ACC Basketball: Tobacco Road Tuesday Preview

In honor of the greatest player to grace the hardwood at North Carolina, the one and only Michael Jordan, officially making an appearance on the richest men in the world list at a net worth of over $1 billion, I figured we would start out this preview with some highlights from his illustrious UNC career, where the legend began.

Commonwealth Monday was a success, so why not go with the moniker of Tobacco Road Tuesday? While Duke is absent from the action to come on Tuesday night, North Carolina and NC State will do their best to represent the state of North Carolina in our two ACC games scheduled for the slate. As conference play continues to wind down, here’s everything you need to know about what’s on tap for the evening match-ups.

#19 North Carolina (20-9, 10-6, RPI: 14) Vs. Georgia Tech (12-17, 3-14, RPI: 120), 7:00 PM ET, ESPNU

After losing three out of four games entering their Saturday afternoon contest against Miami, North Carolina knew that they needed to do everything in their power to get back on track against Jim Larranaga’s scrappy ball-club. The ‘Heels responded with a 73-64 victory behind 22 Brice Johnson points, and a 17-point effort from Marcus Paige. On Tuesday night, UNC will look to keep the ball rolling, as they face a struggling Georgia Tech squad for the second time in a 10-day span. In the first meeting on February 21st, the Tar Heels used a well-balanced scoring attack, featuring six players scoring in double figures, en route to a 29 point blowout win over the Yellow Jackets in Chapel Hill, that believe it or not represented the game as much closer than it actually was.

This time around though, it’s senior night in Atlanta, and potentially the last home game ever for Georgia Tech under head coach Brian Gregory, who has been surrounded by speculation that his job is in jeopardy. With the circumstances surrounding this game for the Yellow Jackets, the hope is that they will come out with a little bit more motivation, as they look for payback after getting embarrassed just over a week ago. Junior forward Marcus Georges-Hunt has continued to be the most consistent performer for Georgia Tech, as he enters the final regular season game averaging 14.0 points per game on 43% shooting from the floor. He had 15 points in the first meeting, and a breakout performance, along with some additional scoring help from his teammates will go a long way towards making this a competitive contest on Tuesday.

While Georgia Tech should play more motivated than the first go ’round with these two clubs, expect more of the same result. North Carolina should be able to ride their superior guard play to another decisive victory on Tuesday, giving the Tar Heels some positive momentum going into their huge rematch with #3 Duke on Saturday night.It’s also the final regular season game for GT, as their weekend bye comes on the final weekend. They won’t play again until next Tuesday most likely against BC, in the 12/13 matchup of the ACC tourney.

North Carolina 77    Georgia Tech 59


NC State (17-12, 8-8, RPI: 53) Vs. Clemson (16-12, 8-8, RPI: 85), 9:00 PM ET,

Ah, the late game match-up between two teams whose bubble has been burst.

NC State was one of my trendy Sweet 16 picks earlier this season. I thought that their three guard trio with superior shot making would be enough to make some noise in March. This, of course, was prior to their debacle over the last month and a half featuring losses to Miami, Wake, Clemson, and the dagger to Boston College to seal their NIT fate. It’s tough sledding nowadays for Mark Gottfried, who prior to Saturday’s loss to BC, had his team looking like a late season surprise that would sneak into the NCAA Tournament with some late ACC wins and a good conference tournament. All of this went for naught though, as their guards did not defend Olivier Hanlan, and couldn’t get any momentum offensively, leading to a deflating defeat at the hands of the Eagles. Trevor Lacey will look to push the Wolfpack to a redemption win against Clemson this second time around. Lacey is averaging 16.2 points per game, which leads the team in scoring.

Clemson has been a similar story to NC State this season. Inconsistency was the word of the season for Brad Brownell’s club, who after winning five out of six games in the second part of January, have lost four out of their last six since, as they narrowly escaped Georgia Tech in overtime this past Saturday after blowing a huge lead. Jaron Blossomgame has been the man of the hour for the NIT-bound Tigers, as he has led the team in scoring at 13.0 points per game on 49% shooting. In a game where both teams are pretty evenly matched, a stellar performance by Blossomgame could lead to a Clemson victory on senior night.

NC State irritated me with how they played on Saturday, because I thought with a strong finish to the regular season and a couple of wins in the ACC Tournament, they may have been able to sneak into the Big Dance. But after what they did on Saturday in an absolutely debilitating effort, I’m going to pick the Tigers on Senior night in a close game, for no reason other than the fact that the ‘Pack have nothing to play for after blowing what was left of their season on Saturday.

Clemson 66    NC State 61


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