Duke Withstands Georgia Tech's Charges, Wins 65-61 For 18th ACC Title

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ACC Tournament Championship Preview: Duke, Georgia Tech Battle For ACC Crown

Today’s ACC Tournament Championship pits the No. 1 seeded Duke Blue Devils against the No. 7 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Both teams are safely in the NCAA Tournament field of 65, so this one is largely for bragging rights in the ACC. This will be the third meeting between these two ACC clubs in the tournament final.

Duke has advanced to the Championship game by outlasting #9 Virginia and #12 Miami. The Blue Devils struggled to put away both opponents, but had some timely buckets down the stretch to advance to the finals.

Georgia Tech has had the much more difficult road to the finals – three wins in three days – including wins over No. 10 North Carolina, No. 2 Maryland and No. 11 N.C. State. Paul Hewitt’s Yellow Jackets have certainly made it interesting on Georgia Tech fans. Tech was down 13 to UNC at half, up 19 on Maryland and played N.C. State close all the way to the end. One constant for Georgia Tech has been the play of ACC Rookie of the Year Derrick Favors, who is averaging nearly a double-double in three tournament games (15.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG).

The two teams split the season series, with each team winning at home. Back on January 9, Georgia Tech upset then No. 5 Duke 71-67 at Alexander Memorial. Gani Lawal led the Jackets with 21 points and 9 rebounds, hitting a key turnaround jumper with just over a minute left to play to preserve the victory. Duke went cold in that game from 3 point range, hitting only 6 of 28 attempts in the loss. In the second game at Cameron Indoor, Duke had no problem connecting on long range as the Blue Devils made quick work of Georgia Tech, winning 86-67. Kyle Singler led the way, hitting 8 three-pointers and finishing with a career high 30 points. Jon Scheyer added 21 points in the victory.

For Duke, a team that thrives on perimeter shooting, they can’t afford to shoot as poorly as they did in the first matchup with the Jackets. The Blue Devils will need to shoot well to capture their 18th ACC Tournament Championship. Also, Georgia Tech’s run to the Championship has been plagued by turnovers. The Jackets committed 25 and 16 turnovers in their last two games. Guard Iman Shumpert committed five turnovers in the win over N.C. State in the ACC semifinal yesterday. You can bet Coach K will have the Blue Devils pressing action early.

For Georgia Tech, they will need to exploit their advantage down low with Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors. If the pair of big men gets in foul trouble early, as they did in Duke’s 19 point victory at Cameron Indoor, it might be a long night for the Jackets. Free throw shooting has also been a problem for Georgia Tech. They haven’t hit more than 60 percent of free-throws so far in the tournament. Duke, on the other hand, leads the conference from the charity stripe with a 75.9% average. This game should prove to be a physical one and the difference in the game may very well come down to clutch free-throw shooting.

GAME NOTES: Duke is 17-11 in ACC Tournament Championship games, while Georgia Tech is 3-3. These two teams have met in the ACC Tournament 9 times previously, with Duke holding a 6-3 edge in the Tournament. Duke has won 8 of the last 11 ACC Championships. Georgia Tech’s last title occurred in 1993.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) - Greensboro, North Carolina. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Duke 18-0, Georgia Tech 14-2. Away Record: Duke 5-5, Georgia Tech 4-8. Neutral Record: Duke 5-0, Georgia Tech 4-1. Conference Record: Duke 13-3, Georgia Tech 7-9. Series Record: Duke leads the all-time series 62-23.

Sunday, March 14th, 1:00 PM ET (ESPN)

Prediction: Duke 80, Georgia Tech 74

 

For more information and updates on Duke, visit Duke Basketball Report. For more information and updates on Georgia Tech, visit From The Rumble Seat.

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Georgia Tech Scraps For Upset Win Over Maryland, 69-64

For further reading, check out our Georgia Tech blog, From the Rumble Seat, and our Maryland blog, Testudo Times.

Greensboro, NC (Sports Network) - Iman Shumpert scored 14 points and handed out four assists to help Georgia Tech fend off 19th-ranked Maryland, 69-64, in the quarterfinals of the 2010 ACC Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum.

The Yellow Jackets led by as many as 19 late in the first half, but Maryland clamped down defensively to whittle the deficit to one. The Terrapins forced 25 turnovers, 16 after the break, but could never pull in front.

Maurice Miller had 13 points, while Derrick Favors added 11 points and 11 rebounds for seventh-seeded Georgia Tech (21-11), which will meet either Florida State or NC State in the semifinals on Saturday.

Zachery Peacock also scored 11 points for the Yellow Jackets, who connected on 8-of-12 shots from beyond the arc.

Greivis Vasquez, ACC Player of the Year, finished with 17 points and five steals for the second-seeded Terrapins (23-8), who earned a share of the conference's regular-season crown with Duke.

Landon Milbourne totaled 15 points, six rebounds and five steals in the loss for Maryland.

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Duke Rolls Past UVA; Miami Stuns Viginia Tech

The Duke Blue Devils were favored to defeat Virginia and they did just that, 57-46. It wasn’t east for Duke early as the two teams were tied at 29 when the first half buzzer sounded. Duke outplayed Virginia in every phase of the game, including shooting, ball security, rebounding, and from the free throw line. The three-headed monster of Singler, Scheyer, and Smith had a combined 48 points and 22 rebounds. Duke wasn’t dominant, they were simply better.

