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ACC Tournament Preview: Semi-Finals

Jeremy Roach is leading the way for the Blue Devils. (Photo Courtesy of Duke Athletics)

Only four teams' hopes of cutting down the nets in Greensboro remain intact as we approach the penultimate night of the ACC Tournament.

Miami, Duke, and Virginia all find themselves safely in the NCAA tournament field while Brad Brownell and the Clemson Tigers are trying to keep their dreams of dancing alive.

Miami vs. Duke

The last time these two teams played the Hurricanes walloped the Blue Devils in Coral Gables by 22 points. Since allowing 81 points to the Canes in that February 6th matchup, the Devils haven't allowed an opponent to break the 70-point mark. The main reason for Duke's defensive improvement has been the dominant play of Dereck Lively whose shot disruption is causing opponents to shoot just 48% on attempts at the rim.

Isaiah Wong was extremely efficient in the Hurricanes' win over Wake Forest yesterday afternoon, scoring 17 points on 7-10 shooting and the Hurricanes dominated near the basket, scoring 42 of their 74 total points in the paint. With Lively protecting the rim for Duke it will be interesting to see if Wong and company are able to effectively attack the basket or if the Blue Devils can make them rely on their outside shooting which has been streaky at times this season.

Virginia vs. Clemson

The Cavaliers won the only matchup between the two teams this season back on February 28th, 64-57. After going through a rough stretch that saw them lose two of their final four games and struggling to defeat some of the lower-tier ACC teams, Tony Bennett's squad seems to have gotten themselves back on track with an emphatic win over North Carolina in the quarter-finals, that in all likelihood eliminated the Heels from NCAA Tournament consideration.

The Cavaliers have the advantage in guard play with more experience in their back-court than just about any team in the country between 5-year starter Kihei Clark and 3-year starters Armaan Franklin and Reece Beekman but the loss of Ben Van Der Plas thins out an already thin front-court. With Kadin Shedrick potentially having to take on a bigger role I would expect Brad Brownell to try and test the young forward early and often and see if they can isolate him on PJ Hall and Hunter Tyson. The Tigers' front-court duo is absolutely capable of dominating, with each averaging over 15 points per game, but it may take a 30+ point effort from one of them to overcome the Cavs.


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