Be My Valentine – 14 Iconic Moments We’ve Loved This Season

Posted by EJacoby on February 14th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

Are you riding solo this Valentine’s Day? If you can’t have a significant other, you can always love sports. What is more beautiful to watch than a buzzer-beating shot, an unlikely upset win, or a swarm of students rushing the court? Here to cheer you up, we present a reminder of 14 lovely moments in college basketball this season, in honor of the 14th:

Be Our Hoops Valentine...

1. Racers’ Pursuit of Perfection (December 11) – Murray State beat then-ranked Memphis on the road to improve their record to 10-0, and fans and analysts immediately began to take notice of this OVC school. This win set off the idea that the Racers could perhaps run the table this season, and while it did not happen, it would be two full months before they lost a game.

2. Teach Us How to Dougie (January 7) – Creighton has now lost three straight games to drop out of the Top 25 rankings for the first time in weeks, but they’d been providing a great story all season in the form of Doug McDermott. The sophomore forward, son of Creighton head coach Greg McDermott, and former teammate of Harrison Barnes in high school, went for 44 points and eight rebounds in a road win over Bradley that kickstarted his campaign for National Player of the Year. His candidacy for the award has since died down, but he’s still third in the nation in points per game (22.9).

3. Watford’s Buzzer-Beater (December 10) – Indiana got off to a fast start this season, but the Hoosiers took it to another level when they knocked off #1 Kentucky at home to improve to 9-0 back in December. Down by two, it took this shot by Christian Watford to beat the buzzer and provide us with one of the most memorable highlights of the year. The shot signified that IU basketball is officially back. See it below.

4. Rivers’ Buzzer-Beater (February 8) – Perhaps the only more recognizable moment of this season than Watford’s shot was a similar one from Duke’s Austin Rivers. Down by two at Chapel Hill on the final possession, the freshman provided this season’s iconic moment thus far by nailing a game-winner at the buzzer to beat North Carolina. The main difference between the two shots? Rivers’ came on the road, silencing the UNC crowd and sending them into shock.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.09.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 9th, 2012

  1. Florida Today: Well, you can tell this article was written early yesterday (an evening article would probably look the exact opposite of this). Overlooked largely because of Duke’s epic comeback against North Carolina was the Seminoles’ equally epic defeat to Boston College. The same Florida State that knocked off Duke on the road and North Carolina by more than 30 couldn’t handle the lowly Eagles. But the thesis from this article remains: Florida State has a very favorable schedule to take at least a share of the ACC title. It was even better before Leonard Hamilton’s team went and coughed up a free road win in Chestnut Hill. Now the questions are about the Seminoles going forward. Are they the team that lost to Boston College and Clemson, or are they the team that beat Duke and North Carolina? Was this game a product of losing focus, or was it a brutal regression to the mean?
  2. Hampton Roads Pilot: Mike Scott continued his under-the-radar quest for ACC Player of the Year with a record-tying 9-9 shooting performance over Wake Forest. Scott finished with 19 points in a rout of the Demon Deacons, and boy was it a rout. Virginia led 40-19 at the half (after shooting a ludicrous 70.8% from the field). That lead only got bigger, moving to 56-23 early in the second half before they coasted.
  3. Sports Business Daily: Well, the verdict is in. ACC schools will reportedly be making one to two million dollars more a year than currently after the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the league. The extra money will push the ACC towards being more competitive with the Pac-12, Big 10 and SEC in that regard. This should at least table the “conference expansion won’t make more money” argument for the time being.
  4. Wall Street Journal: Speaking of money, the Wall Street Journal took a look at the richest schools and conferences based on NBA earnings (for players drafted since 1985). North Carolina and Duke top the list, as the only schools whose alumni NBA salaries surpassed the $800 million dollar mark. Surprisingly, Arizona was third on the list. Even more surprisingly Georgia Tech is seventh. I would have guessed Duke and North Carolina on top, but I never would have suspected Georgia Tech cracked the top 10 (ahead of Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA).
  5. ESPN and Yahoo Sports: Speaking of the Tobacco Road rivals, Austin Rivers hit a pretty big shot last night. The ESPN story is an interview with Doc Rivers, who got to attend the game. It’s worth a watch just to see the pure excitement on the elder Rivers’ face as he jumps up and down hugging his daughter after the shot falls. For a more conventional recap, I suggest Pat Forde’s write-up from the Dean Dome. I’m not sure any story can do the last two and a half minutes justice, but his piece attempts to do so.

