NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: Second Round – Friday Afternoon

Posted by EJacoby on March 16th, 2012

RTC Region correspondents Brian Otskey (East), Kevin Doyle (South), Evan Jacoby (Midwest) and Andrew Murawa (West) contributed to this preview.

#6 Cincinnati vs. #11 Texas – East Region Second Round (at Nashville, TN) – 12:15 PM ET on CBS

These are two teams with similar statistical profiles but the Texas Longhorns are missing Alexis Wangmene, a big senior forward who would have added an extra body for Rick Barnes to go up against Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates in the paint. With a guard-oriented team and a thin front court, the Longhorns have some difficulty against the physical Bearcats. Cincinnati doesn’t have a deep front line either but Gates is the team’s third leading scorer and a key cog in its offensive flow. Neither team shoots the ball particularly well but Cincinnati has an edge on the perimeter with multiple players who can make a three. Texas ranks sub-200 in defending the triple and that’s something that could cost it the game. Cincinnati is a streaky hit-or-miss team with four capable guards surrounding Gates on the floor. As for Texas, leading scorer J’Covan Brown is pretty much the team’s only major threat. If Cincinnati can lock up Brown defensively, it will win the game rather easily. If Brown manages to get free and score close to his average of 20.1 PPG, the Bearcats will be in for a nail biter. Although Brown is the best player on the floor in this game, the edge has to go to Cincinnati because of its more balanced talent on the perimeter (including limiting turnovers), Gates in the post and the team’s overall experience. The majority of Cincinnati’s rotation is made up of juniors and seniors while four of Texas’ top six scorers are freshmen.

The RTC Certified Pick: Cincinnati.

#6 San Diego State vs. #11 N.C. State – Midwest Region Second Round (at Columbus, OH) – 12:40 PM ET on truTV

Jamaal Franklin is a Ferocious Competitor on Both Ends for SDSU (US Presswire)

A very popular upset pick, North Carolina State comes into this game on a roll having won four of its last five games with the only loss in the ACC Tournament semifinals to North Carolina by one possession. But NC State was on the bubble just one week ago; this team has been inconsistent throughout the season. The Wolfpack lost four games in a row prior to that strong finish to the season. The key to pull this upset will be to keep pressure on a strong SDSU defense, keyed by pounding the ball inside to find points in the paint with C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, and C.J. Williams. It’s doubtful that San Diego State will give Scott Wood any wide open looks from three. The Aztecs, meanwhile, may have the two best overall players in this game with Mountain West Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin (17.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG) and savvy guard Chase Tapley (15.7 PPG, 43.3% three-pointers). Both players shoulder a lot of the scoring load but have been reliable in big games this season against strong MW competition. SDSU is a much stronger defensive team (93.5 defensive efficiency) and holds opponents to 40% shooting from the field. NC State has a 99.9 ‘D’ efficiency and allows too much easy offense. We’ll take the Aztecs, the stronger team all season long that has Sweet Sixteen experience from last season.

The RTC Certified Pick: San Diego State

#8 Creighton vs. #9 Alabama – Midwest Region Second Round (at Greensboro, NC) – 1:40 PM ET on TBS

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SEC NCAA Tournament Primer: Friday/Sunday Games

Posted by Brian Joyce on March 16th, 2012

On Friday, Florida and Alabama open their NCAA Tournament runs facing Virginia and Creighton, respectively. Here we preview the Friday/Sunday possibilities for the Gators and Crimson Tide.

SEC NCAA Tournament Friday/Sunday Capsules

WEST Region 

  • #7 Florida: Tournament appearances: 16; Record 32-14; Best Finish: National Champion – 2006, 2007; Final Four appearances: 4; How Qualified: At-Large, SEC; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, Regional Final
  • #10 Virginia: Tournament appearances: 16; Record 22-16; Best Finish: Final Four – 1981, 1984; Final Four appearances: 2; How Qualified: At-Large, ACC; Last Appearance: 2007 – L, Second Round
  • #2 Missouri: Tournament appearances: 24; Record 22-23; Best Finish: Elite Eight – 2009, 2002, 1994* (vacated by NCAA), 1976, 1944; Final Four appearances: 0; How Qualified: Automatic Bid, Big 12; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, First Round
  • #15 Norfolk State: Tournament appearances: 0; Record 0-0; Best Finish: N/A; Final Four appearances: 0; How Qualified: Automatic Bid, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; Last Appearance: N/A
All-Time Meetings
  • Florida vs Virginia: Virginia leads 1-0; Last Meeting: March 30, 1992 (Virginia 62, Florida 56)
  • Florida vs Missouri: Never met
  • Florida vs Norfolk State: Never met

