Tag:ACC tournament
Posted on: March 13, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2011 3:38 pm

Welcome to the Dance, Duke Blue Devils

Yes, it does seem a bit funny to welcome the defending national champs to the Big Dance, which they basically own until proven unworthy, but that's how we roll. You win an auto bid, you get the treatment.

Duke ran UNC out of the gym from the beginning, but Carolina fought the lead down to single digits in the second half before Nolan Smith took the game in hand and closet out the 75-58 victory that should lead to a top seed for the Blue Devils. Smith had 20 points and 10 assists. Seth Curry and Kyle Singler pitched in 11 points apiece, and Miles Plumlee, Andre Dawkins and Ryan Kelly each scored 9.

That balance should once again serve the defending champs well as they attempt to visit Houston and make it a national title repeat.

The Vitals

Player to watch: Nolan Smith. He has the ball in his hands on almost every play, and he makes excellent decisions. His line in the ACC championship illustrates that very well. When he didn't score it himself, he pitched the ball to someone who could.

Record: 30-4 (13-3)
Colors: Blue and white
Kenpom rating: 2
RPI: 4
Best win: North Carolina (twice)
Worst loss: Florida State
Interesting fact: Does Duke have any real weaknesses? They're a mediocre defensive rebounding team. That's about it.
Last tourney appearance: Not much. Just messed around and got another national championship.

Posted by Eric Angevine
Posted on: March 12, 2011 7:21 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 8:16 pm

Get ready for round 3 of Duke vs. North Carolina

Well, the big game we've all been waiting for is here for its third incarnation this season. Those are always the best years.

Duke and UNC will meet for a third time with the ACC auto bid on the lineNorth Carolina (26-6, 14-2) got here the hard way, needing big shots from Tyler Zeller in two consecutive games to survive and advance. The good news is that freshman Harrison Barnes has begun to deliver on his preseason promise with regularity in the postseason.

The knock on Barnes has always been that he seems to float through games. When the Heels were losing, and he was struggling to learn the UNC offense, it made him look lazy and disinterested. Like everyone on the team, he was at least somewhat thrown off course by the too-long experiment with Larry Drew II as the primary ballhandler. When Kendall Marshall took over, the entire UNC team found easier sledding, and Barnes' in-game movements began to look more like unflappable confidence and economy of motion.

Marshall has been a revelation as well. Similar to Barnes, his expression rarely changes when he's on the floor. He looks like a veteran, and perhaps by this point in the season, he is. He clearly understands how to run Roy Williams' team properly, using the various pieces as they should be used.

Carolina's true strength this season has been inside play, which was a severe area of concern in the wake of an offseason transfer to UCLA by the massive Wear twins. Turns out, Tyler Zeller and John Henson complement one another so well that the lack of depth hasn't been much of an issue. 6-foot-9 grad student Justin Knox -- who transferred from Alabama in order to bolster the UNC depth chart -- gets about 15 minutes per game, and that has been more than sufficient so far.

For Duke (29-4, 13-3), the good news has been that all toe injuries are not created equal. Freshman Kyrie Irving is still out, but senior Nolan Smith was able to play through. Smith stepped on another player's foot in Friday night's quarterfinal win over Maryland, and didn't return for much of the second half. He got a shot in the offending digit before the semifinal revenge game with Virginia Tech, and played well, scoring 27 points to go with 6 assists in the relatively easy 77-63 victory.

Smith's primary sidekick is sharpshooter Seth Curry, who had to sit out Duke's championship season after transferring from Liberty University the prior year. Curry's forte is the jump shot, and range is no problem. The sophomore shot 43 percent from three point land over the course of the season. Dont' let his sleepy expression fool you: this kid wants to see what the Final Four is like from the vantage point of the court.

For a brief stretch, dating back to Duke's 79-73 home win over the Tar Heels, senior forward Kyle Singler appeared to be in a slump. No more. He may have yielded the title of team MVP to Smith, but Singler is back to his old ways; bamboozling opposing forwards with his strength, skill and shooting stroke. In the ACC tourney thus far, he has gone for 29 points and 9 rebounds vs. Maryland, and then 13 points and 11 rebounds against Virginia Tech. He looks ready to lead his team to the promised land once again.

In something of a bizarro twist, a fast-paced championship game may actually favor Duke, with its quick, penetrating guards, rather than the usually speedy Tar Heels. Roy Williams will try to establish his big men early and hope for another great game from Marshall and Barnes, while Coach K has the luxury of putting the ball in the hands of two proven senior leaders.

