So far, Duke and Virginia have had an easier time of it than their ACC brethren, but even Virginia had fits with Belmont, which is no great surprise. Belmont is a superb program and presented Virginia with some real challenges.
But the ACC is entirely alive, if barely. Here are the second-round (according to the NCAA anyway) scores:
- Notre Dame 69 Northeastern 65
- UNC 67 Harvard 65
- NC State 66 LSU 65
- Virginia 79 Belmont 67
- Louisville 57 UC Irvine 55
- Duke 85 Robert Morris 56
Obviously any of these games other than Duke's and Virginia's could have gone the other way, so the ACC basically got lucky several times. In Carolina's case, Harvard missed a makeable game-winning shot at the buzzer while State's last two baskets came from Beejay Anya, not a guy known for his offensive gifts. In fact, his game winner came when Trevor Lacey was in the air with no plan and had to ditch the ball. It came to Anya awkwardly, but he managed to get off a jump hook that fell in.
It helped that a young LSU team had no clue what to do, but give State credit for the comeback and Anya's big plays.
Luck or whatever, everyone survived.
Now, naturally, things get harder, and in some cases, much harder.
Notre Dame gets serial strangler Butler, a school which punches above its weight. UNC gets a highly athletic Arkansas.
If it were Dean Smith, there's no question who would win, but with Roy Williams, it's up in the air.
Last year Virginia was knocked out by Michigan State and it could happen again on Sunday.
Louisville gets Northern Iowa, which could be a trap game.
Duke gets an always tough San Diego State, while State will play the #1 seed in the East, Villanova.
Here's our picks for Saturday:
- UAB over UCLA
- UK over Cincinnati (though Cincinnati will have special incentive here since UK will not schedule them)
- Arizona over Ohio State
- Xavier over Georgia State
- Utah over Georgetown
- NC State over Villanova
- Arkansas over UNC
- Notre Dame over Butler