Florida State Hangs On to Win at Clemson, But Same Flaws Remain

Posted by mpatton on January 5th, 2013

Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an ACC Microsite writer and RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s ACC clash between Florida State and Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum.

On the first possession of its conference opener at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon, Florida State looked like the defending conference champions. The Seminoles forced a shot clock violation with its suffocating ball pressure and two blocks near the rim. That possession fueled their fire, as the Seminoles ran out to a double-figure lead behind great shooting — specifically from Okaro White (who made three early three-point field goals) and Ian Miller (who hit both of his shots from deep). At one point Michael Snaer singlehandedly forced a Clemson turnover in the backcourt. Clemson bounced back somewhat, but still trailed by 13 at the half.

Florida State really misses Bernard James on defense.

Florida State really misses the days of the vaunted Bernard James Chris Singleton defense.

The second half was a different story. The Seminoles looked entitled, not determined. Snaer allowed the officials to frustrate him and Clemson slowly but surely climbed back into the game. The Tigers forced some untimely turnovers, hit big shots and killed FSU on the boards. Luckily for (and probably thanks to) Florida State, Milton Jennings was horrible all game. He committed five turnovers, and made several crucial defensive mistakes down the stretch. FSU escaped with a 71-66 win, but a victory doesn’t disguise the fact that Florida State’s defense was undressed in the second half. They had no answer to Devin Booker once he got the ball. Booker finished 8-of-11 from the field for 19 points and 11 boards. He looked unstoppable and Florida State’s front line looked soft or uncoordinated depending on its personnel.

That said, Florida State has some positives to take away from this game. First and foremost, it survived in a hostile environment when the whistle was blowing the other way most of the afternoon. Also Snaer looked pedestrian on offense. White had a great first half, showing off his potential, before playing the role of wallflower for much of the second half. Long story short, the Seminoles have a long way to go and an uphill battle to fight before Selection Sunday — this team needs to get a lot better.

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A “Two Headed Monster” at Point Guard for Florida State

Posted by KDoyle on November 17th, 2012

Kevin Doyle is an RTC correspondent, you can find him on Twitter @KLDoyle11. He filed this report after Friday night’s game between Florida State and BYU in New York City.

Bernard James may have been Florida State’s best player last season, but filling the void at point guard after graduation claimed Luke Loucks was the bigger task for Leonard Hamilton entering the 2012-13 campaign. Going by the numbers, Loucks’ would appear replaceable (7.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.3 APG), while James nearly averaged a double-double and without question was the Seminoles’ top rebounder. But, like any basketball fan knows, an offense’s success begins and ends with the point guard. One wouldn’t think that the Seminole backcourt would be a looming issue entering the season with potential All-American Michael Snaer coming back for his senior year, but it has been a question Leonard Hamilton has grappled with in the early going.

Leonard Hamilton Got the Kind of Performance He Hoped For Friday Night

For Florida State, you see, they didn’t know who their point guard would be heading into the season. Michael Snaer is an exceptional guard in every facet: shooter, passer, defender, ball-handler, you name it. There’s a reason, after all, he is a candidate for an All-America team at season’s end. But, Snaer is not a point guard. Ian Miller is the prototypical steady two guard — despite conjecture that he would slide in and fill the point guard hole — someone who can hit the open shot and is regarded as more of a playmaker than facilitator.

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ACC M5: 11.07.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 7th, 2012