The Gators Have A Tough Road To Get To The Sweet Sixteen

A Starting 5 of the Top Players Florida Could Face
  • Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State, Sr. C: O’Quinn is the anchor for a Norfolk State team excited for its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. If the Spartans could somehow make it past Missouri, Florida’s Patric Young would battle O’Quinn in the post. The beast of the MEAC averaged 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
  • Mike Scott, Virginia, Sr., F: The Gators will have their hands full with one of the ACC’s top talents. Scott finished the year averaging 18.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game earning him first team All-ACC honors. The forward has been on a tear of late, finishing with a double-double in his last three outings. He scored 28 against Florida State, 35 against Maryland and wrapped up with 23 points in his final game against North Carolina State.
  • Kim English, Missouri, Sr. F/G: English lit it up from three-point land this season, shooting 47.3 percent from downtown. English’s overall shooting percentages improved from 36.6 percent a year ago to a cool 53 percent this season. The improvements he’s made in his offensive game have the Tigers thinking about their first ever Final Four.
  • Marcus Denmon, Missouri, Sr. G: Denmon has shown he can do a little bit of everything. The 6’3″ guard averages 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game to lead a balanced Tigers attack in scoring. Denmon has been consistent, shooting above 40 percent from beyond the arc on the season.
  • Phil Pressey, Missouri, So. G: Pressey is just a sophomore, but he is the court general for the poised Missouri Tigers. Pressey is averaging 10 points, 6.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and over 2 steals per game. He doesn’t always score in bunches, but finds ways to get his teammates involved in the game as evidenced by his double-digit assists in seven games this season.
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ACC Morning Five: 03.14.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2012

  1. The Diamondback: The Maryland student newspaper doesn’t say it, but Terrell Stoglin‘s NBA draft decision comes down to whether or not he gets along with Mark Turgeon. if he does there aren’t many reasons for Stoglin to enter the draft this year, as he’s undersized and yet to show NBA-level passing or defense. However, if he’s unwilling to remain in Maryland’s program, the NBA Draft is probably the way to go (at best, I think he’s a second round pick). Stoglin is a player who would need to prove his worth in the summer league before earning a contract.
  2. Testudo Times: This is a fascinating interview with  Turgeon. He talks about the ACC’s NCAA Tournament chances (even ranking the ACC talent, starting with North Carolina, Florida State, NC State and then Duke); he talks about Stoglin possibly turning pro; he even talks about life as a mid-major and his bracket. These are the kind of interviews I wish every coach would give. Sure, he carries some biases but he also carries a lot of insight. That’s better than the normal coachspeak we hear day in and day out.
  3. Charlotte Observer: Despite claims that John Henson’s wrist injury won’t hurt North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, I think Henson is especially valuable in one-and-done settings where there’s less time for opponents to prepare. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I would expect Henson’s non-conference effect to be much higher than his conference effect, where teams have more tape and general preparation time for the shot-blocking machine. Kendall Marshall may be the Tar Heels’ most valuable offensive player, but Henson allows guards to overplay the perimeter, knowing the lanky junior is available inside to swat field goal attempts.
  4. CSNWashington: I don’t think Chris Knoche gives Tyler Zeller enough credit for his conference performance, but I do think he captures Mike Scott‘s importance very well. I’ll be surprised if Scott isn’t the first senior whose name is called during the NBA Draft. I’m not a draft expert, but Scott’s polished mid-range game is worth a late first-round pick alone.
  5. Orlando Sentinel: [Author's note: How can Florida State/Tallahassee be responsible for T Pain and Creed?] Apparently Roy Jones, Jr., released a rap video complimenting Florida State‘s recent basketball relevance. Seriously, with lyrics like “Step onto the court, hit you with a three, crossover eyes on me. … Jump shot in your face, call me Dulkys,” how could you go wrong?

