Well, everybody, we did it. We have reached the last week of the regular season of the ACC. And we'll literally climb into the postseason, both in the clocks and in our hearts, on Sunday mornings around 2:00 – probably the time when many of us sports writers will go to bed.
But as we descend into the house, the venerable Patrick Stevens has your ranking updated:
Tuesday in Charlotte is set, although the order is not – Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake, Miami, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. So the other schools can sleep peacefully and know they have at least one day off.
And indeed, all the teams except one Wednesday are set. The order, again, has not yet been fixed, but Florida State and Virginia Tech will actually play a double-fare farewell game Tuesday night in what is unequivocally the best weekly game this week.
All three Triangle teams will face ACC tournament Tuesday opponents this week, but not all three matchups are equal, of course.
Which brings us to …
NC State Bubble Watch
NC Are you REALLY on the bull of the NCAA Tournament? From now on, I would say no. This would imply that there are a number of brackets, since it is a very serious area of study, which has them out of their field. But what the state can not afford to do is give them a reason.
The Wolfpack has, as its coach Kevin Keatts accurately stated, big losses. A shimmering series of leaks, which shines so brightly that it almost blinds you in the process so you do not notice the ugly standing in the back – Wake Forest. The NCAA Tournament committee might note, however, and would also note NC State's non-conference program strength, found at no. 353. If you do not score at home, there are 353 division teams. So he died last. And NC State has exactly two Quadrant-I wins, with Penn State only barely in its Quadrant-I status. So the Nittany Lions could fall and this would give NC State a single win for Q-1, which is why the game at the state of Florida felt a missed opportunity for another, one that could have gotten a place at the NCAA tournament.
Now, NC State is not doing all this in a vacuum. The rest of the NCAA Tournament tournament is quite weak. But what is lacking in the NC state is now an insurance policy against a loss in his last two games, which include Saturday Georgia Tech and (gulp) at Boston College. Win, and I think they are in whatever happens in the ACC tournament – but they can not win? I would not try.
Zion Williamson Watch
Are you playing Tuesday?
I do not know yet. And unless you're someone closely associated with the Duke program, not even you.
The Tigers may have sold their soul on the side of the basketball to win soccer leagues, a craft I'm 100% sure that almost all Clemson fans would do in a half beat.
But there are people out there who care about Clemson's basketball, and for those people, I'm sorry. Really. And it must be particularly difficult when you see things like this:
Insult to the damage, indeed. Can you imagine Carolina basketball players appearing at football games and wearing the gear of a rival opponent? Or even the Duke basketball players who play football? I can not sincerely. It's a bit strange of me to see. I mean, look, have you never spent enough time at Clemson's basketball? Clemson football players can do anything they want, but I still feel bad for the players and the basketball staff.
Spells of Louisville R-e-l-i-e-f.
Louisville would actually just flirt with the lack of the NCAA Tournament if he lost to Notre Dame. It was not like that, and it was not even that close.
He did not prevent Louisville fans from (understandably) sweating a little later, waiting for the team to suffer one of its last collapses.
But it was not so.
The Louisville players answered anything Chris Mack did. Notre Dame is certainly bad, but Louisville has looked after his business exactly as one would have expected from a pre-collapse of Louisville. Congratulations to them for not having obtained another bad victory or worse, suffering a bad loss.
Wake has a new athletic director and maybe …
… a new basketball coach?
Wake announced at midnight on Saturday (seriously) that the 27-year-old athletic director Ron Wellman would retire, replaced by John Currie.
The whole year's speech was about whether or not Wake could afford to get rid of Danny Manning (literally, in terms of buyout) and if it would be a good idea to consider the guy who did the last two assumptions, Wellman, is still there.
Well, it will not be now, and it will be Currie's compensation to do. In this way it seems more probable, as long as there is money, that Wake Forest can make this move.
Tennessee Twitter has been all this since the announcement. Currie, who graduated from Wake in 1993 and then was the Kansas State athletic director, had a very short but memorable term as AD in Knoxville.
In addition to trying to engage Greg Schiano on purpose and having to literally reverse the route due to a revolt of the fans, then lose Dave Doeren and run out of town, I'm not sure what he has to do with basketball, anyway. And that's what Currie will have to solve.