  1. Tampa Bay Times: It’s entirely possible that Michael Snaer was not going to return to Tallahassee and Florida State. After a sensational junior year where Snaer helped to lead his school to one of its best seasons ever, it would be hard to blame the gifted shooting guard for taking his talents to the NBA. Yet Snaer came back, brimming with confidence and a reputation that clearly makes him an all-ACC favorite on both the offensive and defensive ends. Despite losing a great deal of depth to graduation, Snaer’s leadership, defense, and clutch shooting will again make Florida State a consistently dangerous team.
  2. Shelby Star:  Snaer isn’t alone of course. Leonard Hamilton has recruited and developed a roster filled with skilled athletes, including two players from the Charlotte area. Ian Miller and Terry Whisnant will help to fill the voids left by Luke Loucks and Deividas Dulkys, offering a devastating perimeter attack that should help the Seminoles continue their often back-breaking rain of threes. One of the most underrated aspects of Hamilton’s tenure at Florida State has been his ability to effectively recruit players like Miller and Whisnant away from the back yards of the four Tobacco Road schools. Hamilton’s ties to the area as a Gastonia native has enabled him to effectively recruit North Carolina players to venture south to Tallahassee. Tobacco Road may regret that even more when Miller and Whisnant begin their barrage of three-pointers.
  3. Ledger-Inquirer: While Florida State is relying on the skill of its improved backcourt players, Georgia Tech is looking to the frontcourt for answers. Kammeon Holsey and Daniel Miller were two bright spots in a disappointing season that saw first year coach Brian Gregory trying to hold together a patchwork and mentally weak team. Holsey and Miller, however, emerged as gifted and fierce rebounders on both ends of the court. With the younger Glen Rice now out of the picture, the junior pair figure to be featured more prominently in Georgia Tech’s game plan, a sound idea considering the relatively low usage but high offensive efficiencies of the pair during their sophomore campaigns.
  4. Fox Sports: Reggie Johnson wants to know why you aren’t talking about Miami. The big (maybe biggest) man looks at his teammates and sees a host of talented veterans and a proven coach in Jim Larranaga and he is frustrated that the Hurricanes are not afforded the fawning that North Carolina and Duke receive. He has a point. The case for Miami as an ACC contender is strong, and yet there is plenty of reason for skepticism. The Hurricanes have spent a lot of time looking good on paper, but not nearly enough time winning on the court (particularly in the postseason). Injuries, coaching changes, and extenuating circumstances have always offered an excuse for Miami, but this year, there is nothing left to do but prove it. Miami is capable of winning the ACC championship this season, but they have to do it on the court.
  5. Fayetteville Observer: This is the time of year when coaches are always talking up their players. It’s as reliable as the turning of the leaves, the shortening of the days, and the sure fall chill that creeps into the air. So maybe it’s best not to read too much into what Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has to say about Alex Murphy, but it’s getting fairly impossible to ignore: Murphy has the look and build of the second coming of Kyle Singler, offering his coach a similar rangy forward skill set that will let Duke stretch the floor without playing small on the defensive end. Whether or not Murphy matches Singler’s undeniable skill, he should at least be able to fit a little more neatly into some of the plays and sets designed for the former NCAA Tournament MOP.
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ACC M5: 11.01.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 1st, 2012

  1. Wilmington Star News: Brett Friedlander is putting out some good stuff in previewing the ACC season. Today his Maryland preview came online. Sophomore Nick Faust describes why people should expect improvement from the Terrapins despite losing their only offensive option in Terrell Stoglin: “When I first got in last year, I definitely felt as though the team was separated — not separated, but we definitely weren’t as close as we are now. All of us bond together, even the new guys that came in. We’re just more together; we’re one.” If Faust makes the improvement most are forecasting, this is a team that could feasibly make a run for the NCAA Tournament (regardless of computer rankings). They’ve definitely got an uphill road ahead, but it’s a legitimate possibility.
  2. Rome News-Tribune: Georgia Tech needs its frontcourt to step up this season if the Yellow Jackets are going to make the leap to middle of the pack in the conference. Juniors Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey both improved significantly as last year went along — Miller scored in double figures in eight of his last 10 games. But Georgia Tech desperately needs more offense this season, and that frontcourt duo should be able to help senior Mfon Udofia carry the scoring load.
  3. Greensboro News-Record: The NC State hype is real. At least fans are buying into it, quite literally. With their highest preseason ranking since ranking first in 1974, the Wolfpack have already sold 1,900 more season tickets than last year, which is the highest season ticket sales have been in five years. If Mark Gottfried and his team can deliver on the hype, expect ticket sales to keep climbing. Fans should get their money’s worth, even if the Wolfpack don’t finish as the sixth ranked team in the country. This team will be fun to watch, especially on the offensive end.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: People often point to freshmen when talking about why young teams struggle, but it’s the veterans who also have to accept new roles. Last season, Ian Miller and Okaro White were two incredibly important reserves for Florida State: Miller’s job was to come in and put up quick points; White’s job was to give Bernard James a breather. This year both will have to be leaders by helping integrate the new freshmen to Leonard Hamilton’s system. If they succeed, the freshmen will find their roles much faster and this team could win the conference. If they don’t, the team could find itself sneaking into the NCAA tournament.
  5. ACCSports.com: David Glenn cleaned up at the ACC’s “Operation Basketball” this season, recording interviews with most of the conference’s top players. The best news? Most of them are compiled in the same place, so you can listen to Michael Snaer talk Florida State, Julian Gamble talk Miami, or Jarell Eddie talk Virginia Tech. Probably good to get a little listening in, as ACC basketball season starts just over a week from today.

