ACC Saturday: League’s Middle Class Bunching Up Down The Stretch

That does it for tonight folks. Back tomorrow to see if Pitt can break the 8-8 barrier and keep it going, until then, Nuestro Cassell es su Cassell.


My 10 takeaways tonight:

1)Jahlil Okafor isn’t the only NBA ready player, If Harrison Barnes could go, and James Harden could go, then Justise Winslow going wouldn’t shock me. The NBA is lacking 3 and D guys and he fits that category nicely; every team must have one. We already knew Okafor was one and done, but Winslow might consider himself a more offensively skilled Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and that kid went 2nd. If he gets lotto vibes, he’d be a fool to stay.

2)Christmas/Okafor hasn’t exactly been Sampson/Ewing or Alcindor/Hayes or Russell/Chamberlain.Both are doing OK, but Okafor’s dominance on the glass (mainly due to Trevor Cooney’s miserable shooting night) has been instrumental in some duke run-outs and pull up threes.

3)Duke has not needed Quin Cook’s A-game to win by 19. He shot 1-8 for three.

4)Syracuse cannot shoot, and it would have doomed them this Spring, 31% for the game today, and 17%  from three? Luckily Syracuse only has one of the top recruiting classes in the country.

5)Going small (besides Okafor) was great strategy. Amile Jefferson didn’t contribute much throughout the game, nor did Plumlee, as Duke went a little unconventional with the lineups.

6)Tyus Jones hounded the much maligned Kaleb Joseph, when Cooney wasn’t serving as the black hole who wouldn’t return the offering. Kaleb went 0-4, appeared overwhelmed by the moment, the crowd, his own continued struggle.

7)Tyler Roberson is a more than adequate scorer in the ACC, its a shame it took the injury to McCullough to discover this.

8)Its a damn shame this Syracuse team has had to play one of their ONLY FOUR college seasons with such a burden on them like this. Boeheim should have to give back his annual salary. That’d clean things up I bet!

9) Now Syracuse is 9-7, and likely to lose their last 2, to further complicate the ACC middle class considering they won’t even participate in the tourney.

10) Arguments to come……over the middle class that the ACC has seen five teams regress toward. An ESPN talking head might have a stroke this week (unfunny thought that is)

–Chuck Workman

9:00 PM

Well there wasn’t too much to comment on in the second half as this one got out of hand quickly. Hats off to Justise Winslow on a career-high 23 points, as he got anything and everything he wanted offensively throughout this game. Syracuse simply couldn’t answer Duke’s punches and pace on offense, and suffered through a cold shooting night from the floor.

Syracuse is not the kind of team that will give Duke trouble in March. A team that has multiple guards that can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim a la Virginia Tech on Wednesday could give the Blue Devils a run in the Big Dance

–Mike McDaniel

8:28 PM

Well to Syracuse’s credit, they are trying to get Rakeem Christmas involved, but unfortunately for the Orange, Okafor is getting more into the flow of the game here in the second half. Trading buckets is never a recipe for success, especially when you are playing at the pace that Duke likes to play. Let’s see if the Orange can string together some stops here down the stretch.

–Mike McDaniel

8:20 PM

For much of the season I wasn’t entirely sure why Winslow was considered a potential NBA lottery pick according to most of the mock drafts out there, but we’ve started to see fewer flashes and more consistent strong play from him. I’m still not convinced he should leave Duke after one season, but the potential for greatness is clearly there. Syracuse has definitely dug themselves a bit of a hole and Duke hasn’t even gone on a full-fledged “Duke run” yet, but the Blue Devils are close to blowing the doors off as I type.

-Justin Cates

8:05 PM

Justise Winslow can ball, huh? He has four double-doubles in his last eight games, and is well on his way to another here at the half. He has a smooth 15 points and 6 rebounds on 7-11 shooting. The Blue Devils hold the 34-25 halftime lead, and as long as this pace continues, I’m not sure the Orange can come back.

