Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 3:17 pm

2013 prospect Isaiah Hicks has UNC at the top


Posted by Jeff Borzello

HAMPTON, Va. – There’s Isaiah Hicks dunking the ball three times in a row. There’s Isaiah Hicks running the floor and beating everyone for a transition basket. There’s Isaiah Hicks blocking shots at will.

And there’s Isaiah Hicks  . . . disappointed with his performance?

“I didn’t play my best,” Hicks said at the Southern Jam Fest last weekend. “It just wasn’t my day. I could’ve done everything better.”

According to everyone else, though, Hicks is one of the top players in the class of 2013. The 6-foot-8 forward from Body of Christ Academy (N.C.) is extremely long and athletic, creating mismatches with his leaping ability and speed. He can beat bigger players down the court and score on smaller defenders around the rim.

“I just gotta bring it every game,” Hicks said.

In terms of recruiting, the sophomore has offers from Xavier, North Carolina State and Clemson, along with interest from North Carolina and Wake Forest.

Despite not getting an offer from the Tar Heels, they seem to be ahead of the pack.

“I liked everything,” Hicks said.

Posted on: March 16, 2011 7:49 am
Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:22 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 4:53 am

Clemson looks the part

Posted by Jeff Borzello

People who thought that neither Clemson nor UAB deserved to make the NCAA tournament were hoping to see a poorly played debacle of a game better suited for the NIT.

Instead, they saw one team that can potentially upset West Virginia and, well, whatever UAB was on Tuesday.

Clemson was clearly motivated by the detractors, going on an 18-2 run early in the first half to jump out to a 25-7 lead. The Tigers never looked back from there, cruising to a 70-52 win that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate.

UAB made six two-point shots. That’s it. The Blazers were 6-for-24 from two-point range, needing to knock down 12 3-pointers to stay within striking distance (if striking distance was four possessions or so). They turned the ball over 19 times and took just seven foul shots.

It certainly wasn’t the type of effort that would make anyone think UAB deserved a bid to the NCAA tournament.

On the other side, though, Clemson certainly proved the doubters wrong. The Tigers used pressure defense and transition baskets to get off to an early lead, and then staved off UAB runs with timely steals and points around the rim. Clemson absolutely dominated the paint, getting 43 points and 17 rebounds from the post trio of Jerai Grant, Devin Booker and Milton Jennings.

Will Clemson continue to use the extra motivation and give West Virginia a run for its money come Thursday at noon? As an aside, why is Clemson even playing at noon on Thursday? A 36-hour turnaround seems unfair.

The Tigers are playing their best basketball of the season, with competitive losses to Duke and North Carolina the only negatives since mid-February. With the way they are playing defense, they can upset West Virginia.

The Mountaineers can be prone to turnovers, and Clemson’s aggressive defense will look to exploit that weakness. West Virginia is not a good shooting team at all, and can stagnate offensively. The key for the Tigers will be their ability to box out on the defensive end. West Virginia is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, and Clemson does struggles at times to rebound consistently.

West Virginia is more physical than Clemson, so the Tigers will need to use their speed and transition game to get points. If they can force turnovers and not allow too many second-chance opportunities for West Virginia, keep an eye on this game.

Win or lose, it's tough to imagine another question concerning Clemson's inclusion in the field of 68. 

As for UAB...  

Photo: US Presswire

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 13, 2011 10:36 am

Poppin' Bubbles: The day has finally arrived

Posted by Jeff Borzello

We’re now just hours away from the announcement of the NCAA tournament field. There will be no more talk of bubbles, RPIs, quality wins, locks and all of the other catch phrases that have populated our vernacular over the past couple of months. With that said, we’re not done with the bubble just yet. There are still a handful of bids up for grabs that were affected by yesterday’s results and could change with today’s games.

Moving Up:

Richmond: The Spiders likely clinched an at-large bid by beating Temple in the semifinals; they have won eight in a row and don’t have many bad losses.

Memphis: The Tigers don’t need to worry about the bubble anymore, as they won the Conference-USA championship with a furious comeback late in the game.

Utah State: Another team who doesn’t need to sweat on Selection Sunday, the Aggies could be headed for the 8/9 game in the NCAA tournament.