VIDEO UPDATE: Uncle Drew (aka Kyrie Irving) is back.

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The ACC Argument: SI’s Preseason Conference Rankings

Posted by mpatton on October 25th, 2012

Andy Glockner revealed his preseason conference rankings — quite impressively giving nearly as many words to the SWAC as the Big Ten — with the ACC coming in at fifth behind all of the power conferences except the Pac-12 (#8). Glockner’s top two make sense. The Big Ten and Big East both have fewer questions than the other conferences. Also, it’s a safe bet based on the past couple of seasons that those two will be on top of the college basketball totem poll.

Does the National Media Still Doubt Leonard Hamilton?

However, ranking the Big 12, SEC and ACC raises a few more questions. The first issue is weighting the depth of the conference against the quality of the best teams. Is it better to have a strong top or a decent bottom? Both certainly enhance a conference’s standing, but it says here that a strong top is more important. After Kansas, the Big 12 is a mess. It’s true most of those teams will be good, but does one great team (that’s headlined by Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, and some talented freshmen) make for the third best conference in the country? The SEC is a different story. Kentucky, Missouri and Florida have the potential to be great. Tennessee and Alabama should be good. But are those five better than the ACC’s top five? Also can any fan expect consistent results from Frank Haith?

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ACC M5: 10.22.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 22nd, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Veterans Ian Miller and Michael Snaer are really excited about the freshmen joining the team this season. Snaer specifically lauded Aaron Thomas, Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon as potential stars on this year’s team. Thomas has Snaer’s “can’t stop me” attitude which should make him an elite scorer, but Bookert may hold the key for Florida State making the next step with his ball-handling skills. The biggest issue with the last few Seminole teams has been offense, and most of the team’s offensive woes come from turning the ball over too frequently. If Bookert can run the offense and reduce the team’s turnover rate, look out.
  2. Associated Press (via Winston-Salem Journal): Apparently Reggie Johnson‘s dieting has started to work. The Miami big man started the season two years ago at a whopping 330 pounds and reportedly is now down to 290. He’s still got a ways to go, but believes his diet is helping. If he can play superstar minutes and can run the floor better, Johnson will make a run at becoming the ACC’s best big man. He’s already probably the league’s most polished returning half-court post player, but his weight keeps him from being elite. That said, take Johnson’s words with a grain of salt. It’s a little weird he pointed to his weight two years ago instead of last year (albeit when he was rehabbing a knee injury).
  3. Greensboro News-Record: David Morrison went to Duke’s Operation Basketball and got some interesting notes. First, Coach K is looking for major increases in offensive production from Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry this year. Krzyzewski wants this team’s offense to be less balanced, though Rasheed Sulaimon will definitely be an offensive factor if he lives up to his hype. Morrison also talked with Plumlee about Krzyzewski’s reaction to the Blue Devils’ less-that-stellar finish last season.
  4. Blogger So Dear: Most schools taking international trips already finished them, but Jeff Bzdelik and his young Demon Deacon team headed to Canada and won two exhibition games against Brock University and Ryerson University, 84-79 and 88-80, respectively. CJ Harris and Tyler Cavanaugh led the way for Wake Forest against Brock, scoring 16 points apiece in the win (Harris also added five assists and Cavanaugh grabbed nine rebounds). Saturday Travis McKie starred, finishing with 26 points. Freshmen Cody Miller-McIntyre and Cavanaugh also scored in double figures.
  5. CBSSports.com: Snaer isn’t the only one talking some trash this offseason. Dexter Strickland isn’t too worried about NC State being picked first in the ACC.

    “They talk those guys up every single year and we beat them every single year [...] They are the least of our worries. Beat us one year and then they can talk smack. Until then, you can’t put them in the mix.”

    He also felt pretty strongly about the NCAA Tournament outcome if North Carolina hadn’t been hampered by injuries.

    “I’ll be honest. If nobody got hurt, you might as well have given us the trophy. Nobody had the ability to stop us.”

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ACC Summer Recess: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by KCarpenter on August 2nd, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Florida State.