–Mike McDaniel

7:55 PM

This is an incredibly sloppy game. If Syracuse would slow down for a second they could probably take advantage of some poor Duke defense. Coach K apparently used the term “slippage” to describe their defensive effort of late and so far at least this will give him some more game film of what not to do. Thankfully for Duke as Mike mentioned below they have arguably the best backcourt in the nation — and for once that’s not Dick Vitale hyperbole. Tyus Jones has an impressive knack for stepping up in huge games and Quinn Cook makes almost every open shot he gets. Okafor and Christmas are battling incredibly hard in the paint. The officials may want to get on top of this early because both guys are really playing physical.

–Justin Cates

7:50 PM

9 turnovers for each team at this juncture, with 2:59 to play in the first half and Duke up a touchdown. Rakeem Christmas with only 3 points in the first half, and Syracuse desperately needs to try to get him the ball in the second half. Going after Okafor would be huge, especially if they can get him into some kind of foul trouble to neutralize him.

–Mike McDaniel

7:40 PM

Sean McDonough and Dick Vitale called Duke’s backcourt duo of Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook the best backcourt in the nation, and it’s hard to argue. Both players distribute like point guards, but have the ability to stretch you out with their three point shooting. It also helps that they have the ability to knock down their free throws at an unconscious rate, with both players shooting over 87% from the free throw line. When they commit as much to the defensive end of the floor as they do to their offense, Duke becomes a nearly impossible team to beat.

I will refer to this next segment for the rest of this game as “Tyler Roberson Watch.” He’s up to 9 points and 4 rebounds with just under 8 minutes to go in the first half, and continues to lead all scorers in this one. However, Duke still holds a four point lead.

–Mike McDaniel

7:30 PM

Already six turnovers a piece for each team as we enter the second media timeout, which is due to the pace of play being extremely quick here in the early going. Tyler Roberson of Syracuse remains the high point man with 7 points in the first 8 minutes. Jahlil Okafor has 4 points on 2-4 shooting, and Rakeem Christmas has yet to take a shot for the Orange. Syracuse absolutely must get Christmas more involved. I know it’s still early, but unless he gets around his season average of 19 points per game, Syracuse is going to struggle.

–Mike McDaniel

7:16 PM

In the opening four minutes, one has to wonder if Tyler Roberson is playing the role of Michael Gbinije for Syracuse in game two of this season series. In the first portion of the game, Roberson has been very active, as he has already contributed 6 points and 4 rebounds. Both teams are getting up and down the floor here early offensively, so all signs point towards a high scoring affair. As far as the foul watch, Rakeem Christmas has already picked up an early one, so this is a development we will have to monitor.

–Mike McDaniel

6:30 PM

Well our final game of the day is right around the corner, and it should be a great game. Syracuse would like nothing more than to knock #4 Duke off of a #1 seed in March, and I believe they would effectively do so if they are able to upset the Blue Devils on the road tonight.

Will Rakeem Christmas keep himself in front of Duke’s Jahlil Okafor? Okafor is coming off of his best scoring performance of his career, as he scored 30 points in an overtime victory against Virginia Tech on Wednesday night. Also, how will Syracuse defend Quinn Cook? In the last match-up of these two teams, Cook was held to 4-10 shooting, but was still able to score 17 points. What should concern Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim even more than that, is that in Duke’s three games since then, Quinn Cook has averaged 25 points per game on nearly 57% shooting.

If Syracuse wants to hang around in this one, Michael Gbinije is going to need to have a performance that mirrors the game he played in the first meeting on February 14th. Gbinije, a transfer from Duke, scored 27 points and hit five 3’s in an 80-72 defeat.

–Mike McDaniel

6:03 PM

And Bibbs hits a 3.

–Chuck Workman

6:00 PM

Well Tech is well on their way to their 7th straight loss in this series, and will end their 2015 regular season with zero road wins. Absolutely brutal. Virginia flexed their muscles with their play in the second half, killing the Hokies with mutiple corner 3’s, a shot that has caused the Virginia Tech defense fits now for the better part of their ACC schedule.

