NC State three-point buzzer beater forces OT, giving way to first ACC Championship game since 2007

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The North Carolina State men’s basketball team is back in the ACC Championship game for the first time since 2007, thanks to a thrilling three-point buzzer beater to force overtime in a 73-65 victory over Virginia on Friday night. 

Michael O’Connell, who is playing in his first season with the Wolfpack after three years at Stanford, helped improve NC State’s chances of punching their ticket to the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament next week when he took control of the ball trailing 58-55 with four seconds remaining. 

Michael O’Connell, #12 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack, shoots a three-point basket to tie the game at the end of regulation against Isaac McKneely, #11 of the Virginia Cavaliers, in the Semifinals of the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 15, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

O’Connell rushed the ball up the left sideline and took a shot from in front of his team’s bench, beating the buzzer to sink a three-point shot. 

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“I had a direct view of it,” head coach Kevin Keatts said. “As it went up I was like, ‘Man, that shot is going in, it’s going in,’ and then luckily it did and obviously sent us to overtime.”

D.J. Burns Jr. would score seven points in overtime to help seal Virginia’s fate. 

“I’m happy for our guys. We live on. We get a chance to play against a very good Carolina team tomorrow, and I’m excited about our opportunity.”

Michael O'Connell celebrates with teammates

Michael O’Connell, #12 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack, celebrates with teammates after scoring to tie the game at the end of regulation against the Virginia Cavaliers in the Semifinals of the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 15, 2024, in Washington, D.C.  (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

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The win marks the first time NC State is in the championship game since 2007, and if they win against the top-seeded North Carolina on Saturday night, it will be the program’s first title since 1987. 

“I think it means everything,” Keatts said of winning the ACC Championship. “We’ve got great tradition. . . . It means a lot. We’re proud of it, but it’s been a long time.”

Kevin Keatts reacts to a call

Head coach Kevin Keatts of the North Carolina State Wolfpack reacts to a call in the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers in the Semifinals of the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 15, 2024, in Washington, D.C.  (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

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NC State has the chance to have a five-wins-in-five-days run for the ACC’s automatic bid. They face off against North Carolina in our nation’s capital on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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