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ACC Roundup - A Fun Wednesday In Charlotte

What will Thursday bring?

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NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Pittsburgh vs Syracuse
Mar 13, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim throws his jacket during the second half against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the ACC conference tournament at Spectrum Center. 
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday’s ACC Tournament action had some very compelling moments Wednesday.

The best part was NC State’s comeback against Clemson.

At the half the Tigers were up 42-26 and it seemed like the Pack was anything but back.

At halftime, Kevin Keatts took a leaf out of Coach K’s book and told his team to just go play.

No one did it better than Markell Johnson. He dazzled throughout and scored the last eight points for NC State.

For Clemson, what a cruel reminder of the previous game in Raleigh. In that game, Action Braxton Beverly hit a dramatic three to gut the Tigers. In this game, State relied on defense down the stretch as much as anything.

Clemson got a layup from Elijah Thomas with 3:43 left and that was it. No doubt Brad Brownell admired State’s late defense and wondered what the hell happened.

Clemson’s NCAA hopes took a big hit. The sad part is they lost so many close games this year. They’re so close but couldn’t quite get over the proverbial hump.

In the first half against Miami, Virginia Tech was absolutely brilliant and ran out to a 38-24 lead largely on perimeter shooting.

Miami cut the lead to seven early in the second and was really close to cutting it closer but the Hokies pulled together, went inside and Kerry Blackshear got them back on track.

The Hokies cooled down later and ended up shooting 40.7 percent from deep and 50 percent overall which is still pretty good. Nothing like that first half however.

Things will get tougher for Virginia Tech though. First, as we’ve seen from several ACC teams this season, they’re not deep. And second, no one plays at their peak two days in a row. This game was an outlier. If they beat Florida State Thursday, it’ll most likely be on grit and heart.

Louisville just had too much for beleaguered, tired Notre Dame. The Irish lost by 22 and after some rest will start getting ready for next season when they’re much better.

Louisville got a relatively easy game to warm up for UNC Thursday. No one played more than 29 minutes and four guys got at least 17 minutes off the bench. Eight guys subbed in. The Cardinals should be pretty fresh for UNC and may have an advantage having played once.

Consider this too: while it took them a while to bounce back from the Duke fiasco, they could possibly seek revenge in just one more game if things go their way. Stay tuned.

In the nightcap, Pitt saw Jared Wilson-Frame have his best game as a Panther with 18 points in the first half.

Syracuse’s zone took Pitt’s outstanding freshmen guards Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson almost completely out of the game. They combined to shoot 3-16 and McGowens fouled out in 18 minutes.

In the second half it was almost like Pitt was running up against a force field and just chunked shots from wherever.

It was clear the younger players had no idea how to attack it. The older players - Wilson-Frame and Sidy N’Dir - were steady and smart.

And whatever else you can say, Pitt fought. That team really gave its all. Last year is gone, exorcised. Jeff Capel has his team playing with heart and passion. With some help and some experience, Pitt is going to be very, very difficult.

There was one great camera shot which went from Jim Boeheim losing his mind, gesticulating wildly, to Capel pacing cooly, his lips twisted, but no other sign of emotion.

And that was after a Pitt mistake.

On Thursday, we’ll take Virginia over NC State, but it’ll be tight, Florida State over the Hokies, but we’d love to see Virginia Tech advance (see below), UNC over Miami and Duke over Syracuse. Tyus Battle is out and it looks like Zion Williamson is in (not officially yet however). So that seems like an advantage for Duke.

That would set up a classic semifinals with the great Virginia rivalry on one side and the great NC rivalry on the other. That would be fun.

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