ACC tournament bracket

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 12, 2011 7:11 pm
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Posted on: March 12, 2011 3:50 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 5:09 pm

Ty Zeller is UNC's Mr. Clutch

Posted by Eric Angevine

Here comes a UNC guard with the ball, DON'T LOOK AT HIM!

Tyler Zeller has come up clutch for UNCOK, one of you defenders can look at him, but woe betide you if everyone looks at him, because that means Ty Zeller is creeping up behind you, ready to make you regret your over-attentive nature.

In the final seconds of Friday's ACC quarterfinal win over Miami, heady Kendall Marshall drove the lane, no doubt ready to throw up a layup if necessary. But the defense came to him, Tyler Zeller took a step, and Marshall flipped the ball -- almost nonchalantly -- into the big man's hands for the game-winning layup. Ballgame.

Carolina used the same play again in the semifinal against Clemson, with Dexter Strickland playing the decoy, and it gave them their first lead of the regulation period. With over ten minutes left, the No. 1 seed lost that one point lead almost immediately, then fought their way back to within two by the time the clock went under 1:00 left to play. Down 73-71, the Heels once again went to #44, and he knocked down a clutch jumper with :34 on the clock to force overtime.

Overtime became Harrison Barnes' demesne, but Zeller had done his part by then. The 92-87 final score pushed the Heels into the ACC championship game, where they will meet the winner of the afternoon game between Duke and Virginia Tech at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

So, opponents ACC and otherwise, beware. You'd better know where Ty Zeller is for forty minutes. ALL forty minutes of regulation. Because if you lose track of him, he'll beat you one way or another.

Count on it.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: March 12, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: March 12, 2011 10:21 am

Conference tourney reset: ACC semifinals

Erick Green may have saved Tech's seasonThe seeding held largely true to form, as the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 seeds will appear in the semifinals on March 12. A dramatic evening also slipped the No. 6 Virginia Tech Hokies into the field of four contenders, leaving Florida State to await Selection Sunday in street clothes.

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Clemson, 1:00 p.m. ET

The Tar Heels swept the in-season version of this matchup, though the final score at Littlejohn was very close. In fact, that win was the beginning of an eight-game win streak for the Heels. An aberration of that contest was the absence of strong play from Clemson senior Jerai Grant, which seems unlikely to be repeated. Grant combines with Demontez Stitt to provide valuable senior leadership for the Tigers, but we've seen freshmen turn up the heat for Carolina over the past few weeks. Kendall Marsahall's level-headed leadership was on display in Friday's narrow win over Miami, in which he drove the lane and dropped the ball off to Ty Zeller for a last-second win in a game that could have easily eliminated the Heels. In Greensboro, the crowd will be dressed in Carolina blue, and that could be a real difference-maker.

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech, 3:00 p.m. ET

The Hokies and their coach probably haven't been sleeping very well recently, but at least this time out, it's because they've been celebrating. Virginia Tech moved well off the NCAA tourney bubble with a dramatic last-second win over No. 3 Florida State on Friday. That set up a rematch with Duke, a team they beat head-to-head in February. One area in which the Hokies have improved is passing, as the end of the quarterfinal game showed. Malcolm Delaney, the team's best scorer, found Erick Green for an open jumper in the final seconds instead of forcing up a shot himself. Duke, on the other hand, could be breaking in a new backcourt starter, with Nolan Smith nursing a toe injury that kept him out of much of the second half of Duke's 87-71 victory over Maryland in the quarters. Kyle Singler scored 29 as the Devils pulled away from the Terps, and he'll have to come up big again if Smith can't go.

ACC tournament bracket

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 1:36 am

Tech wins in five minutes and five seconds

Seth Greenberg's depression turned to pure joy in Greensboro

Posted by Eric Angevine

First, the orange-clad cheerleaders were crying. That was after the five seconds.

Then, the orange-clad cheerleaders were jumping, laughing and hugging. That was after the five minutes*.

The five seconds were actually 4.7, and we need to quibble, because it was hundredths of a second that decided this game. After Eric Green hit a big two to put Virginia Tech ahead of Florida State 52-51, there were 4.7 seconds left on the game clock. Derwin Kitchen used every bit of that time and, it turned out, a little bit extra, in making what appeared to be the game-winner for the Seminoles.

That part was over in a flash, but the officiating crew took time to look at the monitor, and it became clear after careful review that the ball was still on Kitchen's fingertips when the clock struck 0.0 in Greensboro.

Following the officiating nightmares in the Rutgers-St. John's game this week, it's nice to see a big one get the careful treatment.

Virginia Tech will now face Duke, a team they upset in the regular season, in the ACC semifinals, while North Carolina and Clemson meet on the other side of the brackets.

