Day 3 of the historic ACC tournament saw the top dogs finally get in on the action against teams with plenty of momentum after surviving early games over the course of the first two days.
While Day 3 is likely the portion of the bracket most had circled on their calendars, it was Day 2 that acted as a strong foreshadowing as to just how difficult the road to the final would be for some of the top-seeded teams.
No. 9 Florida State took down No. 8 Maryland 67-65 in a last-second thriller to earn a shot at No. 1 Virginia, while No. 5 Pittsburgh announced to the nation they are back to form with an 84-55 waxing of No. 12 Wake Forest.
That major win gives Panthers another shot at No. 4 North Carolina, a team that upended Pittsburgh in Chapel Hill on Feb. 15. About a month later, the Panthers are battle tested and believe they can take down the Tar Heels, as coach Jamie Dixon told the media, via ESPN's C.L. Brown:
“It was just a close game that we didn’t win,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “Since then we’ve won a lot of close games.”
All things considered, Day 3 may end up the best of all in what is arguably the most entertaining tournament in the nation.
|ACC Tournament Results|
|1||No. 12 Wake Forest, 81||No. 13 Notre Dame, 69|
|2||No. 10 Miami, 57||No. 15 Virginia Tech, 53|
|3||No. 11 Georgia Tech, 73||No. 14 Boston College, 70|
|4||No. 9 Florida State, 67,||No. 8 Maryland, 65|
|5||No. 5 Pittsburgh, 84||No. 12 Wake Forest, 55|
|6||No. 7 NC State, 67||No. 10 Miami, 58|
|7||No. 6 Clemson, 69||No. 11 Georgia Tech, 65|
|8||No. 1 Virginia, 64||No. 9 Florida State, 51|
|9||No. 5 Pittsburgh, 80||No. 4 North Carolina, 75|
|10||No. 7 NC State 66||No. 2 Syracuse 63|
|11||No. 3 Duke 63||No. 6 Clemson 62|
Day 3 Results
No. 1 Virginia 64, No. 9 Florida State 51
The top-rated team in the ACC finally got in on the action Friday and made short work of the Seminoles, a team that came off a tough win and had the look of an exhausted squad throughout.
The No. 6 team in the land was able to capitalize on 15 Florida State turnovers, while guard Joe Harris led all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. As Norm Wood of the Daily Press points out, Harris' epic performance was one of his best of the season thus far:
Sophomore forward Anthony Gill provided a spark for the Cavaliers off the bench thanks to his 16 points on an impressive 6-of-9 mark from the field to further help mitigate the fact three Seminoles scored in double figures, led by Okaro White's 17.
As expected, Virginia will advance to play another day. The loss is especially crippling for Florida State, as the team's bubble status desperately needed a win. All the Seminoles can do now is await their fate on Selection Sunday.
No. 5 Pittsburgh 80, No. 4 North Carolina, 75
It's time to take the Panthers seriously.
Despite a close score, this one wasn't even close until the Tar Heels put together a very late surge, but by then it was simply too late. ESPN shows how out of hand this contest was from the start:
Apparently the extra rest did Roy Williams' team no good. The Tar Heels were a total 25-of-61 from the field, hit just 25 percent of their attempts from behind the arc and hardly shot better than 65 percent from the charity stripe—on 32 attempts.
Marcus Paige led all scorers with his 27 points, but it was hardly enough to overcome a woeful team performance.
To be fair, there was no stopping the Panthers. They shot better than 50 percent from the field overall (although they were horrible from the line as well, hardly connecting on half of their 41 attempts), were able to snag a 43-35 victory on the boards and had four players score in double figures.
Talib Zanna stole the show thanks to his 19 points (tied for team high) and 21 rebounds. As ESPN points out, Zanna had quite the notable performance:
Pittsburgh now advances to take on the top-seeded Cavaliers in a matchup fans won't want to miss. The Panthers are on such an impressive roll that the game may swing either way.
No. 7 NC State 66, No. 2 Syracuse 63
After starting the season with a perfect 25-0 record, the Syracuse Orange have suddenly lost five of their last seven games, as head coach Jim Boeheim has to be concerned with how much his team is struggling right now.
