Congratulations to Virginia for a smashing win over Syracuse. It's a tremendous accomplishment and the Cavs came within four points at Duke of going undefeated in the conference.
However, it has to be noted that Syracuse, already struggling with depth, only got 13 limited minutes from Jerami Grant. He took three shots,missed them all and got just one rebound and one foul.
That's a really tough blow for Syracuse. The Orange has won a lot, but not by a lot, and injuries have periodically had the rotation down to just six players. DaJuan Coleman, a highly promising big man, has only played once since Christmas.
Grant is just too key to do well without. It's been a tough year for the Grant family. Brother Jerian was suspended by Notre Dame for academic malfeasance.
Incidentally, we could be wrong, but we think the Grants are the first brothers to play at three separate ACC schools: older brother Jerai played at Clemson.
Michael Gbinije left Duke for a number of reasons, but largely because he felt pressured to commit and was never happy.
Syracuse's depth issues have revealed his limitations. He's not really a forward and not really a guard. He's not a dynamic defender, which is one role in which he could excel. He cannot possibly replace Grant.
Syracuse can run two big men with Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita, but mobility takes a hit and offense a bigger one. And without Grant to help CJ Fair take the pressure off the guards, Syracuse is much easier to guard.
Two ACC games remain, one a tussle with Georgia Tech at home and the other a trip to Florida State. Tech won't beat them, but FSU? That could happen.
Worth remembering: if that does happen and Duke beats Wake and UNC, the Blue Devils tie for #2 in the conference and get the #2 seed in the ACC Tournament.
A great game can have a cost later, and State paid it Saturday while UNC nearly did.
State lost to Miami, 85-70, which is pretty bad, if maybe understandable.
State was up 65-64 with less than seven before Miami blew the game open.
Usually The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, Miami instead shot 58.7%, which tends to suggest that State wasn't all there.
A young team, the Pack still has a lot to learn and a lot of mental toughness to develop. Mark Gottfried has done a remarkable job; we look forward to seeing where this team goes over the next few years.
As for UNC, as we expected, Virginia Tech gave them a pretty good game. It was a combination of circumstances - the hangover from an electrifying win over State and the fact that Tech is a better team than its record would suggest.
We're not saying the Hokies are great. But there is some talent and a core to build on. If James Johnson had had one more reasonable scorer Tech would have surely won. Most of the scoring came from Jarell Eddie (18) and Devin Wilson (15), who combined for 33 of Tech's 56 points, leaving 23 for the rest of the team.
For whatever reason, senior center Cadarian Raines didn't play.
At Duke, Trevor Thompson had 15 and CJ Barksdale eight. Against UNC, Thompson had eight and Barksdale four, roughly half the production the duo had in Durham.
But it's a team with heart and that showed against UNC.
After his brilliant turn at State, Marcus Paige was held to nine by Tech. Leslie McDonald finished with 14.
Tech clearly needs more players (and for returning players to develop). Next year local guard Warren Craft and forward TJ Lang, son of former Duke forward Antonio Lang, will join the team. Lang may turn out, but neither is highly regarded.
When you stop and think about it, this year's race has really been affected by injuries. Syracuse, Pitt, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech have all been hit by significant injuries. And of course Notre Dame lost Jerian Grant to academics.
That's not the case for Wake Forest, a team which looked promising early but which saw the wheels come off late.
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The Deacs were once 14-6; after a soulsucking loss to BC, the Deacs are now 15-14. That's truly dreadful. There's no rational way Jeff Bzdelik survives. A.D. Ron Wellman gave him the benefit of the doubt last year, but he won't be able to do it twice.
BC, the worst rebounding team in the league, abused Wake on the boards, 36/23 to 19/2.
That's right, Wake only had two offensive rebounds. That suggests a dispirited team.
Pitt needed overtime to beat Notre Dame but the Panthers did it and NCAA hopes are still alive.
Notre Dame is back to .500. After early suggestions that the expansion teams would rule the ACC roost, they have now combined for 21 conference losses.