In the end, Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg reversed the earlier series of events. His joy turned into tears as he considered the resilience of his Hokies, who can go to sleep tonight knowing that they won't hear the word "bubble" again this season.

*It was never five minutes. More like two. But it felt like five minutes.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 2:59 pm

Video: Marshall to Zeller ends Miami upset bid

Posted by Eric Angevine

The inside play of Tyler Zeller has been key for North Carolina all season long, and the Heels are no doubt looking forward to a long postseason run thanks to his prowess.

That postseason run almost suffered a long outage in Greensboro today, as the Miami Hurricanes, who advanced by narrowly defeating the Virginia Cavaliers in an opening round game, took them to the wire. The 'Canes led all game long, and Carolina had whittled it to a 59-57 advantage with one minute remaining. That's when Zeller took over, making a jumper with :48 seconds left to tie the score. UNC stole the ball, eventually leading to Zeller's game-winning layup with two seconds remaining to advance the No. 1 seed into the semifinals.

Zeller's opportunity came from Kendall Marshall's drive to the hoop, showing once again that the freshman point guard's insertion into the lineup over Larry Drew II has been the key to North Carolina's run of recent successes. The Heels as a team shot 47 percent from behind the arc, due primarily to a 3-4 day from Leslie McDonald. Harrison Barnes shot 40 percent, but those shots came on 4-10 shooting, which points to a certain one-dimensionality in his contribution to the team effort against the Hurricanes. Now is not the time to fall back into the habit of standing back and bombing from deep. 

The Tar Heels await the winner of the next game, which pits No. 4 Clemson against No. 5 Boston College.

BC slowed the Heels to a crawl in a February contest in the Dean Dome, giving other teams the blueprint for attacking the Tar Heels. Expect Roy Williams' team to see more zones that challenge their suspect jump shooting as the postseason continues.

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 9:32 am

Tourney reset: ACC quarterfinals

The hoped-for ACC championship game would rematch Duke-Carolina.The ACC tournament's opening day was not without drama, but it lacked any big surprises. The March 11 games should tell us more about how the seeding will fall into place for the NCAA tournament as well as which of the surviving teams are truly ready to keep step at the Big Dance.

No. 9 Miami vs. No. 1 North Carolina, 12:00 p.m. ET

Anyone watching the final minute of the Virginia/Miami game would have been tempted to write the Cavaliers into the next line of the bracket in ink. Tony Bennett's squad then proceeded to give up a ten-point lead in a 40-second stretch of bad in-bounds passes and slippery fingers that defied the imagination, eventually losing in overtime. That is to say that Miami was given a gift, but the things that worked against an inexperienced, smallish team in the first round are not likely to do much to slow down college basketball's hottest team. Look for Zeller and Henson inside and plenty of it.

No. 4 Clemson vs. No. 5 Boston College, 2:00 p.m.

Here's where the real intrigue starts. Quite often, BC has looked like the more tournament-ready of these two teams this season. Last night's game (caveat: against the league's hands-down worst team) was one of those nights. The Eagles were led by Reggie Jackson's 27 points, but Joe Trapani and Biko Paris each topped the 20-point mark as well. Cory Raji nabbed 11 rebounds. That offensive balance is threatening, but Clemson has the advantage of an extra day of rest. The Tigers won the two teams' only meeting during the regular season, 77-69, but had to withstand a furious rally by the Eagles along the way. For this game to turn out the same way, Demontez Stitt (14.1 ppg) and Jerai Grant (12.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) must show the same senior leadership they did in the earlier meeting.

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 Maryland, 7:00 p.m.

This is one of those classic ACC rivalries where the outcome is rarely predetermined by seeding or record. Coach K vs. Gary Williams may not currently have the shine of K vs. Roy Williams, but it's historically been a tough one. The Terps got here by swamping N.C. State 75-67 with Jordan Williams putting up a 16 point, 13 rebound performance. The interior has been an area of concern for the Blue Devils, who nonetheless have more options than Maryland on the inside. Odds are, this game will turn on the spectacular play of Duke's Nolan Smith (21.6 ppg, 5.2 apg), who knows only too well that a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is open after Pitt fell early in Big East play this week.

No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech

Lots of intrigue in this one. Will Chris Singleton come back for the Seminoles? Will he be effective if he does so? Is Virginia Tech really a tournament team? FSU is securely in the field, but can likely improve by a couple of seed lines by winning through to the semis and showing off a fully recovered Singleton. That perception that they have the key piece of the team back is possibly more important than the actual result. For Tech, it's the same stuff, different year. On the bubble and unable to make an airtight case for inclusion. Now is unequivocally the time to prove that they are the team that upset Duke on February 26 and not the team that was swept by in-state rival Virginia.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

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