As anticipated, Virginia is +5 in made free throws, and have shot nearly 50% from the floor in this game. Justin Bibbs is on his way to registering his worst game of his young college career, as he is 0-8 from the floor, 0-4 from three, and 0-2 from the line.

–Mike McDaniel

5:55 PM

Typical UVA win. Low 60’s output, opponent struggling for 50. It’s forumulaic. Every UVA starter besides Nolte (would be Anderson) has double figures. Bennett stuck with his leaders.

Hokies again led by Adam Smith, who has been scorching from 3 pt range, he has 16 and four of the eight Hokie threes. Hokies just 9-28 from the 2 pt range. And though they are making FT at a far better clip (last in the ACC at present).

The crowd is ready to say goodbye to Darion Atkins, a player with a big future in China/Europe. The FT parade is on. This game is over, time for dinner, then ‘Cuse/Duke.

–Chuck Workman

5:50 PM

Perrantes layups, Brogdon jumpers, UVA interior length, all problems for the Hokies. VT fans are left with dreams of UMD transfer Seth Allen to go with Adam Smith next year.

As UVA lead 57-46 here in the 2nd half, it has come down to big shots by the home team, and mismanagement of offensive possessions on the Hokie end.

As a side note, I can’t tell you how pleased we all are to have Debbie “Hyberbole Much” Antonelli on the ACC Network broadcast. A future national treasure in the making.

And that Nolte corner 3 was the Steve Buckhantz dagger of the game. UVA 60-46.

Just one game left. The battle of the best Caterwaulers the ACC has to offer in Coach K and Jimmy Boeheim. Whose eye pops a blood vessel first?

–Chuck Workman

5:13 PM

The Hokies need some more paint touches. Early on, Tech got penetration from the guards along with some good passes to the inside off of pick and rolls. That’s how you beat the Pack Line (in theory at least). If Justin Bibbs doesn’t start making shots the Hokies are in real trouble though no matter what they do. The mask is off for Perrantes which means he’s going to go off. I think it bothered him some as he didn’t look entirely comfortable in the first half.

–Justin Cates

5:07 PM

As a college basketball fan, I’m not thrilled with the officiating from a foul standpoint. There were 19 fouls total in the first half, 11 by the Hokies and 8 by the ‘Hoos, so it was understandably difficult for both teams to establish any sort of rhythm.

Aside from this, I am impressed by Virginia Tech’s efforts on the boards in the first half. The Hokies, despite their obvious size disadvantage in the paint, were able to out rebound Virginia 16-13 in the opening frame. For Virginia, Anthony Gill has been impressive, scoring 12 points on 4-5 shooting from the field, while also turning in a stout defensive effort as well.

There are two aspects to keep an eye on in the second half. First, can Virginia Tech’s Justin Bibbs put the ball in the basket? He had an awful first half, forcing up many shots while missing a few open ones too. He finished the opening 20 minutes 0 for 6 from the field. The Hokies won’t win the game with one of their best players going scoreless. Additionally, will Malcolm Brogdon get going for UVA? Sure, he has 9 points, but he is 2-6 from the floor, and gotten about half his points from the free throw line. If this game becomes a battle of fouls again in the second half, Virginia has the obvious advantage due to Tech’s lack of size down low and their season struggles from the free throw line.

–Mike McDaniel

4:54 PM

Hokies miss a couple cracks at the buzzer, trail 28-24. By all means this could be worse. Last year’s trip was a nightmare. UVA is following my plan of using Anthony Gill to lean on the undersized Hokies and he leads the way with 12 points. Malik Muller had six early points, and then sat and watched as the other Hokie wings laid brick.

Neither teams’ bench has contributed much, just 2 pts combined. None by the Hokies. Pace factor favors the ‘Hoos right now. Hokies generated just 22 shots, and only 14 inside the arc, and only 8 in the paint. They are equal in the turnover battle, but neither team is much for jumping passing lanes, preferring to stay home and be sound positionally.

