ACC Weekend Preview: March 3

Posted by Mick McDonald on March 3rd, 2018

It’s the final weekend of the ACC regular season, which means we not only get DukeNorth Carolina, part II, but we also have sevearl bubble teams fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives in addition to the return of a superstar hoping to lead his team to a late renaissance.

Saturday, March 3

Once Again, It’s On… (USA Today Images)

  • Virginia Tech (#33) at Miami (#35). It felt like both Virginia Tech and Miami were already in good spots with their NCAA Tournament resumes coming into this week, but then the Hokies vanquished Duke and the Hurricanes won at the buzzer in Chapel Hill to completely lock things up. Both are headed to the Dance this season partly because of consistently superb point guard play. For the Hokies, it’s been junior Justin Robinson, who is averaging nearly 15.0 points, 4.5 assists and fewer than two turnovers per game. He’ll match up with Hurricanes’ freshman Chris Lykes, who has become the heart and soul of a Miami group with Bruce Brown still on the shelf.
  • Clemson (#17) at Syracuse (#52). Syracuse dropping a game to Boston College while fighting for its NCAA Tournament life means the Orange need to beat Clemson to make the NCAA Tournament. To do that, Syracuse needs to lock down on the defensive end. Its normally sure 2-3 zone defense has allowed the three worst Defensive Ratings of the season (115.6 vs. North Carolina State, 114.7 vs North Carolina and 130.8 at Boston College) over the past five games. They’ve been torched by quick guards like Markell Johnson, Joel Berry II and Jerome Robinson. If the Orange cannot shut down Marcquise Reed and Gabe DeVoe, they could be in “ACC Tournament Title or Bust” mode before they even get to Brooklyn next week.

  • Notre Dame (#31) at Virginia (#1). Bonzie Colson is back! Anyone who is a college basketball fan was certainly thrilled to see one of college basketball’s best players back in Notre Dame’s lineup this week against Pittsburgh. In his return outing, Colson made 6-of-10 shots and scored 12 points while grabbing nine rebounds. It was a good sign that he’s not rusty from the layoff, but Virginia is also certainly not Pittsburgh. If the Irish want to re-enter the NCAA Tournament conversation with Colson now back in action, they need to start by knocking off the #1 team in the country today in Charlottesville.
  • Louisville (#34) at NC State (#42). You can take down their 2013 National Championship banner, but as Louisville fans will quickly tell you, they all remember beating Michigan. My guess is, though, they would very much like to forget what happened on Thursday night. Leading by four points with under a second left and by two points WITH THE BALL and the same amount of time, they still found a way to lose to Virginia at the buzzer. People will blame David Padgett for not having his team prepared, or Darius Perry for fouling a three-point shooter with a four-point lead, or Deng Adel for traveling on an out-of-bounds play. All are legitimate criticisms, but the Cardinals’ focus needs to be on NC State this weekend. If they can’t notch this victory in Raleigh, Louisville will need to do some serious work in Brooklyn (and may have to do that regardless) in order to earn another bid to the NCAA Tournament. We’ll see what kind of coach Padgett is by how his team responds to a heart-breaking moment just 48 hours ago.
  • North Carolina (#8) at Duke (#3). The stakes for this game are always high, but they are rarely as high as they will be tonight in Durham. Seeding in the ACC Tournament is very important, and can swing wildly depending on this game’s result. Both teams are also in the mix for a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and another elite win would be huge for either resume. They are also both battling to earn the other spot in the Charlotte pod of the NCAA Tournament (along with Virginia), to avoid a long travel situation on the NCAA Tournament’s opening weekend. Luke Maye and Marvin Bagley III could also be facing off to determine the ACC Player of the Year. Not to mention the normal Tobacco Road bragging rights for the color of blue that you wear. Not that any ACC fan was going to miss this one… but you should probably watch this game.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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