Atlantic 10 Tournament: Early Round Takeaways

Posted by Joe Dzuback (@vbtnblog) on March 11th, 2016

The first two rounds of the Atlantic 10 Tournament are now in the books. Here are four takeaways from the first couple days of action.

Partly thanks to Trey Davis, who scored a game-high 20 points against Rhode Island, UMass is still dreamin' about dancin'. (Getty)

In part thanks to Trey Davis, who scored a game-high 20 points against Rhode Island, UMass is still dreaming about dancing. (Getty)

  1. The conference’s bottom six programs (La Salle, Saint Louis, George Mason, Massachusetts Fordham and Duquesne) are nowhere near competitive with the top eight. From week #1 through week #10 of conference play, the offensive/defensive differentials show that those six teams have separated themselves from their upper division conference mates (and not in a good way). The games Wednesday featured low offensive efficiency coupled with often hurried possessions. At halftime of Thursday’s first game, Richmond-Fordham, the Spiders led the Rams by 16, 38-22. Davidson led La Salle at the half 42-30. Massachusetts was fortunate enough to draw injury-riddled Rhode Island and took full advantage of a depleted Rhode Island squad to charge out to a 37-19 lead in the first half. Rhody would charge back to take a 59-58 lead in the game’s last two minutes before ultimately fading to fall by five. UMass will now face a rested and full-strength Virginia Commonwealth in the quarterfinal round. Read the rest of this entry »
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Atlantic 10 Tournament: Semifinal Saturday Review

Posted by Joe Dzuback on March 15th, 2015

Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent at the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Brooklyn this weekend. He filed this report after Saturday’s semifinal action.

No Bid Thieves Among Us

With four opponents and three NCAA-bound teams left in the field, the chances for an NIT-bound team to play on Saturday were a given. Which team that would be, however, was not decided until Rhode Island crushed George Washington in the evening quarterfinal session on Friday night. Rhody’s burgeoning bid steal attempt ended at the hands of Dayton on Saturday in a game that was not decided until there were 20 seconds left. Davidson, unsteady in its A-10 Tournament debut in the quarterfinals, was saved by a Jake Gibbs drive and bucket in a one-point win on Friday before falling to Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals on Saturday. That means Dayton and VCU will meet today (1:00 PM ET) to determine which team will take the Atlantic 10’s automatic bid. Of the three widely-recognized NCAA-bound teams, Dayton and VCU seem to be securely on the #8/#9 seed lines. Only Davidson appears in slight danger, located on the #10 or #11 lines depending on whose bracket you consider.

Archie Miller Once Again Has Dayton Peaking in March (USA Today Images)

Archie Miller Once Again Has Dayton Peaking in March (USA Today Images)

Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley made the obligatory argument for an NCAA bid after his team’s loss. The Rams have the 10th-best defensive efficiency in Division I basketball, no losing streak longer than two games, a 20+ win season, etc. All are legitimate points, but he failed to mention Rhody’s RPI (#60), a strength of schedule ranking of #161, an 0-6 record versus top 50 teams and a 3-2 record versus teams ranked between #100 and #200. In the end, Hurley tacitly acknowledged that his Rams were a bit short: “If that’s [the NIT] where we end up landing we will be thrilled with that.” Expect the Rams along with conference-mates Richmond and George Washington to have at least one home game when the NIT field is announced on Sunday night. All three NIT-bound teams are projected as squarely on the #4 seed line or higher, making them very secure in that field. Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg removed his team from consideration for a CIT/CBI bid, leaving St. Bonaventure, the remaining unclaimed team with a winning conference and overall record, waiting for a phone call Sunday night.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament: Second Round Review

Posted by Joe Dzuback (@vtbnblog) on March 13th, 2015

Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference. You can also find his musings online at Villanova by the Numbers or on Twitter @vtbnblog.