Something to watch in the 2nd half: Cavs have a 12-7 advantage at the FT line. This might not double itself, but an extra 10 FTs for UVA would be insurmountable for VT. Beyer who has given great minutes, banging as an undersized PF, has 3 fouls. Never fear though Hokie fans, we have Shane Henry waiting on the pine. He’ll come in, add three quick buckets, and four quick fouls. We’re in fantastic hands!

–Chuck Workman

4:47 PM

All of a sudden Justin Bibbs is turning into Calbert Cheaney (Washington Bullets, not Hoosiers) instead of Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks). His 0-5 start on mid-range looks is exactly what the “pack line” is looking to induce.

The Hokies being tied at 17 with 6 minutes left, is a matter of Buzz preaching D to match UVA’s. Not to mention, UVA can be scoring challenged when they face even mediocre defenses. The VT rebounding advantage of 13-8 is an anomaly, and if they carry that into the break,I wouldn’t be surprised if they cracked champagne at the half.

The fact that VT is in this, means that Buzz is hunting Bennett. These games matter way more to VT right now. That doesn’t mean that UVA won’t outplay them in the end, its just that the attitude is apparently different from the Hokies end. This has always been a physical, demanding game way back to the neutral site games in Richmond and Roanoke when VT was in the Big East and A-10. Today is no different.

–Chuck Workman

4:24 PM

I can’t even begin to understand the rotations of Buzz Williams. While the Hokies are off to a good start against #2 Virginia nearly 10 minutes into the contests, his substitutions early in this game are confusing me. If you look at the Hokies’ game against #4 Duke the other night, freshman guard Jalen Hudson, on a career night, scored 9 straight Virginia Tech points, only to be taken out of the game for rest promptly thereafter. Today, in the first 4 minutes, redshirt freshman guard Malik Muller hit two 3 pointers to get Tech out rolling, only to be subbed out of the game quickly after that sequnce. The Hokies now have only scored two points in the last three minutes since his exit. Strange…

For Virginia, I am a big fan of Anthony Gill’s game. He can do a little bit of everything on the defensive end, whether it be defending the paint, or stretching guards out on the perimeter in the pick and roll defense. We saw a bit of his versatility a few moments ago, where he forced a Devin Wilson turnover and then went coast-to-coast for a wide open dunk that sent the JPJ crowd into a frenzy. Let’s see how that momentum swing plays into things after this media timeout.

–Mike McDaniel

4:20 PM

Missing Angel Rodriguez was something I wasn’t locked into pregame, my apologies. But as the UNC/Miami game got progressively deeper, his absence was the difference. JP Tokoto had six assists today to lead the Heels, and has been the fireplug in games lately. Most noticeably against Duke before the game-ending collapse.

After I posted that Jekiri was a rebounding machine, he grabbed zero the rest of the way. Ivan Cruz Uceda, a mid-season add, helped the Canes down low vs Brice Johnson, but in the end the UNC front-line was too overpowering. The 42-29 advantage on the glass, and the extra FTs that generated wound up being the difference in the 9-pt Tar Heel road win. Bank United Center needs to have some of the Santeria and the Baron Samadi and some spells said over it.

–Chuck Workman

4:13 PM

Commonwealth Clash tipped. Can VT outpace Wake who got 34 on Wednesday at the Joel? Perrantes back on the floor with the mask. And a banked 3 indicates the VT magic that carried them at home with the Cassell might still be in effect. Christian Beyer can handle Darion Atkins, I’m convinced of it.

Can the VT backcourt hold serve against UVA and allow VT frosh Justin Bibbs, and coming off a career-high Jalen Hudson performance to make the difference on the wing in the absence of UVA’s All-Conference Justin Anderson.

If UVA wants to win, they need a heavy dose of dumping it in to Anthony Gill and then let Hall, Shayok, and Brogdon find the off-corners. Otherside familiarity might reign and VT might hang around. Again, depending on Buzz Williams tactics, this could be a 30 pt loss on the road to a rival, or a down-to-the-wire nail-biter.

