Three ACC teams played Saturday, and all three teams came in and left with considerable cause for optimism.
That's not to say that everything is hunky dory, but things are heading in the right basic direction for State, Virginia Tech and Maryland.
Don't look now, but Maryland has won six straight. Earlier this season, if you'll recall, they got thrashed by Alabama and Iona and took a hit from Illinois as well.Â They had a serious struggle with FIU as well.
The talent is up with the additions of Alex Len and Pe'Shon Howard,Â though it's still not always listening: Mark Turgeon had to kick them out of practice Friday morning.
They more or less got it together by Saturday night, beating Samford by 12 after having a big second half-lead.
Len finished with 13 points and seven boards in 22 minutes; Howard had nine rebounds and five assists. Terrell Stoglin had 24 and rookie Nick Faust, whose role is becoming clearer, had 13 on 5-8 shooting.
Maryland's defense wasn't impeccable but they did force Samford to take 44% of their shots from beyond the line.
Earlier this season, it looked like Maryland might not win 10 games this season, so 8-3 looks pretty good.
In Raleigh, the Wuffpack is getting better and they know it: After the game, CJ Leslie said "I think we've come a long way since the beginning of the year. Even in the last month, we're definitely more comfortable with each other."
Among other delicacies the Pack is munching on, Richard Howell had his third straight double-double.
Most importantly, though, State is buying into Mark Gottfried's system and unlike recent seasons, they are conditioned and defending.
After a tight game in the NIT, we figured that Oklahoma State would give the Hokies a tough game, and they did, particularly when you consider they lost two starters to injuries during the game.
Dorenzo Hudson iced the game down the stretch, hitting four three throws in the final minute.
Statistically, the game was pretty close other than free throws (Tech was 15-17 while the Cowboys were 7-11) and rebounding, where Tech killed, winning the board battleÂ 43/16 to 24/6.
On Sunday, 2-11 Monmouth visits UNC. They have a better chance of being hit by lightning than winning this game.
Monmouth is coached by former Heel King Rice, who has hired his old teammates Derrick Phelps and Brian Reese.
East Tennessee State will play at Clemson and while Clemson will be favored, their offensive struggles may haunt them. And keep this in mind: ETSU is one of those under-the-radar basketball schools that can pop up sometimes and pull an upset.Â This isn't a great team or anything, but at this point, neither is Clemson.
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