Helping themselves:

Penn State: The Nittany Lions have enhanced their profile more than any other bubble team this week, beating Wisconsin and now Michigan State.

Hurting themselves:

Clemson: The Tigers had a chance to potentially lock up a bid, but they blew a late lead against North Carolina and then lost in overtime. Zero top-50 wins.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies couldn’t get a second win over Duke, so they will once again be on the cutline later today. Seth Greenberg should have his gripes ready.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide were blown out by Kentucky, so they will have to hope back-to-back wins over Georgia are enough for the committee.


Harvard: The Crimson were seconds away from winning the Ivy League playoff, but Princeton’s buzzer-beater likely relegated them to the NIT. Not enough meat on the profile.

Sunday’s bubble games to watch:

Richmond vs. Dayton: Richmond has likely wrapped up a bid, so the bubblers will be rooting heavily for the Spiders to win the Atlantic 10 title. If Dayton wins, some of those final teams will be sweating even more.

Penn State vs. Ohio State: Penn State could complete an improbably Big Ten tournament run by beating the top-seeded Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions might have done enough already, but a loss leaves them on the fence.

Photo: US Presswire

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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 8, 2011 8:57 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:53 pm

Conference tourney preview: the ACC

In some ways, the ACC is right back where it has always been. North Carolina (24-6, 14-2) and Duke (27-4, 13-3) waged a season-long battle for control of the conference, deciding the tourney seeds on the final day of the season in a head-to-head matchup. That’s pretty much what a long view of the league's history would predict, though the rivalry failed to materialize last season. Regardless, it's back now.

It's KellyZelly!The steep dropoff after the Tobacco road bluebloods is rather less than the norm, however. Florida State (21-9, 11-5) is a defensive powerhouse that struggles to score with star player Chris Singleton on the bench with an injury. Four-seed Clemson (20-10, 9-7) looks weak due to a soft non-conference schedule and a lack of marquee wins in league play.

And that’s just the teams that earned first round byes. Let’s take a look at the rest of the field, which begins play March 10 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

No. 8 Virginia (16-14, 7-9) vs. Miami (18-13, 6-10), 12:00 p.m. ET

Virginia arrived at this juncture in a pretty standard way: it’s the second season under a new head coach who had to clean house and start fresh. It didn’t help that Mike Scott, the best player and clear senior leader of this team, went down with a season-ending injury in December. With a tough season getting tougher, Tony Bennett handed the ball to fourth year guard Mustapha Farrakhan (13.5 points per game) and watched to see which of his freshmen could play. Early returns are mildly encouraging for newbies Joe Harris (10.6 ppg) and K.T. Harrell (8.0 ppg). On the Miami side of the ball, junior Malcolm Grant (14.9 ppg) is joined by sophomores Durand Scott (13.2 ppg) and Reggie Johnson (12.0 ppg, 9.7 rpg). The 6-foot-10 Johnson, in particular, should provide a difficult matchup for the undersized Cavaliers. The Hurricanes won the only in-season matchup between the two programs by two points in overtime.

No. 5 Boston College (19-11, 9-7) vs. No. 12 Wake Forest (8-23, 1-15), 2:00 p.m.

The edge in this matchup of first year coaches should go to former Cornell boss Steve Donahue. His BC Eagles finished the season on a three-game win streak after nearly upsetting UNC in a low-scoring game in February, and junior Reggie Jackson (18.3 ppg, 4.5 apg) has been one of the league’s best players. 6-8 senior Joe Trapani is the inside to Jackson’s outside, chipping in 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Wake Forest has had an absolutely dreadful season under former Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik, with 6-7 freshman Travis McKie (12.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) as the lone bright spot.

No. 7 Maryland (18-13, 7-9) vs. No. 10 North Carolina State (15-15, 5-11), 7:00 p.m., ESPN2

There will actually be a few really good players in this game, which is the only opening-round game to be nationally televised. For Maryland, it’s big Jordan Williams (16.9 ppg, 11.6 rpg) and emerging guard Terrell Stoglin (11.6 ppg) helping to make “wait ‘til next year!” sound like more than an idle boast. At NC State, where Sidney Lowe is on career life support, the somewhat disappointing senior Tracy Smith (14.1 ppg, 20 games played) is making way for any number of talented freshmen. An extremely solid foundation has been laid, with freshmen C.J. Leslie (11.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Lorenzo Brown (9.4 ppg, 3.8 apg) and Ryan Harrow (9.3 ppg, 3.4 apg) looking good. If the NBA doesn’t reach for any of them, perhaps a hot new coach will have something serious to work with in 2011-2012.