It was clear from the start that the North Carolina State Wolfpack came to play, as they did a terrific job defensively throughout, holding the Orange to just 18-of-55 from the field, or just 32.7 percent. They were equally as effective behind the arc, holding Syracuse to just 4-of-17.
While up 28-25 at halftime, the Wolfpack could never grab a comfortable lead. They were able to take a 48-39 lead with around 12 minutes left in the second half, but the Orange were able to grab the lead once again with around four minutes left at 58-57 thanks to a couple of Tyler Ennis free throws.
Then the game started to get crazy.
The final four minutes consisted of plenty of excitement, with the crowd getting loud as the two teams continued to try and make plays. After N.C. State's T.J. Warren was able to make a couple of free throws, the Wolfpack were up 66-63 with just 25 seconds remaining.
The Orange were trying to find a way to tie it up as time expired, and they definitely had their fair share of chances. Thanks to a number of offensive rebounds, Syracuse had six shot attempts on their final possession, but none of them went in as the Wolfpack were able to win 66-63.
Warren was the go-to scorer throughout for the Wolfpac, finishing with 28 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Vandenberg was solid down low, going 5-of-5 with 10 points and five rebounds. For the Orange, Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant combined for 40 of their 63 points.
The Wolfpack will be playing the winner of the Duke-Clemson game as the try to keep their NCAA tourney hopes alive. Meanwhile, the Orange continue to hurt their positioning in the big dance, as they could possibly drop to a No. 3 or No. 4 seed after everyone was expecting them to be one of the four top-seeded teams in the big dance.
Duke 63, Clemson 62
It's been a wild season for the Duke Blue Devils as the continue to push for a top seed in the NCAA tournament, and they played in yet another tight game in the quarterfinals against the Clemson Tigers.
The first half went back and forth between the two teams, with the Tigers doing their best to contain Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood. They did a relatively good job keeping Parker in check, as he went just 3-of-11 shooting with 10 points heading into halftime.
While it was a tight first half, the Blue Devils finished with a solid 8-2 run to go up 29-25 through the first 20 minutes.
Duke continued that run into the second half, turning it into a 12-2 run to go up 35-27 just two minutes in. Meanwhile, Hood was recovering from getting sick while on the bench according to the Duke Basketball Twitter account.
Despite being down by as many as 13 points in the second half, the Tigers were able to slowly get back into the game, making it a three-point game with less than four minutes to play. Clemson continued to keep it close, and they were eventually able to take the lead with nine seconds to go.
On the ensuing possession, despite being sick earlier, Hood drove down the court and went all the way to the basket, drawing a foul. He made both free throws, giving Duke the 63-62 lead with just 3.8 seconds left.
The Tigers had a chance to to win on a buzzer beater as Rod Hall drove to the basket, but he lost the ball on his way up to give Duke the narrow victory. Tom Fornelli from CBS Sports criticized Clemson's strategy on their final possession.
Parker, Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon had most of the scoring for Duke, combining for 49 of the team's 63 points. Although Clemson was able to shoot 51.2 percent from the floor, they turned the ball over 10 times and lost the rebound battle 34-25.
The Blue Devils will play the Wolfpack in their semifinal game as they look to try and make it to the ACC tournament championship while also trying to grab a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. For Clemson, they will likely be preparing for a spot in the NIT.
Day 4 Schedule
|ACC Tournament Day 4 Schedule|
|Game No.||Date/Time (ET)||Team||Team||TV|
|12||March 15 at 1 p.m.||No. 1 Virginia||No. 5 Pittsburgh||ESPN/ACC Network|
|13||March 15 at 3 p.m.||No. 7 NC State||No. 3 Duke||ESPN/ACC Network|
*The ACC tournament can be live streamed on ESPN3.
Virginia was first to secure a berth in what is sure to be superb action on Day 4. The win over Florida State was a great way to warm up for the rest of the tournament, but things will get much, much more difficult on Saturday as the Cavaliers will take on the winner of the North Carolina-Pittsburgh clash.
If one had to guess, No. 2 Syracuse and No. 3 Duke will advance to Day 4 and provide yet another epic matchup only fitting for the semifinals of what has been a great tournament thus far.