ACC Tournament 2011: 5 Up, 5 Down from the First Round
The first day of tournament action from Greensboro was full of excitement.
While the national contenders weren't playing, there was still plenty to be seen in the middle of basketball country. The lower two-thirds of ACC competition played amongst themselves to advance.
Some teams obviously came to play, and things may be looking up for them.
However, others didn't—and it became clear that there may be some difficult times ahead for some programs.
Up: Rion Brown, SG, Miami
Brown worked his way into the Canes' starting lineup this year as a freshman.
He may be young and seems a little rough around the edges, but this youngster has some real potential for Miami.
He showcased his long-range shot by going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in the game on Thursday, but he showed potential as a ball-handler as well. When he had the opportunity, he was a good ball-handler and showed some spurts of offensive potential despite being guarded by Mustapha Farrakhan, the Cavs' best player.
Down the stretch, he struggled more and wasn't used as much in the overtime period. There were points where he looked lost or like he had a mental slip, but as a freshman in a win or go home situation, that is definitely excusable.
It will be interesting to see how Brown does on Friday versus top-seeded North Carolina, as he'll probably be guarding Dexter Strickland or ACC Rookie of the Year Harrison Barnes if he starts again.
Down: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
If you didn't know this already, Wake Forest is (or was) awful this season. The Demon Deacons have continually lost this year, and it didn't get any better on Thursday.
Wake Forest didn't lead the entire game, as Boston College ran through it with relative ease—despite a weak comeback attempt late in the second half.
The only bright spot is the youth of the Wake Forest roster. They started three freshmen and a sophomore against the Eagles.
Travis McKie and J.T. Terrell were two of the few players that performed well for the Demon Deacons with 16 and 15 points, respectively. McKie also contributed 12 rebounds for Wake Forest—a game high.
We can cut Jeff Bzdelik a little slack, as he had to come into a program that had just lost a bunch of players and implement a new system.However, a season with less than 10 wins just seems a bit unacceptable in the ACC, especially given that it was a down year for the conference.
The boys from Winston-Salem have a lot to do over the offseason.
Up: Frank Haith, Head Coach, Miami
Before Thursday, it was safe to say that Haith's job was very much in jeopardy.
In seven seasons at Miami, Haith has only captured one NCAA berth. After yet another mediocre season, many believe that he may be on his way out of Coral Gables. However, after the clutch win against Virginia, Haith may have a chance to play for his job in the next few days.
Normally, a win over Virginia in the opening round of the ACC tournament isn't exactly a signature win, but the fashion in which the Canes managed to win is what was so impressive.
Miami was down by 10 points with 42 seconds left to go in the game.
Thanks both to a couple of timely three-pointers and some bad mistakes by Virginia guard Sammy Zeglinski, the Canes managed to force an overtime period in which they dominated the Cavaliers.
Even with that clutch win, however, Haith still needs to beat the top-seeded Tar Heels on Friday and at least make a run to the championship for his chances of returning to be worth considering.
He still has a chance, though, and in March, all you need is one chance.
Down: Sammy Zeglinski, G, Virginia
Zeglinski is a fan favorite in Charlottesville, but it is safe to say that he may have cost Virginia the game on Thursday.
He finished with 13 points, but throw out the three he hit towards the end of overtime, and his stat line was 10 points, two rebounds, no assists and four turnovers.
More importantly was the timing of his mistakes.
Virginia had a 10-point lead with less than a minute to go, but Zeglinski missed two free throws and then turned the ball over following a timeout, which helped the Hurricanes cut it to a two-point deficit.
Then, after Durand Scott missed a free throw for Miami with the game tied and 13 seconds on the clock, he fumbled the ball out of bounds, which gave Miami yet another shot to win it.
Zeglinski is certainly the goat in the bad, bad loss for the Cavaliers.
Up: Boston College Eagles' Bubble Status
While a win over Wake Forest won't gain much sympathy from the tournament selection committee, it didn't hurt the Eagles, which is pretty much what they were going for in the opening round game.
The Eagles looked very impressive in the game, never relinquishing the lead.
This has to improve the Eagles' bubble status, as they've now won four straight games.