Video of the Week:

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Night Line: Instant Classic a Result of Duke’s Late-Game Execution, UNC’s Lack of It

Posted by EJacoby on February 9th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor to RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Austin Rivers’ three-ball went down for Duke at the buzzer, and Mike Krzyzewski’s team walked away with a stunning road victory in Chapel Hill on Wednesday night. This 85-84 Blue Devils win will always be remembered for the freshman guard’s late-game heroics, but there were plenty of other factors that played into the result. By now, I assume everyone has seen the shot, which will undoubtedly go down as one of the all-time great moments in the 92-year history of the Tobacco Road rivalry. But it cannot be forgotten that this game was actually not a back-and-forth classic between the two teams. North Carolina led the entire second half, including a nine-point advantage at the under-four minute timeout, and gave the game away by failing to make any winning plays down the stretch. Meanwhile, Duke was clinical from the outside and knocked down clutch shot after clutch shot, capped off by the game-winning shot by Rivers as time expired. All that was left from there was a completely silenced Dean Smith Center, an elated Blue Devils sideline, and a moment that will be replayed hundreds of times this season.

Austin Rivers is About to Silence a Crowd of Thousands in this Game-Winning Shot for Duke (Getty Images)

If you want to know why North Carolina blew an 11-point lead at home with 4:09 to play, the answer certainly begins with the clutch play of Duke’s Rivers. But it doesn’t end there. He had a career-high 29 points on 6-10 shooting from three, but one man cannot be solely responsible for erasing a double-figure lead in four minutes. Instead, look at the home team’s attempts to close out the game and what they did wrong, which includes three missed free throws, three offensive rebounds allowed, two turnovers, and a total of one field-goal attempted in the final four-plus minutes. Leading 79-68, UNC allowed Duke to score after a missed three with a second-chance putback. Then came the barrage of mistakes, which were incurred on offense by way of clanked free throws and lost-ball turnovers. On the other end, Duke was 6-8 from the field to close out the game with three huge three-pointers and three other deep jumpers.

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Set Your TiVo: 02.08.12 – Rivalry Week Headline Night

Posted by EJacoby on February 8th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor to RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Here we go, folks. Get ready for one of the very best nights of the college basketball regular season, including two 5-star showdowns. The best rivalry in the sport highlights this slate. We absolutely guarantee some great basketball tonight. Let’s get into the breakdowns:

#7 Kansas at #6 Baylor – 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2 (*****)

Who's Going to Stop Thomas Robinson Tonight for Baylor? (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

  • Kansas has lost their last two road games at Iowa State and Missouri despite putting up a great fight in both efforts. Tonight is another opportunity to win a crucial conference road game against a team who they will be competing with for the Big 12 title. They will be looking for the season sweep of Baylor after already thrashing the Bears at home back on January 16. In order to do so, the play of Tyshawn Taylor might be the key. He’s been terrific recently at 18.5 points and 6.5 assists in those two road environments, but late-game turnovers continue to be his bugaboo. Eliminating a mistake or two at the end of the game can be the difference between a win and a loss, especially in this one with such physical front lines that may cancel each other out and leave the guards to decide this one. Along those lines, Thomas Robinson will be defended by any number of physical forwards, but that didn’t stop him from going for 27/14 in the first meeting. Nobody can shut him down when he is on. For Kansas to have an advantage, someone else needs to step up and make big shots, whether it is Conner Teahan, Travis Releford, or Elijah Johnson. They have lacked that unsung hero in road games thus far.
  • It doesn’t feel like Baylor is playing very well right now, yet their talent and depth has continued to carry them through the Big 12 slate with just two losses to top competition. Tonight is a must-win at home to avenge the earlier loss to Kansas and to keep themselves alive in the regular season title hunt. The Bears allow just 39.6% field-goal shooting on the season and will do everything in their power to contain Robinson from going off. Quincy Acy, a stellar defender (2.3 BPG), must have a great game in order to do that. Baylor has more overall scoring talent and will have the advantage if Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III just play to their abilities. At 1.12 points per possession during Big 12 play, Baylor leads the conference in offensive efficiency, but the Kansas defense is the best that they will face. Just like Kansas needs Taylor to step up late, pay attention to how Pierre Jackson performs in this game, the guard who has made nearly all of their big shots this season.
  • This game will be televised on the Deuce, but it’s just as spectacular of a matchup as the one being played simultaneously on ESPN. Baylor is just a two-point favorite at home, as we just don’t know exactly which Bears players will show up in big games. It seems like Kansas can be trusted to play well in this game, but do they have enough impact players to get the road win? I’m predicting a Baylor win by about four to six points as their pieces overwhelm Kansas by the end of the night.

