ACC Game On: 03.03.12 EditionPosted by KCarpenter on March 3rd, 2012
A Totally Underhyped Game
- North Carolina at Duke at 7:00 PM on ESPN
I wish more people knew about this game. Despite the obscurity of each school’s basketball program, these two teams have quietly cultivated a solid if yet underexposed rivalry. When these teams met earlier this season, this hidden gem of a rivalry resulted in an amazing comeback and an impressive buzzer-beater by freshman Austin Rivers. It was quite a highlight, and I only wish that the game had been televised so you would have had the opportunity to glimpse this rare, unseen footage (we found a long forgotten image above). Playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium, North Carolina will have a chance to avenge the shocking loss and win the regular season conference title.
For Duke, replicating its earlier success against North Carolina may be a challenge. The Blue Devils shot 36 three-pointers and connected on 14 of them. Despite the stunning volume of treys, North Carolina’s perimeter defense still remains suspect, and this might be an easier feat to achieve than getting to the line 26 times. Over the last four years only three team-seasons have matched UNC’s opponent free throw rate of 21.1%. Duke will be hard-pressed to replicate the 41.9% mark they managed in Chapel Hill. If Duke is going to win the rematch, I think the Devils will have to find other ways to win. I expect this game to be very close, and at home, it’s hard to pick against Duke. On the other hand, Tyler Zeller has been cutting a swath of destruction across the ACC to close out his final college campaign. Zeller has never won in Cameron (he was injured in 2009) and after his embarrassing role in the loss in Chapel Hill (an inadvertent tip-in and a late contest on Rivers’ shot), I’d be afraid to stand in his way.
The Key To A Super Weird Conference Tournament
- Boston College at Miami at 2:30 PM on ACC Network Affiliates or ESPN3.com
This game is part one of the two-part key to having the final conference standings look confusing as hell. Miami should easily and handily beat Boston College at home, but for the sake of argument, let’s look at a scenario where they don’t. If Miami loses this game, and Wake Forest loses to Georgia Tech, somehow Boston College will finish the season in ninth place, a bizarre result in and of itself. More importantly, a Boston College victory here is the first piece that sets up the weirdest seeding for the conference tournament. A BC win, couple with Clemson winning their game over Florida State, would somehow catapault Clemson into a fourth place conference finish, leapfrogging the Tigers over Virginia, Miami, and North Carolina State. While such an outcome wouldn’t do much for the conference’s national reputation, the sheer surprise value of this alone makes it worth it for me.
Battle at the Bottom
- Wake Forest at Georgia Tech at 12:00 PM on ACC Network Affiliates or ESPN3.com
Who doesn’t want to watch two of the worst teams in the conference battle it out in front of a sparse crowd? A win probably improves either team’s conference tournament hopes, but Wake Forest has the most to lose. If Wake wins, they are assured a ninth place seed and a first round game against Maryland. If they lose, things get much dicier and WFU could even drop to last in the conference. Still, when push comes to shove, I think the most important thing about this game is how it gives fans the opportunity to marvel at the aesthetic versatility of “Old Gold” coupled with stagnant offense.