Around the ACC: February 22, 2010

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It’s late February now, and the strong are starting to separate themselves
from the weak. Six teams remain major contenders for the the top four seeds in
the ACC tournament, which would lead to a first round bye. Seven teams are still
very much in the running for the NCAA tournament.

Of those teams, only two have a strong shot to be the #1 seed in the ACC
tournament. Duke sits atop the conference standings now, and they currently have
the tiebreaker over #2 Maryland. However, they still must visit College Park
later in the season.


ACC Standings

Team

Conf.

Overall

Duke

11-2

23-4

Maryland

9-3

19-7

Virginia Tech

8-4

21-5

Wake Forest

8-5

18-7

Clemson

7-5

19-7

Florida State

7-5

19-7

Georgia Tech

6-7

18-9

Virginia

5-7

14-11

Boston College

4-8

13-13

Miami

3-9

17-9

North Carolina

3-9

14-13

NC State

3-10

15-13

Barring a major run in the ACC tournament, those five teams at the bottom of the
standings can only play the spoiler role for the remainder of the season

Here’s a quick look at the ACC games coming up this week:

Virginia at Miami, Feb. 23, 7pm, RSN
Florida State at UNC, Feb. 24, 7pm, ESPN
Virginia Tech at Boston College, Feb. 24, 7pm, ESPNU
Clemson at Maryland, Feb. 24, 9pm, Raycom
Tulsa at Duke, Feb. 25, 7pm, ESPN2
Boston College at Georgia Tech, Feb. 27, Noon, RSN
North Carolina at Wake Forest, Feb. 27, 2pm, CBS
Maryland at Virginia Tech, Feb. 27, 4pm, Raycom
NC State at Miami, Feb. 27, 4pm, Raycom
Clemson at Florida State, Feb. 28, 5:30pm, FSN
Duke at Virginia, Feb. 28, 7:45pm, FSN

There are several important games in that listing that could impact the
head-to-head tiebreakers, including Clemson at Maryland, Maryland at Virginia
Tech and Clemson at Florida State.

However, there are also some games this week that won’t matter in the grand
scheme of things, such as Virginia at Miami, Tulsa at Duke and NC State at
Miami. The rest of the games are teams from the bottom tier of the league
against teams from the upper tier. Those upper tier teams can’t afford to be
upset at this stage of the season.

A Mess at the Top

After Duke, there are five teams in the ACC with between three and five
conference losses: Maryland, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Clemson and Florida
State. Three of those five teams, along with Duke, will have a first round bye
in the ACC tournament.

It’s impossible to predict which three teams at this point, but with only
three losses for Maryland, the Terps are a solid bet. Some of these teams still
have to play each other, and head-to-head tiebreakers could be critical.

Rough Week for Wake

For much of Tuesday night’s game against Virginia Tech, Wake Forest looked
like they could challenge for the top seed in the ACC tournament. However,
following Tech’s rally from an 11-point second half deficit and Saturday’s 68-54
loss at NC State, the Demon Deacons will have to fight hard down the stretch to
get an opening round bye in Greensboro.

How poorly did Wake play in Saturday’s loss to the struggling Wolfpack? Well,
they outrebounded NC State 50-31 and still managed to lose by 14 points. The
Deacs were 0-of-12 from three-point range and just 8-of-15 from the free throw
line. It’s tough to beat even NC State while shooting the ball like that.

Wake’s final three games are against UNC, Florida State and Clemson, with the
FSU game coming on the road. They need to win two of those three games to give
themselves a shot at a first round bye in the ACC tournament.

Free Falling

Several weeks ago, UVA’s Tony Bennett was the leading candidate for ACC Coach
of the Year. His team was playing good basketball, and they had a chance to make
the NCAA tournament. Now the Cavs are reeling, with a 14-11 overall record, a
5-7 mark in the ACC and losers of five consecutive games.

Not only are the Hoos losing, but they are getting blown out. They have lost
their last three games by 19 points or more. Saturday’s 72-49 loss at Clemson
was a disaster. The Tigers led 60-30 at one point in the second half before
Oliver Purnell put in his backups, which allowed UVA to cut into the margin over
the final minutes.

UVA called a players only meeting before Saturday’s loss, but apparently it
didn’t work. Instead, the Cavs have played their way off the NCAA tournament
bubble, and might be playing their way out of the NIT as well.

Game of the (Past) Week

Maryland’s 76-74 win over Georgia Tech was the ACC game of the week, and
quite possibly the game of the year. These teams went back and forth the entire
contest, with neither team flinching as they exchanged leads time and time
again.

Finally, with three seconds remaining, Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors tipped
in a shot that gave the Yellow Jackets a 74-73 lead, and that appeared to be the
ball game. However, things were just getting started.

Maryland point guard Greivis Vasquez banked in a halfcourt shot to apparently
win the game, but head coach Gary Williams called a timeout a split second
before Vasquez released the ball. The Terps had to do it all over again with 1.5
seconds left, and they did exactly that. They inbounded to Cliff Tucker in the
corner, who nailed a fadeaway three-pointer with a defender in his face to give
his team the win.

Game of the (Upcoming) Week

Maryland and Virginia Tech will battle next Saturday in Cassell Coliseum in a
game that could decide second place in the ACC. The Terps are 9-3 in the ACC,
with a home game at Clemson coming up this week. The Hokies are 8-4, with a trip
to Boston College on Wednesday night.

The loser of this game could be all but elimited from the race for the #2
seed in the ACC tournament. Both teams have been dominant at home this year.
Fortunately for the Hokies, this game will be in Blacksburg.

Player of the Week

Greivis Vasquez scored 74 total points in wins over Virginia, NC State and
Georgia Tech. He scored 18 points and had eight assists in the victory over
Georgia Tech on Saturday. In that game, he became the only player in ACC history
to score 2,000 points, dish out 700 assists and finish with 600 rebounds.

Vasquez is a very strong candidate to be named ACC Player of the Year at the
conclusion of this season.

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