ACC Tournament, Round One Recap

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Hey, look who picked three out of the four games tonight. Not bad, I usually bat about .500 at best in this predicting thing. Of course this isn’t about me, this is about the brave young men who play basketball in the ACC. So what happened?

Some upsets, that’s what happened. Three of the four lower seeds advanced to the quarterfinals. Of course, we warned you yesterday that something like this would happen. Not that I need to remind you, but since the league switched to 11 and 12 seeds, the bottom seeds have performed better than the higher seeds in the opening day.

With seeds #9-12 going 3-1 tonight, the lower seeds are now 13-10 against seeds #5-12.

No 9 VIRGINIA OVER No 8 BOSTON COLLEGE, 68-62
This is the one I missed and I still don’t understand it. Seriously, who saw the Cavaliers ending their nine-game slide tonight, without their best player, Sylven Landesberg?

The fact is, the Cavs returned to slow-mo ball, frustrating Boston College, while running a perfectly balanced offense. Sammy Zegliniski led the way with 21, but five Cavaliers scored in double figures.

For the Eagles, Joe Trapani picked a nice night to go cold. Did I say cold? I meant frozen. The “Ice Man” was 0-7 from the floor. Of course the turning point in the game was late in the first half. Up six, B.C. scored a total of four points in the finals 10 minutes of the half, allowing TIna Fey’s alma mater to turn a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead.

That’s it for Boston College…season is over. Time to go watch some re-runs of Doug Flutie’s hail mary.

MIAMI OVER WAKE FOREST, 83-62
I bet you thought I was crazy picking Miami. They’ve done nothing over the last two months to prove they even belong in this tournament (you put USC-Upstate on your schedule? Really? Still can’t believe that), but I just had a feeling. Maybe it was just hunger cramps, either way I got this one right.

The fact is, outside of Virginia, Wake Forest has looked terrible. Once teams figured out that they had ZERO outside shot, there was nothing Wake could do about it. Tonight, they made Miami look like a Final Four team…and that’s not easy to do.

The Canes jumped on the Demon Deacons early, building an early double-digit lead, taking a 14-pt cushion into halftime. No shame for Wake at this point though, bad teams get hot, good teams have bad halves. You go into the locker room, give a speech, make an adjustment, own the first four minutes of the second half and save your season. Or…

Let the Hurricanes start the half on a 8-0 run, turning a manageable 14-point deficit into a 22-point, “hey who do we have coming in next year” moment.

Hopefully for Dino’s sake (he’s still never won any post-season game at Wake), they have someone coming in who can shoot some three’s. Wake again failed to crack 25% from behind the arch (4-17) and had zero chance to rally. Can someone finally agree with me…Ishmael Smith, most overrated player in the ACC?

Actually, that’s a little harsh, I’m just still a tad bit touchy about when ESPN’s Mark Jackson said Smith would be a great NBA player (or something to that effect).

Of course, the big question for Wake Forest is, now what? N.C.A.A. or N.I.T? Overall, they’re 19-10, 9-7 in the ACC. They have a RPI of 42 according to Ken Pom and an SOS of 10. Not bad. Yet, they’ve dropped five of six games now.

I still believe Wake Forest is in. However, they were once looking like a 4-5 seed, but now they’ll be lucky to be an 8-9 seed.Of course, does it really matter? They won’t win a game in the tournament.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE OVER CLEMSON, 59-57
I think everyone saw this one coming from a mile away. Not just because the Wolfpack under Sidney Lowe have a knack for winning a game or two in this tournament, it’s just that Clemson under Purnell have never won any meaningful game away from Littlejohn.

As for NC State, it was finally nice to see them put in a winning strategy, stick to it and then actually win with it. Of course I’m talking about getting the ball down-low to Tracy Smith, the conference’s most underrated player.

Tonight, Smith took 15 of State’s 44 shots (34%), making 39% of their made baskets. As a team they hit 52%. Of course what’s most shocking was the fact that the Wolfpack actually struggled with Clemson’s infamous press. They turned it over 19 times and point guard, Javier Gonzalez was awful (which is actually pretty normal for him). He turned the ball over four times (to only one assist), hitting just 1-6 shots.

For Clemson, they’ll still get into the tournament. You don’t leave out the ACC’s fifth best team, no matter how quickly it stumbles in the conference tournament. The problem is, they’ll probably be a seven seed and will more than likely face a middle-of-the-pack Big East Team. Advantage: Not Clemson.

GEORGIA TECH OVER NORTH CAROLINA, 62-58
Clearly this was my favorite game of the night. Heading into the 7PM showcase, I actually thought I would feel sorry for the Tar Heels when they lost this one (and yes, I knew they wouldn’t win this one), but I was wrong. I was full of glee until the end.

The best part though had to be the way they lost. Down four with a buck thirty on the clock, Larry Drew II, threw yet another lazy pass, D’Andre Bell picked it off and the game was over, no matter how hard Georgia Tech tried to lose it at the end by missing free throws.

There was just something fitting about watching Carolina’s dim NCAA hopes fade away with yet another turnover by a guard.

Of course there were other enjoyable moments. I wouldn’t be a Duke fan if I didn’t mention that in a do-or-die situation, Carolina’s starters shot only 13-48 from the floor tonight (1-13 from three). I’m no Will Hunting, but that’s wicked bad.

I could go on, but that would be disrespecting the Yellow Jackets. Ga Tech’s big boys, Lawal and Favors went off inside, combining to score 30 tonight (on 12-16 shooting). Favors in particular had maybe his strongest game of the year. He was 7-8 tonight, 4-5 from the line. He grabbed nine boards, blocking five shots along the way. Those were the kind of numbers I expected from the freshman this season.

LOOKING AHEAD – QUARTERFINALS

Okay lower seeds, I hope you had your fun. I hoped you celebrated your victories because it’s over. Like I said yesterday, while the lower seeds love to shock the world on Thursday, come Friday reality steps in and bitch slaps them across the face. The big boys take care of business…at least 75% of them do.

From yesterday:

"Since 1998, three of the top four seeds have advanced to the semis 10 times in 12 years."

So what do we got to look forward to?

No 9 VIRGINIA VS No 1 DUKE
No chance. I’m saying it. There’s no denying it. Sorry, Cavaliers you’re not taking this one. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here. If Virginia beats Duke tomorrow, I’ll change this blog’s name to “Big Virginia Balls” for the remainder of the season (including NCAA Tournament).

No 12 MIAMI VS No 5 VIRGINIA TECH
If the Canes want to play in the NCAA Tournament, they’re going to need to sweep the ACC tournament. Too bad they won’t beat Virginia Tech. How about a stat prediction? I bet Delaney hits more free throws by himself than the entire Miami team. Ballsy.

No 7 GEORGIA TECH VS No 2 MARYLAND
I picked the Yellow Jackets to upset Maryland in my predictions last night and I saw nothing from Tech tonight to change my mind. The fact is, the conference tournaments are where underachieving teams come to shine.

No 11 NORTH CAROLINA STATE VS No 3 FLORIDA STATE
The first one to 5o wins this one. That will be the Seminoles.