No. 6 Virginia Tech (19-10, 9-7) vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech (13-17, 5-11), 10:00 p.m.

Oh, what a nightcap. One team on the bubble, both coaches on the hot seat. While some of Seth Greenberg’s difficulties have come from a horrible history of injuries to key players, he still fell to sixth place in the tournament with seniors Malcolm Delaney (18.8 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Jeff Allen (13.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg) leading his squad, and that’s a pretty tough pill to swallow. If anyone is a lock to do less with more in a similar scenario, it’s been Paul Hewitt, who has shown an ability to turn NBA-quality players into mediocre seasons pretty frequently since the Yellowjackets made that fateful run to the NCAA final in 2004. While his talent level wasn’t as high this year as it has been in years prior, he still squandered an all-out effort by junior Iman Shumpert (17.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.7 spg) in Hewitt’s eleventh season as head coach of the program.

ACC tournament bracket


Title game: 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, March 13 (ESPN)



  1. Nolan Smith, Duke
  2. Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
  3. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
  4. Chris Singleton*, Florida State



Conference RPI: 5

KenPom.com rating: 4

Sagarin rating: 4

NCAA Tournament Locks: North Carolina, Duke, Florida State

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: Boston College, Virginia Tech


Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

North Carolina: 2009 (National Champions)

Duke: 2010 (National Champions)

Florida State: 2010 (lost to Gonzaga)

Clemson: 2010 (lost to Missouri)

Boston College: 2009 (lost to USC)

Virginia Tech: 2007 (beat Illinois, lost to Southern Illinois)

Maryland: 2010 (beat Houston, lost to Michigan State)

Virginia: 2007 (beat Albany, lost to Tennessee)

Miami: 2008 (beat St. Mary’s, lost to Texas)

NC State: 2006 (beat Cal, lost to Texas)

Georgia Tech: 2010 (beat Oklahoma State, lost to Ohio State)

Wake Forest: 2010 (beat Texas, lost to Kentucky)


Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine


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Posted on: March 5, 2011 3:00 pm

Virginia Tech once again in that vicious cycle

Posted by Matt Norlander

How long ago that win over Duke seems, right? When Dick Vitale called the Hokies a lock and we warned you here at the blog that was very much not the case, we got some scoffs. Some threats. Some run-of-the-mill insults.

And yet here we are again. And there Virginia Tech is ... again, forced to win big in the ACC tournament, lest it sweat away Selection Sunday, only to see its name not show up on CBS in the 6 p.m. hour.

It's as if the win over Duke last weekend was a wrinkle in the ways of the universe's flow, and now ethereal beings are making sure everything is course-corrected. The bracket gods are not ready to let Virginia Tech be a tournament team.

And so it is so.

The Hokies lost to Boston College at home Monday, then get done at Clemson this afternoon. The Tigers' 69-60 win put both teams at 9-7 in the ACC and outside the field of 68, as far as I'm concerned.

If you had to pick, head-to-head, who to choose, then it's Va. Tech. Barely. Man, that's a tough call, though. Fortunately, games remain to iron this out. What's pretty clear: neither is in right now. No way. It's simply incredible (I mean, really, what are the odds?) that this Virginia Tech group would put itself in this situation four years in a row. Malcolm Delaney's entire college career has been one long uncomfortable sitting.

I can't deny liking this. I like watching Virginia Tech and Clemson have the utmost urgency in Championship Week. Both teams will be looking at having two win two games in the ACC tournament to feel good about their chances.

So here's how it's setting up for each next week: If Boston College wins against Wake Forest at home tomorrow (likely), Virginia Tech (19-10) will get the six seed in the ACC tournament, meaning it'll play against Georgia Tech — a team it lost to Jan. 25 — in the first round.

Clemson (20-10) is tucked into that four seed, meaning it will get a bye and watch as the Hokies and Eagles try to not drown completely in first-round play of the ACC tournament.


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