Virginia’s season is likely over and Cavs fans have to be pleased with the progress made under first year coach Tony Bennet. Duke moves on to play Miami tomorrow in the semi-final round.

Speaking of Miami, the 12th-seeded Cinderella ‘Canes are the story of the ACC tournament so far, pulling two consecutive upsets, including a 70-65 victory over the 4th-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies. Miami trailed by 2 at half but stayed with its game plan, as 7 ’Canes scored more than 5 points. Durand Scott and DeQuan Jones combined for 31, and the Canes out-rebounded Tech 52-37. Perhaps most importantly, Miami suffocated Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney to 7 points on 3-15 shooting.

Virginia Tech’s tourney hopes might be in jeopardy considering its weak non-conference schedule. The Hokies must now hope that other bubble teams don’t make deep runs in the various other conference tournaments.

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ACC Tournament Schedule, Day 2: Top Seeds Duke, Maryland In Action

Friday’s slate of ACC Tournament games shakes out thusly:

Duke vs. UVA, Noon ET on ESPN2
— Follow the game live once it starts here.

Virginia Tech vs. Miami, 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2
— For analysis, opinion, previews, snark from SB Nation’s team blogs, head to Gobbler Country and/or The 7th Floor.

— Follow the game live once it starts here.

Maryland vs. Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
— For analysis, opinion, previews, snark from SB Nation’s team blogs, head to <a href=“”http://www.testudotimes.com/" target="new">http://www.gobblercountry.com/“ target=”new">Testudo Times and/or From the Rumble Seat.

— Follow the game live once it starts here.

Florida State vs. NC State, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2
— For analysis, opinion, previews, snark from SB Nation’s team blogs, head to Tomahawk Nation and/or Backing the Pack.

— Follow the game live once it starts here.

We will have full recaps and analysis of both games after they finish.

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N.C. State Survives Against Clemson, Georgia Tech Completes Comeback Against UNC

The battle between North Carolina State and Clemson started out ugly and finished in a flourish of excitement. But the game ended just as the first half did with the 11th-seeded Wolf Pack on top of the 6-seed Tigers, 59-57. State’s Tracy Smith had 19 points on 9-15 shooting to go with 8 rebounds. Clemson’s Trevor Booker had 17 points on 7-11 shooting. The ‘Pack didn’t handle the Clemson press all that well but State did grab an offensive rebound on 40% of its missed shots. But State’s bench outscored the Tigers’ 21-16 and that depth proved to be the difference in a second half that featured sixty percent more scoring than the first. As a 7-point underdog, State was the largest upset on a day that featured many upsets.

Clemson is considered a lock for the big dance, but a disappointing finish to the regular season and an early exit from the ACC tourney won’t help it secure a single-digit seed. Absent winning the conference tournament, State will not be playing in any more tournaments. To accomplish that goal the ’Pack will need to beat the 3rd seeded Florida State Seminoles, tomorrow at 9 Eastern.

In the earlier game Georgia Tech bested the North Carolina Tar Heels 62-58. Tech fell behind early to the disappointing Tar Heels and trailed by 10 points at the half. Despite not doing so for much of the year, Carolina took care of the ball for most of the game, limiting turnovers to far below their normal conference output. And the Heels did an excellent job on the offensive glass, grabbing an offensive rebound on 45% of their misses shots. But in the second half Tech really upped its defensive game and got the ball to its star freshman Derrick Favors. Tech held UNC to 33% shooting, including only 2-16 from beyond the arc. Favors out-physicaled the Heels inside, and his teammates in the front court accounted for 35 of Tech’s 62 points as the Yellow Jackets stormed back to win with a 38-point second half performance. It was Tech’s third win over Carolina this season.

Tech will play the 2-seed Maryland Terrapins Friday. The Yellow Jackets are thought to be on the right side of the bubble and winning a game they were expected to win should help their case. Carolina’s season it would probably like to forget is now over. Many expect things to be better in 2011 for the Heels as Carolina returns most of its young talent and is expected to bring in some talented recruits as well.

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Upsets Abound: Virginia, Miami Advance To ACC Quarterfinals

One way that the Virginia Cavaliers could snap a nine game losing streak was from getting hot from behind the arc. Virginia guard Sammy Zeglinski did just that, connecting on 5-of-10 from 3 point range to lead the Cavaliers past the 8th seeded Eagles 68-62. Zeglinski scored a game-high 21 points, while Mike Scott contributed 11 points and 13 rebounds. The Cavs led by as many as 11 points in the second half, and hit some timely free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.

The Cavaliers advance to the quarterfinals to play top-seeded Duke. In their only matchup with the Blue Devils this season, the Cavs - without leading scorer Sylven Landesberg - got crushed at home 67-49. If the Cavs are to upset Duke, they’ll have to do it again without the services of Landesberg.

For the Eagles, they end their season on a down note. Any hope that the Eagles would receive a postseason tournament berth were dashed, and they’ll be a lot of work for Skinner and the Eagles to do in the offseason. The Eagles return all 5 starters for the 2010-2011 season.