–Chuck Workman

3:57 PM

As we enter the under 4 minute timeout here in the second half, it feels like every single time the Hurricanes make a big play, UNC gets out in transition. It’s a 7 point lead now for the Tar Heels, and Miami is going to have to put together a series of stops, as trading buckets isn’t going to cut it here down the stretch. I love the effort today by Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson, as both are contributing in a big way to this UNC lead. Let’s see if they can close it out.

–Mike McDaniel

3:55 PM

This game moves Miami and UNC to identical records. UNC has the stronger resume, but a loss to Miami serves as a great equalizer, especially if Coach L continues to drive the Canes towards win upon win. They have seemed to all figure out their roles on his squad, and is typical of an L-coached team, they seem to be peaking at the right time.

My quick question: Do they clone in Chapel Hill? Between Brandan Wright, Ed Davis, John Henson, and Brice Johnson, we have the same kind of stiff, shot blocking, putback machines. Kennedy Meeks is serving in the Killa T (LOL) and the Sean May mold of posterior-clearing the paint, and if we want to date ourselves, Eric Montross. These slender PFs on UNC dive at the time they should for great offensive rebounding figures, lobs from Paige or putbacks. It’s enough in the size-challenged (at least 10 of the 15 ACC clubs are) to stay competitive to good.

–Chuck Workman

3:07 PM

This Clemson game against GT is a perfect snapshot of the Jackets’ season. They play OK with a 7 pt deficit, and then once they’ve come all the way back they completely fall apart. The fact they forced Clemson to OT into OT is a credit to MGH, who took it upon himself down the stretch. He was all over the place stuffing the stat sheet, but in the end, as predicted Jaron Blossomgame was the elite player on the floor today, putting up a 19 and 9. Coming back in Little John showed the GT heart, but one has to think four games this year were lost on Brian Gregory substitution patterns and poor results out of timeouts.

In other news Tadric Jackson improved to 11-of-71 from three. Two for Seven. Instrumental.

Early on, in the UNC/Miami tilt, JP Tokoto is playing like he’s just drank 3 bottles of five hour energy, and is trying to sweat that crap out. Tonye Jekiri is rebounding like a maniac, and Sheldon McLellan has gotten hot. This game is going to come down to the wire and Miami needs it more. Will Angel Rodriguez’s injury hinder him too much in his battle with Marcus Paige, we already know both have heart in spades, so let’s see if Angel can hold serve at home.

So far we have two 8-8s (and one was 2nd in SOS in the nation, but it was a STINKER of a loss to BC). They have some quality wins, and out of this game we could have another if the Canes don’t erase their basket halftime deficit. If Wake handles Pitt tomorrow, that’ll be a 4th, and I’d begin to have serious doubt about anyone from the ACC getting into the dance beyond the hallowed five: UVA, Duke, UNC, Louisville, Notre Dame (in no particular order).

–Chuck Workman

2:56 PM

Well it turns out Angel Rodriguez’ wrist is worse than we all thought. He hasn’t brought much to the table in his limited amount of playing time in the first half, and you have to wonder if Jim Larranaga is just considering riding this one out today with everyone who is 100%. I feel like Rodriguez has to get in and be some sort of factor for the Hurricanes to get this upset today over the Tar Heels, but with three minutes remaining in the half and only a seven-point deficit, maybe Larranaga thinks he can get the win today without Rodriguez’ services. The last few minutes of this half and the first couple minutes of the second half will be telling as to whether or not Miami has a serious shot without their second leading scorer.

-Mike McDaniel

2:40 PM

Clemson outscored Georgia Tech 10-3 in overtime to escape with a win at home after an amazing comeback/collapse in the second half. Seniors Rod Hall and Damarcus Harrison both finished with 15 points for Clemson on senior day and Jaron Blossomgame led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds.

At 16-12 overall, the Tigers appear poised to accept an NIT bid which might end up extending the life of the current LittleJohn Coliseum before major renovations begin. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech has some serious questions to answer about the future of head coach Brian Gregory.

