Day one of the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament started with a roar but went out like a lamb as 3 of the 4 games were for the most part mismatches. And judging by the sparse crowds on hand in Greensboro, the fans must have seen it coming.Or maybe the poor turnout was more the result of fans not wanting to make the effort to watch the bottom 8 teams, of a conference that has clearly seen better days, slug it out. As I mentioned, beyond the first game of the day the fans did not miss much.
Game 1 – Miami 69, Virginia 62
For more than three-quarters of the opening game the scoreboard seemed to indicate that the ACC had done away with the shot-clock. It is hard to believe that a game played as raggedly as this one ended up being one of the more stunning comebacks in league tournament history. Stunning comeback, or colossal choke jobs, either way Miami put on a inspired 10-0 run in about 30 seconds of play to tie Virginia in the waning moments of regulation. Virginia trailed at the half, but slowly took control of the game in the 2nd half and held an eleven point lead with around 4 minutes to play. Miami seemed like they were dead int he water at that point, having shot just 4/24 up until that point in the half. Miami kept fighting and Virginia kept fumbling. Missed free throws and sloppy turnovers kept Miami in the game and even gave them a shot at the lead in regulation. Despite Miami missing a free throw that could have won the game in regulation, the Cavaliers had no answer for the ‘Canes in OT.
Game 2 – Boston College 81, Wake Forest 67
Early on in this one it was clear that Boston College had too much experience and too many weapons for Wake Forest to keep up. Reggie Jackson lead the way as the Eagles raced to a 16-point lead at the half. Jackson led all scorers with 27, but he had plenty of help as BC had two other players surpass the 20 point mark. Boston College shot nearly 54% form the field and hit 10 threes on their way to putting the the Deacs out of their misery. Wake had perhaps the worst season in recent ACC memory, They have a way to go to be competitive next year. They are young, but it will be a while before they are competitive again. BC meanwhile seems to have locked up an NCAA Tournament bid with a win in round 1.
Game 3 – Maryland 75, NC State 67
The final score of this game was a bit closer than it should have been. Despite sloppy play at times, the Terps were not really tested by the Wolfpack, and Gary Williams continues to have Sidney Lowe’s number. Maryland started out strong, shooting their way to a 17 point lead in the first half. To State’s credit they fought to stay in the game. Their resolve and Maryland’s mind-numbing decision making led to turnovers allowing State to hang around. The Terps were able to get good shots for most of the night and help the ‘Pack at arms length. This could have been the last game for Lowe, who has led NC State to zero tournaments in 5 years. Maryland meanwhile still has a lot of work to do to find itself dancing on Sunday. I am not sure there is a scenario short of winning the ACC tournament that has them advancing to the NCAA’s. Kudos to Sean Mosley who had a big defensive series with a blocked shot and a steal that extinguished any hopes State had of making a run at the Terps.
Game 4 – Virginia Tech 59, Georgia Tech 43
The night cap of day won was another game that they seemed to shut down the shot clock for. Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt was heard yelling 20 passes before we launch another three. Loser Tech missed 18 of 23 from distance on their way to shooting 32% for the game. Winner Tech controlled the game from the start, they raced to a 8-0 lead and never looked. I say raced, but how much can you race in a game in which you only put up 59 points. Winner Tech was strong defensively and appears to have punched their ticket to the dance. Thought it would be funny to see them snubbed again this year, but I don’t think the selection committee is that cruel.