Madness picture and achieving the full five-wins-in-five-nights run that helped make Kemba Walker's UConn immortal. Standing in front of them is a UNC team that can all but lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with a win.

UNC beat NC State in both of their regular-season games, with a 67-54 win in Raleigh and a closer 79-70 win in Chapel Hill. The Wolfpack are definitely not the opponent the Tar Heels were envisioning in the final, but that doesn't mean they can't take them lightly.