Where They Stand Now

Leonard Hamilton Is Riding High in the ACC

Florida State is riding high. Last season probably constitutes the second best season in Florida State history, trailing only the 1971-72 season where the Seminoles won 28 games and played in the national championship game. The 2011-12 season’s 25 wins, ACC Tournament victory and two wins over the perennial powers of Duke and North Carolina marks the most successful season of Florida State’s tenure in the conference. Leonard Hamilton has transformed the Seminoles into one of the conference’s premier powers and a surefire contender for the conference title on a regular basis. Outside a disappointing loss to Cincinnati  in their second game of the NCAA Tournament, it would have been hard for fans in Tallahassee to envision a better season.

Who’s Leaving

Unfortunately, the downside of a team filled with seasoned seniors is that they all graduate. Bernard James, Deividas Dulkys, Xavier Gibson, Luke Loucks, Jeff Peterson, and Jon Kreft are all graduating, taking the bulk of rotation minutes with them. Having a lot of players leave because they are graduating seniors is a good problem for a team to have. Not so good? Transfers. Freshman Antwan Space is transferring to Texas A&M after seeing little to no playing time in the past season, further shrinking the Seminole frontcout.

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Providence: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by mlemaire on April 19th, 2012

Our apologies for plagiarizing borrowing the ideas of our colleagues over at the Pac-12 microsite, but we liked their post-mortem team breakdowns so much that we decided to replicate them with our conference. So over the course of the next two weeks, we will break down each team’s season, starting from the bottom of the conference standings. Next up is Providence.

What Went Wrong

If you were one of the few dreamers who thought Providence could make a run to the NCAA Tournament this season, then you probably thought a lot went wrong. But if you were realistic about new coach Ed Cooley‘s first season in charge of the Friars, then you probably weren’t too disappointed in the way the season went. Basically the Friars cruised through a relatively easy out-of-conference schedule before being exposed by the better teams in the Big East.

It didn’t help that Kadeem Batts was suspended for the first semester of the season and there were grumblings about discontent in the locker room which led to a number of key transfers. On the court, the defense was the primary issue as the team finished 212th in defensive efficiency and 13th in the conference in scoring defense. Offensively the team had plenty of weapons, but they didn’t shoot it very much from behind the three-point arc and they were much too inconsistent, especially against better defensive teams.

What Went Right

LaDontae Henton Was A Revelation For The Friars This Season (credit: Providence Journal)

Although perception and opinion can change quickly in college basketball, Cooley’s hiring brought a lot of energy and optimism for a program lacking both after the Keno Davis era. Snagging big man LaDontae Henton after arriving at Providence proved to be an excellent move as the freshman was a consistent double-double threat and should only get better next season. Point guard Vincent Council missed one game for undisclosed reasons but for most of the season he was one of if not the best point guard in the Big East, and the development of sophomore wings Bryce Cotton and Gerard Coleman should give the Friar faithful plenty to look forward to, especially considering how loaded the backcourt will be next season. Batts was only okay after his return from suspension, but he and rising sophomore Brice Kofane give the team some interior depth heading into next season as well.

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Rushed Reaction: #3 Florida State 66, #14 St. Bonaventure 63

Posted by David Changas on March 16th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Survive and Advance.  Florida State did not want to become the 15th team  – and only the fourth since 2000 – to lose as a #3 seed in the round of 64.  The Seminoles used an impressive second-half defensive effort – holding St. Bonaventure to 11-31 from the floor – and were able to hold off the upset-minded Bonnies.  FSU allowed St. Bonaventure to shoot 46% in the first half, which led to a six-point deficit at the break.  Florida State is known for its ferocious halfcourt defense, and that is what carried it through to the third round.  The Seminoles were also able to neutralize St. Bonaventure star Andrew Nicholson, who got off to a hot start with 10 points in the first eight minutes of the game, but finished with only 20.
  2. Seminoles Win without Much from Snaer.   The Seminoles’ leading scorer, Michael Snaer was held scoreless on the day for the first time in his career. Snaer, a second-team All-ACC performer, got into early foul trouble and played only five minutes in the first half.  He was a non-factor in the second and took only seven shots, going 0-5 from three. Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton has to be pleased that his team was able to overcome the odds considering such a poor performance from its best player to move on.
  3. A Perplexing Finish.  After Florida State missed two of three free throws late, St. Bonaventure had a chance to tie with a late three.  The Bonnies had the ball in the frontcourt with 20 seconds remaining but had no timeouts left.  Florida State guarded the perimeter ferociously, leaving Da’Quan Cook with a two-point attempt with nine seconds left.  After Cook rebounded his miss, rather than pass to a teammate for a three, he went back up with it and time expired.  It was an inexplicable ending to a hard-fought game.

