A few thoughts on Thursday’s ACC Tournament games:
It takes two days to get down to the old eight-team format and we’re left now with four teams that have competed and four that have not.
The teams that have already played are BC, Louisville, Notre Dame and UNC. Notre Dame and BC are both already onto game #3 and their opponents Duke and Clemson will play their first game. Louisville and UNC have each played once.
Ever since the ACC first had a bye game, and later several, there’s always been a debate about whether or not that’s an advantage for the fresh team or the team that’s been playing.
Given the thin rotations BC and Notre Dame have, it’s hard to see how it’s an advantage. In BC’s case, Nik Popovic, who has played surprisingly well, went down with an apparent ankle injury Wednesday. He came back in the game but playing the next day may not be easy as he’s likely to have stiffened up overnight.
The Eagles have a very thin margin for error to say the least. They were brilliant against NC State in the first half but State charged back at the end when they had more in the tank than did BC.
Clemson is banged up a bit but they’re a great defensive team. When they played earlier, Donte Grantham, now out for the year, scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Elijah Thomas, David Skara and Aamir Simms are all improving.
BC will need three point shooting from Jerome Robinson, Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman to win and that’s asking a lot from guys who have pulled heavy minutes two days in a row.
Notre Dame has a similar problem but it’s potentially a bit worse in their case. Bonzie Colson is productive and if you’re Mike Brey you’re going to play him, but he’s not in game shape and he’s not shooting well (although he still hit a key three against Virginia Tech Wednesday). The Irish have a thin rotation and their starters haven’t shot well in the first two games. Additionally, since switching to zone, Duke’s defense has improved dramatically and the Blue Devils are capable of dominating the boards. Notre Dame could still win here but they’ll have to reach deep to do it.
Is Louisville over the collapse in Charlottesville? That was an incredible comeback by Virginia and now Louisville gets a chance for payback. But there’s a twist: Virginia’s best threat, Kyle Guy, has an MCL sprain and may wear a brace. He said the other day that he could play but that it “hurts like hell.”
It’s tough to beat Virginia obviously but they’ve been in some close games down the stretch: Virginia Tech beat them of course, but the only easy game in the last five was Pitt.
Even before his injury against Notre Dame, Guy hadn’t been shooting very well:
- vs. Syracuse: 5-15
- vs. FSU: 5-19
- vs. Virginia Tech: 5-21
- vs. Miami: 5-9
- vs. Georgia Tech: 3-8
- vs. Pitt: 1-4
- vs. Louisville: 4-13
- vs. Notre Dame: 0-4
That’s 28-93 in his last eight games, just a bit over 30% - and that’s mostly before his injury. It’s hard to imagine he’ll do much better with a brace on. It should make defending Virginia a bit easier and limit three point shooting.
They still have to deal with Ty Jerome though and that hasn’t been easy. He’s terribly underrated.
Another payback game looms with UNC and Miami. As you may remember, Ja’Quan Newton gutted UNC with a last-second three point shot in Chapel Hill at the end of February.
Don’t think UNC has forgotten. The Tar Heels have a big-game advantage but Miami’s athleticism is impressive. Pocket rocket Chris Lykes is coming on fast and Newton, Lonnie Walker, Anthony Lawrence and Dewan Huell give the ‘Canes a solid athletic core. Dejan Vasiljevic is a bit less athletic but that guy is dangerous and can hurt you quickly.
We’re inclined to favor UNC here but Miami is a tough out.