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ACC Roundup - Things Get Wacky

Not exactly what we expected

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Clemson
Feb 12, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Brad Brownell signals to his team during the second half against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Littlejohn Coliseum. 
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

We should’ve known Wednesday would be wacky when the first story of the day was Xavier Johnson and Pitt splitting up.

You may recall that Capel complained recently that he hasn’t been able to teach Johnson self-control when it comes to officials and such. It could be a plus for Pitt but a promising backcourt is now gone (Trey McGowens has already transferred to Nebraska).

If Justin Champagnie goes pro after this season - he’s very promising but he’s not ready - Pitt could be in some trouble next year.

Then the games started.

Given the bizarre nature of this season, it’s no surprise that UNC scheduled a quickie with the Fighting Wojos of Marquette, and fight they did.

Steve Wojciechowski’s held an 18 point second half lead against UNC - in the Dean Dome.

This would have been inconceivable against a Dean Smith team but not that difficult to imagine for a Roy Williams team.

Ol’ Roy is a great coach but he has a young team in a volatile environment and despite his accomplishments, he doesn’t have the grip on UNC that Smith did. Smith was mostly benevolent and kind but as the old song goes, he always had to have his way. There would have been zero chance of someone taking an 18 point lead on a Dean Smith team, which is why we've long said he was much better than Williams (Williams agrees too).

UNC’s night was summed up when two players collided on a break. It was a weak outing for the Tar Heels and possibly a costly one.

Afterwards, Williams had an Ol’ Roy moment. Check this out. We love how he grabs his cup and leaves after that one.

Marquette ran off a 1-6 streak before beating Butler and UNC on the road and making UNC’s defense look pretty inept.

The Tar Heels have size but time and again, the Fighting Wojos darted in and kicked the ball out for open jumpers. UNC finished with 19 turnovers including the one where the two players - we think it was Caleb Love and Da’Ron Sharpe - ran into each other on that break.

And while Wojo never won in Chapel Hill as a player, he’s 1-0 as a head coach there and also denied Ol’ Roy his 900th career win.

Speaking of losing streaks, hard though it may be to believe, Virginia’s is now three games long: blown out by Florida State, cruelly nipped by Duke and then, on Wednesday, thoroughly outplayed by the Wuffies of NC State.

Still, NC State stuff nearly happened: with :14 left and a four point lead, the Pack’s Shakeel Moore caught an inbounds along the baseline, or attempted to, anyway, only to watch it roll out of bounds.

It was a perfect setup for a classic Bennett Comeback but the ‘Hoos couldn’t do it, as Sam Howitzer Hauser missed a three.

With Hauser and 7-1 Jay Huff shooting from outside, Virginia could really use a player who can penetrate. Unfortunately, that seems to be mostly Kihei Clark, and while we really like him, did we mention that he’s 5-8?

Worse, Virginia’s defense stunk as DJ Funderburk, an okay but not great big man, had little trouble getting loose inside.

On top of that, Virginia shot just 37 percent and took nearly half of its shots from behind the line. Three players shot 0 percent and Huff was just 1-6 on threes.

The losing streak most likely won’t get to four: Miami is next up and the ‘Canes are just too crippled to do much winning right now as FSU showed Wednesday, winning 88-71.

Isaiah Wong continues to impress, scoring 29 against one of the ACC’s toughest defenses and doing so without a lot of help. He finished 9-16, 4/5 from deep and was nearly perfect from the line, hitting 7-8.

It’s just a bleak season for Miami due to injuries as coach Jim Larranaga said the other day. What can you do?

Not much.

It was a bleak night for Wake Forest too, as the Deacs score 15 in the first half and 24 in the second.

Wake has played hard this season and has at times been a very tough out, but talent is limited and that’s a fundamental problem. As soon as the season ends, look for Steve Forbes and his staff to hit the bricks to find some players. And realistically, he may get very lucky: with the free year, a lot of seniors won’t be able to return to their old programs because younger players will fill out the rosters. So he has an excellent chance of getting some senior and grad student transfers, assuming players can play immediately, and it’s hard to imagine they won’t.

No games until Saturday when Pitt visits a suddenly hot NC State while breaking in a new starting point guard.

Just another day in Covid-ACC land.

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