CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's the moment college basketball fans have been waiting for: the return of Zion Williamson. 

The freshman phenom is expected to return to Duke's lineup against Syracuse Thursday for the first time since spraining his knee last month. Williamson's injury was a moment that we won't soon forget, as his sneaker exploded on the court just seconds into the Blue Devils' home game against rival North Carolina. 

Duke hasn't officially said Williamson will play in Thursday's quarterfinal game but head coach Mike Krzyzewski has said he expects the freshman to play. His return couldn't come at a better time as the Blue Devils also deal with an injury to Marques Bolden, who will miss the ACC Tournament. 

With Williamson out of the lineup, Duke struggled and finished the regular season 3-3, a far cry from the 23-3 record they piled up with the ACC's best player on the court. 

As for North Carolina, the Tar Heels went on to beat Duke twice without Williamson in the lineup. And while he knows Williamson's absence was a factor in the games, UNC head coach Roy Williams isn't apologizing for the wins. 

"Whether it's an asterisk or not, because frankly I don't care," Williams said. "We understand that made the game much different than it might have been, but if it had been a higher level at their end, I sort of think my guys would've played at a higher level too, and I like that."

Should both schools win their games Thursday, they'll meet in Friday night's semifinals. 

ACC Tournament Quarterfinals Schedule -- Thursday, March 14

Game 8: No. 1 Virginia vs No. 8 NC State, 12:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 9: No. 4 Florida State vs No. 5 Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 10: No. 2 North Carolina vs No. 7 Louisville, 7 p.m., ESPN

Game 11: No. 3 Duke vs No. 6 Syracuse, 9 p.m., ESPN