Making Their Case

The forecasters say three conference teams — Davidson, Dayton and Virginia Commonwealth — are comfortably in the NCAA Tournament’s field of 68. Meanwhile three other teams — George Washington, Rhode Island and Richmond — are projected as a #4 seed or higher in the NIT. In an ironic twist all too common for the Atlantic 10, the #1 seed in the conference tournament, Davidson, holds the lowest projected NCAA seed (#11) while the highest projected NCAA seed, Virginia Commonwealth (#8), fell to fifth in the conference race. While the projected NIT contingent are all comfortably “in,” none appear on anyone’s NCAA “First Four” or “Next Four Out” lists. Short of a win on Sunday, the destination for those three teams will not change.

Jordan Price (#), who scored a game-high 28 points Thursday afternoon against UMass, will likely need to show that type of production again against Davidson. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Jordan Price (#21), who scored a game-high 28 points Thursday afternoon against UMass, will likely need to show that type of production again against Davidson. (Mike Stobe/Getty)

For the nine teams not penciled into either of the premier postseason tournaments, Wednesday and Thursday at the Atlantic 10 Tournament have become the moment of truth. Saint Louis and George Mason did not make it out of Wednesday night. It also ended poorly for a Massachusetts team that came out on the short end of a 77-69 game against La Salle. When asked about a potential CBI or CIT bid, UMass coach Derek Kellogg declined. NIT or bust. For Saint Joseph’s, last year’s tournament champion, the season ended at the hands of St. Bonaventure. With a 13-18 record, Phil Martelli’s Hawks will recuperate on Hawk Hill and plan for next season. The Bonnies must continue to win in order to work their way into the postseason conversation. They could steal an NIT bid if they can gather two more top 100 wins (which they will have to do to advance to the Sunday game). Taking down Dayton and then either George Washington or Rhode Island should do. Having compiled an 0-4 record versus that competition, however, and with star point guard Jaylen Adams sidelined, the odds are good that they will watch the game from the comfort of their dorms in Olean, New York. Read the rest of this entry »

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The RTC Podblast: Atlantic 10 Tournament Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2014

The regular season is over, Championship Week is here, and it’s now or never for all of the teams that have talked a rather big game but haven’t necessarily backed it up with their play on the court. To that end, we’re going to be rolling out nine RTC Podblasts this week, one to preview each of the seven power conference tournaments as well as the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West (to scroll through all that have been released, click here). In this, our Atlantic 10 Tournament edition, RTC microwriter Joe Dzuback (@vbtnblog) joins us to discuss the week ahead in Brooklyn. The Big EastAACSEC and Big 12 Tournament pods were released on Monday, and the Big TenPac-12 and ACC Tourney previews came out yesterday. Today we’ll finish off the series with this blast and the Mountain West releasing a bit later. Enjoy!

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record.

  • 0:00-4:33 – Measuring the True Talents of Saint Louis
  • 4:33-6:35 – Which Team Is Actually the Best?
  • 6:35-8:50 – Surprise Teams in the A-10
  • 8:50-10:58 – LaSalle Falls Victim to Sweet Sixteen Hangover Season
  • 10:58-14:23 – First Team and POY Discussion
  • 14:23-21:00 – Teams Outside the Top Two That Can Make a Run
  • 21:00-21:01 – What the A-10 Bubble Teams Need to Do
  • 23:01-25:03 – A-10 Loses Teams and Keeps on Ticking
  • 25:03-26:26 – Dayton’s Potentially Curious NCAA Tournament Situation
  • 26:26-29:35 – Final A-10 Tournament Thoughts
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Three Thoughts From the Atlantic 10 Tournament Afternoon Session

Posted by CNguon on March 14th, 2013

Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10. He’s covering the Atlantic 10 tournament in Brooklyn this week. You can also find his musings online at Villanova by the Numbers or on Twitter @vtbnblog.