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ACC Game On: 02.08.12

Posted by KCarpenter on February 8th, 2012

Maryland kicked off a week of excellent ACC matches by eking out a win against struggling Clemson. Terrell Stoglin‘s Superman act remains impressive as he put up 27 points on 11 shots with four steals. Maryland needed every one of those points too, as Clemson took 63 shots while the Terrapins managed only 47.  Winning a game despite such an overwhelming loss in the bottle of possessions is impressive, but I still can’t help but feel that Maryland should be able to beat Clemson without such heroic offensive and defensive efforts.

The Big Game

  • Duke at North Carolina at 9:00 PM on ESPN
Next Stop: Prime Time

It's About That Time Again

The Blue Devils come into this game after suffering the wrath of a suprisingly feisty Hurricanes team. Miami isn’t a bad squad, but Duke should have handled the game without any problem. Their offense is as good as ever, but the defense ranks as the ninth-best in the conference. Meanwhile, Duke is inhabiting a special kind of match-up hell. Robbi Pickeral talked about the defensive problem that 6’8″ Harrison Barnes creates at small forward, but a tougher challenge in my mind will be stopping Carolina’s shooting guards. Austin Rivers might claim to be up for a spell against Barnes and Tyler Thornton is at least a partial answer to Kendall Marshall, but who’s going to spend the game trying to stop the athletic Reggie Bullock? If anyone can crack this match-up puzzle, it’s Mike Krzyzewski, who may have to reach deep onto his bench for solutions (free Michael Gbinije?). Regardless, Duke’s ability to make threes will give the Devils a chance against a North Carolina team that still surrenders too many perimeter shots. Make no mistake, Duke comes into this game as the underdog against a confident Tar Heel team that expects to win this game.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.08.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 8th, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Ira Schoffel hits a home run with this profile on Leonard Hamilton. It’s lengthy, but totally worth the time it takes to read. It’s really unfortunate that it will be buried by Duke – North Carolina previews today. Schoffel spent time with many of Hamilton’s friends and family from his days in Gastonia, North Carolina. He may not look it, but Hamilton is the second oldest coach behind Mike Krzyzewski in the ACC. The FSU head coach has had a really inspirational journey from Gastonia to Tallahassee. Even above and beyond the high school story, Hamilton’s coaching resume is very impressive too. Before the year I said Bernard James might have the best story in college basketball, but I might have been wrong. His coach may have him beat.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Lame title aside, this is a terrific piece on Austin Rivers from Jack Daly. Rivers went from being a walking cliche — the talented but selfish son of an NBA coach — when he arrived at Duke to something far more compelling once he took the court. Sure, he’s made mistakes. But he’s also Duke’s best offensive weapon. His critics jumped on his early season struggles and have tended to alter the criticisms instead of the narrative as his game improves. It’s clear he has a chip on his shoulder, but I haven’t heard that chip really expressed openly until this piece. He talks about trying to succeed in the shadow of Doc Rivers and the wealth of expectations and dearth of praise (at least at the college level) for his achievements. Daly finishes the piece with a perfect quote from Rivers:

    People always ask what makes me hungry now: I haven’t done anything yet. I haven’t done anything yet. I had a great high school career, I was No. 1 – I don’t care. No one cares about that anymore. At Duke, I haven’t won a national championship, I haven’t won an ACC Tournament, I don’t play in the NBA. I haven’t done anything. I have everything that can motivate me.