Star of the Game. Bernard James, Florida State. On this day, Florida State does not advance without the play of Bernard James.  Given the off afternoons that the team’s two leading scorers, Ian Miller and Snaer had (eight combined points), James’ performance was a necessity.  He ended up with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Quotable.   “Give Florida State credit. They defended very well in the second half.  But we did what we needed to do; we just came up short.  It was a terrific college basketball game.” – St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt

Sights and Sounds.  St. Bonaventure, which appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000, had a raucous and creative group of fans on hand in Nashville.  Florida State’s smaller contingent got very loud themselves after the Seminoles clawed back and took the lead. The Tomahawk Chop was out in full force on Friday.

What’s Next?  Third-seeded Florida State now looks to its matchup with sixth-seeded Cincinnati in what promises to be a defensive war.  Don’t expect a lot of offense in Sunday’s game.

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Bracket Prep: Michigan State, Florida State, Vanderbilt, St. Bonaventure, Long Beach State, & New Mexico State

Posted by EJacoby on March 11th, 2012

Selection Sunday is here! We’ve been providing you with summaries of every automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and this post concludes all of the conference tourney winners. Big Ten, SEC, ACC, A-10, Big West, and WAC were the last ones to complete their championships. Here’s everything you need to know.

Michigan State

Draymond Green is the Force Behind the Spartans' Strong Attack (AP Photo/A. Goldis)

  • Big Ten Champion (27-7, 16-5)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #4/#3/#3
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +17.3
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #1

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. After winning the Big Ten Tournament, expect Michigan State to steal the last #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There’s nothing that this team hasn’t done to deserve the top line. 27-7 against the #1 strength of schedule, co-champion of the best conference in the country, and Big Ten Champions. This is a classic Tom Izzo team that’s ferocious on the boards and executes efficiently on both offense and defense. The Spartans run through their Big Ten Player of the Year, but this is a deep team that relies on many contributors in different areas. A late season ACL injury to blossoming freshman forward Branden Dawson was horrible news and is potentially devastating. But Dawson was still not much of an offensive factor and the team won the Big Ten Tournament without him, showing an ability to adapt.
  2. Draymond Green is the Big Ten Player of the Year who does everything that you want in a senior star leader. 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game is what Green provides. The 45% field goal percentage doesn’t look great until you realize that Green does much of his work on the perimeter, including hitting the most three-pointers on the team. The rest of this team is loaded with strong athletes and defenders, from the interior duo of Derrick Nix and Adriean Payne to the perimeter players Keith Appling and Brandon Wood, and beyond to the reserves. Appling is crucial to this team as the playmaking point guard with explosive agility to make plays for his teammates and himself.
  3. Most things in March Madness are unpredictable, but one of the few guarantees is that Tom Izzo’s teams will play their best basketball in the NCAA Tournament. This Izzo team is loaded and ready to dance with as difficult a combination to beat as nearly anyone in the country. A +17.3 adjusted scoring margin is the fourth best in the nation, led my MSU’s elite defense. The Spartans allow just 37.7% defensive field goal shooting, the second best in the land. Their 89.9 defensive efficiency also ranks in the top 10. Throw in their own 47.7% field goal shooting, and this team’s shooting percentage disparity is fantastic, which is always a top formula for success. Their 55.2% rebound percentage is top 10 in the nation, as well. The numbers look great for Michigan State. But this team just lost its best athlete to the ACL injury and it doesn’t have the amount of elite scorers that a usual #1 seed does. Instead, this team is so efficient defensively that it will be difficult to knock off. Teams that gave Michigan State trouble were those that caught fire from the outside while holding their own defensively, like Indiana. Expect an awesome clash of styles between MSU and its opponent in a Sweet Sixteen matchup, if it can avoid an upset from the 8-9 seed, or 10-7 seed if it receives a #2 seed.