In the second game of the afternoon session, the Miami Hurricanes pulled off the stunner, burying the 5th seeded Demon Deacons 83-62. The ‘Canes built up a 14 point first half lead and never looked back. Reggie Johnson scored 22 points and James Dews added 15 in the victory.

Miami advances to play the #4 seeded Virginia Tech in the Quarterfinals, tomorrow at 2pm. The 'Canes and Hokies split the regular season series, with each home team pulling out the victory. Wake Forest, on the other hand, plays the waiting game for a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Wake Forest is likely in the field of 65, but their early exit in the ACC Tournament will have an effect on their seed.


Brian Favat writes about the Boston College Eagles at BC Interruption.

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Opening Round Preview: Clemson and N.C. State Battle In The Nightcap

In the ACC Tournament nightcap, the 6th seeded Clemson Tigers take on the 11th seeded N.C. State Wolfpack. The winner faces the 3rd seeded Florida State Seminoles.

Clemson enters the ACC Tournament with a record of 21-9 (9-7 ACC). The Tigers are coming off a disappointing 70-65 loss to Wake Forest. The Deacons were able to keep Tigers leading scorer Trevor Booker in check, and shots just weren’t falling for Clemson that night. Oliver Purnell’s squads shot only 38 percent from the field, and were only able connect on 5 of 25 three point attempts. Demontez Stitt led the Tigers with 18 points, all in the second half. The loss sent the Tigers hurdling down the ACC standings. A win over Wake would have secured the tournament’s 3 seed (and a crucial first round bye). Instead, the Tigers loss coupled with an FSU over Miami jumped the Noles all the way up to the 3 seed.

Despite the setback, the Tigers are one of the few ACC teams to finish strong down the stretch. Clemson went 6-4 in their last 10 with key wins over Georgia Tech, Florida State (x2) and Maryland.

N.C. State, on the other hand, enters the tournament on a winning note. The ‘Pack knocked off the Boston College Eagles 66-54 on senior night at the RBC Center. N.C. State closed the game with a 20-5 run to secure the victory. After taking a nasty spill and receiving a cut to the head, senior forward Dennis Horner returned to score 11 of his 14 points in the second half to lead N.C. State to victory. Tracy Smith added 19 points and 7 rebounds.

After starting the season 10-3, the Wolfpack managed only a 7-11 record in 2010. However, they ride momentum going into the tournament, winners of 3 of their last 4 games. Despite N.C. State’s 5-11 mark, they do have quality wins over Duke, Wake Forest, Florida State and Marquette. Along with those quality wins are equally puzzling losses to Northwestern, Virginia and UNC.

In this season’s only meeting, the Tigers edged the Wolfpack 73-70 to improve to 15-3 on the season. Clemson nearly blew a 21-point lead before closing the book on N.C. State. The Wolfpack’s sophomore guard Julius Mays attempted a 3 to tie the game that rattled off the front of the rim. Mays had a season-high 17 points in the losing effort.

Clemson loves to play a pressure defense, pressing opponents early and often. If Clemson is able to keep N.C. State’s guards off-balance and force turnovers, the result will likely be the same as the regular season matchup. After Wake Forest found an answer for Trevor Booker, Booker needs to establish himself early in this game, alleviating the pressure on Clemson’s guards. For N.C. State, they need to provide an answer to CU's Booker, and their guards need to have a solid game breaking the Tiger press. In the paint, the Booker vs. Smith battle is going to be fun to watch.

GAME NOTES: Clemson is a paltry 16-55 all-time in the ACC Tournament. N.C. State has enjoyed quite a bit of success over the years, posting a 61-45 record in the tourney. State is one of four teams with a winning record all-time in the tournament (North Carolina, Duke and newcomer BC are the others). N.C. State holds a 5-2 edge over Clemson in the ACC Tournament, although you have to go all the way back to 1994 to find the last time the Tigers and the Wolfpack faced one another (a 76-63 win by Clemson).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) - Greensboro, North Carolina. Television: Raycom. Home Record: Clemson 14-2, N.C. State 10-7. Away Record: Clemson 5-6, N.C. State 4-7. Neutral Record: Clemson 2-1, N.C. State 3-0. Conference Record: Clemson 9-7, N.C. State 5-11. ACC Tournament Series Record: N.C. State leads the all-time series 5-2.

Thursday, March 11th, 9:00 PM ET (Raycom)

N.C. State always seems to overachieve in the ACC Tournament, but I think that Trevor Booker, Demontez Stitt and the Tigers will be too much for Sidney Lowe’s Wolfpack.

Prediction: Clemson 75, N.C. State 68

 

Brian Favat and Jeff Martyn write about the Boston College Eagles at BC Interruption.

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Opening Round Preview: Does Georgia Tech Have Work Left To Do Against UNC?

The third game of the ACC Tournament’s opening round pits the No. 7 seeded Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against the No. 10 ... yes, you read that right ... No. 10 seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. This game is the only game of today’s opening round slate to be broadcast on national television. The winner of this game will move on to play the second seeded Maryland Terrapins on Friday night at 7 PM.