  3. Continuing the DukeNorth Carolina rivalry trope, Brett Friedlander sat down with several former and current Tar Heels to talk about why they chose the school in Chapel Hill over the one eight miles south in Durham. Former Tar Heel big man Eric Montross seems to hit the nail on the head, calling the decision a “gut feeling” of one school over the other. Whether it’s North Carolina’s adjacent museum, the banners, or meeting Michael Jordan — Tar Heel players walk away from visits just knowing… On the flip side I suspect many players who choose Duke feel the same about Cameron Indoor and its many banners overhead as well. The atmospheres are undeniably different, but the two team’s histories share an excellence.
  4. Chicago Tribune: Miami is quietly building an NCAA Tournament resume now that Reggie Johnson is back in the line-up. The Hurricanes have won five of their last six games and four straight including the overtime win at Duke. That said, the “surprise” part of Miami’s bid foundation (for me) is that it’s taken this long to take hold. Certainly Johnson’s injury didn’t do Jim Larranaga any favors, but if you asked me which new coach was doing the worst job at the start of conference season, I wouldn’t have hesitated calling out the former George Mason coach. Miami still has a lot of work to do. I think it splits with Florida State and avenges a home loss to NC State. If the Hurricanes take care of that business, they’ll have 11 conference wins with the disclaimer that the ugly first half of the season was without Johnson (really 10 wins and a solid performance in the ACC Tournament could do the trick, but better safe than sorry).
  5. Fayetteville Observer: In honor of Duke and North Carolina, Stephen Schramm sat down with @thedevilwolf, one of the best trollers in the business. If you follow ACC basketball much on Twitter, you probably know his handle (but not his name). In addition to timely trolling, he’s also good for insightful comments during games and over on Duke Hoop Blog. Schramm also mentioned another mysterious Tobacco Road Twitter celebrity, @TarHeelWire, who disappeared suddenly after nearly two years of constant tweeting on North Carolina athletics when more and more people sought the identity of the man behind the handle.

EXTRA: Troy Machir over at Ballin’ Is A Habit put out his 2011-12 All-Hair-Team, and the list starts with Mike Scott and his many cornrow designs. No other ACC players make the cut (though Miles Plumlee‘s high and tight makes a defensive cameo).

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Morning Five: 02.08.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2012

  1. The biggest news Tuesday was that Memphis, one of the best non-power conference basketball programs in America both now and historically, will join the Big East for the 2013-14 season. Whether the Big East that it joins a little over a year from now will resemble itself now is anybody’s guess, but at least this move goes toward shoring up the basketball value of the league that was threatened by prospectively losing Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia. Central Florida, Houston and SMU are fine, but none of them exactly inspire much confidence when it comes to replacing those annual NCAA Tournament contenders. This is a good move for both Memphis and the Big East in reopening some old Metro/Great Midwest rivalries between Louisville, Cincinnati and the Tigers, but in the shifting sands of conference realignment theater, it’s difficult to know just how long such an arrangement might last.
  2. While on the subject of change begetting more change, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux nickname is back in the national spotlight after supporters of the moniker turned in a petition comprised of over 17,000 signatures to force a June referendum on the subject matter. What this means is that once the Secretary of State approves the signatures, a state law that was repealed last November requiring all school teams to be known as the Fighting Sioux would once again be promulgated into law. If the referendum in June then was passed by the voters, the school would have no choice but to re-institute the nickname. The problem with all of this, of course, is that the NCAA has made its position known — North Dakota will not be allowed to host NCAA-sponsored events, and its teams could be banned from wearing uniforms with the nickname or logo in postseason competition. This could make for a very odd legal situation if the schools is required by law to wear the Sioux uniforms but cannot compete in NCAA-sponsored events.
  3. Kentucky‘s 78-58 domination of Florida last night dominated the Twitter-verse last night with discussion ranging from the Wildcats’ spectacular defense (Jimmy Dykes) to its season-best offense (Ken Pomeroy) to whether Anthony Davis is the front-runner for National Player of the Year. In the absence of a dominant juggernaut this season, everyone seems ready to anoint John Calipari’s squad as that team. If only we crowned national champions before Valentine’s Day… Luke Winn, Mike DeCourcy, and Gary Parrish all checked in with columns about the excellent play of the Cats, but we as the media should be careful to not overrate a blowout win in Rupp against a Florida team that plays awful defense and has a marginal interior game. We’ll honestly be more impressed if the Cats go into Memorial Gymnasium at Vanderbilt on Saturday and punishes the Commodores in much the same way.
  4. Jim Calhoun is no quitter and nobody will ever accused the three-time national champion of being one. Yet how could anyone blame him if he decided to retire from coaching basketball after his diagnosis with spinal stenosis, his latest in a series of ailments and one that kept him bedridden for several days last week? In an interview with Andy Katz on Tuesday, Calhoun said that this is just another “obstacle” that he plans on getting through and that “there’s no question” he will be back on the Connecticut sideline coaching his team soon. Coming off a destructive loss at Louisville on Monday that had at least one UConn beat writer accusing the players of quitting, Calhoun needs to get back to his spot on the bench as soon as possible. He’s not expected to be back for Saturday’s game at Syracuse, but if he doesn’t return soon, his team may be beyond repair.
  5. Tonight might be the best evening of college basketball on paper that you’ll see all year, with Georgetown visiting Syracuse, Duke visiting North Carolina, and Kansas visiting Baylor. There are so many great storylines heading into these games, but one of the few that really caught our eye was this piece on Duke’s Austin Rivers. Whether you love him or hate him (and few people around the country fall in the middle on Rivers), at least he’s honest. He says that one of the reasons he recoils from criticism, whether on or off the court, is because like his hero Kobe Bryant he lives his life and plays basketball with a significant chip on his shoulder. It began with the seemingly constant references to him as “Doc’s kid” as he was growing up, and it has only continued as he moved into the white-hot cross-hairs of becoming a star at Duke.
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The Way Too Early ACC Freshmen Review

