ACC Weekend Review: 03.01.16 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 1st, 2016

It was tough sledding on the road for four ranked ACC teams this weekend. In Saturday’s premier match-up, Virginia led most of the way and knocked off league leader North Carolina in Charlottesville. The outcome was not a big surprise, but we didn’t expect the Cavaliers to win the way they did — Virginia usually keeps the score in the 60s when it is most successful. Also on Saturday, Miami broke open a close game late to beat visiting Louisville, and Notre Dame was hammered on the road against Florida State. Pittsburgh captured a huge resume-building win against Duke at the Peterson Events Center on Sunday, and while most experts already projected Pittsburgh into the Big Dance, the one thing missing for Jamie Dixon’s squad was a signature win. Consider that box checked now. Here are some of the highlights from a busy weekend around the ACC.

Malcolm Brogdon made a strong case to be ACC Player-of-the-Year in Virginia's win over North Carolina. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Malcolm Brogdon made a strong case to be ACC Player-of-the-Year in Virginia’s win over North Carolina. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

  • Best Win: We had been anxiously waiting on the only meeting between the two preseason league favorites all season, and we weren’t disappointed. Virginia led most of the way but North Carolina stayed within striking distance due to some surprisingly hot shooting from deep (9-of-19 on threes). In the end, however, it was Virginia’s offense that was the difference (the Cavaliers scored 1.20 points per possession), representing its second-best output and the highest allowed by North Carolina in conference play. Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon may now be the front-runner for ACC Player of the Year after scoring 26 points and grabbing six boards while Brice Johnson only managed 12 points and five turnovers. Much of the credit for the Tar Heel star’s subpar performance goes to Virginia’s Anthony Gill, who was the primary defender on him for much of the night.

  • Worst Loss: Notre Dame was a slight favorite over Florida State despite playing on the road. After all, the Seminoles came into the game in a freefall, having dropped five straight games in progressively worse fashion. But Leonard Hamilton’s team responded to adversity in a big way, blowing out the nation’s top-ranked offense by 21 points (holding them to a mere 0.89 points per possession). Even more troubling for Mike Brey must be that his team has now set a new ACC low in offensive efficiency in each of its last three outings. That’s not the kind of trend a coach want to take with his team into postseason play.
Michael Gbinije celebrated Senior Day in style as Syracuse defeated N.C. State. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

Michael Gbinije celebrated Senior Day in style as Syracuse defeated NC State. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Most Outstanding PlayerNow this is exactly how Senior Day is supposed to go. Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije scored a career-high 34 points and handed out six assists in his last appearance in the Carrier Dome. The former transfer was on fire from deep, hitting 8-of-13 three-pointers to lead the Orange to victory over North Carolina State. Ever the active defender in the Syracuse zone, he also registered three blocks in his final home game.
  • Unsung Heroes:  This week we salute a pair of reserves who provided offensive punch that helped their teams to victory. Pitt’s Jamie Dixon may have found another dangerous frontcourt weapon just in time for March with the recent play of sophomore big man Ryan Luther. Luther reached double-figures for the second straight game, posting 10 points in Pittsburgh’s win over Duke. He scored 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field for the week. Coming into this season, many expected JuCo transfer Benji Bell to be one of Florida State’s leading offensive perimeter threats, but Bell has spent most of the year looking for time in a crowded Seminoles’ backcourt. In Saturday’s win over Notre Dame, however, he made the most of his ACC season-high 25 minutes by scoring 14 points and making 4-of-9 three-pointers.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense:  Miami used some hot shooting to post 1.26 points per possession against Louisville. The Hurricanes made an incredible 8-of-11 shots from three-point range and connected on 19-of-23 free throws. This offensive display is especially impressive considering that Louisville has the league’s best defensive unit. In fact, it was the most points per trip allowed by the Cardinals all season.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: North Carolina State was unable to figure out Syracuse‘s zone defense and only posted 0.87 points per possession over the weekend. The Wolfpack shot 37.3 percent from the field and were surprisingly ineffective on the offensive boards. N.C. State is ranked 22nd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, while the Orange are 332nd in defensive rebounding percentage. However, the Wolfpack only managed to grab nine of their plentiful (40) available misses. Go figure.
Upcoming Week – Three Games to Watch (All Times ET)
  • Wednesday – Miami @ Notre Dame (7:00 PM ESPN2)
  • Saturday – North Carolina @ Duke (6:30 PM ESPN)
  • Saturday – Louisville @ Virginia (9:00 PM ESPN)
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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