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ACC Roundup - A Fun Night

Miami, NC State get big wins

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NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Louisville
Jan 21, 2018; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals forward Ray Spalding (13) shoots against Boston College Eagles forward Luka Kraljevic (13) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Boston College 77-69. 
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The first part of the ACC season was full of surprises and upside down standings at least by traditional standards. Now? Not so much.

Look from the bottom up: only Notre Dame is truly out of place and that’s due to injuries and primarily the devastating one to Bonzi Colson. Otherwise though, the bottom is like this: Pitt, Wake Forest, Boston College, Georgia Tech.

Virginia Tech, Syracuse and NC State comprise what we might call the still-have-hope tier.

The real teams start with the Florida squads: Miami and Florida State are both at least holding their own or rising. Then it’s UNC, Clemson, Louisville, Duke and Virginia.

Clemson was off to a great season before losing Donte Grantham and obviously the season isn’t over. It won’t be easy to replace him though so they might be a bit higher than they should be. Virginia aside, we’ll have to see how they do.

So Wednesday’s outcomes were about what you might have expected with FSU beating Georgia Tech, Syracuse taking BC and State surviving Pitt. Only Miami beating Louisville could be considered anything remotely like a surprise and that was at home.

BC is capable of beating anyone in the conference but depth is a real problem and it’s hard to attack Syracuse’s long 2-3 anyway. Ky Bowman loves to drive and that’s next to impossible in the half-court against Syracuse.

Syracuse also played very well, shooting 60% overall and 44% from deep. The Orange pretty much shut out BC’s frontcourt, limiting them to seven points - six from Nik Popovic and one point from the bench from Luka Kraljevic. Steffon Mitchell played 18 minutes and had just one statistical result to show for it (one block). BC has a great back court but that can’t do the trick every night.

Florida State beat Georgia Tech but Josh Pastner feels like his team helped. The Yellow Jackets have had a problem with turnovers and the Seminoles love that and scored

The other two games were much more fun at least at the end.

Kevin Keatts probably wasn’t having a lot of fun when Pitt was kicking State’s butt in the first half. But State did come back and the Wolfpack played with (mostly) poise in a tough situation. Braxton Beverly was particularly impressive and looked, physically and in how he played, like some strange morphing of Chris Corchiani and Archie Miller.

Down the stretch the freshman did nearly everything right. He airballed a critical three pointer - then came down and rebounded Pitt’s missed shot.

He was so good.

Louisville and Miami put on the best show and if people haven’t figured this out yet, don’t drive on Anas Mahmoud because that guy is a brilliant shot blocker. He really knows what he’s doing - timing, cunning, all of it. He’s outstanding.

Still, Miami was right there. And when Lonnie Walker hit a ridiculous spinning shot where he switched hands, it was over Mahmoud’s outstretched hand and it put the game in overtime.

That shot is going to be talked about for a long time.

Miami got a huge win, one that will help them a lot with the committee, and perhaps, some of what they lost earlier for whatever reason, their swagger, their confidence and joy in the game, has been regained.

No games Thursday or Friday. Play resumes on Saturday with the focus being #2 Virginia visiting #4 Duke in Cameron.

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