In the first half of the opening round in the Atlantic 10 Tournament today, Charlotte beat Richmond 68-63 in the first game, while Butler ended Dayton’s season 73-67. Charlotte will face #1 seed Saint Louis on Friday while Butler will now prepare for #4 seed La Salle, a team that beat them earlier this season.

Three Thoughts:

  1. Chris Mooney’s Tell – When the Jacket Comes Off, the “T” Will Follow: Richmond, ahead by three, 63-60 with 4.7 seconds on the clock, had one foot into tomorrow’s quarterfinal game with Saint Louis when the wheels came off the wagon. In the space of (according to the game clock) two seconds Charlotte hit eight free throws, as the Richmond Spiders picked up a foul and three technicals and Richmond coach Chris Mooney was ejected from the game. With Pierria Henry on the line taking his second free throw, Richmond center Derrick Williams shoved Charlotte forward Willie Clayton, the motion continued through Henry’s free throw as Clayton ended up out of bounds. The baseline referee called a dead ball foul and technical on Williams, and then the fun began. An out-of-control Gregg Robbins picked up a foul and then Mooney took his jacket off on his way onto the floor. Henry netted six more free throw attempts – sinking four — as Mooney and two more seconds were removed from the court and the clock, respectively.

    An entertaining contest will unfortunately be remembered for the chaos that ensued with five seconds left in the Richmond-Charlotte contest, highlighted by the ejection of Richmond coach Chris Mooney. (AP)

    An entertaining contest will unfortunately be remembered for the chaos that ensued with 4.7 seconds left in the Richmond-Charlotte contest, highlighted by the ejection of Richmond coach Chris Mooney. (Getty)

  2. The final score, 68-63, keeps Charlotte’s very, very slim NCAA hopes alive for another 22 hours: They meet Saint Louis in the noon game tomorrow.  A much calmer Mooney met the media after the cooling off period, apologizing to the A-10 and Richmond fans twice during his postgame comments. The meltdown was uncharacteristic of Mooney whose post-Sweet Sixteen demeanor has been almost sedate. The Spiders are not in the hunt for a spot in the field of 68, but have an outside shot for an NIT invitation.
  3. Butler is 10-1 When Rotnei Clarke Scores 20 or More Points: Clarke scored 21 on 7-of-14 shooting (6-of-12 from three point land) and 1-of-2 from the line. The Bulldogs held a three point lead going into the half, compliments of a trio of three-point conversions at the five-minute mark. Dayton, which took a total of four three-point attempts for the entire game, was scoring easily on the inside. “Credit their three point defense,” responded Dayton coach Archie Miller when asked in the postgame press conference. As for Clarke — who has managed to rise to #3 on Butler’s all-time three point shooting list in his only season as a Bulldog — the shooter used multiple screens to add  three more treys to his first half total and spark a second half run that snuffed a Dayton rally and kept the scoring gap safely in Butler’s favor. According to Clarke, “Coach drew up good play, I got good looks, credit these guys, I’ve learned to try to share the ball more and keep the focus off me. We got together (after the VCU loss) and communicated better,” developments in the past week that helped Butler handle Dayton so easily in Brooklyn.
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Vegas Odds: Conference Tourneys – SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2013

Yesterday we ran through the current Vegas odds for four of the major conference tournaments getting under way early in the week. Today we’ll take a brief look at the remainder — the ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, and SEC. The SEC tips off tonight with the rest lacing them up on Thursday afternoon. As usual, there are some disparities between overall public perception and the mathematics that Vegas assigns to these teams — we’ll note some of those differences below (all oddreported from on Tuesday night).

sec tourney 13 odds

It’s no surprise that the Gators are a heavy favorite in Nashville this week, but #6 seed Missouri coming in with the next highest odds might be. The Tigers would have to win four games in four days, which is always difficult but not impossible. Vegas has little faith in #3 seed Ole Miss and #4 seed Alabama, as exhibited by their relatively low odds. The bottom line is that this tournament is Florida’s to lose, but after that it’s pretty wide open.

acc tourney 13 odds

#1 seed Miami (FL) may have won the regular season by a game in the ACC standings, but that doesn’t mean Vegas has to oblige with the notion that the Hurricanes are better than #2 seed Duke. The Blue Devils are a significant favorite over the rest of the field in Greensboro, and the odds realistically only give the top half of this league any kind of a chance. One team to watch is #5 seed NC State, who will have to win four games in four days — Vegas is still relatively high on the Wolfpack despite an incredibly inconsistent season.

