ACC Weekend Review: 01.02.17 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 2nd, 2017

The opening weekend of ACC play was one of the wackiest we have ever seen. On Saturday afternoon two home underdogs pulled off massive upsets: Virginia Tech over Duke and Georgia Tech over North Carolina. Those games were followed by a trio of late afternoon contests in which the winner rallied from a late second half deficit to pull out a close victory on the road —Florida State nipped Virginia; Clemson beat Wake Forest; and Notre Dame edged Pittsburgh in overtime. It was certainly a wild way to close out 2016, but the fun didn’t stop with the calendar year. Boston College, a team that had not won an ACC game since March 2015, celebrated the New Year by blasting Syracuse to snap its 20-game ACC losing streak. Here are the highlights from opening weekend around the ACC.

Virginia Tech players celebrate after the Hokies dismantled Duke 89-75 on Saturday in Blacksburg. (Photo:

Virginia Tech players celebrate after the Hokies dismantled Duke 89-75 on Saturday in Blacksburg. (photo:

  • Best Win: In a normal situation, a 14-point win over the preseason pick to win the conference would warrant ‘Best Win’ accolades, but Virginia Tech’s rout of Duke comes in second this weekend. Instead the title goes to Leonard Hamilton‘s Florida State squad for handing Virginia only its second ACC defeat in Charlottesville since 2012. The Cavaliers came into the game ranked first in KenPom’s system, but the Seminoles rode Dwayne Bacon‘s hot hand in the second half to pull off the upset despite struggling to make shots from the field (41%) and foul line (50%). In addition to his great shooting performance (more on that below), Bacon exploited two rare Virginia breakdowns — scoring after an inbounds steal under the basket on one late possession, and converting an offensive rebound following his own missed free throw a few minutes later. Those are the kinds of plays that beat Virginia, a team that does not very often beat itself.

  • Worst Loss: North Carolina looked like a lock for this dubious honor after being dismantled by Georgia Tech, but Syracuse’s debacle on Sunday in Conte Forum takes the prize. The Orange trailed the Eagles by 11 at the half and never seriously threatened afterward, suffering their second stunning blowout loss in the last three games (St. John’s by 33 on December 21). Boston College shredded the Syracuse zone on its way to 96 points, the most it had scored in ACC play since 2008. Incidentally, neither North Carolina nor Syracuse can blame rowdy road atmospheres for these upset losses — reports claimed that more fans of the visitor teams were in those arenas.
Dwayne Bacon carried Florida State to victory at Virginia with 26 second half points. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Dwayne Bacon carried Florida State to victory at Virginia with 26 second half points. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

  • Most Outstanding Player: Florida State’s Bacon is the obvious choice here. The Seminoles’ star finished with great overall numbers that included a career-high 29 points and 6-of-9 shooting from deep, but his second half performance against the vaunted Virginia defense was remarkable. Bacon scored 26 of his team’s 37 points after the intermission, including the game-winning three-pointer with four seconds remaining. The sophomore couldn’t have asked for a better start to the ACC campaign.
  • Unsung Hero: Clemson’s Marcquise Reed came off the bench to score 21 points in the Tigers’ comeback win at Wake Forest. The sophomore was particularly effective down the stretch, tallying 14 points in the game’s final 10 minutes as Clemson overcame a 13-point deficit to win the game. Even more impressive was that Reed — a transfer from Robert Morris — was playing in his first ACC game and he stepped up to the challenge on the road.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: Boston College managed to score 1.32 points per possession in its upset win over Syracuse, the highest mark allowed by the Orange in almost three years. The Eagles’ exciting young backcourt of freshman Ky Bowman and sophomore Jerome Robinson led the offensive assault by combining for 52 points, 13 assists and an incredible 10-of-12 shooting from behind the arc.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: North Carolina put together its worst offensive performance (0.81 points per possession) in ACC play since January 11, 2014, when the Syracuse zone befuddled the Tar Heels. Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner must have watched game tape of that contest, as the Yellow Jackets also used an effective zone defense to disrupt Roy Williams’ team. The Tar Heels shot a miserable 33.3 percent from the field and gave the ball away 20 times in a performance that North Carolina fans are unlikely to remember in the New Year’s Eve haze.
Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch
  • Tuesday 1/3 – North Carolina at Clemson (7:00 ET ESPN2)
  • Wednesday 1/4 – Louisville at Notre Dame (9:00 ET ACCN)
  • Saturday 1/7 – Virginia Tech at Florida State (2:00 ET ACCN)
  • Saturday 1/7 – N.C. State at North Carolina (8:00 ESPN)
Brad Jenkins (325 Posts)

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