If the 1st round of the ACC Tournament was any indication of how your brackets will shape up come March Madness time, your best bet is to stick with the top seeds through the Final Four. There were no upsets, no shockers, and no madness yesterday at the Greensboro Coliseum as the higher seeds came away with W’s. Here’s a recap of the first four games of the ACC Tournament:
Boston College 84 Georgia Tech 64
The ACC Tournament has seen its fair share of freshmen come into their own when it counts (most recently Harrison Barnes, scoring 40 in an overtime win against Clemson in 2011). But a 6’4” freshman from the mean streets of Quebec kicked off the ACC Tournament with a bang yesterday. Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan set a freshman ACC Tournament record by scoring 41 points and leading the Eagles to an 84-64 win over Georgia Tech. The ACC Rookie of the Year also added 5 rebounds and 3 steals while shooting a bizarre 78% from the field, including 8-10 from behind the arc. It took over five minutes to score their first basket, but Boston College (16-16, 7-11 ACC) showed poise and determination, responding with a 9-0 run themselves. What’s lost amongst the admirations of Hanlan’s performance yesterday is that of Joe Rahon, who contributed 15 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. Ryan Anderson chipped in 11 points and 5 boards, while Eddie Odio added 7 points and 10 rebounds from the bench.
Georgia Tech (16-15, 6-12 ACC) had no answer for the Eagles hustle and grit. GT began the game with a 15-0 lead, but it quickly fizzled as they missed their next 5 shots while allowing BC to get second chance opportunities. After leading by 15, the next 15 minutes for the Yellow Jackets produced a poor 33% shooting from the field with 5 turnovers and 4 missed free-throws. The second half was just as bad, if not worse for the Yellow Jackets. They finished the game shooing 32% from the field while only making 9 of 17 free-throws (52.9%). Georgia Tech was led by their exceptional freshman guard Marcus Georges-Blunt with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while senior guard Mfon Udofia contributed 10 points. It is uncertain at this point if Georgia Tech will receive an invitation to the NIT tournament.
NC State 80 Virginia Tech 63
When your best player has an off night, you shrug your shoulders and say “we’ll get ‘em next game.” When your best player has an off night in a tournament-setting, it’s not as simple as “we’ll get ‘em next game.” The reigning ACC Player of the Year Erick Green had one of those days at an unfortunate time for the Hokies, as Virginia Tech (13-19, 4-14 ACC) failed to muster up any kind of rhythm on offense to hang with NC State. Despite the superb efforts of junior Jarell Eddie (21 points), Erick Green couldn’t get it going from the field, shooting a grotesque 26% while only adding 1 rebound and 1 assist. Junior forward Cadarian Raines chipped in a respectable game for the Hokies with 8 points and 7 rebounds, but it simply wasn’t enough as NC State crashed the boards for a +15 on the glass. What has doomed VT all season reared its ugly head yesterday yet again; their defense.
The Wolfpack shot an astounding 52.8% from the field, including 18 assists and some impressive dunks along the way. NC State (23-9, 11-7 ACC) was led by All-ACC First Team Richard Howell with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while fellow Third Team All-ACC C.J. Leslie added 15 points and 7 rebounds. NC State didn’t get much contribution from their bench (only 8 points on 0-8 shooting) but the Wolfpack’s starting five has plenty of firepower, as all but Lorenzo Brown (9 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds) scored in double figures. Virginia Tech’s sloppy defense led to 26 free-throw attempts for NC State. Virginia Tech’s season is most likely over.
Maryland 75 Wake Forest 62
When your resume includes losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech, it’s best not to take a team like Wake Forest lightly. The Terps, losers of 5 of the last 8 games, seemed to forget this early in the first half. Maryland continued with their “Jekyll and Hyde”theme of the season, as they looked sluggish on defense and out-of-focus on offense in the first half. You might ask yourself “wait, how can a team shooting 50% from the field, 3/4 behind the arc and a +4 on the glass be sluggish and out-of-focus?” The simple answer is this: despite those favorable statistics, Maryland was losing by 5 at the half, had already committed 10 turnovers, and closed out the first half with 2 FGs in their last 11 possessions. Their defense, a linchpin in the Terps success this season, gave way to 13 first half points from C.J. Harris and 35 points to a Wake Forest team that ranks in the bottom half of the ACC in FG percentage.