EXTRA: Forbes has an explanation for the declining attendance in college basketball. Patrick Rishe’s argument rests on two main points: a lack of talent, and a lack of fan connection. I agree — somewhat — with both of his points, although I’d add the increasing popularity of the NBA into the first point, and emphasize high definition and game availability over both points. Even with shortened careers, we live in an age of social media where athletes can interact directly with fans for the first time; the one-and-done rule also increased the amount of talent on the floor for local colleges. The fan connection point is legitimate and true for smaller schools and bigger schools alike.

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ACC Tournament: Three Thoughts On NC State – North Carolina

Posted by mpatton on March 11th, 2012

A lot of controversy surrounded North Carolina‘s 69-67 win over NC State and the officiating. I already wrote my comments on the officiating. This article is about the game.

  • NC State was moving the wrong direction when CJ Leslie fouled out. All of the controversy surrounding the calls that lead to Leslie’s fifth foul overshadowed the events surrounding the game. North Carolina was on a 7-0 run, and NC State’s body language was really bad. Leslie, who up to that point had carried the Wolfpack, looked worse than anyone else. Even the coaching staff was in disarray: Mark Gottfried admitted after the game that he didn’t know it was Leslie’s fifth. But when he fouled out, it fired up NC State–namely Lorenzo Brown–and it finally pushed back to having a chance to win it in the last minute. Two turnovers–the second of which thwarted a wide open game-tying layup by DeShawn Painter–are what directly cost the Wolfpack the game. And give credit to Justin Watts for hustling and getting his hands on that pass when it looked like Painter was all alone.

    Lorenzo Brown Took Over After CJ Leslie Fouled Out.

  • Kendall Marshall played another very good, multi-faceted offensive game. Don’t look now but he’s scored in double figures in each of his last three games shooting 53% from the floor (and 6-11 from beyond the arc). He’s continued his record-setting assist campaign, dishing 10, 12 and 10 dimes in the games. If that continues, North Carolina is really tough to guard.
  • Tyler Zeller had another outstanding game, but he wasn’t able to take it to the next level until NC State bigs got in foul trouble. Obviously, that’s a little bit of a circular argument because guarding him is what got them in foul trouble to begin with. But it will be interesting to see how he performs against Florida State‘s physical front line with limited time from Henson (in the first game Zeller went for 14 points and 14 boards; Henson went 10 points and only 3 boards).
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A Rational Discussion of ACC Officiating

Posted by mpatton on March 11th, 2012

I waited a few hours to write this article because I wanted a chance to digest the game and get past the officiating. Instead it became about the officiating in NC State‘s loss to North Carolina, which I think was bad throughout but also very one-sided. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy in the ACC. I also can guarantee I couldn’t do a better job than the guys on the floor. But I do think that referees, no matter how hard they try not to, come to games with biases that affect 50/50 calls. Officiating requires making a split-second decision. That’s why selling contact is so successful. There’s no slow-mo or replays, and officials can’t even wait to see which way you fall (when they do, everyone including myself rips them for making late calls). Blocks and charges are the most difficult of these calls. Anytime someone falls down there are three choices: block, charge or no-call. But someone could hit the deck at any time. It’s not like players raise their hands and say, “Sir, I’m going to get a little out of control here but not lower my shoulder. Keep an eye on my defender’s feet for me.”

Gottfried Wouldn't Discuss Officiating Afterward

The biases come into play when it’s truly a 50/50 call, but you have to make the call. No matter what, officials are going to know that North Carolina is a good team and Tyler Zeller is a good player. Even if you brought in a top-notch official who’d never heard of Zeller, it wouldn’t take very long for him or her to figure it out. Knowing this, when a 50/50 play happens with Zeller, an official is more likely to give him the benefit of the doubt. In an ideal world, would they see everything and make the right call regardless of the context (player, team, time, etc.)? Yes.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.06.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 6th, 2012

