While the Irish had another day to rest and practice, another chunk of teams were in action today at the ACC Tournament. Four teams started their tournaments while the two winners from yesterday tried to pull upsets and extend their seasons. With the stakes rising every day, let's take a look at the results.
#9 Florida State 76, #8 Clemson 73
The first game continued the drama from yesterday as FSU won a close one over Clemson. Xavier Rathan-Mayes was the story for the Noles. The freshman guard dropped 30 points on 11-19 shooting from the field. His 5-9 line from three point range included a few bombs from NBA range (or "Jerian Grant range" if you prefer). Florida State led by as many as 20 in the second half, but Clemson fought back late in the game. Florida State missed FTs and had some bad turnovers down the stretch to give Clemson a possession to tie the game, but the Noles were able to advance when Gabe DeVoe missed a game tying three. Florida State will advance to face top seeded Virginia in the first game of the day.
#5 North Carolina 81, #12 Boston College 63
The run of close games ended with UNC blowing out BC in the second game of the afternoon session. Kennedy Meeks missed the game for the Heels due to illness, but there's a chance he'll be back tomorrow. Fortunately, the Heels didn't miss him much as they had little trouble with the Eagles. For Boston College to have a chance at making a run in this tournament, Olivier Hanlan needed to put up some big numbers. Sadly for BC fans, the junior guard struggled throughout the game. Although he scored 19 points, he needed 19 shots from the field to get there, and he made just 1-5 three point attempts. UNC was led by Marcus Page's 17 points and 9 assists, while Brice Johnson added 17 of his own with 9 boards. The Tar Heels will take on Louisville in their quarterfinal following the UVA-FSU game.
#7 NC State 81, #10 Pittsburgh 70
NC State likely locked up an NCAA Tournament bid with a comfortable win over Pitt. Anthony "Cat" Barber managed to top the performance of Xavier Rathan-Mayes with a 34 point performance for the Pack. Cameron Wright had a solid performance for the Panthers (17 points , 7-11 FG), but it wasn't enough to keep up with Barber. Mark Gottfreid's team led by a comfortable margin for nearly the entire game, as Pitt never got within five after the second TV timeout of the game. NC State was a popular sleeper pick in the OFD Tournament Preview, and will face Duke this evening.
#6 Miami 59, #14 Virginia Tech 49
The nightcap was easily the worst game of the day, despite being close throughout. The game started with consecutive offensive fouls by both teams, and didn't get much better for the neutral observer. In fact, Buzz Williams was so disgusted with his team's offensive execution, he decided to coach this free throw contest participant instead of his own team during a timeout.
Okay, so while that probably wasn't why he tried to help out this shooter, this was the most interesting part of the game. Virginia Tech played Miami closer than the 10 margin would indicate, and could have won if they made a few more threes (they finished just 3-15 beyond the arc). Angel Rodriguez, who has been battling a hand injury, did end up playing for Miami although he started on the bench. The guard wasn't his usual self, and played just 10 minutes. VT can take some positives away from both their win over Wake Forest and their performance against the Canes, but Buzz will need to hit the recruiting trail hard to assemble a roster that can compete in the ACC. The Hurricanes' win means they'll move on to face ND in the late game tonight.
#1 Virginia v. #9 Florida State - Noon
While Florida State gave UVA a little bit of trouble in their regular season contest earlier in the season, it's unlikely that the Noles can pull the upset this time around. FSU might be able to keep it close for a while with their relatively solid D, their offense won't be able to convert enough at the other end. Look for the Hoos to bounce back from their loss to Louisville in a big way.
Prediction: UVA 68 FSU 51
#4 Louisville v. #5 North Carolina - 2:00 (probably closer to 2:30)
On paper this is the best game of the day as both squads will be looking to sure up a top four NCAA Tournament seed. Louisville is coming off a big win at home over Virginia last Saturday, but will likely be facing a road-like atmosphere in Greensboro. Kennedy Meeks missed the game against BC, but may play against the Cards. With Meeks less than 100% if he plays at all, I like the Cardinals to win a close one.
Prediction: Louisville 64 UNC 60
#2 Duke vs. #7 NC State - 7:00 ET
As much as I'd like to take NC State to knock off the Devils, Duke just looks too good right now. While the Wolfpack gave Duke their first loss of the season, it was during a run of poor games for the Devils. Since that game against NC State, the Devils have lost just one game (@ND). I think NC State will give Duke some trouble, but Duke's talent advantage will be too much for the Pack to overcome.
Prediction: Duke 82 NC State 65
#3 Notre Dame vs. - 9:00 ET (Probably closer to 9:30)
We'll have a more intensive preview dropping later in the day for this one, so I'll keep it short. I like the Irish in this one. I think it'll be somewhat close Irish lead at the break, before some hot shooting extends it to a comfortable margin in the second half.
Prediction: Notre Dame 79 Miami 64
Feel free to discus the tournament so far in the comments below, and hang out throughout the games during the day. As mentioned above, we'll have an in-depth preview of the Irish game later today.