The big game looms tomorrow against Clemson, as both teams are competing for a spot in the NCAA tourney. If Boston College can advance past Clemson, you'd have to think that they'd be a favorite for one of the last few at-large bids.
Down: Sidney Lowe, Head Coach, NC State
Lowe seemed to be all but out of Raleigh after a season of utter disappointment.
Now the prospect of Lowe returning as head coach of the Wolfpack next season seems to be even more unlikely after NC State's loss to Maryland on Thursday.
Except for a few streaky comebacks, the Wolfpack seemed to be on their heels the entire time, but Sidney Lowe was more animated than he had been all season.
In his postgame press conference, Lowe seemed somber and disappointed. It's almost as if he's accepted his fate.
When asked about his future and whether he'll be coaching next year, Lowe only said, "I'm a basketball coach, so you're always hoping to coach. We're gonna sit down and talk, Debbie [Yow] said that from day one and we'll sit down and talk and see where it goes from there."
Pretty foreboding talk from Lowe, but we'll see what happens in the future.
Up: The Future of Maryland Basketball
Maryland's win on Thursday against NC State may not get them into the tournament, but it is definitely a push towards a bright future.
Led by sophomore sensation Jordan Williams, whose 11.6 rebounds per game have him ranked third in the nation in the category, the Terps can hold fast to the belief that an NCAA tournament bid should be only another year away.
Along with Williams, the development of Terrell Stoglin as a legitimate point guard prospect bodes well for Maryland.
Of course, they are led by eternal angry turtle Gary Williams, whose job is fairly safe despite a mediocre season by his standards.
The Terrapins aren't completely out of the at-large picture yet either.
With a win on Friday against Duke, they could put themselves back in the discussion, but a run to the championship would be needed for a realistic shot at dancing this season.
Down: The Sanity of Georgia Tech's Athletic Director Dan Radakovich
Paul Hewitt has been in the hot seat for the last couple of years after some fairly mediocre seasons.
Hewitt managed to barely lead the Yellow Jackets to an NCAA tournament win last year, but this season has been somewhat of a failure in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jackets went 5-11 in the ACC and 13-17 overall this season. And with their LOSS? against Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACC tournament late Thursday, Dan Radakovich has to be wondering how much flak he's going to take if Hewitt is still the head coach next season.
Normally, it wouldn't be difficult to fire a coach (ask Wake Forest, who ousted Dino Gaudio after three years and two straight tournament bids), but Hewitt's contract has a clause that states a firing would cause Georgia Tech to owe Hewitt roughly $6.8 million upon termination. Radakovich would obviously need a good reason to fire him.
But is a 13-18 season a good enough reason? Only he can decide that, and it won't be an easy decision.
Photo by Jamie Howell
Up: Seth Greenberg, Head Coach, Virginia Tech
Basically, Greenberg needs the Hokies to make the tournament to save his job.
Only one tournament appearance in seven years as a head coach is similar to running on fumes while driving. Eventually, you're going to run out of gas, and it seems like after they didn't make the tourney last season, the gauge has been riding on empty all season.
However, things are looking up.
The Hokies were squarely on the bubble coming into the ACC tourney, but their opening-round shellacking of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets may have nudged them far enough into the green zone.
If they really want to make it in, Va Tech will beat the (possibly) vulnerable Florida State Seminoles (maybe) without Chris Singleton.
Down: Chris Singleton's Chances of Playing in the ACC Tournament
According to The Miami Herald, Leonard Hamilton would not confirm that Singleton could or would play in their first game of the ACC tournament on Friday.
As time goes on, I think it is more and more unlikely that Singleton will play. I mean, why would he?
The Seminoles are pretty surely a lock for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament after finishing third in the ACC regular season standings. Also, they've proved that they can compete on the level of top seeds like North Carolina, given their heartbreaking loss at the hands of Harrison Barnes.
It makes no sense for the Seminoles to rush back Singleton. They'll need him if they want to succeed in the national tournament, and bringing him back early could lead to another injury.
We may see him if the 'Noles go to the championship Sunday, but don't count on it.
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