In their last game, Georgia Tech fell to the Virginia Tech Hokies 88-82, finishing the regular season with a mark of 19-11, 7-9 ACC. The Jackets stormed out of the gate with a 16-5 record, only for Paul Hewitt to watch his team drop six of their last nine contests down the stretch. The only wins in that stretch came at the expense of teams further down the ACC totem pole, namely BC, North Carolina and N.C. State. Not exactly resume building 101 here. A program that seemed a near lock for the NCAA Tournament a month ago now has a bit of work left to do, and quite frankly, the natives are getting restless. A loss in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament by Georgia Tech may very well dash any hopes of a return to the Big Dance.

North Carolina is coming off a game they’d just as soon forget, an 82-50 annihilation at the hands of their arch-rivals the Duke Blue Devils. UNC is in uncharted waters as the ACC Tournament’s No. 10 seed. Carolina is the only team to have never played in an ACC opening round game (seeded 5 or higher since the conference expanded to 12 teams or 8 or higher back in the good ol’ days of a nine-team ACC). Roy Williams’ crew has now lost 8 of their final 11 games, and now the best this team can hope for - short of winning 4 games in 4 days and making the Dance - is a berth in the NIT. Williams’ teams at Kansas and North Carolina have won an NCAA Tournament game in 20 straight seasons, and he has never coached in the NIT.

Tech won both regular-season meetings this year. Georgia Tech blew a 20-point lead before surviving UNC 73-71 back on January 16. Georgia Tech’s Zachery Peacock hit the game winner with a little under 30 seconds to play in a then-matchup between top 25 teams. In the second game, the Jackets cruised to a 68-51 victory at Alexander Memorial, behind 13 points from ACC Rookie of the Year Derrick Favors. With the win, Georgia Tech completed a rare season sweep of UNC, their first since the 1995-1996 season. Paul Hewitt’s squad will go for the even rarer three-game sweep of the Heels, something that has only happened once in program history. During the 1984-1985 season, Georgia Tech swept the regular season series and the defeated UNC in the ACC Tournament in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech has had a balanced attack for most of the season, finishing 6th in the conference in offensive efficiency and 7th in defensive efficiency. Meanwhile, North Carolina finished last in offensive efficiency and only 9th in defensive efficiency. The Tech offense is led by junior forward Gani Lawal (13.6 points, 8.8 boards per game) and freshman phenom Derrick Favors (11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds). The Heels are paced by forwards Deon Thompson and Ed Davis, averaging 13.7 and 12.9, respectively. However, UNC will again be without the services of Davis, whose season came to an end after he suffered a wrist injury.

In order for Georgia Tech to win the game, it has to start with Lawal and Favors in the post. If the Jackets can establish a front court presence early, that will give guards Iman Shumpert, Glen Rice Jr. and Brian Oliver time to beat the Heels on the perimeter. For North Carolina, they will have to make life difficult for Lawal and Favors in the post, and that responsibility lies with John Henson who has recently moved to the power forward position. If they can get either Lawal or Favors in foul trouble early, and get some perimeter shots to fall, they at least stand a chance of pulling off the upset.

GAME NOTES: North Carolina is a ridiculous 83-37 all-time in ACC Tournament play, posting the highest winning percentage in the conference (.637). Georgia Tech is 20-26 all-time in the ACC Tournament, and only 1-4 in opening round games. The two teams have faced each other 8 times in the ACC Tournament with the series tied at 4.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) - Greensboro, North Carolina. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Georgia Tech 14-2, North Carolina 13-6. Away Record: Georgia Tech 4-8, North Carolina 2-8. Neutral Record: Georgia Tech 1-1, North Carolina 1-1. Conference Record: Georgia Tech 7-9, North Carolina 5-11. Series Record: North Carolina leads the all-time series 60-20. Despite the whopping 40 game edge the Heels have on the Jackets, Paul Hewitt is 6-6 all-time against Roy Williams, including a 2-1 record in the ACC Tournament. So now you know.

Thursday, March 11th, 7:00 PM ET (ESPN2)

Prediction: Georgia Tech 71, North Carolina 62

 

Brian Favat and Jeff Martyn write about the Boston College Eagles at BC Interruption.

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Opening Round Preview: Wake Forest Looks To Avoid Upset Against Miami

In the second game of the opening round of the ACC Tournament, the 19-9 Wake Forest Demon Deacons take on the 18-12 Miami Hurricanes in the #5 vs. #12 matchup. No. 4 seeded Virginia Tech awaits the winner.

Last time out, the Demon Deacons got a much needed and hard-fought home victory over the Clemson Tigers. Al-Farouq Aminu broke out of his two game scoring funk, leading all Wake scorers with 18 points and 12 boards, as Wake defeated Clemson 70-65. Senior guard Ish Smith added 12 points in the victory. The win pushed Wake’s record to 19-9 (9-7 ACC), but more importantly, stopped a four game ACC losing streak. While a win over Clemson went along way to punching Wake’s ticket to the NCAA Tournament, they can ill-afford to bow out of the first round of the ACC Tournament to Miami. With an ever shrinking NCAA Tournament bubble, a loss to Miami would be very costly to Wake’s tournament hopes.

