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ACC Roundup - Virginia, Wake Forest Improve But Still Lose

An exceptional Saturday in many respects

Duke v North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 08: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels talks to Tre Jones #3 of the Duke Blue Devils after their game at Dean Smith Center on February 08, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In Saturday’s ACC competition, the epic Duke-UNC ending up overshadowed everything else and that’s too bad because the rest of the ACC saw some solid action too.

Sunday’s ACC Action

Notre Dame @ Clemson || 6:00 || ACCN

Saturday’s Results

  • Louisville 80 Virginia 73
  • Duke 98 UNC 96
  • Florida State 99 Miami 81
  • Boston College 77 Virginia Tech 73
  • Pitt 73 Georgia Tech 64
  • Syracuse 75 Wake Forest 73

ACC Standings

Virginia lost to Louisville, but were in position to win. Just as critically, their offense got a major injection as Tomas Woldetensae may be emerging as a potent offensive force. He hit 7-10 threes in this one and racked up 27 points. Virginia has had troubles with offense and turnovers this year.

Not Saturday. UVA scored 73.

If you want to pick at it a bit, Woldetensae and Kihei Clark combined for 50 points and the rest of the team had just 23. And the bench had just two.

Even so, Virginia is clearly getting better.

Wake Forest is slowly getting better too. It may not be fast enough to save Danny Manning’s job but it’s clearly happening.

The Deacons were behind most of the game and actually fought back to take the lead: with 5:29 left Wake was up 69-65 and this at Syracuse mind you. Then Wake Forest started to buckle in the face of the Orange’s defense.

And like a boa constrictor, Syracuse began to squeeze the life and confidence out of Wake Forest.

Just as we saw at Louisville, the Demon Deacons managed everything except for winning. It’s bound to be frustrating but it’s a learning experience. They’re much tougher right now than at any time in the recent past. We’ll say this: take them lightly at your own risk.

Miami got Chris Lykes and Kameron McGusty back, they came off the bench, but it didn't much matter. Florida State just hammered them hard, winning 99-81.

It was close in the first half - Florida State had a 50-47 lead at the half - before Florida State’s depth just wore Miami down.

That gave Leonard Hamilton the chance to rest Trent Forrest and Devin Vassell for the trip to Duke Monday.

The ‘Noles didn’t have to work too hard in this one - only MJ Walker got as much as 30 minutes. They’ll be well rested in Durham.

Chris Lykes is back but played just 21 minutes and had eight points. McGusty played eight minutes and didn't score.

Good news from bad: Isaiah Wong has been forced to play and had 23 points on 8-12 shooting against one of the best defenses in the ACC.

Do you get the feeling that a lot of ACC teams are starting to regret not recruiting Justin Champagnie harder?

Because the guy is turning into an absolute beast.

He had 30 points against Georgia Tech Saturday. He also had nine rebounds, two steals and a block. In his last six games he’s scored 103 points and grabbed 55 boards. That works out to 17.1 ppg and 9.1 rpg in that stretch.

Even better, according to coach Jeff Capel, he’s doing all the dirty work for Pitt: “I thought he did some big time things, none bigger than the offensive rebound finish he got later in the game,” Capel said. “He has talent, he’s a great kid. He wants to be good. He’s starting to figure out. It’s hard. Everything you want to accomplish is on the other side of hard.”

He’s probably not ready for the NBA just yet but next year? Could be.

In his last five games, Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado has scored 26, 9, 25, 20 and 9. Fatherhood - his girlfriend has either had their baby or is overdue - may have stressed him in this one. Then again, Pitt’s defense probably stressed him too.

With the win, Pitt moves to 15-9 and has two winnable games up next - Clemson at home and at Virginia Tech.

Speaking of the Hokies, they played Boston College and lost in overtime, falling to 14-10. Landers Nolley had 29 points and 11 boards in a losing effort.

Never an offensive force really, Steffon Mitchell had 21 points and 15 boards to pace BC. He’s a limited player but you have to love his intensity, especially on the boards and defense. Talk about someone who embraces dirty work.

Virginia Tech owned the first half and seven minutes into the second, but then Boston College came back. And they did it with some adversity: Jared Hamilton got hurt early and for whatever reason, Jim Christian sent a seemingly healthy Nik Popovic to the locker room late in the game. Pretty solid win for the Eagles and the fifth straight loss for the Hokies.

We always like to draw a metaphorical line in the standings. Above it, you still have a chance at the NCAAs. Below it, NIT or the beach.

We’re not saying they’ll all make it, just that there’s a chance they could.

Right now we draw it under Notre Dame. Boston College is a game ahead of the Irish but at just 12-12 they’re not going unless the win the ACC Tournament. Otherwise though look from 1-9:

Louisville, Duke and FSU are in. Virginia and Syracuse have reasonable shots and NC State, Pitt and Notre Dame have to start winning more, but can’t be ruled out yet.

People have talked a lot about how it’s a down year in the ACC and that’s certainly true. However, it’s not a down year competitively. Wake Forest is almost in the basement and they nearly took #1 Louisville on the road and took Syracuse to the buzzer at Syracuse. UNC just took #2 Duke to overtime after spanking the Blue Devils for most of the game. Clemson picked this year to break its infamous 0-59 streak in Chapel Hill. Georgia Tech can beat anyone.

A lot of teams are really struggling but the hallmark of the ACC, that it’s insanely competitive, is still there.

Only one more time to see it this week as Notre Dame visits Clemson. There’s not much at stake for Clemson other than pride but for Notre Dame, it’s critical. So we’d recommend watching because if last night proved anything, you really don’t know what will happen.