North Carolina and Miami have been tussling and after a 10-0 run by UNC early things have tightened into a four-point Carolina advantage at the under eight timeout. As we discussed earlier in the week, this game is critical if Miami hopes to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

-Justin Cates

2:30 PM

Both teams are off to a good start shooting, although it’s been a surprise that Miami has already turned the ball over five times in the first nine minutes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Angel Rodriguez is pivotal in this game today. If he shoots over 40% from the floor and contributes at least 15-20 points, I think Miami will have a great shot today.

-Mike McDaniel

2:14 PM

Somehow, Clemson managed to sleep-walk their way into overtime against Georgia Tech. Starting at the seven minute mark the Yellow Jackets went on 22-6 run to finish regulation. GT outscored the Tigers 44-25 in the second half and Marcus Georges-Hunt has 20 points and eight rebounds in the remarkable comeback. The Jackets hit the boards hard and edged out a 33-27 advantage there to help set the tone in the second period. Overtime should be emotional on senior day at Clemson.

-Justin Cates

1:51 PM

There’s major separation in all of the early games now and against all odds Georgia Tech is down by the smallest margin despite the brutal start. Clemson appears a bit complacent in the second half and there just isn’t much energy in the arena. Still it’s a 16-point differential in LittleJohn just before the under eight media timeout.

Louisville has stretched things out to a 21-point lead against FSU. Wayne Blackshear has busted out with a game-high 18 points and Terry Rozier has put together a sneaky eight assists and four steals. Cofer and Rathan-Mayes have combined for 10 points in the second half, but everyone else has disappeared to give the Cardinals a 28-17 advantage in the half.

NC State is on a 16-8 run but Boston College still leads by 15. Hanlan has a somewhat ho-hum 21 points and hasn’t really forced anything all afternoon making 7-of-11 shots from the field. Aaron Brown, Patrick Heckmann and Dennis Clifford have all scored in double figures but Clifford just fouled out with 4:30 remaining in regulation. If BC got this kind of balanced production with any regularity they might be on the bubble themselves instead of trying to dampen the postseason hopes of others.

-Justin Cates

1:45 PM

Well, Louisville certainly quieted the haters today some with a dominant victory in a fairly tough road venue. The Civ has drained many a hearty team. And it looks as though Pitino has finally read my repeated bleatings about making Wayne Blackshear a focal point and letting the guards keep things settled. Trez with just 10 and 3. Not a stellar outing. And there it is, in the very bottom of your box score. The misbegotten Anton Gill….5-of-5, making the most of his run off the pine today.

BC can clear the bench today! Hanlan with a little help lulled a sleepy Wolfpack squad that had to travel up into some cold weather and still had visions of Tar Heel bragging rights dancing in their heads. This I believe is noted below *huff* (hey we get so few on the nose, you have to brag when you see it coming.

Clemson/GT should be like one of those ’40s sex ed films…with scary prohibitive comments scattered throughout. Of course it’s the closest of the three right now. My gosh, MGH of GT is going to do it again! He’s going for 13…..he’s at 11. Of course, once again the difference has been Blossomgame.

Ultimately though I only grade myself a B- on the earlies, I thought FSU would ride that XRM outburst the other night into an upset over a scrambling club. Pitino, you’d have 3-4 more wins than you do, had you been playing this way all year, in terms of this format. This plus a great Jones and you have have a Final Four team, and as critical as I’ve been of Pitino this year in his bench tactics, today is a good sign for U of L fans.

-Chuck Workman

1:40 PM

Well as the early games wind down, NC State wins the award for biggest disappointment. They did exactly what I said they shouldn’t do, they let the conference’s leading scorer, Olivier Hanlan, get going early, and they came out cold shooting. They are only 16-50 from the field with seven minutes left, including 4-14 from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, Louisville has played fantastic defense from the tip, holding down FSU’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and setting up their offense with their defense. This is going to be a big win for Louisville, just by virtue of the way they have played throughout the game.

Clemson has been impressive as well, coming out as motivated as one could have hoped. Georgia Tech did that thing where they couldn’t put the ball in the basket, resulting in a 35-16 halftime deficit, which was the lowest scoring output in a half for the Yellow Jackets all season.

