The 2016 ACC tournament took center stage at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. once again Wednesday for Round 2 play. The reigning NCAA champions from Duke, which earned the No. 5 seed for the event, headlined the action.
It was also an important day for the conference's bubble teams, led by Pittsburgh and Syracuse, as they look to build their final case for the selection committee. Meanwhile, the top four seeds have been waiting in the wings before kicking off their tournament runs Thursday in the quarterfinals.
Let's check out all of the results from Wednesday's games, which will be updated through the end of play, as well as a look at the schedule for the next round. That's followed by an updated look at the bracket and a recap of the action.
|Game||Round 2||Result/Time (ET)|
|3||No. 8 Pittsburgh vs. No. 9 Syracuse||72-71 PITT|
|4||No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 NC State||92-89 DUKE|
|5||No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech||88-85 (OT) GT|
|6||No. 6 Virginia Tech vs. No. 11 Florida State||96-85 VT|
|7||No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh||12 p.m. THU|
|8||No. 4 Notre Dame vs. No. 5 Duke||2 p.m. THU|
|9||No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech||7 p.m. THU|
|10||No. 3 Miami vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech||9 p.m. THU|
|Round 1||Round 2||Quarterfinals||Semifinals||Final|
|No. 1 UNC|
|No. 8 PITT 72||No. 8 PITT|
|No. 9 SYR 71|
|No. 4 ND||TBD|
|No. 5 DUKE 92||No. 5 DUKE||TBD|
|No. 12 NC ST 75||No. 12 NC ST 89|
|No. 13 WAKE 72||TBD|
|No. 2 VIR||TBD|
|No. 7 CLEM 85||No. 10 GT|
|No. 10 GT 88||TBD|
|No. 3 MIA|
|No. 6 VT 96||No. 6 VT|
|No. 11 FLA ST 88||No. 11 FLA ST 85|
|No. 14 BC 66|
Pittsburgh 72, Syracuse 71
Pittsburgh survived a late Syracuse surge and took a key step toward earning a spot in the NCAA tournament field with a 72-71 victory over the Orange in Wednesday's opener.
Freshman Cameron Johnson came off the bench to lead the charge for the Panthers with a career-high 24 points. Ryan Luther, another reserve, added 13 points and five rebounds. James Robinson led all starters with 12 points.
Michael Gbinije provided a spark for Syracuse with 24 points, while fellow senior DaJuan Coleman chipped in 11 points and 11 rebounds. The Orange just couldn't come up with the stops they needed at the defensive end in the final minutes, however, and Trevor Cooney missed a final shot for the win.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com discussed the aftermath:
Pittsburgh survives. Syracuse likely NIT-bound.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 9, 2016
The game got off to an extremely sluggish start. Not only were both teams struggling to create good looks on the offensive end—the first bucket didn't come until nearly three minutes in—but a string of clock malfunctions forced several stoppages in play.
Dana O'Neil of ESPN.com noted the early issues:
Clock stoppages 6. Syracuse 0, Pitt 0.— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) March 9, 2016
While that's not ideal for any game, it's especially an issue during a matchup with so much on the line. As mentioned, both Pitt and Syracuse came into the clash trying to bolster their resumes with a deep run in the conference tournament.
Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com believed it was slightly more important for the Orange, which entered the game "on the fence":
Syracuse needs this more. The Orange are behind the Panthers in the bracket and would be in serious danger of falling off if they lose. Syracuse has a few nice wins, but the losses are piling up. Another one here means being just one game above .500 vs the top 200 of the RPI, and that would not include the loss to St. John's.
So it's a crucial win for Pittsburgh. Not only since it's a victory over a fellow bubble team, but also because of the opportunity it creates. The Panthers now get a chance to face North Carolina, giving them a chance to make a major statement with a quarterfinals triumph.
The Tar Heels are trying to work their way into a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament, so there's no shortage of motivation on their side, either. So if Pitt is able to pull off the upset, it should secure a place in the final field, if it hasn't already.
Meanwhile, Syracuse will likely be forced to sweat it out all the way until Selection Sunday. Since the Orange no longer control their own destiny, they'll spend the rest of the week cheering for top seeds in other conferences to lessen the number of bid-stealing conference champions.
ESPN passed along postgame remarks from Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon:
Jim Boeheim wouldn't provide much insight into his thoughts about his team's chances of making the big dance, per Chris Carlson of Syracuse.com.
"I'm not on the committee," he said. "They're going to have to evaluate what we've done based on all the circumstances."
"I know we've beaten eight teams in the top 100. If there's teams better than that, so be it," Boeheim said.
Duke 92, NC State 89
Duke held off a late rally from NC State to earn a berth in the quarterfinals with a 92-89 triumph.
Freshmen sensations Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard each scored 22 points in the win. Grayson Allen added 19 points and six rebounds while Marshall Plumlee chipped in 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the Blue Devils.
Anthony Barber shined for the Wolfpack with 29 points and seven assists, but he failed to create a clean look for himself with the team down three and under 30 seconds to go. Abdul-Malik Abu tallied 19 points and nine rebounds in the loss.
Chip Patterson of CBS Sports provided a note about the shootout:
Duke-NC State was highest scoring ACC tournament game (in regulation) in 21 years— Chip Patterson (@Chip_Patterson) March 9, 2016
While Plumlee had a strong outing as the numbers show, it was made even more impressive by the fact he battled through a gruesome nose injury. CBS Sports CBB passed along a look at the damage:
Marshall Plumlee's nose miiiiiight be broken, but he's still battling. pic.twitter.com/3QnXExrwg8— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) March 9, 2016
It's crucial for him to stay on the floor since the Blue Devils only go seven deep in the rotation. Chase Jeter only played eight minutes, so for extended stretches it's closer to a six-man group. Plumlee is a vital part of that.
