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ACC Roundup - Wake Forest Breaks Through

It must have come as a relief

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Virginia
Jan 15, 2019; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers forward Jay Huff (30) dunks the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the second half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers won 81-59.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the Big Four teams are without their starting point guards and both lost their most recent games: Duke lost to Syracuse Monday after losing Tre Jones six games in and NC State lost to Wake Forest on Tuesday while Markell Johnson sat out with back problems after a hard fall this weekend.

State can point to Johnson’s absence but Wake Forest played well, and guess what: in the last three games, Wake played Duke hard for a half, hung with Miami until the last 8:00 or so and gave State fits all night Tuesday.

And best of all, Wake didn’t just deserve to win, the Deacs refused to crumble at the end. And State came hard at the end after trailing by double digits. Wake Forest actually had a 22 point lead in the second half. Imagine that!

But State did what State does and stayed aggressive. We thought until fairly late that Wake would crumble, that the Wolfpack will would prevail, but not this time.

State had minimal production inside, which isn’t a big surprise when Wyatt Walker - no offense - is your main big man. The grad student transfer isn’t horrible but he’s never going to be a huge scorer.

That said, he is 6-9 and could get more than 4.5 rpg. Inside play, or at least inside play by big men, is going to be a concern for State all year.

It must feel great for Wake Forest. After the game some of the Demon Deacons went to the crowd and, we guess, celebrated, though honestly it looked a bit angry too. That’s probably because we’re outsiders though.

The celebration could be short-lived. Wake Forest goes to Virginia Tech next and after getting ritually humiliated in Charlottesville by the hated ‘Hoos, Virginia Tech will not be in a mood to goof around.

Tony Bennett, the ACC’s reigning endodontist, makes everyone miserable with the Pack Line and this year he has more firepower and athleticism than usual. If you fall behind, you’re in real trouble.

We’ll say it again: it only looks bad on TV. In person, Virginia’s style is incredibly intense.

There’s something else we’ve come to realize about Bennett/

When you look around the league, now and historically, there are plenty of coaches who generate strong emotions. Currently it’s Coach K and Roy Williams. Historically, Dean Smith, Lefty Driesell, Norm Sloan, Frank McGuire and Gary Williams drove everyone else nuts. There are relatively few figures beloved by other fan bases, notably Bobby Cremins, who had no enemies, and maybe Jim Valvano and Bones McKinney. Well, you could put Les Robinson in there too. No one had it in them to hate Robinson. Maybe Clemson’s Oliver Purnell.

Most coaches irritate other teams and fan bases though. Consider Skip Prosser. An erudite and thoughtful man, he still managed to annoy people on a regular basis.

Who the hell hates Tony Bennett? He’s a quiet and graceful man and we’ve come to realize that a lot of his coaching is influenced by his Catholic faith in the best possible way. He'd never talk about it, which is good, but if you listen to what his players say and to some extent what Bennett says, it comes through.

Notre Dame pushed UNC hard but the Irish couldn’t match what Louisville did over the weekend and fell to the Heels, 75-69.

It doesn’t seem to have registered, but Notre Dame’s John Mooney has emerged as a very solid scorer as a junior. He had 16 against UNC and a whopping 19 rebounds. He also had four blocks. In Plumlee-ese, that’s a man’s game.

Notre Dame is just 1-3 in conference play but you get the sense that they’re improving.

People talk a lot about the top of the ACC but look at the bottom. There are several ties but we’re ignoring them for now.

#15 - BC

#14 - Clemson

#13 - Miami

#12 - #11 Florida State (not for long though)

#11 - Wake Forest

#10 - Pitt

#9 -#17 NC State

Teams will find their level but that’s crazy.

Two games on Wednesday - BC visits Louisville and Georgia Tech goes to Clemson for an intense defensive encounter.

Boston College @ Lousiville 7:00 ACCNE
Georgia Tech @ Clemson 9:00 ACCNE
Tuesday's Results
  • Virginia 81 Virginia Tech 59
  • UNC 75 Notre Dame 69
  • Wake Forest 71 NC State 67

ACC Standings

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