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ACC Roundup - What A Day!

Even in so-called down years, ACC teams compete

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Miami (FL)
 Feb 25, 2023; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Matthew Cleveland (35) celebrates his game winning basket against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half at Watsco Center.
Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s ACC Action didn’t really go as we thought. First, we thought that Virginia would be on fire against UNC after struggling lately and losing to Boston College - and badly - last time out.

Then we thought surely Miami would crush Florida State. Well, not quite.

And we also thought NC State would continue its great play and crush Clemson. Didn’t quite turn out that way.

Clemson never trailed and shot out early, ultimately going up 54-29 at the half.

On the road.

It never got better for State. The Wolfpack fell behind by 30 before shaving it down a bit in garbage time, losing 96-71.

After the UNC game, Jarkel Joiner said State had the best backcourt in the ACC. He might be right, but it wasn’t Saturday. It wasn’t even the best backcourt in Raleigh.

Joiner, Terquavion Smith and Casey Morsell combined to shoot 10-35. DJ Burns shot 11-18 to keep State’s percentage reasonably high (41.7 percent overall).

Clemson shot much better, hitting nearly 60 percent from the floor and 52.6 percent on threes. Brevin Galloway hit 28, PJ Hall got 20 and Hunter Tyson got 12 points and 11 boards.

It was an ugly outing for the Pack, to say the least.

It wasn’t a great day for Virginia either.

It took a while to recognize it, but the Cavaliers have been sliding for most of February. After beating NC State on the 7th, Virginia was lucky to beat Duke when the refs blew a call. Louisville nearly won, then Notre Dame pushed them to the limit before BC finally made them pay.

And Saturday, UNC did too. Only it wasn’t Armando Bacot. And it wasn’t Caleb Love or Leaky Black. It wasn’t RJ Davis either, though he was better.

It was Pete Nance.

The Northwestern transfer shot 7-10/4-4 which helped UNC to build and maintain a lead for the vast majority of the game. Virginia was down 42-26 at the half and just couldn't get back.

His offense made up for Bacot’s poor outing - he finished with 11 points, six boards and four fouls, which limited him to 25 minutes.

Love shot 2-12, including eight three point attempts, which is more or less his usual M.O. He made one of them, which is also typical.

Still, the Heels won convincingly, which will help their tournament hopes a lot. As we said, not a great day for Virginia.

But it was an amazing day for Florida State.

The ‘Noles were down 54-31 at the half and by anyone’s standards, a 23 point comeback is amazing and even more so when FSU came into this game at 8-20 and Miami was 23-6 and #13 nationally.

That just doesn’t happen very often and you know what else doesn’t happen very often?

This doesn’t happen very often.

After Jordan Miller hit a three to put Miami up 84-82 with 4.9 left, Matthew Cleveland got the ball in the half-court circle, took a few steps and let it fly. The ball dropped through the hoop like a dream.

What a dream for Cleveland and what a sweet moment for the ‘Noles. This team has done some hard-core losing this year which makes beating your main rival, much less in this way on their court, so much sweeter.

There were other games of course but they weren’t nearly as interesting. Georgia Tech beat Louisville 83-67, but who cares really.

Wake Forest beat Notre Dame, 66-58, but does it matter? Not much, unless the Deacs get on a huge roll right before the ACC Tournament. Nate Laszewski disappeared again with just eight points and six boards. We had a very rare Robby Carmody sighting as the oft-injured senior got three minutes.

Wake was without Damari Monsanto, who blew out a patella tendon Saturday in Raleigh. You may recall that PJ Hall hurt his patella several months ago. If Monsanto had surgery it’s hard to imagine he could get back for whatever is left in Wake’s season.

Well there was one more interesting, and consequential game Saturday. With Miami and Virginia both blowing it, they fall to 14-5 and 13-5 respectively, leaving Pitt all alone in first place.

Did they blow it too?

No they did not. Pitt smacked Syracuse around, 99-82. Blake Hinson came off the bench and while he didn’t shoot great - just 6-20 - he did hit six threes. Granted, he took 17 which is a bit excessive, but Pitt got away with it, partly because Federiko Federiko played well, hitting 5-5 and grabbing six boards. For a skinny freshman going up against the much older Jesse Edwards, that’s pretty solid.

Pitt finishes up with trips to Notre Dame and then Miami. Pitt is the only team in the ACC that controls its own future and who would have thought that in December?

No games until Monday when UNC visits Florida State, where the buzz from Saturday’s shocking win may still be palpable.

ACC Standings