In the opening round of the ACC Tournament, NC State fell to Clemson, 70-64, Louisville got up off the emotional mat to clobber Georgia Tech for most of the game, 84-74, and Boston College clobbered Pitt 66-46.
It was a close game until Pitt’s promising big man John Hugley got his second foul with 4:14 left in the first half and he wasn’t the only guy sitting for that reason.
BC just blew the game open after that and there wasn’t much Pitt could do. The Panthers ended the season on a major skid, losing five straight the last four by an average of more than 23 points per game.
We’ll get back to Pitt in a minute.
Louisville, which has played in zombie mode for weeks, woke up against Georgia Tech in a big way. For much of the game, the Cards were the Cards of yore. Louisville had a 27 point lead with 12:10 left - then this year’s team returned and tried hard to blow it.
Give Josh Pastner credit: the Tech coach held Michael Devoe, Khalid Moore and Jordan Usher out of the starting lineup for what he termed “minor” issues but said standards are standards.
In just over six minutes, Georgia Tech cut the lead to 69-61 and no doubt memories of Duke’s massive 2019 comeback surfaced. Tech cut the lead to just five before Louisville’s Jarrod West responded with two threes and held the hard charging Yellow Jackets off.
They’ll run into old nemesis Virginia on Wednesday.
Clemson beat NC State for its fifth straight win and its first with PJ Hall in that streak, which is just remarkable. The win guarantees Clemson at least a .500 season (that’s if they lose Wednesday and then got invited to a post-season tournament and lost the first game).
Hall had 18 points and 10 boards in his return.
State didn’t shoot well - no great surprise given Clemson’s hard-nosed defense - but Dereon Seabron regained some of his missing verve, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. However, Clemson threw a blanket (again) over Terquavion Smith, who shot just 2-13.
Better days are ahead for State, assuming both young players stay. They both have immense potential.
Okay, back to Pitt.
After the season ended, speculation resumed about Capel’s future. There are some fair questions like: has Pitt made progress? And how big would his buyout be?
Some stories have said it’s $15 million, which would mean Capel has a great agent and would make it painful to fire him even if Pitt wants to, and it’s not clear that they do.
Local columnist Paul Zeise says he’ll almost certainly be back but that’s there’s no margin for error: Capel has to win next season. Fortunately, he’s entirely capable of that. He thinks that Pitt is in a better place than he found it - “hell yeah” - and adds that it was a disaster when he got there.
And he has some good pieces to work with, starting with Hugley. So we’ll see how things go.
On Wednesday, things open with Syracuse vs. Florida State, then it’s BC trying to stake a big claim by knocking off Wake Forest. Clemson gets the first game of the evening vs. Virginia Tech and the Louisville-Virginia game will close things out.
Maybe Syracuse can pull it together and beat FSU. We doubt it though. BC will have one advantage over Wake Forest: the Eagles have one win already and this is new territory for the Deacs. We’ll still take Wake. We just can’t see Clemson’s PJ Hall playing two days in a row with his foot problem, assuming it’s still an issue. Finally, Louisville has had a really tough time beating Virginia since joining the ACC. Expect it to continue.
Wednesday’s ACC Tournament Action
- Syracuse vs. Florida State || 12:00 || ESPN
- Boston College vs. Wake Forest || 2:30 || ESPN
- Clemson vs. Virginia Tech || 7:00 || EPN2
- Louisville vs. Virginia || 9:30 || ESPN2
For the rest of the postseason, unless otherwise noted, links will be on a dedicated links page.