  1. theACC.com: You probably already knew this, but the ACC released its All-ACC teams yesterday headlined by Tyler Zeller (unanimous) and Mike Scott (nearly unanimous). Tomorrow the league will announce its individual awards and we’ll release our own conference awards. The biggest snubs were Kendall Marshall (Harrison Barnes edged him out by two points to make the first team) and Bernard James (who somehow lost to Mason Plumlee).
  2. Streaking the Lawn: Well, he wasn’t snubbed but Mike Scott definitely wasn’t given his due by one or two voters. He finished two points (probably two second-team selections) from being a unanimous first-team selection. Props to Tim Mulholland for taking the only known offender, Caulton Tudor, to task for the omission. You’re welcome to choose Tyler Zeller as your Player of the Year. I waffled between him and Scott more times than I can count. But you can’t leave Scott off the first team. That’s just ridiculous. It’s almost as ridiculous as this headline: “Great Scott Sinks Terps in OT.”
  3. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Tim Tucker sat down with John Swofford for a pretty interesting interview. For those keeping score at home, Swofford called college athletics a “business” twice during the conversation. He also reaffirmed his support for a four-team football playoff and keeping the NCAA tournament at 68 teams amidst discussion of the ACC’s new TV contract renegotiation and the recent NCAA violation issues. All in all, the interview gave a favorable impression of Swofford.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Luke DeCock looks at coaches’ “motivating moments.” Every coach has his own style: Mike Krzyzewski berates his team with a fire (and tongue) you’d never expect from his interview demeanor (or maybe it’s Krzyzewski interviews with a mild manner you’d never expect from his on-court persona); Roy Williams keeps things under control most of the time, but he loses his temper with the best of them. As NC State’s CJ Williams pointed out, “All coaches are pretty much the same [...] when it comes to yelling.”
  5. Fayetteville Observer: Harrison Barnes keeps a list. It’s a list of his goals shaped like an inverted pyramid with “National Championship” sitting at the top. This sort of story is the reason I never doubt that Barnes will have a long, successful professional career. I’m still not sure whether he’s a go-to guy or “just” a 10-year starter in the League, but someone who works this hard to reach his goals will reach many of them.

EXTRA: In semi-ACC-related news, Syracuse is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. Charles Robinson and Pat Forde caught wind that the Orange have been playing team members who failed drug tests. There were at least 10 former players involved, and the NCAA is aware of the problem. I’m not sure what exactly could become of this, but certainly, it’s never good to associate your brand with drugs. Still, many of the infractions are beyond the NCAA’s statute of limitations.

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ACC Game On: 03.04.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on March 4th, 2012

It’s the last day of the regular season, but today will inevitably pass in yesterday’s shadow. While Miami managed to push away Boston College to make its bid for the last bye in the conference tournament, Georgia Tech pulled itself out of the conference cellar with a home court win against Wake Forest. At the top of the conference, however, North Carolina made the biggest play, defeating Duke at Cameron Indoor by 18 points and winning the regular season title outright. All five Tar Heel starters scored double digits with Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and Kendall Marshall all putting up double-doubles. Despite a second half swoon, North Carolina displayed a resiliency that the team hadn’t yet demonstrated against elite competition. Yesterday did a lot to erase those doubts and set up a post-season run.

North Carolina Vaulted Over Duke For The Regular Season Title (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Redemption vs. Legitimacy.

  • Clemson at #19 Florida State at Noon on ESPN2

Florida State has already wrapped up the third seed in the conference tournament, but this game offers a chance at redemption for the Seminoles who endured the early season indignity of a loss to Clemson. For the Tigers, there is a lot more at sake. Somehow, the Tigers have played their way into borderline post-season relevance. If the Tigers can win against Florida State and beat some good teams in the ACC tournament, Clemson has an outside shot at making the NCAA Tournament, an outcome that seemed unlikely a month ago. The Tigers have played well done the stretch, but a bid still seems unlikely. Still, as Jeff Foxworthy once mused, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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ACC Game On: 03.03.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on March 3rd, 2012

A Totally Underhyped Game

  • North Carolina at Duke at 7:00 PM on ESPN

Thte Last Meeting Ended With a Magical Shot ((AP/Jim R. Bounds)

I wish more people knew about this game. Despite the obscurity of each school’s basketball program, these two teams have quietly cultivated a solid if yet underexposed rivalry. When these teams met earlier this season, this hidden gem of a rivalry resulted in an amazing comeback and an impressive buzzer-beater by freshman Austin Rivers. It was quite a highlight, and I only wish that the game had been televised so you would have had the opportunity to glimpse this rare, unseen footage (we found a long forgotten image above). Playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium, North Carolina will have a chance to avenge the shocking loss and win the regular season conference title.

