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ACC Roundup - Virginia Cruises, Louisville Sinks, Pitt Loses 11th Straight

Just a normal night around the ol’ ACC

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NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Virginia
Feb 27, 2019; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Ty Jerome (11) drives to the basket past Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Michael Devoe (0) in the second half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers won 81-51.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In Wednesday’s ACC action, Virginia not surprisingly crushed Georgia Tech, Pitt fell to Clemson and Boston College took down Louisville 66-59.

When Louisville hammered UNC on January 12th, the Cardinals were 11-5. When they beat Virginia Tech on February 4th, the Cardinals were 17-6.

Since then the wheels have fallen off for Louisville. An overtime loss to Florida State was followed by the inexplicable meltdown against Duke. A second straight late meltdown was narrowly averted against Clemson but only just barely. Then came losses to Syracuse, Virginia and now Boston College.

Louisville has moved from the ACC’s biggest surprise to a bubble team. It’s hard to understand.

However, we tend to forget that this team is coming out of an absolute disastrous end to the Pitino era and also dealing with a massive change in style under Chris Mack. We’re sure he will succeed in the long run but transitions are rarely easy.

Pretty clearly, Mack is frustrated. After the loss, he called his team soft and in particular was upset about a missed Steven Enoch dunk: “Sickening to watch. Go up to dunk the ball and it looks cooler to hit it off the back of the rim and go over half court. I mean, we’re just not making winning plays. Not making winning plays on either end the floor.”

Ky Bowman had a super game for BC with 25 points, 12 boards and eight assists. Nik Popovic, who continues to improve, had 16 points and nine boards.

BC has now played 10 consecutive games without Wynston Tabbs and 12 overall. They’ve lost eight of those and some were pretty close. If they had won three of those they’d be 17-10 and the season would look very, very different.

As noted several times previously, Jeff Capel can coach his heart out and his players can play harder than they ever have, but until they some frontcourt help Pitt will struggle.

Pitt shot just 27.3 percent against the Tigers and front court players scored just 13.

As a matter of fact, the boxscore lists seven guards and two forwards. Kevin Stallings really did leave a mess and it’ll take Capel more than one year to fix it. But talent’s coming. He’ll get it done.

The Tigers are now 17-11 and not entirely out of NCAA hope. They still have UNC this weekend, a road trip to Notre Dame and close out with Syracuse at home.

Beating UNC would offer a huge resume boost and Notre Dame and Syracuse are beatable. If they could run the table and notch a win or two in Charlotte, they’d have a solid argument.

That’s obviously not the case for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets get points for not quitting in a challenging season but the truth is they’re just not that good, a point Virginia underscored with a 30 point win.

And Georgia Tech’s one claim to excellence this season, defense, was shredded here: Virginia scored 81. For that program, that’s more like 120.

Ty Jerome had 19 and De’Andre Hunter 17 to pace Virginia. At this point we don’t think we have to explain what happened to Tech. They got a root canal. They got strangled by a python. They were just clinically euthanized.

Take your pick, they’re all applicable. It’s what Virginia does.

As the tournament draws near, keep an eye on Virginia’s situation. It’s our belief that last spring’s loss to UMBC is profoundly motivating to the Cavaliers and every reminder simply helps them stay prepared.

With the focus shifting to post-season, let’s stop and consider the bottom of the ACC standings.

Despite their struggles and limitations, Boston College has moved up to 10th. Miami is #11. Wake Forest, to our surprise, has moved up to #12. Georgia Tech is at #13, Notre Dame in a down year is #14 and Pitt brings up the end with #15.

Jim Christian was up against it at BC but the guy has genuinely improved his program. Miami and Pitt will get better soon with good management.

That leaves major question marks at Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. The post-season at both schools should be interesting.

When Kenny Anderson had a stroke last weekend it was shocking but at least he’s 48. But Syracuse’s Howard Washington?

He’s still in college - and in the best shape of his life and that probably made a huge difference. Washingtonhad blood clots that reached his brain and caused a stroke.

Just 33 days later he was on the court and obviously has made a full recovery. This is an amazing story, terrifying but an unmistakable tribute to the human spirit.

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