For Miami, a season of much promise has turned into a rather forgettable one. After starting the season 15-1 by snacking on a fairly light non-conference schedule, Miami stumbled to the finish winning only 3 games in their final 14. The ‘Canes were the only team in the ACC to go 0-for-8 on the road, and their only two wins away from the BankUnited Center this season came against 7-24 Pepperdine Waves and the 7-22 Stetson Hatters.

Even though Miami has lost 11 of their final 14, this isn’t to suggest that they haven’t been competitive during the second half of the season. Miami took a very good Florida State team to the limit in the regular season finale, having a chance to win the game in their final possession (61-60). Of the few wins Miami does have in conference, they aren’t to pushover teams either. Miami has defeated Wake, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, all likely teams that will be Dancing next week. The ‘Canes are 3-4 in games decided by 5 points or less, and lost their last three league games by a total of 13 points.

This year, the Hurricanes and Deacons split this year’s season series. On January 9, Miami’s James Dews sank a shot with 30 seconds left to life the Canes to a 67-66 victory over then 11-3 Wake Forest. The victory pushed the Hurricanes record to 15-1, 1-1 ACC. That home win would serve as the high water mark for U-M hoops this year, as the Canes went on to lose 4 straight ACC games and 11 of their final 14 games. Wake Forest returned the favor on February 2, when freshman C.J. Harris paced the Deacons with 12 points in a 62-53 win over Miami. The Wake Forest defense held Miami to just one point in that game’s final five minutes. Wake Forest holds a 7-3 lead in the all-time series.

Here’s what our Wake Forest blog Blogger So Dear had to say about Miami’s keys to winning the game:

They are able to zone the Deacs into submission and get hot from three. The 'Canes have had Wake's number when it comes to zone defense the last couple years and Head Coach Frank Haith is going to need to keep Wake's bigs in check and force the Demon Deacons to shoot over the top. Miami is down Dwayne Collins and desperately needs to hit their shots in bunches to stay in this game. They would also be wise to slow the tempo down and make Wake work in their half court set.

For Wake Forest, it starts with their big men Al-Farouq Aminu and Chas McFarland. A solid game by both of those players will likely be enough to push the Deacons onto the next round and a date with No. 4 Virginia Tech. Another key will be the play of freshmen C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart. As Wake’s freshmen shooters go, so goes Wake. If Harris and Stewart are able to get hot, the Deacs will be able to bust zones and take pressure off of Wake’s big men. If the pair goes cold, you may very well see Miami pull off the upset.

GAME NOTES: Wake Forest is 42-51 all-time in ACC Tournament play, having won 4 Tournament titles (the last in 1996, thank you Tim Duncan). Since joining the conference in 2004, Miami is 3-4 all-time in tournament play.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) - Greensboro, North Carolina. Television: Raycom. Home Record: Wake Forest 13-2, Miami Fla. 12-4. Away Record: Wake Forest 5-7, Miami Fla. 2-8. Neutral Record: Wake Forest 1-0, Miami 2-0. Conference Record: Wake Forest 9-7, Miami 4-12. Series Record: Wake Forest leads the all-time series 7-3.

Thursday, March 11th, 2:00 PM ET (Raycom)

Miami has at least been competitive down the stretch, but for a team that went 0-for away from the BankUnited Center in ACC play, I can’t see them stealing this one from Wake.

Prediction: Wake Forest 79, Miami 75

 

Brian Favat and Jeff Martyn write about the Boston College Eagles at BC Interruption.

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Opening Round Preview: BC And Virginia Look To Advance To Quarterfinals

The 15-15 Boston College Eagles and the 14-15 Virginia Cavaliers kick off the 2010 ACC men’s basketball Tournament Thursday down in Greensboro, NC. The 8th seeded Eagles face the 9th seeded Cavaliers for the right to advance to the ACC Quarterfinals against top-seeded Duke.

The Eagles lost a bit of momentum in their regular season finale, falling to N.C. State at the RBC Center 66-54. BC went into the game with N.C. State winners of three of their last four games, including a win over Virginia.

As for Virginia, after a fast 3-0 start in conference play, the 'Hoos are on a season high 9 game losing streak. The Cavaliers enter the ACC Tournament having lost 9 straight ACC games and 11 of their last 13. In addition, UVA will be fighting an uphill battle as they will be without the services of leading scorer Sylven Landesberg, who has been suspended for the rest of the season due to academic issues (class attendance). Even without Landesberg, the Cavs showed some spark in their regular season finale, pushing Maryland to the limit in a 74-68 loss.

Not only will Virginia miss Landesberg, but they will also miss senior guard Calvin Baker. According to coach Tony Bennett, Baker will not travel with the team to Greensboro and will miss the rest of the regular season due to personal family reasons. A member of his family is ill and he is headed home to be with his family. Baker, a William & Mary transfer, averaged 3.0 points and 1.9 rebounds per game in 25 games.

In the only meeting between the two teams - that occurred a little over a week ago - the Eagles knocked off the Cavaliers 68-55. Corey Raji paced the Eagles with 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Mike Scott led the Cavaliers with 13 and 9. Landesberg also scored 13 in a losing effort. Virginia holds a two game edge in the all-time series, leading 6-4.

