Tonight’s ACC tournament opponent needs no introduction as Duke faces UNLV-CH for the third time this season and this one is the rubber match.
If you didn’t see the setup last night here’s the basics: led by Marvin Bagley and Grayson Allen, Duke put on a show against Notre Dame. Allen lit it up from the outside while Bagley dominated inside. Trevon Duval had a tremendous game as well but Wendell Carter, who played with an injured foot and who may or may not play vs. UNC, while Gary Trent had a poor outing.
UNC, playing in the late game, started off 0-12 before catching fire and eliminating Miami. The Tar Heels got off to a slow start but ultimately got good games from Joel Berry and Cameron Johnson and a spectacular game from Theo Pinson.
Pinson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, which compares favorably to Bagley’s 33 and 15. He also had three assists, three steals and a block.
It’s hard to understate how good he was. The guy seemed to be everywhere.
Good thing since Miami held Luke Maye to 1-15 and two points (he did get 13 boards however).
Like Notre Dame in its first two ACC Tournament games, UNC had a dramatic advantage from the line, hitting 18-23 to Miami’s 7-13.
The Tar Heels now get a rare opportunity: the chance to gain revenge on the teams that sequentially wrecked Senior Day (accomplished) and the team that denied it a double bye in the ACC Tournament (TBD).
Both teams are a bit banged up. Carter may be limited as we said and UNC had a couple of guys get banged up last night. It’s easy to watch on TV and forget that people were banged up but it’s not our ankles or backs or shoulders.
Nonetheless, it’s Duke-UNC and that usually means people step up. Once it was Chris Duhon going coast to coast to hit a game winner. Another it was Dante Calabria, hitting a shot as he fell to the ground. There are so many great plays in this rivalry that it’s almost impossible to remember them all.
We’re not predicting a game winning clutch shot here but if guys are banged up, other guys will step up. That’s the way it works around here.
Fortunately for ESPN, Duke-UNC is the late game. Virginia and Clemson will tilt at 7:00.
The first game doesn’t apparent to be encouraging for Clemson as Virginia crushed the Tigers, 61-36.
In the ACC though revenge is always an issue and competitiveness is always supreme.
Clemson has had to forge a different identity since losing Dante Grantham and really, the job Brad Brownell has done is as good as anyone could possibly have done under the circumstances.
And we may be alone in thinking this and yes Virginia is 29-2 which is imposing to say the least.
But we don’t think Virginia has played its best basketball lately. They were good against Louisville Thursday but were incredibly fortunate to escape the Cardinals on the 1st and struggled to put away a game but limited Notre Dame at home in the regular season finale.
The rough loss to UVA was the first game Clemson played without Grantham and they’ve come a long way since then. We’re not saying the Tigers will win here, but losing by 25?
We can’t see that happening again and we’re pretty sure Clemson hasn’t forgotten about it.
So win or lose, we expect a supreme effort from the Tigers.
And that likely means that whichever teams advance are going to be pushed to the limit which should make Saturday fairly unpredictable.
Finally, we would remind you that Virginia’s Travis Guy is playing with a strained ACL. He surprised us a bit shooting 7-14 against Louisville. We’ll see if he can do it with a sore knee against a physical (and likely still irritated) Clemson defense.
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