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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2012

It’s an old familiar name versus a new one in the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game, as Xavier will match up against surging St. Bonaventure on Sunday afternoon with a guaranteed bid on the line.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament Semifinals, Daily Diary

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2012

Joe Dzuback filed this report from the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Coach Rick Majerus is a Gentleman. The Saint Louis coach was as effusive in his praise of Xavier, winners over his Saint Louis team earlier today, as he was of La Salle, the Billikens quarterfinal victim on Friday. The coach began each of his postgame press conferences this weekend with complementary remarks about the play and dedication of their opponents. The referee crew assessed Saint Louis player Brian Conklin with a “Flagrant 1” foul early in the second half, effectively benching Saint Louis’ man in the middle for another precious five minutes during a crucial part of the second half. The call put Tu Holloway on the line and gave the ball back to Xavier. Given how miserly Saint Louis is with possessions, giving the ball back to Xavier must have hurt at least as much as the free throws. When asked about that call and some of the other no-calls at the end of regulation, Majerus, in a sharp contrast to NC State Coach Mark Gottfried’s postgame comments, blamed himself for not being more demanding on his players.

Does the NCAA Tournament Have Room For a Fourth A-10 Team?

Two, Three or Four? Speculation over the number of bids the conference could get took a dramatic turn this afternoon when Xavier eliminated Saint Louis in its semifinal game. Both Temple and Saint Louis will get at-large bids, leaving the third bid to go to the conference tournament winner tomorrow. If, as suggested by RTC’s Zach Hayes and CBSSports’ Jerry Palm, Xavier is in, then a Saint Bonaventure win tomorrow should bring a fourth bid to the conference. Will the Selection Committee see it that way? The conference final is played on Sunday and for the last two postseasons, the Selection Committee appears to have set the conference’s seeds on Saturday night rather than working out alternative scenarios that might account for multiple outcomes. By seeding the 2009-10 tournament champion Temple #5 and runner-up Xavier #6, and the 2010-11 tournament champion Richmond on the #12 seed line, the committee appears to settle on a compromise seeding  that would account for either outcome (a Temple or Xavier win in the 2009-10 conference tournament and Richmond or Dayton win in the 2010-11 conference tournament) in the conference tournament championship game. Will the committee develop a “compromise seed line” this time around? According to virtually every bracketologist near a microphone tonight, Xavier’s win over Saint Louis seals a bid for the Muskies irrespective of tomorrow’s outcome. Of course having Xavier Athletic Director Mike Bobinski on the Selection Committee should also help motivate the committee to do its homework.

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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Tournament Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2012

The Atlantic 10 quarterfinals will tip off Saturday between four teams that all believe they should be in the next week’s NCAA Tournament. The truth is that two, maybe three, are likely to be invited. This is no time to leave anything to chance, which is why the semifinals should be outstanding and competitive. It’s UMass-St. Bonaventure in the early game, followed by Xavier-St. Louis in the mid-day slot. Join us!

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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2012

The Atlantic 10 quarterfinal round has already opened up with top seed Temple losing to Massachusetts earlier this afternoon. Among tonight’s teams, Xavier, Dayton, and St. Louis all have dreams of at-large bids, while La Salle is thinking tournament title. It should be an equally competitive and fun evening from Atlantic City tonight down on the Boardwalk.

