Sometimes we really would love to talk to the late Al Featherston so we could ask questions like this, because he would know: can you ever remember two straight days in the tournament when the press conferences (or something else) arguably overshadowed the games on the court?
The Tuesday pressers for Kenny Payne and Mike Brey were amazing for different reasons but Wednesday’s probably took the cake.
After losing to Wake Forest on a heart-breaking buzzer beater, Jim Boeheim seemed to know the gig was up for him at Syracuse. He made a number of odd comments and basically said his future employment wasn’t up to him.
Apparently not: no more than a few hours after the loss to Wake, Syracuse did a press release saying that Boeheim’s time at Syracuse “had come to an end.”
That’s the kind of warmth you hope all 47-year employees get, isn’t it?
We’re not sure he even got to enjoy his last meal in Greensboro, and you know he wanted to do that.
The funniest line we saw about Boeheim’s demise was this: whoever thought Patrick Ewing would outlast him?
Assistant Adrian Autrey will replace him which leads to lots of questions, not least of all: is he going to ditch the damn zone?
We’ll learn more in the coming days about how this came about, but from here it really doesn't seem like it was something he was happy about. He’s been ultimately loyal to Syracuse and deserved a more dignified departure.
Syracuse came close to extending his career, nearly beating Wake Forest. The score was tied 74-74 when Joe Girard shot a three, probably too early, and missed pretty badly. Andrew Carr got the rebound to Davien Williamson, who gave it to Tyree Appleby, who got it back to Williamson a few seconds later and watched as Williamson just nailed a beautiful three at the buzzer.
We wrote about Pitt on our preview, so you can head over there to check that out. But we would like to say this for the Yellow Jackets: you can easily make a case for replacing Josh Pastner, but he has taken a small team that took a hit on depth and that couldn’t really shoot for much of the season and somehow converted it into a team that can light it up and is highly entertaining.
He may still lose his job, but at least he has a plausible defense. We love what his team became late. They didn’t win a lot, but heart, intelligence and character? They had buckets of it. It was one of the better coaching jobs in the conference, really.
The evening games were Triangle blowouts. Good UNC showed up and took it to Boston College, winning 85-61. That was particularly impressive since Armando Bacot tweaked his ankle and played just 18 minutes, getting just six boards and 10 points.
UNC got solid play from Caleb Love and RJ Davis, who combined for 40. Pete Nance had four blocks and Hubert Davis got 23 points and also 58 minutes out of his bench.
UNC shot 54.8 percent overall and 41.7 for threes. .
The Pack hit 61.9 percent overall against Virginia Tech and 45.8 percent for threes.
We wondered how DJ Burns would do if he had to follow Grant Basile around and the answer is clear: not well.
Burns played 16 minutes, hit just 1-2 and had four fouls.
Didn’t matter: Terquavion Sith shot 11-13 and hit 5-7 for threes. That’s not a typo. Hey, if you shoot 11-13, you’re probably a Sith Lord too. He finished with 30. Backcourt mate Jarkell Joiner had 20 of his own.
Just to be clear, State’s backcourt took 28 of State’s 63 attempts. That’s fine if it works.
State plays #3 Clemson Thursday and the Tigers beat State twice in the regular season.
Our theory has always been that we love for other teams to have big games before they play Duke. Why?
Simple: you don’t usually get two great games in a row.
State’s hot shooting will deflate against Clemson, partly because that’s the way it usually works and partly this: Clemson almost always plays good defense.
The Tigers have been up and down late in the season, but they're solid and well coached. This could be a great, great game. Could Sith Lord Terquavion go a bit Randolph Childress?
However, in the first game he shot just 5-21 and in the second, 3-15. And sidekick Jarkell Joiner? He was 2-11 first time out and 4-14 the second.
Not to make too much of it, but Clemson has held Smith to 8-36 and Joiner to 6-25. Add that up and you get 14-61. By our very questionable math, that works out to about 22 percent (your calculations may vary; it’s just part of the deal when math is not your buddy or perhaps, in ACC parlance, your primary partner).
So even if you don’t buy into the you-don’t-get-back-to-back-games-on-fire, you can probably count on this: Clemson can tie most teams into knots. So State will probably have to win on superior hardassery.
Caveat: starter Greg Gantt hurt his knee against Virginia Tech, but it’s not clear how bad it is. He doesn’t score but he does do a lot of things to help State.
If UNC doesn’t have Armando Bacot against Virginia, you’d think that would be a huge problem.
Well, maybe not so much. He barely played at Virginia - just one minute - and was limited in the rematch too.
But in the former, UNC didn't have Pete Nance and was still in striking distance.
Either team could achieve greatness in Greensboro, but the truth is both trailed off late in the regular season and that makes it hard to handicap this one.
Following our previous admonition, don’t expect UNC to shoot as well, but add this to that: Virginia is the ACC’s endodontist. Just like Scandinavian theater, they always depress you and also, of course, your point production.
Well, now, for the last game: could Wake pull off an upset of Miami? To which we say: upset?
Let’s be clear: Miami is the #14 team in the nation, not Wake Forest. However, their defense has not been great. In fact, by some metrics it’s extremely bad. Ask yourself this deceptively simple question: who is Miami’s best defender?
We’ll be here when you get back, so take your time.
Trick question! Miami wins by dazzlng you on the offensive end. Wake is the superior defense in this one and if they can clamp down on Miami effectively, the game is there for the taking.
Of course it’s possible that the ‘Canes could erupt like a basketball supernova Thursday. But tournament basketball usually means great defenses rise, and say what you will about Miami, the defense is not really that team’s strong point. That said, they can definitely bomb you into submission, if not win a title.
Thursday’s ACC Action
- Wake Forest vs. Miami || 12:00 PM || ESPN2
- Pitt vs. Duke || 2:30 PM || ESPN2
- UNC vs. Virginia || 7:00 PM || ESPN
- NC State vs. Clemson || 9:30 PM || ESPN