That the #7 team was the only one that won comfortably on Friday says volumes about this tournament:Â #1 seed UNC won 79-76 over an inspired but snake-bitten Virginia Tech, #4 Florida State barely survived #12 Georgia Tech, 64-62, and of course #3 Duke just did get by #6 B.C., as discussed elsewhere on the site.
Maryland was playing for their tournament life, and they probably saved it.Â The Terps exposed Wake Forest, forcing them to shoot outside and revealing them, again, as a young team on the rise but still a young team.Â The Deacs shot just under 30% and only hit four threes, none by Jeff Teague, who was limited to 11.
Maryland has ridden zone so far in this tournament, and ridden it well.Â They completely baffled Wake and especially Teague. Ominous stats for Duke: Maryland hit 21-26 from the line and pounded the much bigger Deacs on the board.Â Greivis Vasquez had a spectacular game with 22 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.Â Tack this on to his game against State, where he hit for 17 points, 10 assists and he's an early candidate for All-Tourney and, if they go far enough, the Everett Case Award for Most Outstanding Player.
For Virginia Tech, how deflated could you be?Â It's the season in a nutshell, with the same ending as last season, a loss to UNC in a game they could have won.Â In both cases, it cost them a tournament bid. But they have a complaint, and it may be valid:Â was J.T. Thompson fouled by Tyler Hansbrough when the key jump ball was called?
Thompson thought so, saying that "I guess they got to the ball, but it took a lot to get to it."
Seth Greenberg more or less agreed, saying that "[w]hat I saw doesn't count, so it makes no difference. The only people that count were the guys wearing a striped shirt."
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Tech fans are also angry that UNC got to the end of the half with only three fouls.Â But here's the deal:Â when you take pride in a highly physical defense, and you come up against a more talented team, how do you think you're going to compete?Â You're going to pound them, of course, and you run the risk of heavy fouls.Â That's the choice you make and you live with it.
Doesn't make coming up short any easier though.
And Georgia Tech came oh-so-close to pulling off another upset.Â They were up 62-61 with 32 seconds left when Derwin Kitchen hit a beautiful reverse layup and put himself on the line for a free throw, too. Iman Shumpert had one last chance at tying the game but couldn't get it done.
So Saturday, UNC takes on Florida State without, we're guessing, Ty Lawson.Â Either way, it's going to be interesting to see how they defend Toney Douglas, who gave them fits earlier, and how UNC approaches Solomon Alabi, who has the potential to be one of the best big man defenders to come through the ACC.