-Mike McDaniel

1:06 PM

Dennis Clifford for Boston College is really making a tremendous impact today. He has 10 points, five rebounds and has keyed a number of transition buckets with a board and a good pass ahead. BC is still passing much, much better than NC State with 11 assists to just six for the Wolfpack. Aaron Brown just put the exclamation point on the end of the first half with a three-point play on a drive at the buzzer to make it 43-26 Eagles at the half.

Florida State is still hanging in there down 10, 36-26. Louisville is getting far too many second chance opportunities helping lead to a shooting discrepancy of 48.4% for the Cards to 34.6% for FSU. Phil Cofer is still scoreless for the ‘Noles and Xavier Rathan-Mayes has just two points following that outrageous 35-point outburst against Miami. If those two can get going this one will go down to the wire.

Clemson leads 35-16 at halftime in a game that could have been much worse. The entire first half was summed up with the final possession in which Marcus Georges-Hunt fouled Damarcus Harrison on a very long 3-point attempt. Harrison converted the free throws to extend the lead even further. The Yellow Jackets struggled so much that it took until 5:59 left in the first half before they scored their first field goal. That’s what happens when you shoot 16.7% from the field (4-24).

-Justin Cates

12:36 PM

Boston College came to play today but they’re living dangerously. The Eagles have five turnovers and several quickly turned into converted fast break points for NC State. Olivier Hanlan has also been playing with two fouls for most of the half, but BC has a six-point lead with just over six minutes remaining before halftime.

Georgia Tech was knocked down early and has failed to get up off the ground. Through 11 minutes of game time, the Yellow Jackets have two points with both coming at the free throw line. Clemson has a very casual 18-point advantage and there’s zero pressure on them as senior day at LittleJohn continues.

Louisville is up 10 complete with a couple of Montrezl Harrell alley-oop dunks. The Cardinals look more motivated than they have recently and the energy level is encouraging to see for Rick Pitino. Florida State has to start taking some smarter shots as they’re just 6-of-20 (30%) from the field with five minutes left in the first half.

-Justin Cates

12:16 PM

I’m not sure anyone let the folks in Tallahassee or Chestnut Hill that there were basketball games today. Plenty of good seats still available to witness upset bids by BC and FSU. The Eagles are off to a fine start opening the game against NC State on an 11-2 run. It’s amazing what happens when Olivier Hanalan gets a little bit of help on offense. State looks very disjointed on offense. They aren’t passing the ball and are taking quick shots, two things surely being addressed by Mike Gottfried at the under 16 timeout. Louisville is up 10-0 on FSU and Clemson is up 8-0 on Georgia Tech. I’m not sure if either GT or the ‘Noles have the ability to take a punch early and recover.

-Justin Cates

11:30 AM:

As we take a look at some of the early games, it is imperative for NC State to get off to a good start. It’s a must-win game with an early start on the road, and has all the makings of an upset if they go to sleep in the first half. The first 5-6 minutes of this one should tell us a ton about what kind of game this is going to be.

The same goes for Louisville heading down to Tallahassee to face Florida State. Road teams generally don’t play well in the dreary environment of the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, especially for noon starts. As I outlined in my preview earlier this morning, Louisville will need to make sure to defend Xavier Rathan-Mayes from the jump, and ensure that he doesn’t get into the rhythm of the game. If he does, that could spell trouble for the Cardinals. Defense has been the most important facet of Louisville’s game all season with their struggles on offense, and they will need to have a great defensive mindset today to establish their scoring attack.

For Clemson, how motivated will Brad Brownell’s team play today? Do they still believe they have something left to play for? A loss all but eliminates them from any bubble conversation that they could dive back into, but without a doubt, they must win out then make some noise in the conference tournament. One game at a time though, and it all starts at home today against the struggling Yellow Jackets.

-Mike McDaniel

10AM Intro To The Day

So we have six games today, and since several are chiming in today, I am going to be brief, well as brief as you know me to be, I’m just so chock full of information!

