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ACC Roundup - Two Good Ones Saturday

Virginia is closing fast on 18-0 but the Hokies won’t give up without a fight.

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Virginia Tech
Jan 3, 2018; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Ty Jerome (11) shoots against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the first half at Cassell Coliseum. 
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

It should be a fun Saturday with two rivalry games. Virginia Tech goes to Virginia to try to steal one and UNC visits Raleigh where at least the folks in red consider it a rivalry.

Joel Berry probably fired them up a good bit this week when he said that Duke was a rival but he didn’t consider State worthy of that.

That was probably not wise. State has already proved they can compete with UNC this season and throwing red meat to the usually raucous State crowd (at least when Duke or UNC shows up) is just pushing it a bit. And State noticed.

  • Abdul-Malik Abu: “It would only be insulting if you value their opinion, if you put them on your level. You have to look past that and let your game speak.”
  • Omer Yurtseven: “They are going to try to get revenge on us. I heard some weird comments from the other team’s players. But I don’t really care what they said. We beat them at their home. Now they are going to try to come back at us at our home. We’ll be ready for them.”
  • Keatts: “I know that everybody is going to take what Berry said and they are going run with it. He’s been in the league a lot longer than I have. He’s been in the league for four years. You can’t make guys say it’s a rivalry game if they don’t think it is. I respect it. If he doesn’t think it’s a rivalry game, that’s what it is. We are just excited about playing the game. For us, we have another opportunity to play a really good basketball team on our home floor.”

Rivalry aside for the moment, a win over UNC would significantly boost State’s resume - as well as putting State back ahead of UNC in the ACC standings.

Virginia Tech can’t catch Virginia in the standings - barring a collapse by the ‘Hoos, no one is catching them - but it’s a passionate rivalry and you can never overlook the emotional side of that.

The Cavaliers have been winning of course but not always by much. The BC win was by one, Duke by two, Syracuse by seven, Wake Forest by 10 and FSU by four.

That doesn’t overlook the late game management Virginia has done. To the contrary it’s been brilliant - but it does suggest that Virginia can be beaten. It’s not like Ralph Sampson and Michael Jordan are together and totally dominating the ACC (that actually came very close to happening but then-coach Terry Holland had no idea that one of the two greatest players in history really wanted to play for Virginia and so didn’t recruit him as heavily as he should have. It would have been a devastating combination).

We’d expect Virginia to win but the Hokies have a bunch of really good three point shooters and the potential to speed the game up a bit.

The chances of the Cavaliers going 18-0 go up a lot if they win this one - road trips to Miami and Louisville are still significant challenges, but otherwise, it’s Georgia Tech, Pitt and Notre Dame and we can’t see Virginia losing those games.

The real question now is can Virginia finish with an ACC title and then make a deep NCAA run. It’s the one thing Tony Bennett has not accomplished yet.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Virginia knows full well that #1 in the nation is on the line - and so does Virginia Tech.

Speaking of Virginia, we all tend to see players as entertainers and not always as people so it’s good when we get insights into who they are. In the case of UVA’s Isaiah Wilkins, he’s been dealing with clinical depression. This is a deeply touching piece. It’s hard not to pull for the guy.

Notre Dame has shown immense character without Bonzie Colson but they just can’t maintain the level they had with him so it won’t be easy to beat a big, athletic team like Florida State.

Miami and BC is really intriguing. Would anyone rule out a BC upset of any ACC team now? We wouldn’t. They’re very capable.

LaVar Ball has sent his people to the state to try and lure UNC recruit Coby White to play in his Junior Basketball Association. The Whites turned them down. Last we heard not one player has opted for his league which is probably smart since his Big Baller Brand is apparently having trouble making payments.

And in Atlanta, Georgia Tech, with a history of aggressively investigating students who have been accused of sexual assault (the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that “Tech expelled or suspended nearly every student accused of sexual misconduct in the previous five years. Tech was so strict that state legislators introduced bills calling for due process, and the state Board of Regents adopted more lenient rules for all Georgia universities”), now says it will hire an outside, independent” investigator to look into the allegations of sexual assault and misbehavior against coach Josh Pastner.

There are more specific and lurid allegations in the link above if you care to read them including some allegedly committed on campus or at school events.

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