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Morning Five: 09.29.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2011

  1. Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Eustachy received a three-year extension on his contract.  You might recall that Eustachy gained some notoriety in 2009 for giving back a $25,000 bonus to his employer because he didn’t feel as if he had earned it.  In the two seasons hence, his Golden Eagles have gone 42-24 and were invited to the CIT postseason tournament in 2009-10.  Southern Miss was in the conversation for an at-large bid in last year’s NCAA Tournament prior to hitting a tough stretch during the last two weeks of the season.  His extension does not include a salary boost, but it will keep him employed at the school through the 2013-14 season.
  2. Rick Pitino really must not want to end up in the ‘fertile’ recruiting grounds of the Big 12, searching for talent in a place like Manhattan, Kansas, rather than Manhattan island.  In an interview with Adam Zagoria on Tuesday night, he went on a somewhat incomprehensible tirade about why Connecticut would be “dumb” to leave the Big East for the ACC if there was another spot available for the Huskies.  He invokes none other than the legendary John Wooden to explain why UConn should not consider such a move: “Do you ever think [leaving the Pac-10] crossed his mind? No, when you’re great winner, those things don’t cross your mind. The only thing that crosses your mind is the ability to win a championship and carry on the great tradition you’ve built.”  He even goes so far as to suggest that the Huskies might be less successful in a conference like the ACC, citing Boston College’s one soccer title as a relevant example.  But… didn’t Pitino tell us a hundred times in March that the Big East was by far the best basketball conference?  Why would leaving the best basketball conference for a weaker one hurt them, Rick?  We haven’t seen video of this interview, but it reads like the rantings and ramblings of a man desperate to avoid irrelevance.
  3. We’re all aware that Syracuse is headed to the ACC, although the when behind that move is still up in the air.  What might also be up in the air is the idea Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor floated on Tuesday — Syracuse possibly playing some home ACC games in New York City.  Calling the Orange “New York’s college team,” Cantor strongly stated that one of the must-haves for her school was to play some home ACC games in the Big Apple.  Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim fired back with unequivocal statements to the contrary on Wednesday.  Suggesting that Cantor was mistaken about which games might be played in NYC, Boeheim said, “we absolutely would not take conference games to New York City. It was never the intent… She meant games in New York. Yes. And bringing the ACC Tournament to New York.”  From an economic standpoint to the school, it makes a lot more sense to bring elite ACC teams to upstate New York and the enormous Carrier Dome than to try to play the likes of Duke, UNC, Maryland and others in the much smaller venues of Madison Square Garden or the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
  4. Speaking of the new NYC arena, we’re already loving this place.  New York always felt like it should be a two-arena kind of town, and the Barclays will now allow some interesting simultaneous events for people in the city to enjoy.  The first example of this will now occur in 2013, as the Atlantic 10 has signed a five-year deal to bring its conference tournament to Brooklyn.  If the league keeps with the format it has now so that the quarters, semis and finals occur on Selection Sunday weekend, savvy hoops fans might be able to commute between the Big East extravaganza at MSG and the best A-10 games over in Brooklyn.  With a mere half-hour trip by subway line between the two arenas, hoops junkies like ourselves could find themselves in a heavenly situation.
  5. Let’s finish with some really good news.  Arizona’s Kevin Parrom is back on campus in Tucson and is set to resume classes and begin rehabilitation from the shooting injury he suffered last weekend in his hometown of New York.  The bullet entered his leg in the back of his right knee but head coach Sean Miller said on Tuesday that it’s unclear how the injury will impact his basketball activities this season, suggesting that it will be at least a month before a true assessment can be made.  Parrom, a junior who averaged 8/3 last season while knocking down 41.8% of his threes, is a key contributor for Miller, but at this point everyone is just happy that he’s alive and not critically injured.  Even in what has to be trying times for a young athlete, he still has his humor intact, tweeting at former conference rival Isaiah Thomas, “Idk what hurts more your shot that went in at the end of the game or the 1 i got this weekend smh lol.”  Well played, sir.
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Conference Tournament Daily Diaries: Sunday

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Yesterday’s coverage:  ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten & SEC.