Posted by KCarpenter on February 3rd, 2012

It’s been something of a down year for sensational ACC freshmen after last year’s excellent class. Still there have been some real gems, and though the Rookie of the Year Honor was pretty much wrapped up by the time the first conference game was tipped, most spots on the ACC All-Freshman Team are wide open. A lot of highly-touted recruits have flopped or underperformed, a lot of talented guys haven’t won minutes over their more experienced teammates, and in general, the youngsters have played pretty inconsistently. If voting for the All-Freshmen team was held tomorrow, here’s who I would vote for.

  • G Austin Rivers (Duke)

Rivers Was Anointed An All-ACC Freshman a Long Time Ago

Barring a miracle, Rivers has Rookie of the Year wrapped up. Leading a top-flight Duke team, he’s the only freshman whose average has cracked double digits. He leads the balanced and talented Blue Devils with 14.1 PPG. Rivers game isn’t perfect; he struggles to do much beyond scoring and his offensive efficiency leaves something to be desired at 103.2. Still, he’s the leading scorer on the best offense in the ACC and that makes any other deficiency seem somewhat trivial. If highlight reel appearances were a statistical category, Rivers moves would leave all the other rookies in the dust.

  • G Shane Larkin (Miami)

With an expected backcourt of Malcom Grant and Durand Scott leading the talented Hurricanes, it didn’t seem like there was a lot of room for 5’11” freshman like Larkin to get a lot of playing time beyond spells off the bench. Somehow though, Larkin proved so valuable to Jim Larranaga that the Hurricanes went to a three guard lineup starting the energetic guard alongside his more experienced teammates. In his first year, Larkin has already managed to jump to the top of the ACC steals charts, averaging 1.9 SPG alongside Lorenzo Brown and Jontel Evans. In terms of tempo-free statistics, Larkin leads the ACC, getting a steal on 4.8% of opponents posessions (this also happens to be the 14th best mark in the nation). Outside of being an all-round pest on defense, Larkin leads ACC freshmen with 2.5 APG and shoots a very respectable 37.5% from behind the arc. With these skills, Larkin is going to be breaking the hearts of other teams fans for the foreseeable future.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.03.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 3rd, 2012

  1. Blogger So Dear: This was an interesting discussion on Wake Forest basketball halfway through conference play. It’s long but informative, and I found the differing opinions on Jeff Bzdelik particularly interesting. While most Demon Deacon fans seem to want Bzdelik gone as soon as possible, the consensus here appears to be that he deserves one more year. With a strong class coming in next season, giving him another year definitely makes sense. However, the points remain that his team has struggled the past two years with any offensive consistency. Unlike Steve Donahue (whose lukewarm seat should only be attributed to recruiting), Bzdelik’s coaching strategy is hard to pick out. Maybe it’s a personnel issue, but he may be a little over his head too.
  2. Hampton Roads Pilot: Doug Doughty addresses Mike Scott‘s legacy at Virginia. Scott should be the favorite for ACC player of the year right now (the prohibitive favorite if you ask me), though many seem to think someone from North Carolina will take the honor by year’s end. Even then, barring an epic collapse, Scott should make the first team All-Conference. No Virginia big man since Ralph Sampson in the early ’80s can say that. Only two Virginia players in history have ever won ACC player of the year. Certainly, he’s having the best season since at least when Sean Singletary left Charlottesville.
  3. Roanoke Times: When people think of Austin Rivers, they immediately think Doc Rivers‘ son. It’s the curse of having a famous parent in the same field. There’s also an assumption that goes with it that Rivers is good because his father is an NBA coach. Mark Berman’s interview with the Duke freshman guard reminded me that Doc Rivers was away from home more often than not. The NBA season is long and all over the place. His presence may have instilled a respect for the game of basketball, but it did not guarantee his son’s success. Rivers is coming off his best game of the season against Virginia Tech. He finished with 18 points (on 10 shots), a team-leading five assists and four rebounds. He didn’t force things on offense and played very good defense throughout despite being consistently matched up with taller, more experienced players. It may be time to change his narrative yet again.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: Bad news for Harrison Barnes and North Carolina. The sophomore star has a sprained ankle. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t play Saturday at Maryland (Roy Williams tends to overestimate injuries). That said, with Duke looming I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get limited minutes.
  5. ESPN: This post is a few days old, but it’s become surprisingly relevant. Chief of officials John Adams thinks there should be more technical fouls. Since his memo dropped four days ago, I’ve seen at least four or five guys T’d up (Mark Turgeon was ejected against Miami). I’m all for enforcing the technical rules more consistently (and harshly if that keeps games from getting out of hand); however, let’s remember that technical fouls count for two free throws and a personal foul. If you’re going to call more, give players six pesrsonal fouls. No one wants to see someone sit for a single taunt. Also I’d be in favor of moving to one free throw instead of the requisite two. As an example, check out the highlights from Duke’s win over Virginia Tech, as Andre Dawkins gets a technical for taunting (though it looked like he just jogged back on defense).
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ACC Morning Five: 02.02.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 2nd, 2012

