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ACC Roundup - The Ultimate Proof Of Conference Depth As Pitt Nearly Takes Down UNC On The Road

Another intense night in the ACC as #1 barely survives #15

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NCAA Basketball: Duke at Notre Dame
Jan 30, 2017; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Matt Farrell (5) reacts in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils at the Purcell Pavilion. Duke won 84-74.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been talking a lot lately about how crazy the ACC is this year (Al Featherston has a post on that general theme today) and Pitt was kind enough to back us up on this too.

In Chapel Hill, the last place team in the conference went on the road and came extremely close to knocking off the first place team. Pitt lost by just two points, 80-78 - and even then, Pitt had a chance to win on a buzzer beating three point shot by Jamel Artis.

It’s hard to imagine another major conference where the last place team can go on the road and nearly pull off an upset of this magnitude.

DePaul beat Villanova at Villanova? Ha.

Rutgers beat Maryland at Maryland? It’d be fun, but it’s highly unlikely.

Oregon State over Arizona at Arizona? Never happen.

Missouri over UK at Rupp? Unimaginable.

Perhaps the best chance would be for Oklahoma to beat Baylor. The Bears have put themselves into stupid situations quite often under Scott Drew. But even so, that’s a big stretch.

The ACC this season is on a different level.

Thing is, we figured that UNC would come out after that humiliating loss at Miami and beat Pitt senseless. We know that a Mike Krzyzewski-coached team would at a minimum come out with a supreme effort in a similar situation.

UNC let Pitt come far too close. The Panthers hit 13-29 from three point range (44.8%) and hit 55.6% overall.

Artis and Michael Young have been the big guns for Pitt so far this season, but Tuesday night it was Cameron Johnson who was on fire, hitting 6-9 from three point range and leading the team with 24.

That’s kind of like the night Jordan Chatman had this weekend for BC (Chatman exploded for 30 points and hit 9-11 from deep).

Again, to return to our theme, neither of these guys are their team’s stars.

A significant discrepancy: UNC had 19 free throw attempts to Pitt’s five. If that had been Duke there would have been screams about biased officiating (it wasn’t - Pitt was only called for three more fouls than UNC).

Wake broke a long ACC road losing streak at NC State last Tuesday and got another road win this Tuesday at Boston College.

We’ve said before that we think that John Collins may be the most promising center in the ACC and at BC he showed why.

Collins finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds and best of all to coach Danny Manning, one foul.

He also had three blocks.

Bryant Crawford and Keyshawn Woods both finished with nine assists. That’s damned good for any backcourt.

Chatman followed his weekend eruption with 22 and shot 4-6 from three point range. Jerome Robinson had 17 and Ky Bowman finished with 18.

Bowman, by the way, is the sort of player Wake Forest’s program, at least after the ACC integrated, was built on: a superb talent overlooked in a small NC town.

Too bad the Deacs and the rest of Tobacco Road missed him.

At this point you can reasonably rule BC and Pitt out of NCAA play and probably the NIT too, at least in BC’s case.

Otherwise there’s still candy under the tree for whoever can get it. On Wednesday, four games and four teams on the wrong side of the bubble will get a chance to build an argument.

We’ll come back to those in a minute.

Among the likely NCAA contenders, two outstanding rivalry games on tap: FSU visits Miami and Virginia Tech heads over the mountains to visit their dear friends in Charlottesville.

Duke-UNC gets all the rivalry love from the media, and it’s a phenomenal rivalry, but the ACC’s only mountain rivalry is also fairly riveting.

Virginia has become an elite program lately while the Hokies are moving in that direction under Buzz Williams.

Not that it matters.

These teams go at it hammer and tong. It’s also a major clash of styles as the Hokies like to run and Virginia...well, Virginia doesn’t.

Virginia likes to make you wait. And wait. And wait.

As we’ve said before, we’re not big fans of that sort of basketball but we have immense respect for what Tony Bennett has built at Virginia. Beating that team is an accomplishment.

The Hokies are catching up though and a frenetic style and some hot three point shooting and you never know. We wouldn’t be caught dead betting on this game.

Meanwhile, a young Miami team showed its potential against UNC over the weekend and a win over Florida State would greatly bolster the odds of an NCAA bid, assuming the ‘Canes don’t fall apart down the stretch. We don’t see it. This is a solid and improving young team and FSU has been struggling.

We wouldn’t bet on this on either but it wouldn’t surprise us if Miami won.

In the not-quite-there-games, a surging Georgia Tech team visits Clemson and Syracuse flies down to Raleigh for a tussle with the Pack.

At this point, it’s hard to argue against the Yellow Jackets, who have been off the charts. Clemson is capable though and we have great respect for Brad Brownell. He’s a superb coach. It’s just tough to get it done at Clemson and tougher now than before expansion.

And finally Syracuse has improved a great deal recently while State has been...well, State.

There’s a now (probably) obsolete term called Clemsoning. What word can you give to State? Hope is extended and snatched away on an almost annual basis. It’s like Charlie Brown kicking the football.

State has one of the best guards in the country and some real talent. There’s no reason why this team is 14-8 with losses to Illinois, BC, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.

Still, with Dennis Smith, the potential for electricity is high.

Speaking of State, the Kinston police have found no evidence of foul play in the death of former Pack star Charles Shackleford.

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