We have the possibility of the following after this weekend.

  • If NC ST loses, Clemson wins, Miami loses,  and Pitt loses, we have four teams at 8-8
  • If NC ST wins, Miami wins, UNC Loses, Syracuse loses, Pitt wins, we have five teams at 9-7
  • This does not factor in FSU, who going into the final week could score an upset over Louisville and move to 8-9, and above .500, overall, making them post-season eligible if they maintain that pace.With Chris Jones absent from U of L due to his dismissal last week, and FSU’S Xavier-Rathan Mayes scoring 30 in the final 4:38 at Miami, you might be ripe for an upset in Tallahassee, with FSU’s guard heavy offense tiring out Terry Rozier and FSU’s foul-heavy front court putting U of L on the line all afternoon.We already know that opposing teams struggle to find the mark from outside at the Civic Center, and with U of L demonstrating such futility from deep, this could be the perfect recipe to inch closer to .500 and muddle the selection committee’s decision further.

Now we go to my observations/inklings/voodoo:

      • Olivier Hanlan continues to be possessed by the spirit of 1992 Walt Williams (Maryland) and Conte Forum at noon proves to be too chilly for NC St’s trio (Barber, Turner, Lacey) to get going. BC notches a 2nd win at an ill-time for an NC ST looking to ride their SOS to a low seed. Especially with NC St upsetting UNC this week, it’s a classic letdown game, and the Conte Forum has had its share of those over the years.

  • GT/Clemson: The equivalent of the Royal Rumble. Who wins the belt Landry Nnoko or DeMarco Cox or Charles Mitchell? Likely Jaron Blossomgame will be the best player on the floor, and playing at home should help Clemson win and get into solid NIT ground.
  • You already read my Louisville upset prediction at FSU. But just in case, you need a reminder, U of L’s best on ball defender is gone, and XRM’s confidence is thru the roof.


  • Miami keeps UNC in their tailspin. The quick backcourt, led by Angel Rodriguez will outman UNC at at least one guard spot. The main thing to watch is Tonye Jekiri’s foul trouble as he goes 1.5 on 3 up front against UNC’s vaunted front line. Brice Johnson is quickly working into 2nd team All-ACC territory, and Kennedy Meeks quiets his weight-loss protagonists every time out nowadays. JP Tokoto will be the wild card here, Miami doesn’t have an athlete as good as him at his position.
  • VT/UVA. VT shot the lights out vs Duke, played a perfect game in spite of Duke over-relying on the three ball early to give VT hope. Okafor could have had 50 if they’d have just pounded it in. Luckily Cook got hot late and the Hokies played like youngsters in OT. These same Hokies lost by a bucket at home to UVA a month ago, in a game that UVA closed out 17-4. The Hokies led the top ranked Cavs for a good bit of the second half. With the Shooting Gods blessing the Hokies on Wednesday vs Duke, and going to JPJ and facing a UVA team that held Wake to 34 on the road, predictions can range from close rivalry game to UVA by 30.
  • Syracuse/Duke. What more can you say than this is the first time the ‘Cuse has been back since this:

Which of course led to a classic presser like this:

I fully expect a great battle between Rakeem Christmas and Jahlil Okafor. And I expect Boeheim to try to spoil the number 1 seed for his friend Coach K.

One final depressing fact: The ACC has two teams that will most definitely lose 20 games. But has up to three who could if you include ACC tournament play. Last year, BC and VT both lost 20+ games. This year, those two appear to be the likeliest candidates again, but Wake Forest threatens also. 2012 saw GT and BC lose 20. Wake in 2011. Miami in 2007.

This means that since expansion, only six teams total have lost 20+ games in a year, and with the wrong bounces over the final week and a half for these ACC bottom-feeders, the ACC could see three in one year alone. Quite the embarrassment, and presumably a first, considering prior to expansion in 2004 it was a nine team league.

We’ll be back with more as the games begin. Stay with us all day, we’ll be back with periodic commentary on all six games. Let us know your thoughts below. And thanks for joining us!

-Chuck Workman

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