He hired Bruce Weber in a state of Kansas, now in the top 25, and so it worked. It will be his first move and probably his biggest.
Only, maybe I hope Dave Clawson is not hired soon.
My ACC things prefer this week.
The former guard of Duke Quinn Cook was one of the most prolific celebrators of the big baskets of his teammates, but UNC freshman Coby White is coming for that place.
This tweet of Havelock, of NC origin and the star of BC Ky Bowman:
This interaction between Roy Williams, who left the game at the end of the first half with a particularly ugly vertigo spell, and Brad Brownell (especially considering that a game between the two ended recently with Brownell's finger on Williams's face) :
And speaking of Williams, this story about him by a Clemson fan made me laugh:
Jim Boeheim will always be associated with his unwelcome Greensboro as a destination for the ACC Tournament. But Boeheim went out of his way to praise the city after his team won against Wake Forest.
And then there's this. Both illustrate wonderfully what seems to be a very good Mike Brey, by all accounts, and also as Buzz Williams is a bit … different. HE WROTE 425 COACHES EVERY WEEK!
And also, guys? We'll have to start talking about the referee Jeff Anderson.
Try to see this when the next time you call a game you're watching. My friend never loses his energy with those high knees. I want it in my Zumba class.
I've already talked about it here, but I did a special shoutout to Jack White, one of the best players in the Duke's locker room talking in postgames, for finally breaking what was a crazy series of 28 straight 3-points. And it was nice to finally see him succeed in smiling during and after a game.
LOGIN day of the week, in preview
Virginia (26-2, 14-2) in Syracuse (19-10, 10-6), 7pm, ESPN
This game is flying under the radar, probably considering how big the Virginia Tech-FSU game on Tuesday is. And many have surrounded the game of Virginia against Louisville as the last obstacle, but even this seems to be. It is not that these two teams do not have a story. A type of. Because Virginia has only lost to Syracuse twice since joining the championship in 2014, even if one of these was in Elite 8 after taking a big lead, then. And Virginia lost the next game in 2017 in Syracuse, but went 2-0 against Orange last year, including a 15 point victory in Syracuse.
Syracuse has not had two consecutive games of shots over 35% from the 3-point line since January, alternating the poor performance to the good ones, which has generally reflected in his record of wins-losses. He will have to make 3 points to beat Virginia. He fired a 21.1% victory over Wake from beyond the bow.
Virginia will have to make an efficient day offensively and be good defensive throughout the year, but it's comfortable to win bad if successful. It still looks like a game that Virginia could sweat over Louisville.
Wake Forest (11-17, 4-12) at No. 4 Duke (25-4, 13-3), 7pm, ESPN
Ken Pomeroy has fluctuated between giving the Deacs a 0.5% chance and a 0.3% chance to win this game, but seems to have stabilized at 0.4%. That's … incredibly low. But also, precise. There's really almost nothing to see here, unless we're considering whether Zion Williamson returns to the lineup for Duke or not. Before the Miami game, I was convinced that if Williamson did not play, he would play on Tuesday. The comments of coach K about not wanting to give him a strict schedule make me feel a little less confident, but one might think that Duke would like Williamson to play a game under him before the North Carolina game. This is literally the only reason to watch this game.
No. 15 Virginia Tech (22-6, 11-5) at No. 14 Florida State (23-6, 11-5), 7pm, ESPNU
The game of the week, people! It's really nice to know that a game between two teams will decide on an important seeding line, rather than Team X who needs the help of Team Y, etc. Both these teams were quite impressive. The FSU is 48-3 in the last 51 home games with losses only for Duke (on a buzzer-beater), Virginia (for 4 last year) and Louisville (also for four last year, the 39; only "bad" on the list). The Hokies are coming out of their signing by winning this season on the number 4 of the Duke, scoring 77 points, the maximum without Justin Robinson in the lineup. And they had a week off, a big problem for short-range Hokies.
But it is in Tallahassee, which counts not only for Florida State, but also for Virginia Tech. The Hokies are 5-3 away in the ACC game, but their best win of that group was in the NC state. (It was their first game without Robinson, though, and probably should get them more credit.) Their only other championship road matchups this year with Florida State's tallest ranked teams were in North Carolina (a defeat in 21 points with Robinson) and in Virginia (a 22 point defeat with Robinson).
