ACC Running Diary: Taco Tuesday Plus Three Basketball Games

11:14 PM

Boston College put up a great effort tonight but it just wasn’t enough against Pitt in a 71-65 loss. As usual, it was no fault of Mr. Hanlan who put up 39 points including a remarkable 14-of-14 at the free throw line. It’s impressive to not lose your legs at the line when you play and shoot as much as Hanlan does. Aaron Brown pitched in 20 points, but beyond that only six points were scored by BC. I’m not sure how these guys keep scoring when opponents know they’re the only real threats. Credit to coach Jim Christian who still has his guys playing hard despite being athletically outmatched every time they take the court.

Pittsburgh improves to 19-10 (8-7 ACC) and looks like a potential NCAA Tournament team, but one has to wonder what they’ll be capable of if they make it into the field of…however many it is now. The Panthers have a knack for making every game closer than it should be which will surely bite them against the kinds of teams they might face in March. Jamel Artis finished with another strong 24 points and Michael Young added 22 for Pitt in the win.

Justin Cates

10:06 PM

Well, well, well Trevor Cooney. My continuous harping on the shooter extraordinaire (for shooting poorly) seems to have riled him up as he scored seven consecutive points down the stretch including a 3-pointer to seal the deal in Syracuse’s 65-60 upset over Notre Dame. Rakeem Christmas fouled out with more than 14 minutes remaining, but Cooney’s resurgence was just enough offense down the stretch. The real hero is B.J. Johnson who scored 19 points and pulled down six rebounds off the bench. Can teams under self-imposed sanctions be ranked? Suddenly, the Orange appear worthy of such an honor.

NC State held on for a 12-point victory in Chapel Hill that all but assures them of a ticket to the Big Dance. The trio of Wolfpack guards (Lacey, Turner, Barber) scored 14, 14, and 15 points respectively in the win. UNC just remains an odd enigma. They had Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks in double-figures against State, but that was the bulk of the scoring. Marcus Paige has entered another untimely slump and coach Roy is grasping for answers.

The Olivier Hanlan’s made a nice rally to trail at Pittsburgh 35-30 at halftime. Hanlan predictably has 21 of the 30 Eagle points and at this point he has to be averaging more points in the first half than most players put up in entire games. The Panthers’ hot-shooting Jamel Artis has 10 points which is strong, but pedestrian by comparison.

Justin Cates

9:26 PM

UNC is making a furious rally scoring eight straight to cut the lead in half and whittling it down to a 36-32 State advantage with just under 12 minutes remaining. The Tar Heels are finally having some success in the paint after a meager 3-of-10 down low in the first half.

Notre Dame came out angry in the second half and quickly closed the gap, though the Orange have pushed it back to four. Rakeem Christmas just picked up his fourth personal foul and for some reason is still on the court. That’s living dangerously for Jim Boeheim. The Trevor Cooney watch sees the shooter still mired is a slump of epic proportions making just two of his last 20 shots and one of his last 18 3-pointers.

Pittsburgh has the early lead on Boston College though the Eagles look to be giving their customary tough first half effort. BC guard Aaron Brown just got whistled for a technical foul after saying something to an official and Pitt has a nine-point lead edging toward the ten-minute mark. Olivier Hanlan has eight of BC’s 12 points.

Justin Cates

9:12 PM

Wow these games have been much uglier than I expected. Notre Dame inching their way back into it after an absolutely putrid performance offensively in the first half. We are talking about one of the best offenses in the country going 2-14 from beyond the arc and shooting a meager 24% from the floor overall. As Cates alluded to, the crowd isn’t into the game at all, and the Irish have not been able to feed off of their homecourt advantage.

Meanwhile, North Carolina…wow. The rebounding tells the story, as through the early part of the second half, the ‘Pack are +7 on the boards, essentially killing the Tar Heels down low. UNC will have to do a better job in the second half to close out the NC State three-point shooters, who have already hit five from beyond the arc in this one.

–Mike McDaniel

8:30 PM

I’m watching Syracuse-Notre Dame on the local affiliate in upstate New York which means it’s a fuzzy standard definition broadcast complete with black bars on the side. It’s kind of like looking at a sun dial. I generally know what it means when I take a glance, but I really have to think about it to derive any meaning. One thing that is clear in this one is that ‘Cuse finally has a little fire in their bellies. Too bad it took being completely removed from the postseason picture for the team to start playing with confidence. After watching this team all year, I’m genuinely unsure who B.J. Johnson is but he’s having a fantastic half. The sophomore nearly tripled his scoring average with nine points off the bench to spark the Orange. Notre Dame’s 22 points was the lowest total in a half for the Irish all season.

If Notre Dame and the crowd in South Bend are flat, I don’t want to know what North Carolina is. Just 18 points in a half is unthinkable for a crew that posted 90 against Duke last week. Zero bench scoring and 7-for-25 (28%) shooting from the field will do that though. Trevor Lacey has 11 and NC State is very close to having yet another marquee win to lock up an NCAA Tournament berth. I’ll bet Roy Williams is upset with the home crowd again.

Justin Cates

7:30 PM

If you missed my three predictions in today’s preview that I wrote, I like ND over Syracuse, UNC over NC State, and Pittsburgh over BC.

There are a couple of factors I’ll be keeping an eye on in tonight’s games.

First, how will Zach Auguste fair as he tries to stay in front of ‘Cuse’s Rakeem Christmas? If the Irish don’t get off to a hot start offensively, this storyline could be the one that manifests itself in a Syracuse upset, especially if Christmas plays well early in the game.

Secondly, which NC State squad is going to show up? This is a huge road game for them, one which they must win in my mind if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. A quick start offensively is crucial if they want to win this game tonight. The Tar Heels don’t play great from behind, so the ‘Pack will need to get out in front early if they want to keep the crowd out of the game at the Dean Dome, and ultimately pull off the upset.

Finally, will BC have an answer for Jamel Artis? He has been virtually unstoppable for Pittsburgh over the last three weeks, which has been the majority of the reason for the team’s recent success. Boston College only has one player, Olivier Hanlan, who will keep them competitive in this one, but if they slow down Artis like they did in early January, they will have a chance to win this game tonight.

Mike McDaniel

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