Friday, March 9, 2012

ACC Quarterfinals Predictions: Heels Crush, Wolf Pack Moves On, Devils Deny Tech, & The U Gets Its Bid

Spencer Pyke

Three blow outs and an upset kicked off the first round of the 2012 ACC Tournament yesterday, setting up a tremendous four-game slate of quarterfinal match ups this afternoon and evening.

Noon: #1 North Carolina (27 – 4 / 14 – 2) vs. #8 Maryland (16 – 14 / 6 – 10)
Update: UNC wins 86 - 69
As expected, Terrell Stoglin went off yesterday with 25 points and a career high 7 boards as Maryland romped Wake Forest in the opening game of the tournament.  Freshman guard Nick Faust also stepped up with a career high 19 points as Maryland shot a solid 54% from the field en route to a 22-point blowout. Today may be a different story for the Terps, as they face-off against the top seeded Tar Heels for the third time this season.

North Carolina won both regular season meetings between these two programs rather convincingly.  UNC’s front court owned Maryland this season as senior forward Tyler Zeller averaged 26 points and 7.5 rebounds alongside junior Jim Henson who averaged 18 and 10.5.

Maryland forward James Padgett played well yesterday in the low post, tallying 10 points and 5 boards, and Stoglin averaged 18.5 a game against North Carolina this year, so you can expect him to have another big day, but Maryland just isn’t deep enough down low to upset the Tar Heels.  This one's all UNC.

2:00 pm: #4 Virginia (22 – 8 / 9 – 7) vs. #5 N.C. State (21 – 11 / 9 – 7)
Update: N.C. State wins 67 - 64
Words can’t describe what N.C. State did to Boston College yesterday, but as predicted, it wasn’t much of a ball game.  Now, the ever-hungry Wolf Pack have earned a showdown with four seed University of Virginia, making for one highly anticipated ACC quarterfinal rematch.  Virginia escaped N.C. State back on Jan. 28, 61 – 60, as the Cavs dominated most of the game before a late rally from the Wolf Pack fell just short.

Scott Wood tallied 22 against B.C. yesterday but did not play well against UVA in their first meeting, registering eight points and five boards.  C.J. Leslie, who had a cool double double in the first round, will look to have a big day against the Cavs after dropping 17 on them in January while Lorenzo Brown, who had 21 points and eight assists yesterday,  will be hungrier than ever after his game-winning shot attempt in the first meeting hit front iron.

Virginia’s All-ACC First teamer Mike Scott tallied 17 points and 8 boards against State in the first meeting and will look to have a solid run in his final ACC Tournament.  The back court of Virginia, Joe Harris and Sam Zeglinski, played excellent against the Wolf Pack this year and will have a direct impact on today’s game.

With Virginia being labeled as a lock to go dancing, N.C. State is clearly the hungrier team with more to lose.  The first game was a defensive battle, down to the wire, and I expect this time around to be no different.  This one is essentially a coin flip: Wolf Pack moves on.

7:00 pm: #2 Duke (26 – 5 / 13 – 3) vs. #10 Virginia Tech (16 – 16 / 4 – 12)
Update: Duke wins 60 - 56
I said Erick Green needed to step up yesterday and apparently he visits The Sportz Broz. Green’s 24-point, 4-rebound, 4-assist performance against Clemson yesterday propelled Tech to this year’s first upset in the conference tournament.  Green wasn’t the only reason for the win, however, as guard Dorenzo Hudson finished with 19 points and 4 boards as well.

Now Tech steps in the ring with two-seeded Duke after dropping a nail biter to them in overtime just two weeks ago.  Duke knocked off the Hokies in both contests this season, but Tech fought hard in the second, nearly upsetting the Blue Devils in front of their beloved Cameron Crazies.  Green averaged 16.5 and 4.5 against Duke this season, but needs help from Hudson and freshman Dorian Finney-Smith if Tech wants to make a “Cinderella-esque” type run.

Unfortunately for the Hokies, they are going up against a Duke team that was left with a poor taste in their mouth at the end of the season and will be ready to show that was just a speed bump.  Freshman sensation Austin Rivers averaged 20 plus against the Hokies this season and they will not have an answer for him today. Rivers, Curry and the entire Plumlee Family will be too overwhelming for Tech, as their season comes to an end at the hands of the Blue Devils.  

9:00 pm: #3 Florida State (21 – 9 / 12 – 4) vs. #6 Miami (19 – 11 / 9 – 7)
Update: FSU wins

After getting off to a slow start, Miami was able to knock off Georgia Tech last night setting up a rubber match with rival Florida State.  The two programs split the season series in February with each winning on their home floor.

Yesterday, Miami was led by freshman Shane Larkin (yes his dad is Barry Larkin) whose 12 points weren’t exactly a whopping team high.  The real story for the U was poor shooting from starters Malcolm Grant and Kenny Kadji, who went a combined 2 – 14 from the field.  Guard Rion Brown came off the bench to spark the Miami offense, adding 10 points and 5 boards as they cruised to a double-digit victory.

Florida State, a lock for the NCAA Tournament, is a team that could end the run of UNC and Duke ACC Championships that has lasted since Maryland won in 2004.  FSU had big time wins against Duke and UNC already this season, but they also fell to the somber Boston College.  Junior Michael Snaer and senior Bernard James will look to lead the Noles, both racked double figures against the Canes earlier this season.

If Miami wants to solidify their NCAA Tournament chances, today is a must-win game.  If they get off to a slow shooting start again this game will be all Florida State, but when Reggie Johnson plays to his full potential, he is a force to be reckoned with.  Johnson and Kadji will play lights out down low as the U jumps off the bubble and into the dance knocking off Florida State for the second time in as many weeks.

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