ACC Tournament PreviewPosted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2010
Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The ACC Update finally returns after a few weeks away due to uncontrollable fried-laptop-related issues. But before we start looking ahead to this week’s ACC Tournament, I want to take a quick look back. Late Friday night, with my laptop still fried and my shiny new MacBook not yet purchased, I found myself flipping channels in the wee hours of the morning. I was so bored, that I even ventured outside my HD comfort zone to find ESPN Classic. With the Duke-UNC game the following night, the channel was airing prior “classics” in the rivalry. Of course, I came across the final five minutes of regulation in the epic February 2, 1995 affair.
In case you need a refresher: Duke was 0-7 in the ACC at the time, while UNC was LOADED with stud players, like Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse, and ranked #2. Jeff Capel’s one-footed 3-pointer at the buzzer tied the game, and sent Dickie V into a insane frenzy. Considering I was 12 years old at the time, there were many things about that game that I forgot, and that made it unbelievably fascinating:
- Duke was left for dead, trailing 26-9 at one point in the first half and by as many as seven in the final minutes. As they continued to fall behind, I actually kept checking to make sure this was the game I thought it was.
- Hindsight is easy, as they say, but Cherokee Parks just looked like one of those great college players who would never materialize in the pros. He was dominant inside, but really unathletic.
- If UNC had hit even one or two free throws down the stretch, Capel’s shot never would have happened.
- Dickie V questioned the decision at the time, and I agree wholeheartedly — why wouldn’t Dean Smith put any UNC players on the lane to rebound the final free throws? He had a terrible foul-shooter at the line, and by giving Parks a free rebound and hand-off to Capel, he gave Duke at least a second of time and probably 20 extra feet of court. Even if UNC doesn’t rebound it there, at least Wallace or Stackhouse could have put a body on Parks or Capel.
- Finally, I gained an even greater (if that’s possible) appreciation for today’s video and production quality. This game was only 15 years ago, but for someone used to HD, 30 camera angles, and excellent sound quality, this might as well have been in black and white. Replays were scarce, there appeared to be three cameras in the entire gym, and the lack of a constant score and gameclock on the screen was jarring to say the least.
Anyway, I just found that interesting, and was jotting down notes as I watched. Now let’s jump ahead to 2010. We’ll take a quick look at each matchup, and even toss out a few meaningless predictions. First, let’s examine the NCAA Tourney fates of our ACC friends:
BOOKING TRAVEL PLANS
- Duke, Maryland, Florida State and Virginia Tech are absolutely in at this point.
SAFE AND SOUND
- Wake Forest and Clemson probably shouldn’t go out and lose in the first round, but otherwise, both the Deacons and Tigers are safe bets.
- I’m looking at you Georgia Tech. You are just too talented to even be on the bubble at this point. But if you don’t take care of lowly North Carolina on Thursday (and I can definitely see a UNC stunner), you are NIT-bound.
And…that’s it! There is no one else in Greensboro this week that can play themselves into the dance, let alone even stay on the shrinking bubble. I mean Boston College is the No. 8 seed, and we know that they’re not a tourney team.
Since Day 1 has next to no real NCAA drama, we won’t spend much time here…
- No. 8 Boston College vs. No. 9 Virginia (noon): Virginia is a better team than BC, hands down. Whether there’s any motivation there on either side — now that’s the real question. I see BC pulling out a snoozer for the right to face Duke: BC by 5.
- No. 5 Wake Forest vs. No. 12 Miami (2 p.m.): Should the Deacons somehow lose this game, they should walk back to Winston-Salem, and expect NOT to hear their name called on Sunday. Wake Forest by 12.
- No. 7 Georgia Tech vs. No. 10 North Carolina (7 p.m.): This could get dicey for the Yellow Jackets. I’m not sure why, but I have a feeling. There’s way more talent for Tech, and much more to play for. But you wonder if UNC’s free-wheeling, no-pressure attitude might spring an upset. You know what? I’m calling it. UNC by 2.
- No. 6 Clemson vs. No. 11 N.C. State (9 p.m.): The most boring game of the day comes long after Greensboro has stopped caring. Clemson does need a win though, or else it will squeak into the dance on a real down note. Clemson by 10.
FRIDAY’S GAMES (all on ESPN2)
I’ll assume all my predictions go right (I mean, why not?), while noting other potential matchups…
- No. 1 Duke vs. No. 8 Boston College (noon): Whether it’s BC or Virginia, they’ll enter this one hoping to shock the world. Ain’t gonna happen. Duke by 15 million.
- No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 5 Wake Forest (2 p.m.): The Hokies made a great late-season surge to get the buy and get off the bubble. This is not a team I want to see in my bracket come Sunday. Malcolm Delaney has become a must-watch player in this league, and will dominate the underachieving Deacons on Friday. Virginia Tech by 8.
- No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 10 North Carolina (7 p.m.): You can bet that Maryland will be rooting for Georgia Tech on Thursday, so they dont have to face a partisan crowd on Friday. But whether the Terps face the Heels or Jackets, I don’t see this one being a problem. Greivis Vasquez (my man-crush) is on his way to stealing America’s hearts. Maryland by 14.
- No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 Clemson (9 p.m.): I don’t buy Florida State. I haven’t bought them all year, and I don’t know if I do now. If I were a Seminoles fan, I’d almost prefer that my team was still playing for its NCAA life, not a tourney lock. Trevor Booker dominates inside, and Clemson bumps itself into at least a 7 or 8 seed come Sunday’s selection. Clemson by 9.
Here’s where it gets fun…
- No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech (1:30 p.m.): This has all the makings of an up-and-down shootout. And we know that Duke has had trouble with the Hokies in the past. But I don’t see it here. Not in Greensboro, not with Virginia Tech firmly in the dance. And not with Jon Scheyer taking over in the second half when it matters. Duke by 7.
- No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 6 Clemson (3:30 p.m.): Having blown its load the day before just to get past Florida State, I think Clemson will be happy to be this far. Vasquez will dominate on the perimeter, and freshman Jordan Williams will have his coming-out party inside as he bodies up with Booker. Maryland wins this one by knocking down its free throws at the end. Maryland by 5.
You knew we’d end up here, right?
- No. 1 Duke vs. No. 2 Maryland (1 p.m.): Duke has a score to settle after last week’s game in College Park. But…if the Devils get this far, they will have already secured a No. 1 seed (if they haven’t already), and I don’t see Vasquez letting this moment get away from him in his senior year. Plus, I picked Maryland as my champ WAY BACK in November. (Although I also picked UNC to win the regular season, so what do I know?). Maryland by 3