This season, it hasn’t been the offense that’s been a problem for BC. BC ranks fourth in the conference in offensive efficiency (100.7) and has received solid contributions from Joe Trapani (14.6 PPG), Reggie Jackson (12.7) and Corey Raji (11.6). Instead, the Eagles have struggled mightily on the defensive end, with a defensive efficiency rating good for 11th in the ACC. In contrast, Virginia ranks 11th in the ACC in offensive efficiency (96.6) and 8th in defensive efficiency (103.9).

In order for the Eagles to win, they'll need solid contributions from Trapani and Raji, and excellent PG play from Reggie Jackson. Getting Raji going, in particular, will be critical for the Eagles. Raji left the N.C. State game with a shoulder injury. Skinner says that Raji will miss a bit of practice this week but should be ready to play tomorrow. For Virginia, the Cavs will have to get F/C Jerome Meyinsse involved in the offense, exploiting the Eagles weakness down low. Meyinsse has scored in double figures in each of his last four games. Guards Jeff Jones and Sammy Zeglinski will also have to put together solid performances to lead the Cavs past the Eagles.

GAME NOTES: Boston College is 5-4 all-time in ACC Tournament play, and one of only three other teams with a winning record in Tournament play (along with Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State). Virginia is 30-54 all-time in tournament play, and 3-3 in the tournament’s first round. Virginia has won one ACC Tournament title in 1976.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) - Greensboro, North Carolina. Television: Raycom. Home Record: Boston College 11-6, Virginia 11-6. Away Record: Boston College 3-7, Virginia 2-8. Neutral Record: Boston College 1-2, Virginia 1-1. Conference Record: Boston College 6-10, Virginia 5-11. Series Record: Virginia leads the all-time series 6-4.

Thursday, March 11th, noon ET (Raycom)

(Unabashed homer) prediction: Boston College 65, Virginia 57

 

Brian Favat and Jeff Martyn write about the Boston College Eagles at BC Interruption.

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ACC Tournament Preview: Title Is Up For Grabs In This Deep Conference

The great thing about sports is that any team can win on any night. It doesn't matter if you're David or Goliath heading into the contest, you still have the opportunity to prove the experts right or wrong. The ACC proved many people wrong this year. The defending national champion sits at 5-11 in conference play, a seriously hyped Georgia Tech team finished in the middle of the pack, and the Maryland Terrapins are staring Duke in the face at the top of the standings.

Many will consider this a down year for the ACC as the basketball elites are not sitting at the top of the standings together. If Duke and UNC aren't battling for the title, then it must be a bad year in the ACC. That may be the perception of the casual observer. However, the parity in the ACC this year may not be a reflection of its weakness, but highlighting the depth of the conference. Did anyone guess that Virginia would be hovering at the top of the standings as late as the beginning of February? That was the kind of the year that the ACC experienced.

With all of the surprises that happened during conference play, anything could happen in this tournament. The fact that the seedings couldn't be decided until Sunday evening after the very last game in conference play should demonstrate what kind of tournament fans should expect. Outside of Duke and Maryland at the top, the middle of the ACC is a competitive pack of very physical teams that can win on any given night. It may not be the typical ACC basketball to which you are accustomed, but you'll see some hard fought games and likely a few upsets.

The Stakes

As of right now, it seems that Duke, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Clemson are locks for the NCAA tournament. Though, a first game disaster for Virginia Tech, Florida State or Clemson could spell trouble, particularly in a year in which the ACC hasn't been viewed favorably. Highly unlikely that a first round exit will affect any of those teams. However, now that Clemson is the 6th seed in the tournament, they have work to do and will face Florida State in the second round if Clemson can take down NC State.

The teams that need to make a major run through the ACC tournament to get into the big dance are Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech finished their last ten games of conference play with a 4-6 record, including back to back losses to end the year. Tech started conference play with a bang upsetting Duke, but it seems that they got derailed as the season went on. Wake Forest finished the year with a 5-5 record, which included a four game losing streak in which the Demon Deacons lost to UNC at home. Both of these teams will need to make a serious run to make their case for the big dance.

Twelve Names You Likely Know

These twelve players represent the 12 household names in ACC basketball. You may not be familiar with some of these players if you don't follow ACC basketball regularly. This is simply a sampling of the quality of players that you will see in this tournament.

Jon Scheyer, Duke -- Senior, 6'5 190lbs Guard Jon Scheyer, the senior leader of the Duke Blue Devils is in discussions for both ACC player of the year and National Player of the Year. He boasts the 6th best offensive rating in the nation and has a ridiculous Assist/TO Ratio of 3.0. Scheyer can flat out shoot from anywhere on the court and watch out if he gets hot early. Once he starts drawing the double teams, it opens up a lot of options for the Blue Devils.

Greivis Vasquez, Maryland -- Senior, 6'6 190lbs Guard Vasquez has become one of the most polarizing figures in college basketball. However, he can back it up and has become one of the dominant players in the ACC and is certainly in discussion for ACC POY. He rarely comes of the court; he is a big physical guard that can score from anywhere on the floor. However, he knows his role and is able to distribute the ball well with an assist rate of 36.1%, not bad for a guy averaging 19.6 points per game.

