ACC Weekend Review: 03.05.18 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 5th, 2018

It was a great Saturday to be an ACC player in his final appearance in front of the home crowd, as all seven home teams were victorious this weekend. In the headline match-up in Durham, Duke overcame a double-figure deficit to avenge an earlier loss to North Carolina. Surging Miami won its fourth consecutive game — all by three points or fewer — by edging Virginia Tech, leaving the Hurricanes as the #3 seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament. Regular season champion Virginia held off a Notre Dame squad that is suddenly more dangerous with a healthy Bonzie Colson back in the lineup. In other action, Syracuse kept its NCAA at-large hopes alive with a win over Clemson, Florida State took down Boston College, and NC State topped Louisville. Here are the highlights from this weekend’s action around the ACC.

Grayson Allen and Coach K celebrate Duke’s win over rival North Carolina in Allen’s last game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

  • Best Win: It was a tale of two halves for Duke in its 74-64 rivalry win over North Carolina. The Blue Devils trailed by 10 points at the break following an ice-cold shooting start — Duke sank only one of 10 shots from deep and 4-of-14 from the free throw line. But the offense picked up in the second half, as Duke scored 49 points and made eight threes on 15 attempts. Much has been made of Mike Krzyzewski’s decision to go zone, and the Blue Devils’ defense continues to improve as a result (now ranked 10th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings). North Carolina came into the game having scored at least 1.20 points per possession in its last seven outings, but the Tar Heels only managed 0.91 points per possession on Saturday evening. It didn’t help that star Joel Berry had an off night — the senior finished with just six points in going 0-of-7 from distance. With the win, Duke earned the #2 seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament, while the Tar Heels fell all the way to the #6 seed position. Given that the Tar Heels are ranked seventh nationally in KenPom, we are looking at a very deep ACC this postseason.

  • Worst Loss: Of all the ACC schools on the road this weekend, only Clemson — which fell 55-52 at Syracuse — was favored. Brad Brownell’s team still finished in a four-way tie for third place, however, after being picked 13th in the preseason — so this loss doesn’t dampen the numerous good vibes surrounding the Tigers’ surprisingly successful season. A win on Saturday would have resulted in a #3 seed (and the corresponding double-bye) in Brooklyn but the Syracuse zone ensured that did not occur. The Tigers connected on only 5-of-16 attempts from three-point land and committed turnovers on 21.8 percent of their possessions. Clemson also failed to control its defensive backboard — the Orange collected 15 offensive rebounds in the contest.

Marvin Bagley dominated the paint in the second half of Duke’s win over North Carolina. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

  • Most Outstanding PlayerA big reason for Duke’s big comeback on Saturday was the second half performance of freshman Marvin Bagley. After a first half in which he tallied only three points while battling foul trouble, the rookie sensation dominated the paint over the final 20 minutes. He ended up posting a second-half double-double (18/11) and finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, shooting 9-of-14 from the floor. That performance solidified his place as the unquestioned ACC Player of the Year, an award of which he was officially given on Sunday.
  • Unsung Heroes: It wasn’t a great weekend for role players stepping up, as the victorious squad was led solely by the stars. However, we must recognize Miami’s reserve guard Dejan Vasiljevic for doing his part to help the Hurricanes squeak by Virginia Tech, 69-68. Vasiljevic sank 4-of-6 attempts from three-point range and scored 16 points for Jim Larranaga — his third highest scoring game in ACC play.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: NC State only had an average shooting day (44.0% FG) but still posted the weekend’s best offensive performance in its 76-69 win over Louisville. The Wolfpack gave the ball away only four times and made 8-of-19 shots from deep to score 1.12 points per possession.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: For a change, Pittsburgh’s opponent is not listed here because the Panthers had the weekend off. Instead, the honor this week goes to Georgia Tech for holding Wake Forest to a mere 0.75 points per possession in the Yellow Jackets’ 64-56 victory in Atlanta. The Demon Deacons only made 33.3 percent of their shots and committed a whopping 22 turnovers against Josh Pastner‘s defensive unit.
  • Up Next – 2018 ACC Tournament (Brooklyn, NY): Here’s the bracket.
Brad Jenkins (323 Posts)

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