Before we get started, Ken Pomeroy offered a very good counter to the flood of compliments about Frank Haith‘s coaching against Texas. It’s worth a read, and I totally agree with it (I’d also add that Rick Barnes’ teams aren’t known for their in-game adjustments).

  1. Winston-Salem Journal: The ACC is struggling with attendance. While Wake Forest reported nearly 13,000 on hand for the North Carolina game, multiple reporters brought light to the large number of empty seats in Lawrence Joel Coliseum. Against North Carolina that shouldn’t happen, even in a bad season. Down in Coral Gables, a “numbers-cruncher” (for the record, I have no idea what that means) counted 1,800 fans on hand to watch Miami take on NC State (the reported attendance was 4,371). The modest attendance was juxtaposed with a horrid shooting night for both teams, with neither able to hit 35% from the field.
  2. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Virginia Tech has a philosophy against Duke: “When you play Duke, first and foremost, you’ve got to match their intensity.” Additionally, “You also have to play through mistakes.” The philosophy worked last season, though both teams looked very different. Seth Greenberg’s squad was anchored by Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen and the Blue Devils had Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. This year Duke’s biggest advantage is inside play, but Erick Green will cause the Blue Devils major problems on the perimeter. There’s no question that Duke is more talented overall, but if the Hokies stick with their philosophy, this road game could be a major challenge for the Blue Devils.
  3. Fayetteville Observer: Bret Strelow caught up with Austin Rivers to talk about Mike Krzyzewski’s criticism after the St. John’s game. Rivers admits the Blue Devils need to work on fighting throughout the whole game and never “letting up” like they did against the Red Storm. I actually agree with Rivers about their defensive struggles. With better communication and overall grit (not giving up), I think this is a solid (not great) defensive team. The question is whether it can keep up the intensity on the defensive end — especially when faced with adversity (like against Ohio State).
  4. Cavalier Daily: Apparently, there used to be a joke about Assane Sene and his lack of coordination. Those jokes dried up a little bit this year. First, Sene improved a lot over the offseason. Second, Mike Scott joined the team and took over the interior offense (saving Sene from from overuse on the offensive end). Now, instead of being the butt of the joke, Virginia students are hoping Sene’s ankle heals up for a run in the NCAA Tournament.
  5. Fox Sports Carolinas: Brad Brownell has a tough decision. Milton Jennings was supposed to be the next big thing at Clemson. He was the school’s first McDonald’s All-American in nearly two decades, but he’s never quite lived up to his potential. Should Jennings have done so, Clemson would be much more dangerous and it would get Brownell lots of street cred in South Carolina with recruits. Here’s to hoping Jennings figures things out, on and off the court. The ACC is better off with a good Clemson team.

EXTRA: Andy Glockner’s newest bracket is out! Only four ACC teams made the cut (NC State was close). Duke sits on the top seed line with a very interesting potential match-up against UNC Asheville and its dynamic backcourt of JP Primm and Matt Dickey. North Carolina finds itself as a #3 seed in Ohio State’s region. The good news is that the Tar Heels would potentially face Missouri in the Sweet Sixteen. Sign me up. Florida State actually gets some pretty good match-ups, though UNLV would be a really tough game. Virginia gets the unsavory task of facing the Buckeyes in the “third” round. The moral of the story is that fake brackets are fun.

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