Chris Singleton, Florida State --Sophomore, 6'9 227lbs Small Forward  Who would have thought that a 6'9 Small Forward would be leading the conference in steals? Singleton has earned his way into discussion for ACC Defensive Player of the Year as he is in the top ten for both steals and blocks. He's an athletic wing player that has the ability to put up big points. However, he is third in the conference in turnovers. He's happy toss up a three point shot from anywhere and is very athletic around the rim.

Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech -- Junior, 6'3 170lbs Guard Delaney is averaging 20.9 points per game, accounting for 27% of his team's total points on the year, scoring almost 200 points more than his teammate Dorenzo Hudson. Like Vasquez, Delaney can distribute the ball, averaging over four assists per game with an assist rate of 26.5%. He's more than happy to shoot the three or take it strong to the rim. He'll force you into mistakes and get the easy foul. He's averaging 7.1 fouls drawn per 40 minutes of game play.

Trevor Booker, Clemson -- Senior, 6'7 240lbs Forward Booker is an excellent all around player who is the key to Clemson's success. He has an offensive rating of 112.3, an eFG% of 53% and pulls down rebounds. He's averaging 15.3 points per game and is pulling down 8.3 rebounds. He is going to wear you down in the paint and is the emotional leader of the Tigers. Many considered him the pre-season favorite for the ACC Defensive player of the year.

Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest -- Sophomore, 6'9 215lbs Forward AFA didn't enter the NBA draft and is having a wonderful sophomore campaign for the Demon Deacons. He's averaging a double-double, scoring 15.9 points and pulling down 10.8 rebounds. In fact, he is one of the best offensive rebounders in the country with an OReb% of 14.6%. He's an outstanding defender and is the cornerstone of Wake's game plan.

Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech -- Junior, 6'9 234lbs Forward Lawal controls the pain on both ends of the court. He has a wonderful turn around jumper and is highly skilled at pulling down rebounds. Like most of the big men in the conference, he can get up and down the court and looks to score in transition. Georgia Tech likes to get him isolated on the post in transition off an opponent's miss. If he and Derrick Favors can dominate like they can, Georgia Tech could win a game or too and earn themselves a spot in the big dance.

Reggie Jackson, Boston College -- Sophomore, 6'3 200lbs Guard 12 points. 5.6 rebounds. 4.5 Assists. Not a bad stat line to have night in and night out in the ACC. Jackson runs the show in Chestnut Hill and is have a great sophomore season. Though, it seems that both his stats and minutes have been decreasing of late. Look for Joe Trapani, who could have easily been in this spot, to try and shoot the Eagles' way into the second round.

Deon Thompson, North Carolina -- Senior, 6'9 245lbs Forward Since Ed Davis' injury, Deon Thompson has taken over the paint for the Tarheels. He has been working the glass and trying to will this team to any victory possible. He's averaging 13.7 points per game and pulling down 6.2 rebounds per game. He is going to make your work inside and try to wear you down, forcing mistakes on the defensive end and allowing him to get to the line.

Tracy Smith, North Carolina State -- Junior, 6'8 247lbs Tracy Smith is a complete basketball player. 17 points per game. 7.7 rebounds. He has accounted for 24% of the Wolfpack's total offense and is without a doubt their leading rebounder. While there hasn't been a lot to cheer for at NC State this year, he is certainly a player to watch in the match up with Clemson.

Sylven Landesberg, Virginia -- Sophomore, 6'6 207lbs Guard Landesberg was last year's ACC Rookie of the Year. He is an outstanding guard who really is fun to watch. He is a gifted athlete and a prolific scorer. Though, it seems that the lack of depth

Dwayne Collins, Miami -- Senior, 6'8 238lbs Forward Collins sat out the season finale against Florida State, but is likely to return against Wake Forest. The Hurricanes need Collins. He was averaging 12 points per game and 7.8 rebounds. His eFG% is an out of this world 61.4%, meaning he earns his keep cleaning everything up around the basket. He is one the best offensive rebounders in the country, ranking 20th in the nation in OReb%.


Twelve Names You Likely Don't Know (But You Should)

These players may be familiar to you, hopefully many of them won't. These are some of the lesser known players who could have a significant impact on their teams' success in post-season play. Some are the number two player on the team, some are the second player off the bench, but you might be hearing their name a lot in the next few days.

Brian Zoubek, Duke -- Senior, 7'1 260lbs In tournament play, teams have to play possession basketball and not waste any opportunities. Zoubek is the best offensive rebounder in the country with an OReb% of 22.2%. His game play has picked up significantly in the past few games and will help the Blue Devils immensely. He only plays about 17 minutes a game, but he pulls down 7.3 rebounds per game.

Jordan Williams, Maryland -- 6'9 245lbs Freshman Williams has become a key inside presence for the Terrapins. Maryland is a relatively tall team, but have a great group of hybrid players. Williams has brought size and toughness to the paint. He has an O/DReb% of 12.9 and 22.5% respectively, playing him in the top 100 in the country for both stats. Plus, he doesn't turn the ball over and generates a lot of blocks. In a conference that has a lot of good front court players, Williams will be key to the Terps success.

