ACC Game On: 02.09.12 EditionPosted by KCarpenter on February 9th, 2012
Man, ACC play is so boring and predictable. Rivalries without luster, no intrigue. Blegh. I can barely remember anything that happened last night.
Of course, I’m kidding as Austin Rivers hit the shot to give Duke a miraculous win against North Carolina in the finest rivalry in college sports. Rivers was truly impressive, but it’s hard to know what lesson to take away from Duke’s victory. If I told Roy Williams that his team would shoot better from the field, indeed, shooting nearly 50%, score 20 points from the free throw line, and turn the ball over less than 10 times, he would probably be happy with that. That’s what Carolina did and it simply wasn’t enough. How did Duke win? Well first, the game plan is the perfect illustration of how one should take down North Carolina. Mike Krzyzewski’s game plan leveraged the greatest weakness in North Carolina’s defense: the perimeter. Duke took an astounding 36 three-point shots, making an impressive 14. As an illustration of how insane this is, Wake Forest in their loss against Virginia last night managed to shoot only 41 field goals. Of all the field goals that Duke took, 58.1% of the shots were three-pointers. On the season, no team is averaging over 50% threes. By making them at a 38.9% clip, it didn’t matter how Duke performed on defense or if they could score on the interior. If Duke can maintain this style of leveraged offensive efficiency, they are going to be really hard to stop. Perfectly game-planned. By contrast, North Carolina shot six three-pointers and made one.
The other thing that Duke did really well against North Carolina was get to the free throw line. North Carolina is the best team in the country at not fouling, but with consistent driving, Duke somehow managed to get to the line 26 times. It was an impressive performance, which is one of the other reasons this game is a bit confusing. As good as Duke was at scoring, sheer ineptitude on the glass and indifferent defense almost totally offset all the impressive things that Duke did. Remember it took a weird accidental defensive tip-in from Tyler Zeller for Duke to eke out a one-point victory. As good as a win is this is, would Duke even be considered the favorite for the rematch at home? It was a memorable and miraculous win, but the exceptional, rare nature of miracles makes it hard to draw any conclusions from a maddeningly inconsistent Duke team.
Of course, considering the nature of North Carolina’s bizarre last two minute collapse, the Tar Heels have just as much if not more soul-searching to do.
More evidence of the power of the three-point shot? Last place Boston College managed to upset conference leader Florida State by shooting 10-of-22 from deep while holding the Seminoles to 5-of-20. It’s deja vu all over again with the Seminoles tied with North Carolina and Duke at 7-2 on top of the conference.
- Virginia Tech at Miami at 9:00 PM on ESPN2
Miami, coming off it’s big overtime win over Duke, has played it’s way onto the fringe of the bubble (or some other mixed metaphor). In truth, this Hurricanes team has come on strong in conference play and seems to be getting better by the game. Reggie Johnson showed the kind of impact he can make against Duke and he might rampage again versus the undersized Hokies. It’s taken an overtime in Durham and a double overtime in Chestnut Hill, but if Miami can take care of business in regulation, they can head into Tallahassee on Saturday with a five-game winning streak and some well-earned confidence.
- North Carolina State at Georgia Tech at 7:00 PM on ESPNU
The Wolfpack has only three losses in conference play. A loss to North Carolina and to Virginia each is nothing to be ashamed of, but the biggest blemish on NC State’s conference résumé is an ugly 11-point loss to Georgia Tech on its home floor. Since then, Mark Gottfried would like to believe that the Wolfpack has become a different, better team. Tonight they’ll have to prove it. Georgia Tech has won one other conference game, and that was against Boston College. Of course, having already beaten NCSU, there’s a chance that the Yellow Jackets come into the game with a rare air of confidence, knowing that this is one team they can actually beat.