For Duke, replicating its earlier success against North Carolina may be a challenge. The Blue Devils shot 36 three-pointers and connected on 14 of them. Despite the stunning volume of treys, North Carolina’s perimeter defense still remains suspect, and this might be an easier feat to achieve than getting to the line 26 times. Over the last four years only three team-seasons have matched UNC’s opponent free throw rate of 21.1%. Duke will be hard-pressed to replicate the 41.9% mark they managed in Chapel Hill. If Duke is going to win the rematch, I think the Devils will have to find other ways to win. I expect this game to be very close, and at home, it’s hard to pick against Duke. On the other hand, Tyler Zeller has been cutting a swath of destruction across the ACC to close out his final college campaign. Zeller has never won in Cameron (he was injured in 2009) and after his embarrassing role in the loss in Chapel Hill (an inadvertent tip-in and a late contest on Rivers’ shot), I’d be afraid to stand in his way.

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The Best Scoring Wings in the ACC

Posted by KCarpenter on March 2nd, 2012

When we talk about the All-ACC First Team, conventional wisdom holds that a few things are certain. Tyler Zeller and Mike Scott are iron-clad locks. To a lesser extent, John Henson seems fairly likely to make the team as well. That leaves two guard spots. On some level, it seems insane that Kendall Marshall‘s probable third place finish in the conference books for the single-season assist record, but his lack of dominant scoring, defense, and a general unwillingness to place so many Tar Heels on the first team probably hurts Marshall’s chances. The worst thing about this is that the negatives against Marshall probably hurt most of the other point guards in the league as well. As good as Lorenzo Brown has been, if Marshall isn’t going to make the first team, Brown’s chances aren’t looking so great either. For now, let’s set aside true point guards.

How Many of This UNC Trio Will End up as ACC First Teamers? (News-Record)

So, for better or worse, the two guard spots on this team are probably going to go to a pair of dominant wing scorers. Among the candidates, listed in order by points per game, we have Terrell Stoglin, Harrison Barnes, C.J. Harris, Travis McKie, Erick Green, Austin Rivers, Michael Snaer, and Seth Curry. So how do we pick two? These are individual awards, so I don’t feel particularly obligated to award team success, though I know that typically the voters for these honors use that criterion rather heavily. For now though, let’s pretend that Stoglin, Harris, McKie, and Green all have an equal shot.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.02.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 2nd, 2012

  1. Washington Post: This isn’t related to Mark Gianatto’s article, but last night was not a good night for commonwealth basketball. The Virginia Cavaliers started the evening, opening up a solid lead in the second half over Florida State. A win over the Seminoles behind a man’s man performance out of Mike Scott would have worked wonders for a weak NCAA tournament resume and answer Tyler Zeller’s performance against Maryland in the ACC Player of the Year race. Long story short, Virginia blew the lead by allowing a 16-2 Florida State run to close the game before losing on a three from Ian Miller with 0.8 seconds left. Fast forward to Clemson, where by some anti-miracle neither team managed to score in the last 2:45. Watching their teams lose important games while announcers plugged the Duke – North Carolina game hurts. This screenshot of Seth Greenberg from @DarrylSlater  really sums things up.

    Seth Greenberg's Face Speaks for Virginia and Virginia Tech Fans Alike.

    Moving back to the article, Gianatto looks at the silver lining from Victor Davila’s enigmatic injury: more playing time for Cadarian Raines. Raines spent most of the last couple of years sidelined with foot injuries, but he’s stepped up big for Greenberg in Davila’s absence.

