Quarterfinal Friday was an interesting mixed bag of results for the ACC. There were blowouts, comebacks, a disconcerting injury and close games at the Greensboro Coliseum. Needless to say there was plenty of good things to be had for ACC fans so let’s break down day two at the tourney.
Game 1: North Carolina 61, Miami 59
With 9:56 to play in the game, the Miami Hurricanes were up by 19 points on the top seeded North Carolina Tarheels, 53-34. Unfortunately, basketball games are 40 minute affairs and not 30. The Tarheels proceeded to go on a 27-6 run to win the game over the Hurricanes. On the final play of the game, freshman Kendall Marshall drove the lane and found Tyler Zeller by the hoop for the layup to give the Heels their first lead of the game as time expired. North Carolina was able to escape and continue to make their claim as a top seed for the NCAA tournament next week.
Game 2: Clemson 70, Boston College 47
Boston College was never in this game and got run out of the gym by the Clemson Tigers. Demontez Stith paced the Tigers attack with 20 points. Jerai Grant had 12 and Milton Jennings had 10 points. It was a surprising result as both teams were both dangerously close to the bubble cut line based on Joe Lunardi’s bracket going into the day. With the loss, the Eagles are now looking to be a team sitting on the outside looking in with no way to improve their stock. As for the Tigers, they are now comfortably in the tournament with the big win to give the ACC their 4th team in the Big Dance.
Game 3: Duke 87, Maryland 71
This was a close game until about 7 minutes to go in the second half. Maryland was going back and forth but could never get a basket to take the lead and threaten the Blue Devils. Unfortunately, Duke was a far superior team than the Terps this year as they won all three games. Kyle Singler, the White Balance, scored 29 points for Duke. When Nolan Smith went down with a toe injury at 6:48, Duke put the clamps on the Terps to close them out and get the victory. Jordan Williams had 16 and 16 for the Terps. While Duke is happy to get the win, watching another one of their guards (Kyrie Irving, anyone) go down with a toe injury was probably not ideal. I hope Nolan Smith can come back without issue tomorrow afternoon for the semifinal. With the loss, it plants Maryland firmly in the NIT. Duke, with their win, keep the possibility of having a number 1 seed for the Big Dance.
Game 4: Virginia Tech 52, Florida State 51
With 4.7 seconds left, the cold shooting Erick Green (1-12 prior to shot) nailed a long jumper after getting a beautiful pass from Malcolm Delaney. Florida State inbounded the ball to Derwin Kitchen who dribbled it to the right corner and shot it from the corner and drained it. HOWEVER, upon further review on the video monitor, it looked like a fingertip was still on the ball when zeros were on the clock. With that, the officials waved off the basket giving the Hokies a much needed win. It was a hard fought defensive game for both teams and Tech fought back from 9 down to get the victory. Both teams showed me something tonight. For Florida State, they have been playing without their star player, Chris Singleton, for the last month and they played extremely hard and with a lot of heart. They will be a solid 6 or 7 seed in the tournament. As for the Hokies, I think they can be taken off the all to familiar area from the past few years known as Bubble Pergatory. They got another top 50 RPI win giving them 3 on the year, and it gives the ACC 5 teams now in the NCAA Tournament in my opinion.
A quick preview of both semifinals tomorrow at 1 PM and 3:30 PM
Semifinal 1: The UNC-Clemson matchup tomorrow should be interesting because both teams have rebounded strongly and done very well the second half of the year. Random stat: Clemson is 4-83 against UNC in the state of North Carolina. Prediction: UNC 82, Clemson 71
Semifinal 2: The Virginia Tech and Duke game will be another awesome game but the question going into it will be, “What is Nolan Smith’s status and will he play?” Duke will have revenge on their mind as they lost to the Hokies 2 weeks ago in Blacksburg in a great environment. I look forward to the matchup and am curious how the 6 or 7 man rotation of the Hokies will hold up. Prediction: Virginia Tech 57, Duke 55 (calling for the Virginia Tech upset and it isn’t because of my loathing of Duke)