As the ACC Tournament starts to wind down here in Brooklyn we have two heritage programs battling on opposite sides of the bracket for a chance to make the final another Tobacco Road showdown. Meanwhile, two former Big East foes look to play spoiler and give the final a decided new-age flavor.
No. 1 Duke (27-5) vs. No. 5 Miami (23-9) – 7 PM – ESPN/ESPN2
Both the Blue Devils and Hurricanes find themselves lucky to still be alive in Brooklyn after flirting with disaster yesterday in the quarter-finals.
Duke got off to a quick start against Syracuse but gave up a significant run that allowed the Orange to take a four-point lead into the locker room. Syracuse maintained a slight lead throughout most of the second half until Duke finished the game on a 10-0 run to take the victory 88-79.
Miami needed overtime to end the Cinderella run of Earl Grant and Boston College. Jordan Miller came up with an uncontested transition layup at the buzzer to propel the Hurricanes past the Eagles.
The Canes won the only meeting between the two sides this season, a tight game in Durham that saw Kam McGusty play hero with an acrobatic layup to give the Hurricanes the lead with 22.8 seconds remaining.
Both teams have similar effectiveness offensively, with Duke ranked 5th in AdjO via KenPom and Miami at 17th. The Canes struggle on the defensive end where they are ranked just 153rd in contrast to the Devils who, while not impressive, still come in at 32nd.
Duke 86 – Miami 74
The combination of Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams down low is a potential issue for a Miami team that doesn’t have much size and relies on a guard-heavy rotation. Duke’s backcourt was still finding its footing in the first matchup as well. Look for Trevor Keels and Jeremy Roach to shoot the ball much better than they did the first game and give Miami’s guards fits on the defensive end.
No. 7 Virginia Tech (21-12) vs. No. 3 North Carolina (24-8) – 9:30 PM – ESPN/ESPN2
The Hokies added another notch to their belt with a victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the quarters meanwhile North Carolina ended the faint NCAA Tournament hopes of Tony Bennett and UVA.
Virginia Tech is creeping closer to an at-large NCAA Tournament berth with every victory and have another huge quad one victory against UNC tonight. The Heels at this point are playing for seeding and the chance to ruin another one of Coach K’s farewells, should Duke advance to the final.
The Tar Heels swept the season series including a matchup on February 19th that, at the time, looked like a must-win for both squad’s NCAA Tournament hopes. That began the six-game winning streak the Tar Heels carry into tonight’s contest.
Both teams profile very similarly in KenPom, with UNC sitting at 25th overall, 23rd in AdjO, and 62nd in AdjD while the Hokies are 27th overall, 26th in AdjO, and 68th in AdjD. On the other hand, the teams are near opposites when it comes to tempo with Carolina ranking in the top 40 (38) and Virginia Tech in the bottom 20 (344)
Virginia Tech 65 – North Carolina 80
Caleb Love was a deciding factor in both victories for Carolina this season, scoring 20+ in each. Between him and RJ Davis, UNC’s backcourt is a little too quick for the bigger, stronger Tech guards. Tech also doesn’t really have an answer for Armando Bacot, who has been an absolute terror on the block this season. Carolina uses the pick and roll to dictate the game offensively and dominates this one from start to finish.