  2. Oxford Public Ledger: In the March Madness spirit, here’s a Selection Sunday-style All-ACC team. Tyler Zeller, Mike Scott and John Henson own the three “automatic bids” thanks to terrific conference play. That leaves Michael Snaer, Austin Rivers and  Kendall Marshall duking it out with CJ Leslie, Terrell Stoglin, Kenny Kadji and Harrison Barnes for the other first team spots (in case you can’t tell, I favor two of the first three). That still leaves five spots on the second and third teams available, which will be earned by “bubble” players like Erick Green, Travis McKie, CJ Harris and Seth Curry to fill out the teams (for the record, I like two of those guys to make the second team).
  3. Durham Herald-Sun: He may not be an All-ACC candidate, but Justin Watts doesn’t have any regrets about his time spent in Chapel Hill. Watts sounds like a laid-back guy who is happy to make his team better without any time under the spotlight. Veteran players like Watts are crucial to a team. Bill Simmons in an article earlier this year called Watts’ role “the chemist: “He’s the last guy every starter greets during the introductions, and he’s the guy who waits at midcourt before the opening tap for one last round of “good luck” hugs and hand slaps.”
  4. SCACCHoops.com: If you’ve ever been curious how “Game Sim” works, John Pence wrote a mini-biography of one of the most underrated tools available (especially during the offseason: I can’t count the hours I spent matching up different teams of recent greatness and trying to make sense of the resultant box score). In addition to being a fun time-waster, Game Sim has picked an impressive 80% of ACC games this season; additionally, as more and more data is compiled, it’s getting more and more accurate against the spread. So next time you have a few minutes and want to find out how this year’s Duke team would fare against the Blue Devils’ national championship team from 2010, just hit up Game Sim.
  5. Baltimore Sun: More bad financial news out of College Park. The commission appointed to address Maryland‘s athletic department’s budgetary issues called for the university to cut six more sports (men’s tennis, men’s track and field, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s water polo and women’s acrobatics and tumbling). Kevin Anderson has some tough decisions to make. If the football team looked stronger, one might be able to make the argument that revenues should increase and temporary budget cuts would be enough. But reality sometimes hurts. Maybe in a few years things will be different.

EXTRA: Gene Wojciechowski points out that the ACC may actually be in the driver’s seat in conference realignment. Specifically, the Big Ten will not want the ACC to surround Penn State (which would happen if the conference added Rutgers and Connecticut). I’m not sure if I buy the ACC having that much influence (Jim Delaney, Mike Slive and Larry Scott seem to be running the show), but Wojciechowski definitely makes a strong case.

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ACC Game On: 03.01.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on March 1st, 2012

March is here and the Madness isn’t far off. Last night, NC State won a close one against Miami, helping themselves in the hunt for a bid while taking a little air out of the Hurricanes’ bubble. Meanwhile, in less meaningful news, Boston College managed to win its fourth conference game defeating an increasingly confused-looking Georgia Tech team and pulling themselves into eleventh place. In Chapel Hill, Tyler Zeller closed out his Dean Smith Center career by putting up 30 points and playing some of the best basketball of his career in an ugly “platinum” uniform while Kendall Marshall handily broke the North Carolina single season assist record against a Maryland team that just couldn’t stop a relentless (though often inaccurate) Tar Heel attack.

Battle of the Second Tier

  • #19 Florida State at Virginia at 7:00 PM on ESPN2

The Seminoles are two and half games up on the Cavliers in the conference standings with only two games to go so this isn’t really a battle for third place in the conference, but it sure feels that way. The two defensive powerhouses of the ACC met once before this season in Tallahassee where the home team managed a tough one-possession win. The fact is that these tough, close losses to good teams are starting to catch up to Virginia. Outside of a win against Michigan, what else can the Cavaliers point to? Beating Miami and Drexel? Virginia is a very good team, but they don’t really have an impressive résumé. Beating ranked Florida State would help to strengthen the Wahoos position heading into the ACC tournament. Meanwhile, the Seminoles have faltered down the stretch losing their past two games, which is equal to the number of losses they had in 2012 before the skid. Barring a total collapse,  Florida State probably is already a near-lock to go dancing. It would be nice for Florida State to win this game, but the Seminoles don’t need it like the Cavaliers do. At home, I like Mike Scott to close out his time in Charlottesville with a bang.

Crouching Tigers As Hidden Dragon?

