After arriving in Greensboro, Mike Brey pointed out to Jack Nolan on an FIDM video that his Notre Dame Fighting Irish basketball team was already done by this time last season. The ACC Tournament's opening day was the end of ND's season in 2014. What a difference a year makes. Let's see how this year's opening day went down and what it means moving forward.
#12 Boston College 66, #13 Georgia Tech 65
The Boston College Eagles found themselves down 4 late, but some Georgia Tech managed to do what they've done all season - tortured Yellow Jacket fans with poor late game execution. A turnover and subsequent foul on a BC 3FG attempt cut the lead to 1, and in a game that featured 10 ties and 14 lead changes, Tech found themselves on the wrong end again after Oliver Hanlan scored his 25th point on a step back jumper with twelve seconds to play. Unable to score on their last possession, Brian Gregory's team was sent back to Atlanta.
I'd declared GT unlucky in our ACC Tournament Preview post, but without junior forward Marcus Georges-Hunt, the Yellow Jackets went from unlucky to awful down the stretch. Credit to Jim Christian and his team for being able to take advantage and hang on for that last possession, but this was a game marred by sloppy play and poor shooting the whole way. The box score shows only 17 total turnovers in the game, but there seemed like there were far more. The two teams combined to shoot 43% from the field. Georgia Tech managed a whopping 16 extra FG attempts, driven by their 19 offensive rebounds.
Oliver Hanlan was his usual spectacular self, notching a game high 25 points and was joined by BC guard Patrick Heckman atop the stat sheet with 19 points of his own. The duo scored 66% of BC's total. Hanlan also doled out 5 assists and pulled down 8 rebounds in a very complete performance. Hanlan and his supporting cast will now face #5 North Carolina on Wednesday.
#11 Wake Forest 80, #14 Virginia Tech 81
Buzz Williams earns coverboy status with the Hokies' mild upset of the Demon Deacons. His Virginia Tech squad prevailed in a back and forth matchup with Danny Manning's charges. Jalen Hudson's jumper with 11 seconds to go gave the Hokies a 1 point lead and despite multiple attempts at the rim, the Deacs just couldn't get one to go before the clock expired. Hudson's 32 points and 5 boards paced the Hokies while Wake was led by the two headed monsters of Codi Miller-McIntyre (23 points, 11 assists) and Devin Thomas (22 points, 9 rebounds).
For their prize, Virginia Tech earns a Wednesday evening bout with #6 Miami.
Day two brings twice as many games and starts to engage seeds 5-10 in the mix. Here's a rundown of the match-up's
#8 Clemson vs. #9 Florida State - Noon
Like any good 8/9 matchup, the statistical models all predict this to be a very tight game. KenPom shows it as a predicted 61-60 victory for the Tigers, who come in off of a rough outing in South Bend. The Seminoles enter off of a victory over Pitt. The winner earns a Thursday date with the Virginia Cavaliers.
#12 Boston College vs. #5 North Carolina - 2PM
Congratulations on scraping it out vs. GT. Your prize, Boston College, is a matinee with the AP/Coaches #19 Tar Heels. Roy Williams will likely be without the services of big Kennedy Meeks, but UNC still has plenty of front court firepower to overwhelm the Eagles. The winner of this one tangles with Louisville on Thursday.
#7 NC State vs. #10 Pittsburgh - 7PM
The consensus is that NC State and Pitt found themselves on opposite sides of the bubble after Saturday's regular-season finale's. Pitt's loss at FSU put them in a desperate situation while the Wolfpack played their way in by dismantling Syracuse in Raleigh. No doubt Mark Gottfried wants to keep the momentum going for State, and Ken Pomeroy has them at a 73% win probability over Pitt. The winner of this matchup gets a Thursday match-up with Duke.
#14 Virginia Tech vs. #6 Miami - 9PM
This will be the primary game Irish fans will have their eyes on. The young Hokies were able to hold on vs. Wake, but Miami is a much tougher mountain to climb for Williams and his men. Pomeroy gives Miami an 81% win probability in this matchup, and Jim Larranaga's squad knows that a misstep vs. the Hokies would leave the Hurricanes firmly on the wrong side of the bubble. Many expect Miami to come out fighting for their post season lives, and that fight starts with a game Hokies squad. The winner of this game faces Notre Dame in the late match-up Thursday night.
Impact on the Irish
Our friends at FIDM were kind enough to share with us some video from ND's first practice at UNC Greensboro
The Irish will get some time at the Greensboro Coliseum Wed morning for what Coach Brey plans to be an intense practice session. The Irish will be scouting the VT/Miami showdown Wednesday evening before taking the floor for the first time since Saturday's rousing senior night victory on Thursday night. While Miami is the heavy favorite Wednesday evening, it will be worth watching to see if the weight of playing for their NCAA lives propels the Hurricanes or burdens them. The Irish beat both teams handily during the regular season, but tournament basketball can be a different animal. Moreover, the up and down Hurricanes are difficult to pinpoint. The squad that went in to Cameron and beat Duke is very dangerous. The one that stumbled into and out of the Joyce Center, however, not so much. Watch Angel Rodriguez in this game. If his wrist is healthy, and his shot is falling, he makes the Hurricanes incredibly more dangerous. If he's hampered, they could be in for a fight with the Hokies.
One more afternoon of some tasty cheeseburgers for the Irish (maybe they'll hit Cookout) before finally opening play Thursday.