Buzz Williams will try to get the air out of the ball and get things going at the pace of Virginia Tech because running with Florida State would be a bad idea. But the state of Florida has so many bodies and so much depth that it can give to the Hokies. Kerry Blackshear has challenged the odds in every game as Virginia Tech's only great man, but will have a lot to do to tackle the Florida State trees.
It should be a fun game and a clash of styles, though. The winner gets double hello
State of Florida, 74-67.
No. 3 North Carolina (24-5, 14-2) at Boston College (14-14, 5-11), 8pm, ACC network
Do not be fooled by what is an apparent discrepancy here – and it is so. The Eagles are 4-3 at home in the ACC game this year and have only one "bad" loss (Notre Dame). They also won (FSU, Louisville)
This is not a team with which North Carolina would like to reckon, and the Tar Heels, while keeping their winning streak alive, followed a slightly wrong trend in the second part of the defense. After allowing Syracuse to shoot over 50% from 2 and over 45% from 3, they followed him, letting Clemson shoot 54% from 2 and 36.4% from 3. None of these teams are exactly in position offensive, but it is capable. And so is Boston College, especially at home.
North Carolina, however, is trying to make history by going 9-0 on the road.
The Eagles have been pretty bad defensively throughout the year, but just a little bit of momentum to get them to close a bit. and staying home will help you. North Carolina can not afford to do another out for lunch defensively and must get good shots (and get them!) Eventually offensive.
North Carolina, 84-76.
Pittsburgh (12-17, 2-14) in Miami (12-16, 4-12), 8pm, ACC network
Although these teams have practically the same record, Miami is a better team. But how much better? And will it matter, considering the way Miami is playing? It seemed that Miami could have turned into a sort of corner with the loss of OT at the UNC and a victory at Clemson, plus a home victory over Georgia Tech, halfway between BC and Wake's road losses , games that should have won. Bursting at Duke was # unexpected, just as Pitt had exploded in Virginia. But the Panthers have lost 12 in a row now and they are one of the two ACC teams that have not won a championship road (the other, of course, is Miami). One of these teams must win, because it's in the rules.
Georgia Tech (13-17, 5-12) in the NC state (20-9, 8-8), 9pm, RSN
When NC State enters the "Do not Screw It Up" part of his program, he says goodbye to two of my favorite sentiments: Torin Dorn, the wonderful 4-man undertone with an oversized heart, and Wyatt Walker of the most wonderful hairstyles.
After beating Wake in his open ACC, Georgia Tech went 2-9 in his next 11 games and turned the ball on over 20% of his holdings in all 11 of them. It's … hard to do. But in the last five games, the Yellow Jackets are 2-3 and have shot on less than 20% of their properties in four of these five games, including their two lowest turnover rates of the season in the last two games (11.7% in Virginia and 13.4% against BC in winning overtime). New York State bread and butter are forcing (and marking) turnovers. The Wolfpack is 7-1 this season when opponents deliver it on at least 20% of their properties and 14-2 when it is at least 17%; Georgia Tech has been below 17% only six times throughout the season (although twice in the last two). This is the key statistic to look at in this.
NC State, 75-69. Because nothing can be easy.
Clemson (17-12, 7-9) at Notre Dame (13-16, 3-13), 9.00 pm, ESPNU
It's your game Bad Luck Brian ACC of the week, folks! If Clemson had not had bad luck in basketball, he would not have been lucky. And Notre Dame? Well.
After the biggest detours of Clemson of the season – at NC State, in Miami, in Louisville – The Tigers have … mixed results. After the loss of the NC state on a buzzer-beater, Clemson rattled off four wins in a row. But then they lost on a buzzer-beater in Miami, lost in a heartbreaker in Louisville when their winning game was blocked and followed him with a home defeat of 13 points against the FSU. They have won two in a row and although the Tigers are 2-6 away on ACC, they are 2-1 against the only three teams they have faced outside of Ken Pomeroy's 34 best. It is a hard roadmap. But they will have to recover from what happened against North Carolina if they want to keep their hope of making the NCAA Tournament alive.
Notre Dame has four wins from Christmas and two of them have been against Boston College.
Last week: 10-4 (10-4 ACC)
Overall: 100-36 (91-29 ACC)