Michael Snaer, Florida State -- 6'5 200lbs Freshman Florida State's highly regarded recruit is finally developing into the type of player that Florida State fans expected. He is one of the best off the ball defenders that Florida State has and has shown significant improvement as the season has gone on. He is a big guard that is happy to attack the rim. Many are saying he could develop into a Toney Douglas like player, but only bigger.

Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech -- Junior, 6'7 230lbs Forward Allen is Virginia Tech's workhorse in the middle. He's averaging 12.1 points per game while pulling down 7.3 boards per game and is particularly efficient on the defensive glass. Like Delaney, he'll get you in foul trouble early and is more than happy to steal the ball. He has a steal% of 4.0, which is excellent for a big man.

Devin Booker, Clemson -- Freshman, 6'8 235lbs Forward This is not a typo. Devin is Trevor's taller, younger brother, who quietly made major strides at the end of the year. He has an offensive rating of 101.2 and has an OReb/DReb% of 10.2 and 18.1. He only averages 11.5 minutes per game. But if big brother Trevor is in foul trouble, Devin needs to have a big game for the Tigers to move on in the tournament.

Ishmael (Ish) Smith, Wake Forest --Senior, 6'0 175lbs Guard Ish doubled his production from last year. He's averaging 13.3 points per game with six assists. He is one of the best distributors in the country and is having a great senior season for Wake. He has been consistent night in and night out for Wake and will need to continue his double digit point performances for to prevent Wake from being one and done.

Mfon Udofia, Georgia Tech -- Freshman, 6'2 187lbs Guard You already know about Derrick Favors, so why not learn about the Yellow Jackets' speedy freshman guard. Udofia surprised a lot of 'experts' with his early season success. Udofia started 25 games this year, but his minutes have significantly decreased of late, likely due to Iman Shumpert re-emergence. Shumpert is another name with which you should be familiar.

Corey Raji, Boston College -- Junior, 6'6 218lbs Forward Imagine BJ Raji but smaller. Yes, this is the BC's football star's younger brother. Corey is extremely efficient on the offensive end with an ORating of 117.1. His eFG% is an outstanding 53.8% and he's getting a lot of work done on the offensive glass, which is likely contributing to his high eFG%. He's the Eagles third leading scorer.

Larry Drew, North Carolina -- Sophomore, 6'2 180lbs Guard One of the biggest criticisms of the Tarheels this year has been their lack of leadership and depth at the guard position. Larry Drew must have a good game and stay out of foul trouble for the Tarheels to have any success. Dexter Strickland isn't ready quite yet and Marcus Ginyard is not a true point guard. Drew can be effective and is a very quick guard. Without him, the Tarheels struggle.

Javier Gonzalez, North Carolina State -- Junior, 5'11 175lbs Guard Gonzalez is an undersized guard that isn't afraid to mix it up with the big guys in the paint. He's scoring 10 points per game and averages 3.8 assists. He's most effective when he can penetrate the paint and dish the ball to Scott Wood, who is the Wolfpacks' best three point shooter.

Mike Scott, Virginia -- Junior, 6'8 239lbs Forward Scott is the second leader scorer for the Cavaliers. He is also their leading rebounder. Outside of Landesberg and Scott, the scoring is few and far between for Virginia. Scott gets all of his work done inside the paint.

James Dews, Miami -- Senior, 6'4 209lbs Guard Dews has attempted as many three point shots as he has two point shots. He is averaging 11.7 points per game and is shooting 39% from deep. Look for Dews or Adrian Thomas to try and shoot the long ball against Wake. unfortunately for the Hurricanes, the Demon Deacons are one of the best teams in the country at defending the three.

 

Tournament Outlook

Duke has the opportunity to add another ACC Championship to its storied history. However, Maryland has showed that they are the real deal. A final match up between the two schools could be a great close to conference tournament season on Sunday. Any team in the 3 to 7 range could end up in the finals. It will all depend on if any of these teams can score on a reliable basis. The ACC boasts some of the best defenses in the nation, so the could certainly be any number of upsets. It may not make for the most exciting basketball but it will keep interesting.

The Bracket (Adapted from theacc.com)

Game Matchup Time (EST)
TV Coverage
Opening Round: Thursday, March 11
#8 Boston College vs. #9 Virginia Noon RAYCOM  
#5 Wake Forest vs. #12 Miami 2 p.m. RAYCOM  
#7 Georgia Tech vs. #10 North Carolina
7 p.m. ESPN2  
#6 Clemson vs. #11 N.C. State
9 p.m. RAYCOM  
Quarterfinals: Friday, March 12
#1 Duke vs. BC/ UVA Winner Noon ESPN2  
#4 Virginia Tech vs. Wake / Miami Winner 2 p.m. ESPN2  
#2 Maryland vs. GTech/UNC Winner 7 p.m. ESPN2  
#3 Florida State vs. Clemson/NC State Winner 9 p.m. ESPN2  
Semifinals: Saturday, March 13
Semifinal 1 1:30 p.m. ESPN  
Semifinal 2 3:30 p.m. ESPN  
Championship Game: Sunday, March 14
Championship Game 1 p.m. ESPN  


TrueCubbie and Bud Elliott write about the Florida State Seminoles at Tomahawk Nation

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