Friday, March 15, 2013

2013 ACC Tournament Quarterfinals Predictionz

By Spencer Pyke

The first day of the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament went as planned with all four higher seeds advancing. Records were broken, historic careers came to an end, and overall, it was a great first day. The quarterfinals are sure to be just as enjoyable, with some highly anticipated regular season rematches on the docket.

#8 Boston College University vs. #1 University of Miami – Noon

Boston College freshman Olivier Hanlan opened up the tournament with a bang yesterday, pouring in an ACC Tournament freshman record 41 points as the Eagles eliminated ninth seeded Georgia Tech. By the end of regulation, Hanlan had broken two ACC Tournament freshman records, total points and field goals (14), and tied the record for three pointers with eight. While Hanlan’s afternoon was historical, the performances of Ryan Anderson, Patrick Heckmann and Joe Rahon cannot go unnoticed. Anderson and Heckmann combined for 21 points, nine boards and five assists while Rahon tallied 15 points and seven assists.

Boston College’s performance was beyond stellar after falling behind 15 - 0, now all Hanlan and the Eagles have to do is duplicate that very same act less than 24 hours later against top seeded Miami.

In the last five games of the season, Miami doubled their total in the loss column stumbling against Wake, Duke and Georgia Tech. Despite the stumble, Miami still earned the top seed in the tournament and need to open up their run much like the Eagles did yesterday, with an emphatic win.

Miami knocked off BC in both meetings this year, but escaped the Conte Forum with just a one point victory back in February. It was a different story when the Eagles flew down to South Beach, as the Canes ran away with a double digit victory.

Image: Miami - Kadji - Grant Halverson - Getty Images

In the second contest, Miami used their size early and often to not only wear BC down, but to take dangerous perimeter scorers Hanlan and Rahon out of the game.  Having ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Durand Scott in the backcourt does not hurt either.

While the young Eagles are soaring after Thursday’s victory, do not expect them to advance into the weekend.  Miami is just too big and strong down low for the Eagles to contain: Miami 72 – Boston College 58.

#5 North Carolina State University vs. #4 University of Virginia – 2 pm

After dismantling last place Virginia Tech in the first round, North Carolina State has a date with Virginia this afternoon in the quarterfinals. State not only beat the Hokies yesterday, but looked really good in the process. Richard Howell finished with 22 points and 12 boards on 11 – 12 shooting, C.J. Leslie added 15 points and seven boards and Scott Wood and TJ Warren finished with 13 each. While Lorenzo Brown did not finish in double figures scoring wise, he had twelve assists, two more than the entire Tech squad, and played great defense on ACC Player of the Year Erick Green. It was an all-around effort for State, and it could not have come at a better time.

Now, worlds collide Friday afternoon as the high scoring Wolfpack take on the defensive minded Wahoos. While State is second in the ACC in points per game, Virginia allows just a mere 54.5 points per game, best in the conference.

After a big win over Duke at home, Virginia fell to Boston College and Florida State before escaping Maryland in overtime in their season finale.

Image: NC State - CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown - Source Karl B DeBlaker

With non-conference losses against George Mason, Delaware and Old Dominion, Virginia needs a good showing in the ACC Tournament if they want to secure their bid to the dance. Making things a little easier for the Wahoos is leading scorer, Joe Harris. Harris not only averages a team high 17 points a game, but does so shooting 47% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc. Big man Akil Mitchell has also been performing all season long, averaging 13 points and 8.9 caroms.

Virginia did win the only meeting between these two programs this year back on Jan. 29, but that was in the friendly confines of John Paul Jones Arena, where Virginia knocked off North Carolina, Florida State and Duke this season. Down in Greensboro, it will feel more like a home game for State, even though Charlottesville is just three hours away.

When a great offense and defense collide, I usually side with the defense all day, but State is playing better ball right now having won seven of their last nine: North Carolina State 72 – Virginia 65.

#7 University of Maryland vs. #2 Duke University – 7pm

Duke has only faltered four times this season, and one of those mishaps came against rival Maryland. In storybook fashion, the Blue Devils now get a chance to avenge that loss Friday evening while the Terps loo to prove it was no fluke.

Despite a slow start, Maryland was able to cruise to a first round victory over Wake Forest. Heading into the break down five, the Terps exploded in the second half outscoring the Deacons 45 – 27. The game ball went to Dez Wells for dropping 21 points on 7 – 10 shooting, but my boy Alex Len also had a solid stat line with eleven points, five boards and four assists. Pe’Shon Howard, Nick Faust and Seth Allen each finished in double figures as well. Now all the Terps have to do is repeat yesterday, and then some, in order to knock off Duke.

By now I’m sure you have heard Duke is unbeaten with Ryan Kelly in the lineup. It’s important to note that they only lost four times without him, so it is clear that Duke is just really, really good.

Another important thing to point out, Duke’s only losses came on the road, so they are unbeaten at home and in five neutral site games.

Image: Duke - Ryan Kelly - Source Jeremy McKnight

That bodes well for Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and the rest of the guys heading into Greensboro, a place where they have seen success.

Winners of 12 of their last 15, the blue Devils are on a mission to cut down nets, and I don’t see Maryland slowing them down: Duke 78 – Maryland 69.

#6 Florida State University vs. #3 University of North Carolina – 9 pm

While they weren’t buzzer beaters, Michael Snaer did hit four clutch free throws down the stretch last night to push the Seminoles past feisty Clemson. Okaro White had a monster game for the Noles scoring 24 points on 73% shooting from the field while grabbing four boards, a block, a steal and an assist. Snaer struggled to ten points, but this was not the first time the Clemson defense shut down a back court star this season.

Up next for the Noles, the always resurgent North Carolina Tar Heels. Winners of seven of their last nine, the Heels enter the tournament red hot, with their most recent losses at the hands of rival Duke.   After their first loss against Duke, legendary UNC head coach Roy Williams switched to a smaller line up and the Tar Heels ripped off seven straight wins before falling in their regular season finale. The boys in baby blue are clicking at the right time and are led by a great group of players.

James Michael McAdoo, Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston all average at least 13 points, four boards and 42% field goal percentage a game and have flourished the last few weeks.

Image: UNC - James Michael McAdoo - Source Gerry Broome

While Florida State is playing well as of late, they can’t afford to have the same lackluster second half against the Heels as they did against Clemson.

North Carolina is too good. The Heels won both match ups this season and are salivating at the opportunity to eliminate State after falling to them in the ACC Final a year ago. It will be a great game early, but North Carolina is too quick and too talented: North Carolina 77 – Florida State 69.

Tune in to tomorrow before 1 pm ET's first semifinals game as Spencer continues to predict his way to SportzBroz glory!