Florida State

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ACC Season Wrap-Up and Tournament Preview

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2012

First, here’s a quick preview of the ACC Tournament. You can find the rest of the power rankings after the jump.
The two Thursday games you should keep a close eye on are Clemson – Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest – Maryland. I trust Miami and NC State will have no trouble putting away their opponents, though Georgia Tech has played a couple of very good games this year.
While North Carolina is the prohibitive favorite, I think Florida State probably has the second best chance. Hear me out: Duke is playing without Ryan Kelly, which means the Plumlees and Hairston are it inside; factor in a history of ignoring the conference tournament for North Carolina combined with Kendall Marshall feeling “tired,” and I think you’ve got a recipe for a team not from North Carolina to win the ACC Tournament for the first time since Maryland in 2004.
I also expect strong runs from bubble teamers NC State and Miami, as both try to secure their at-large hopes with another marquee win.
  1. North Carolina (27-4, 14-2) – It’s funny how the difference between a successful season can come down to one game. Had North Carolina lost to Duke at Cameron, people would’ve pointed to the Tar Heels’ lofty preseason expectations and how they came up short. Instead, Roy Williams’ squad finally showed the world just why it was ranked so high early in the season. Kendall Marshall hit shots, the defense clicked and the game felt over by the first media timeout. Now the Tar Heels have the inside track for a one-seed, owning the head-to-head victory with Michigan State that will definitely come in handy. There are still legitimate questions about North Carolina’s intensity, but if that intensity is in the ballpark of Saturday night opponents should be scared. Don’t pencil the Tar Heels into the Final Four before seeing the ACC Tournament. This team’s worst enemy until the final weekend will be itself. One person in particular to keep you eye on is Marshall. He was snubbed from first-team All-ACC (he missed by two votes), so I expect him to come out aggressively Friday. He’s also shows recent offensive improvement, coming up with two of his best performances of the year in rivalry games against NC State and Duke. When he’s taking and hitting open looks, the Tar Heels are impossible to guard.
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ATB: Conference Tourneys Heat Up, Oregon Impresses, and Another FSU Buzzer-Beater…

Posted by EJacoby on March 2nd, 2012

Tonight’s Lede. On the first night of March, the college basketball slate did not disappoint. It was another packed night around the country, featuring some important Pac-12 action and bubble teams blowing opportunities in home games. We also have our first conference tournament final matchup set, as VMI and UNC-Asheville both completed 20-point victories to advance to the championship of the Big South Tournament. There was much quarterfinal action in other tournaments as well. But first, we highlight a crazy finish in the ACC that left the home team stunned and the visitors in a familiar place — victorious after a game-winning shot…

Your Watercooler Moment. Another Seminole Game-Winner.

The previous two times, it was Michael Snaer. On Thursday night, it was Ian Miller. For the third time this season, Florida State converted a game-winning three-point bucket to give the Seminoles a dramatic win. Virginia led 58-47 with under five minutes to play before the ‘Noles made a late surge that culminated in Miller’s buzzer-beater. This result also has major implications in the ACC, as FSU avoided a three-game losing streak to clinch the #3 seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament. Virginia, meanwhile, is in a bit of trouble after this loss. The Cavaliers now drop to 8-7 in the ACC, tied with NC State, Miami, and Clemson. Despite still being ranked in the Top 25, UVA has to start getting a bit worried about its NCAA Tournament status. The Cavaliers are 21-8 overall but don’t have a particularly strong overall profile, with just one top-40 win that came over Michigan in November. They have the #226 non-conference strength of schedule that includes a bad loss to TCU early in the year. They have an RPI of #39 that will be falling as well — not exactly lock status anymore. Virginia should be alright going forward if it can get a win at Maryland in its season finale, but a loss in that one on Terrapin Senior Night will definitely spell some worries for Tony Bennett’s team.

Tonight’s Quick Hits…

  • Kentucky Won’t Let Up. Throughout the grueling conference season, nearly all teams end up slipping up at least once along the way. Trap games, long flights, three games in a week — there are plenty of excuses that teams use for poor performances. But John Calipari’s team has played at an elite level the entire season. UK, which leads the country in scoring margin, hammered Georgia from the start on Thursday night to remain undefeated in the SEC heading into its season finale in Gainesville this weekend. Don’t expect a letdown from this team in that one.
  • No Howland Hangover. Just one day removed from the Sports Illustrated article that shed light on Ben Howland’s loss of control over the UCLA program, the Bruins did not seem at all distracted on the court. UCLA dominated Washington State for a 32-point victory, led by Lazeric Jones’ and Tyler Lamb’s combined 34 points and 10 assists. How crazy would it be if this team shut everyone up and made a run in the Pac-12 Tournament to win the conference and advance to the NCAA Tournament? It’s certainly possible, given the Bruins’ talent and the overall weak state of the Pac-12.  Read the rest of this entry »
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