ACC Tournament – by Kellen Carpenter

  • Early in the game, during a media timeout, one of the North Carolina cheerleaders lost her balance and fell down on the male cheerleader who was trying to hold her up. She ended up busting either his nose or lip and proceeded to bleed all over himself, the fallen cheerleader and the court. It took some extended minutes for the glove-wearing bio-hazard team to find and clean up all the blood. It was that kind of day for the North Carolina team and fans.
  • There was buzz more than an hour before tip-off and it grew steadily from there. The crowd was full of North Carolina partisans, but Duke has had the second most fans here all week. The stands were filled and the crowd cheered frequently and often. While the crowd was excitable and loud, the game lacked the rancor of the two previous Duke games. My favorite part about the crowd, however, were the proud representatives of the teams who had already fallen. Clemson sweatshirts and Virginia Tech hats abounded amongst the faction of spectators who often refused to cheer for either team.
  • Nolan Smith may not have had the gaudy offensive performances of Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette this week, but his performance on the offensive end has been spectacular and his performance on the defensive end has won the Blue Devils games. Just as Smith disrupted Virginia Tech’s offense by neutralizing Malcolm Delaney, Smith made the Tar Heel offense grind to a halt with his aggressive defense on Kendall Marshall.
  • In the past two games, Marshall was slowed down and rendered ineffective as teams have discovered the key to stopping him. Marshall is slow and needs space to make passes or drives. Aggressive, close defense on Marshall prevented him from scoring and making plays. Smith came out on Marshall as soon as he got across the half court line and challenged Marshall to try to get past him or pass with heavy pressure. It worked. Marshall had five turnovers to only five assists. He went 3 of 10 from the field. Marshall’s ability to make plays has been the driving force behind this Tar Heel team. Stopping Marshall is the key to stopping North Carolina, and unfortunately for the Heels, it’s now painfully clear how this can be accomplished.
  • The Comeback Kids couldn’t find one more miracle. After the game, Roy Williams said he didn’t understand why UNC had continually fell behind early in their tournament games. I’m not sure either, but I have some guesses. Roy’s insistence on getting early touches for the big men makes UNC’s offense incredibly predictable at the beginning of games. By refusing to shoot threes early in the game, Roy has made it easy to clog the paint and focus in on UNC’s focus.
  • Ryan Kelly, despite looking like a very tall version of Neville Longbottom, has actually settled into a nice impersonation of Manu Ginobili as a big man, or maybe Andrei Kirilenko when he came off the bench. In the sixth man role, Kelly played the fourth most minutes for Duke tonight and had a very impressive all-around game. In addition to nine points and three rebounds, he contributed three blocks and three steals on defense and served as a more reliable scoring threat than either of the Plumlees. This new role suits Kelly, and Coach K said he believes that Kelly has played the best basketball of his life in these past three days. In any case, it’s one more nasty surprise Duke has in store for it’s opponents in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Watching Duke play it was almost inconceivable to me that a Duke team that so effortlessly ran the table in the conference tournament and only had four losses, none of them bad over the course of the season, might not be a number one seed. They are playing some of the best basketball in the nation this past week, as they have all season.  I understand that many teams have a better collection of “best wins,” but Duke is a seriously dangerous team that has gotten better over the course of the season.
  • The last thing that really stood out throughout the course of the tournament was how much Greensboro, as a city, seemed genuinely excited to host. The way that every single business I saw had some sign or deal for ACC fans, the fact that the ACC Hall of Champions stands right next to the Greensboro Coliseum, and just the general excitement about town paints a picture of a place that really, really cares about hosting conference tournaments. It seemed like these were most important days of the year for Greensboro, and that’s a real credit to an otherwise small and sleepy city in North Carolina.

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