At times it wasn't pretty -- and sometimes it was ugly -- but the first-ever Wednesday of the ACC Tournament is now in the books, setting the stage for an exciting Thursday in Greensboro. After adding three new members for the 2013-14 season, the ACC was forced to change the format of the tournament once again. Thankfully, they did it the right way.
Knowing that a Wednesday opening round featuring one team from North Carolina (it was virtually a lock that Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State would escape the "relegation zone" of the conference), the league curtained off most of the upper deck and offered seats to the general public, which normally never happens. The seats were general admission and included a mini-concert featuring country star (and, ahem, Raleigh native) Scotty McCreery between the second and third games. So, even if the teams weren't marquee in nature, many fans in attendance today were gratefully attending the ACC Tournament for the first time ever (bucket list item: checked).
The opener featured a blockbuster matchup of No. 12 Wake Forest against No. 13 Notre Dame. Graduate student transfer Coron Williams hit four of five three-point attempts and finished with 25 points as the Demon Deacons ousted the Irish 81-69. Wake Forest forward Devin Thomas added a double-double for the Deacs, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Deamon Deacons next face fifth-seeded Pittsburgh in the second game Thursday afternoon. The Panthers rolled the Carolinians in Pittsburgh, besting them 80-65 back in January.
The second game was the much-unanticipated contest between No. 10 seed Miami and cellar-dweller Virginia Tech. Those in attendance knew the probability of a poorly-played game was high, we just didn't know to what degree. This dog featured a Miami team that decided to take 25 three-pointers (they made seven) en route to a 39-percent shooting night. Despite their struggles, the Hurricanes prevailed 57-53 by out-rebounding the Hokies (36-24) and benefiting from poor foul shooting from Tech. Miami will face No. 7 seed N.C. State in the 7:00 p.m. ET game.
The game between No. 11 Georgia Tech and No. 14 Boston College produced the most exciting of the tournament's opening day. Georgia Tech's Robert Carter, Jr. scored 20 points and snatched 13 rebounds as the Jackets needed overtime to best the Eagles, 73-70. The Jackets held a 13-point advantage with 8:17 remaining before Boston College mounted a 12-0 run to send the game into overtime. Four clutch free throws from Tech's Kammeon Holsey sealed the deal for the Jackets, as they move on to face sixth-seeded Clemson in the nightcap of Thursday's second round.
Player of the Day
Coron Williams, G, Wake Forest: Williams -- who cited the opportunity to play in the ACC Tournament as part of the reason for signing with Wake -- made the most of his first game under the Greensboro lights. The transfer from Robert Morris missed only only one shot from the floor (7-8) and made seven of eight free throws for the Deacs, who won their first in the tournament since the late Skip Prosser was coach.
Georgia Tech's Robert Carter, Jr. on banking in a ridiculous three-pointer in Tech's win over Boston College:
"I couldn't get one to fall straight in, so going off the glass, I didn't try to do it, but when that one went in, I felt like I could make anything."
Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik, on his team's schedule before meeting Pittsburgh on Thursday:
"I'll tell you exactly what our schedule is right now. We're going to head back to campus. Our players stayed in the dorms. We weren't in a hotel. They're going to have ice bath schedules, and they're going to each take an ice bath. They don't know it yet, but they will."
Embattled Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson, on meeting with his athletic director after the season:
"My first thing, I want to sit down and talk to my team and just get those guys together and talk a little bit about where we're headed from now. The future is bright for us here at Virginia Tech. We've just go to go to work, get back to work."