ACC Game On: 03.04.12 EditionPosted by KCarpenter on March 4th, 2012
It’s the last day of the regular season, but today will inevitably pass in yesterday’s shadow. While Miami managed to push away Boston College to make its bid for the last bye in the conference tournament, Georgia Tech pulled itself out of the conference cellar with a home court win against Wake Forest. At the top of the conference, however, North Carolina made the biggest play, defeating Duke at Cameron Indoor by 18 points and winning the regular season title outright. All five Tar Heel starters scored double digits with Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and Kendall Marshall all putting up double-doubles. Despite a second half swoon, North Carolina displayed a resiliency that the team hadn’t yet demonstrated against elite competition. Yesterday did a lot to erase those doubts and set up a post-season run.
Redemption vs. Legitimacy.
- Clemson at #19 Florida State at Noon on ESPN2
Florida State has already wrapped up the third seed in the conference tournament, but this game offers a chance at redemption for the Seminoles who endured the early season indignity of a loss to Clemson. For the Tigers, there is a lot more at sake. Somehow, the Tigers have played their way into borderline post-season relevance. If the Tigers can win against Florida State and beat some good teams in the ACC tournament, Clemson has an outside shot at making the NCAA Tournament, an outcome that seemed unlikely a month ago. The Tigers have played well done the stretch, but a bid still seems unlikely. Still, as Jeff Foxworthy once mused, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
The Last (Good) Bye
- Virginia at Maryland at 2:00 PM on ACC Network Affiliates or ESPN3.com
Maryland, oddly, had already wrapped up the eighth seed of the conference tournament and has little to play for other than pride and the simple joy of ruining someone else’s day. Virginia shut down the Terrapins in their earlier meeting, resulting in a resounding 27-point victory. If Virginia can come close to replicating even a part of that dominance, the Cavaliers have the inside track to a fourth place finish and a bye in the ACC Tournament. While North Carolina State and Miami need others to lose to get a shot at this bye, Virginia simply has to win out. This seemed easier before the Wahoos lost four of their last six, but the talent that carried Virginia hasn’t disappeared. Virginia is entirely capable of winning this game, but they will have to show poise and composure that weren’t exactly on display in their last two close home losses to Florida State and North Carolina.
- North Carolina State at Virginia Tech at 6:00 PM on ESPNU
These two teams haven’t met this season. That seems odd, right? What’s more peculiar is North Carolina State’s slide off the bubble. Losing four out of their last five during an admittedly brutal stretch of schedule, North Carolina State needs this win and several more in the conference tournament to have a shot at the Big Dance, but it won’t be easy. Virginia Tech matches up reasonably well with the Wolfpack, and playing at home, the Hokies are actually the Vegas favorite. Virginia Tech has an array of outside shooters that can punish NC State defensive lapses and the Hokies have their own brand of pesky disruptive defense that can make very difficult for the hungry Wolfpack. The match-up of Erick Green and Lorenzo Brown showcases two of the ACC’s finest point guards and both players have the ability to ignite an all-out firefight between the two teams. If NC State can bait the slow and deliberate Hokies into a shootout, the Wolfpack will remain in the hunt, though with plenty left to prove.