  • Virginia Tech at Clemson at 9:00 PM on ACC Network Affiliates and ESPN3.com

Very quietly, the Clemson has reached the .500 mark in conference play. With wins against Florida State, Virginia, and Saturday’s win over NC State, the Tigers have put themselves in a very interesting position. If Clemson wins tonight against the Hokies (no guarantee since they lost their first match-up) and manages to win again against Florida State to finish out the season, Brad Brownell‘s team will be positioned to play two very winnable games in the ACC Tournament and have a shot at snagging another marquee win or two. Looking at the Clemson’s list of bad losses, the Tigers look very sketchy. Still, though it’s a long shot, I think the Tigers do have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. Or at least getting tantalizingly close just in time to get shot down on Selection Sunday. In any case, this long shot is going to make tonight’s game a little awkward. Seth Greenberg knows.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.01.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 1st, 2012

Be warned: there will be a lot of ACC Player of the Year talk.

  1. Sports Illustrated: But before we get to ACC Player of the Year banter, it’s time to talk Kendall Marshall. Marshall is really hard to pin down. He’s the lynchpin in North Carolina’s offense, maximizing the efficiency of Roy Williams’ very talented machine, but he rarely scores himself. Luke Winn took a look at four crucial (but very different) point guards to analyze their turnovers. If you have ever watched a North Carolina game, it won’t surprise you 80% of Marshall’s turnovers come on “bad passes.” More surprising is that Marshall hasn’t traveled all season. Like always, Winn’s articles are worth a read.
  2. ESPN: Robbi Pickeral picked her ACC Player of the Year and Coach of the Year yesterday (a larger panel of experts picked without explanations too). Tyler Zeller is in a two-man race with Mike Scott, but Coach of the Year still has plenty of contenders. Pickeral chose Zeller and Leonard Hamilton; the experts overwhelmingly chose Zeller and picked Mike Krzyzewski by a 7-3 margin over Hamilton (Tony Bennett and Jim Larranga also received votes). I’m not sure why Pickeral makes multiple allusions to the fact that North Carolina is really talented and will split votes. It’s true that John Henson and Zeller will probably steal votes from one another, but saying that’s the only reason Scott would win is a huge disservice to the season Scott put together.
  3. SCACCHoops.com: In a related note,this article looks at Mike Scott’s case for Player of the Year. Zeller’s numbers appear better at a glance, but the Tar Heels have played 400 more possessions than Scott. This is the problem with comparing points or rebounds a game at face value. Scott’s 17 points and eight rebounds a game carry more weight in an offense that uses fewer possessions than Zeller’s 16 and nine. For effect, Will Ojanen falsely inflates Scott’s stats by adjusting for North Carolina’s tempo and deflates Zeller’s to Virginia’s tempo: Scott would “theoretically” average 21 points and ten rebounds a game; Zeller would average 12 and seven. In reality stats don’t scale like that, but you should also understand that Scott’s 17 points and Zeller’s 16 points are different too. The most understated part of this article is how much better Zeller is on defense.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Norm Wood profiles Scott, looking at the influence of his father. Growing up the son of a 20-year veteran taught Scott discipline, but also how to adapt to new environments. There’s no doubt both qualities were instrumental in making Scott the success he is, having gone through multiple coaches and a season-ending injury on the way to his hallmark season.
  5. Poynter and Awful Announcing: You might have heard about the media “controversy” where Shane Ryan (of Tobacco Road Blues and formerly Seth Curry Saves Duke fame) was denied a credential to the Duke – North Carolina game this weekend, even though he requested it through Grantland. Poynter does a phenomenal job following up on the details (how many credentials were issued, Richard Deitsch’s follow-up reporting and Duke’s response). Awful Announcing covers more background on Ryan including tying the current events back to what originally got Ryan noticed (his terrific rant, which in my opinion remains the best of his work even if he apologized for it later).

EXTRA: Suffice to say Virginia‘s student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, joined the club of Cavalier fans not happy about the officiating in the loss to North Carolina. My favorite part is the philosophical rant on flopping and excellence.

EXTRA EXTRA: Boston College won the game for the #11 seed in the ACC Tournament against Georgia Tech 56-52 thanks to a hot start and the fortitude to just hold on as the Yellow Jackets made their run late in the second half. You can relive the game through the eyes of Eagle fans with all of its ups and downs.

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