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ACC Roundup

Pitt was challenged by Georgia Tech but overcame the Yellow Jackets in the second half

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Chris Bolden (11) shoots the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the first half at Hank McCamish Pavilion
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Chris Bolden (11) shoots the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the first half at Hank McCamish Pavilion
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Although Georgia Tech gave Pitt a good half, the Panthers, playing without forward Durand Johnson (out for the year with an ACL and meniscus injury) took it to the Yellow Jackets in the second half, scoring 49 points and winning 72-65.

Pitt's depth may have suffered as the bench scored just 11 points and played 37 minutes.

Dean Smith used to say a team could overcome an injury for a game or two but after that it took a toll. We'll see how Pitt handles it, starting Saturday at Syracuse.

Tech got a bit more time from the bench (43) but just one more point.

The Yellow Jackets of course are playing without big man Robert Carter, who has his own meniscus injury.

In another case of a missing player, UNC's PJ Hairston isn't injured just permanently ineligible, so he's off to the D-League to audition for the draft. He'll be with the Texas Legends.

Four fun games on Wednesday, including Notre Dame's one and only visit to College Park, Clemson's jaunt to Blacksburg, a rivalry game between FSU and improving Miami and an ancient ACC rivalry between Wake Forest and State.

Both teams are 11-5 and still can have reasonable NCAA ambitions. That'll change somewhat for someone after this game, and given a 1-25  ACC road record under Jeff Bzdelik, it'll probably be Wake Forest. The loser falls to 1-3 in the ACC while the winner will hit .500.

After this game, Wake will be off the the Littlejohn Funhouse while State gets the Cameron treatment, so a win here is pretty important.

The Notre Dame visit is critical to Maryland as well. If the Terps lose, 10-8 is going to be very unimpressive.

There's a nice stretch coming in the schedule though - Pitt will be tough but State, Miami, Virginia Tech and UNC are all winnable games.

After that though it's FSU, Virginia and Duke - not easy. Maryland's NCAA path is getting pretty narrow.

We have to say we're intrigued by Clemson and want to see what the Tigers can do to build on the Duke win. Clemson has never really been a strong road team but Brad Brownell is a terrific coach and he might have them ready.

Want a scenario? Clemson beats Virginia Tech, knocks off Wake, goes toe to toe with Pitt and then goes to Chapel Hill with a chance to break The Streak. Given the rugged Tiger defense and the mediocre UNC offense, it could happen.

Then again, Los Tigres, as we said, are not exactly road warriors.

If it wasn't clear before now, everyone should get it by now: Jim Larranaga is a hell of a coach. It's amazing that Miami is over .500 considering what Miami lost last year.

The 'Canes are 4-1 in the last five games, and the loss was to Syracuse at Syracuse, and Miami very nearly pulled that off too. If things had gone a bit differently at Virginia Tech, where Miami lost by one in overtime, Miami would have gone 7-2 since November 29th.

Keep in mind, too, that Miami has had four overtime games, meaning of course that all four could have been won in regulation.

Miami is 1-3 in overtime, and the loss to George Washingon doesn't look nearly as bad in retrospect.

Given what we've seen from the Hurricanes of late, Florida State should be favored, but you can't rule out an upset here. Not by a long shot.

What Larranaga is doing is near-genius in basketball terms.

He lost his top six players, who took with them 172 out of 200 minutes per game, 63 ppg and all but 4.3 rpg.

And he's taking the #2 team to the wire on the road? That's unbelievable.

If we had to think about it, so far this year we'd consider Larranaga, Tony Bennett, Jim Boeheim, Jamie Dixon, Brad Brownell, Leonard Hamilton and Mark Gottfried for ACC coach of the year, and it's hard to top what Larranaga is doing. Boeheim has a tremendous team, but Larranaga is outcoaching just about everyone.