Notre Dame is next up for Duke. It will likely be another high-scoring affair. The Fighting Irish scored a narrow 95-91 victory when the two teams faced off back in January. How the Blue Devils handle the quick turnaround without much depth could be the deciding factor.
On the flip side, NC State will be disappointed it couldn't pull off the upset. The Wolfpack started playing some better basketball in recent weeks and were hoping for a miracle ACC tournament run. Instead, the loss drops their record to 16-17 and likely ends the campaign, barring a bid into one of the lower-level postseason events.
ESPN relayed postgame thoughts from Ingram:
Mike Krzyzewski confirmed Plumlee suffered a broken nose, per ACC Men's Basketball:
Coach K: "(Marshall Plumlee)'s nose is broken. It says a lot how he came back into the game and made the big play." #ACCTourney— ACC Men's Basketball (@accmbb) March 9, 2016
NC State's Mark Gottfried enjoyed the back-and-forth nature of the game despite the final result, as noted by Pack Pride.
"That was kind of like a prizefight," the fifth-year head coach said. "They're scoring and we are scoring. That was a great college basketball game."
The David Glenn Show pointed out he also came away happy with how hard his team fought.
"I've had teams that have won more games, but I don't know if I've ever been more proud of a team," Gottfried said. "I'm very proud."
Georgia Tech 88, Clemson 85 (OT)
The theme of nail-biting finishes at the ACC tournament continued in the Wednesday evening session as the No. 10 seed Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets overcame an 18-point second-half deficit against the No. 7 seed Clemson Tigers to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive with an 88-85 overtime victory.
Both teams likely had to win the ACC tournament to get a spot in the Big Dance considering neither made an appearance on ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan’s Bubble Watch coming into action Wednesday.
The Yellow Jackets received timely senior leadership from their backcourt Wednesday. Marcus Georges-Hunt led the way with 28 points, six assists and six rebounds and calmly drilled 15-of-16 shots from the charity stripe. Fellow guard Adam Smith contributed 23 points and drilled four of his team’s six made three-pointers.
Jaron Blossomgame was impressive in defeat for Clemson with 22 points and five rebounds. Avry Holmes added 19 points, five rebounds and four assists from the backcourt for the Tigers.
It looked as if Clemson was in complete control when it seized a 40-31 halftime lead and then extended that to 65-47 with less than 10 minutes remaining when Ty Hudson hit a three-pointer. However, Georgia Tech hung around but still found itself behind 78-70 with less than two minutes left in regulation.
From there, Smith hit a three to trim the advantage to 78-73, and Georgia Tech made seven free throws down the stretch and provided clutch defense. Georges-Hunt hit two free throws late, and Holmes missed a potential game-winning shot for Clemson on the other side to put the game into overtime.
The Tigers had a chance to tie at the end of the extra period, but Gabe DeVoe missed a three-pointer and sent the Yellow Jackets to the quarterfinals.
The Student Section noted the collapse was reminiscent of Clemson finishing 10-8 in conference play after starting 5-1:
Georgia Tech plays Virginia Thursday. The Cavaliers are No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25 and could be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament if they take care of business in Washington D.C. On paper, this figures to be a blowout, especially because the Yellow Jackets just played Wednesday night and face a quick turnaround against Virginia.
However, Georgia Tech beat Virginia in the only regular-season matchup between the two teams back on Jan. 9. That was a home game and came during a stretch when Virginia lost three of four games in the ACC, but it at least gives the Yellow Jackets some hope heading into their daunting task Thursday.
Virginia Tech 96, Florida State 85
Virginia Tech kept its fledgling NCAA tournament hopes alive Wednesday with a 96-85 victory over Florida State. The Hokies never trailed in the contest and extended their winning streak to six games with the win.
Seth Allen provided a scoring spark off the bench with 20 points, 10 of which came on the free-throw line. Elsewhere, Virginia Tech received 18 points from Justin Robinson and a double-double for Zach LeDay, who posted 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Perhaps most importantly, the Hokies perimeter defense held Florida State to a mere 8-of-29 shooting from three-point range. The Seminoles also missed 14 free throws, which proved to be costly in the 11-point loss.
Devon Bookert led the way for Florida State with 19 points and four steals off the bench. Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes each scored 13 points as well.
Virginia Tech started quickly and staked itself to a 45-38 halftime lead. It extended that advantage to an overwhelming 77-60 with less than nine minutes remaining when Justin Bibbs connected on a three-pointer.
Florida State trimmed into the lead during garbage time but never truly threatened down the stretch.
Next up for the Hokies is a quarterfinals showdown against Miami.
The Hurricanes are the No. 3 seed in the ACC tournament and No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25, and it may seem like a long shot for Virginia Tech to win against that stiff of competition on short rest. However, the Hokies already beat Miami during their current winning streak and should have confidence heading into Thursday with that in the back of their mind.
Virginia Tech finished the regular season on Saturday with a dominant 77-62 victory over Miami and held the Hurricanes to 4-of-24 shooting from three-point range.
If the perimeter defense is that suffocating once again, Virginia Tech could keep its ACC tournament title hopes alive with an upset.