ACC Tournament: Previewing the QuarterfinalsPosted by KCarpenter on March 15th, 2013
If you love everything going totally to plan, then you loved the first day of the ACC Tournament. Will chalk continue to reign as the conference’s top teams join the fray? Well, it’s at least possible. Let’s go over the match-ups:
Miami vs. Boston College at 12:00 PM
Remember that time that an early season Miami team came within one point to losing to Boston College? I’m sure the Hurricanes have tried to forget it too, but it did happen. When the Eagles went to Coral Gables, Miami totally destroyed its overmatched foe, dominating nearly every aspect of the game. That’s what happened to nearly everyone who went down to Coral Gables this season, though. Yet, Boston College comes into this game hotter than a two-dollar pistol, having swept its last three regular season games (including a win over Virginia) and then dominating Georgia Tech in the first round on the wings of a legendary and record-setting 41-point performance by Freshmen of the Year, Olivier Hanlan. This game may very well come down to the match-up at shooting guard with scoring sensation Hanlan trying to best the savvy veteran and newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year, Durand Scott.
Virgina vs. North Carolina State at 2:00 PM
In their first game of the tournament, North Carolina State showed something new — an ability to shut down a big time scorer. Though the Wolfpack has struggled on defense all year, the team held Virginia Tech’s Erick Green to 15 points on 19 shots and also forced him into four turnovers. NC State will need to maintain that concentration if this team is going to have any chance at stopping the equally deadly Joe Harris. The Wolfpack has the right personnel to stop the Cavaliers on the defensive end, but it will take some serious focus. Virginia won the team’s only match-up in Charlottesville by a mere 3 points, but in Greensboro, NC State will effectively hold the home court advantage. This figures to be the closest game of the day, but even so, counting on the Wolfpack to give consistent effort on the defensive end is an easy way to be disappointed.
Duke vs. Maryland at 7:00 PM
While the earlier Virginia match-up promises to be the most closely contested game of the day, this one is easily the sexiest. The two teams split the regular season series and simply loathe each other. Duke’s rivalry with North Carolina is storied, but the history of the Duke-Maryland series has been much more venomous. Maryland absolutely needs this win. Winning might not guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament (though it would be a big help), but a loss here keeps the Terrapins out. Alex Len is one of the few guys who stands a chance of effectively guarding Mason Plumlee and if the Maryland offense is working effectively, the Terrapins have a real shot at this one. That said, if Duke plays as well as they played against North Carolina on Saturday, Maryland simply has no shot.
North Carolina vs. Florida State at 9:00 PM
This is perhaps the least interesting game of the day. Florida State comfortably lost to North Carolina twice this season. While Florida State had a nice rally to overcome an early deficit to Clemson, North Carolina is just a tough match-up for Florida State. In many ways, the two teams share a lot of the same weaknesses. Both teams rely on young players at the center and point guard spot. The only reliable big for each team is an undersized “finesse” power forward, while the bulk of the scoring load is carried on the wing. Unfortunately for Florida State, these shared weaknesses mean that the Seminoles have little leverage against the Tar Heels’ weaknesses. North Carolina can’t coast in this game, but barring a novel game plan by Leonard Hamilton, if UNC executes “normally” on offense and defense, the Tar Heels will win. For the Seminoles to have a chance, North Carolina must be taken out of it’s comfort zone, pushed off the three-point line, and challenged on the boards. It’s a tall order for a team that has struggled to be effective on the glass all year.