But as Maryland has often done this season, they began to show sparks of undeniable talent. Just two minutes into the second half, Maryland (21-11, 8-10 ACC) went on a 9-2 run to take the lead. Dez Wells, continuing his role as MD’s go-to offensive option, scored 9 points in the first 4:30 and 14 of his 21 points came in the second half. Nick Faust contributed 10 points and 6 rebounds while Alex Len added 11 points and 5 boards. The Terps bench outscored Wake Forest’s 22-11, thanks in large part to Seth Allen’s 11 point performance. This however would be a hard fought game, as neither team led by more than three until the 5:52 mark in the second half. Wake Forest (13-18, 6-12 ACC) was led by C.J. Harris who scored 19 points and 5 rebounds while freshman Devin Thomas seemed to have his way with Alex Len down low, scoring 14 points with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. What hurt the Demon Deacons down the stretch was their poor free-throw shooting, as they finished the second half shooting 56% from the charity stripe. With 16 points off of 10 first half turnovers by MD, the Demon Deacons were only able to force two second half turnovers, which led to 0 WF points. Maryland is NIT-bound unless they have a remarkable ACC finish up their sleeve.
Florida State 73 Clemson 69
The finale of the first round of the ACC Tournament wasn’t as simple for the reigning ACC Champions. Florida State needed all 40 minutes to hold off Clemson and have a chance to defend their crown in Greensboro. It took a career night from junior Okaro White (24 points) and four straight made free-throws from Michael Snaer (10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) in the final 25 seconds for the Seminoles (18-14, 9-9 ACC) to come away victorious. The good news for Florida State was the reemergence of junior forward Terrance Shannon (12 points and 3 rebounds), who has dealt with unfortunate injuries this season.
Clemson was rolling early and often, led by Jordan Roper and K.J. McDaniels with 9 first half points apiece. Devin Booker added 6 first half points as Clemson led by as much as 10 with 3:16 remaining. However, Clemson (13-18, 5-13 ACC) had no answer for Okaro White, as White scored 10 of FSU’s first 15 points in the second half. But the Tigers didn’t pack it in and call it a season; down by as much as 14 in the second half, Clemson battled all the way back to within 2, but only to see Snaer seal the game from the charity stripe. Roper finished with a team high 18 points while K.J. McDaniels finished the game with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Devin Booker added 11 points, but also had 4 turnovers. FSU is most likely NIT-bound, barring a ACC Championship apprearence/victory.
Miami vs. Boston College (12:00pm)
It was a thriller in their first meeting in Chestnut Hill, as Hanlan failed to tie it up at 60 from the free-throw line with .5 seconds left, leading to a 60-59 victory for the Hurricanes. The second meeting was more one-sided, as Miami (24-6, 15-3 ACC) dismantled BC 72-50. However, the Eagles are on a 4-game winning streak, and the Hurricanes better not expect another disastrous shooting display by BC.
Key Matchup: BC’s Ryan Anderson vs. UM’s Kenny Kadji
Virginia vs. NC State (2:00pm)
These two teams only met once during ACC play, and it was a close one. Virginia emerged victorious in Charlottesville 58-55 by outscoring NC State by 10 in the second half. Thanks in part to two Jontel Evans free-throws and the Cavaliers scrappy defense (held NC State without a basket in the final four and a half minutes), UVA was able to pull off the upset to win their fourth straight game.
Key Matchup: NC State’s Richard Howell vs. UVA’s Akil Mitchell
Duke vs. Maryland (7:00pm)
The previous matchup between these two rivals ended in dramatic fashion. A failed last second heave by Quinn Cook resulted in an 83-81 victory for the Terps in College Park. Maryland overcame 26 turnovers by outrebounded Duke by 21 and converting free-throws down the stretch. Duke will be looking for some payback, but don’t expect the Terps to back down after coach K’s latest comments about MD and their move to the BIG.
Key Matchup: MD’s Alex Len vs. Duke’s Mason Plumlee
North Carolina vs. Florida State (9:00pm)
Florida State will be looking to defend their ACC title against a UNC team that beat them twice this season by a combined 26 points. In their first matchup with UNC (a 77-72 defeat), the unlikely star of the game was UNC’s P.J. Hairston, who scored a career-high 23 points. 2 late free-throws by Marcus Paige sealed the victory for UNC. In the second matchup, FSU dug themselves into a hole that they couldn’t climb out of, as they trailed by 19 at the half. James Michael McAdoo scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half while Reggie Bullock added 20 points and 10 rebounds. FSU will need a better effort on the defensive side of the ball, as they allowed UNC to shoot 55% from the floor and 60% from behind the arc.
Key Matchup: FSU’s Okaro White vs. UNC’s James Michael McAdoo