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ACC Roundup - UNC, Virginia Win, Syracuse Woes Continue

A fine first Saturday of major conference competition.

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Jan 2, 2016; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Malcolm Brogdon (15) is fouled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Austin Torres (1) while shooting the ball in the second half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers won 77-66.
Jan 2, 2016; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Malcolm Brogdon (15) is fouled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Austin Torres (1) while shooting the ball in the second half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers won 77-66.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In Saturday's ACC action, UNC survived Georgia Tech 86-78, Virginia beat Notre Dame 77-66, Miami took Syracuse down by 13, 64-51, Duke knocked off BC 81-64, Clemson surprised Florida State 84-75, Virgina Tech beat NC State 73-68 in overtime and Pitt whipped UMES 92-58. Every home team won except for Boston College.

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We thought that Tech would give UNC a pretty good game and they did. But UNC closed out well, scoring on 11 of the last 12 possessions, and that one was scoreless because the Heels were running out the clock.

We weren't sure that UNC could match Charles Mitchell inside, but they did. Mitchell had 14 points and six rebounds; UNC's Brice Johnson had 15 and 11 while Joel James, starting for Kennedy Meeks, had a career high 11 points and five boards.

Three point watch: UNC was 2-12 while Tech shot 7-15. UNC had 10 more free throw attempts and hit 24 to Tech's 15.

Still, the Yellow Jackets were right there and that's a big change.

We also thought that Virginia Tech wouldn't be deep enough to beat State, but we were wrong. The Hokies took them to overtime and at that point, on the road, you're in deep trouble.

Seth Allen and Jalen Hudson had 23 each for the Hokies.

State again relied on Cat Barber, but the junior guard, who finished with 21, saw his final shot in regulation blocked and in overtime, while Barber had one basket, the Pack only had free throws otherwise.

Against the much smaller Hokies, Beejay Anya had 12 boards and five blocks but just six points.

It's a bit early, but it seems more and more likely: for Notre Dame, after last year's glory, the thrill is gone.

Or maybe on hiatus.

Beating Virginia was a long shot, but Notre Dame is now just 9-4. The win over Iowa's not bad, but the rest are pretty blah. And the losses - to Monmouth, Alabama, Indiana and Virginia - only Virginia is a game the Irish should have lost.

It'll hurt in March. The next three are winnable - at BC and then Pitt and Georgia Tech at home - but it's not the same dynamic team we saw last year.

It's a bit odd though: Virginia shot brilliantly, hitting 57% and 7-22 from deep. But they allowed the Irish 48.2%. Last year, Virginia held the Irish to 33.9%.

A win's a win, we're just saying it's...different.

Michael Gbinije has been really good for Syracuse so far, but Saturday, Angel Rodriguez got in his grill and forced eight turnovers. Gbinije was just 3-14, 0-7 from three and had four fouls.

We've never been big fans of Trevor Cooney - he struggles against ACC level guards in our opinion - and Miami choked him off, too, limiting him to five points.

Frank Howard sat out with the flu but that still didn't pry Kaleb Joseph off the bench: the one-time heir apparent to the point guard spot played just six minutes.

Not that Miami played well offensively. The 'Canes shot 34.6% and just 3-25. But Miami got to the line 34 times and hit 25.

You'd think a Clemson-Florida State game would be all about the D. Apparently not.

The Seminoles let Jordan Roper loose for 23 points and he's not the first guard to do it this season.

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton credited the Tigers for doing "all the little things" and "all the dirty work" to win.

Clemson goes from this game to Syracuse Tuesday, and given Syracuse's woes, that's probably a winnable game.

Pitt beat 3-12 Maryland-Eastern Shore 92-58. Big whoop.

Tomorrow is an interesting Sunday matchup between Wake Forest and Louisville. With Louisville and Duke Wakes next two opponents, the Deacons have a chance to make a major statement. You have to give Danny Manning credit - he has remade this team into his own image. Wake is no longer a sure win. The Demon Deacons will fight back now.

We'll say this though: Rick Pitino fights too, and pretty clearly, he's in a fighting mood. How often have we seen his teams show immense fight and heart - not least of all when things are not going well?

His Friday press conference suggests that he'll have his team ready Sunday. Wake better strap it on for this one.

Wake gets one break: Trey Lewis hurt his ankle and probably won't play.