Since your time (and DVR space) is limited, we present a recap of the best games from the previous week and look ahead at the week to come:
N.C. State 90, Virginia Tech 86 (OT)
After six days off against one of the worst teams in the league, surely a well-rested N.C. State squad would cruise to victory! Welllll ... is it ever easy for N.C. State? Virginia Tech led at the half and would lead by as many as seven in the second half. Heck, Virginia Tech led by seven at the under-eight media timeout. Just as it appeared N.C. State took control for good, taking a five-point lead with 15 seconds to go, N.C. State went all, um, N.C. State ,,, um ... stuff. A Jarell Eddie putback of an intentionally missed Erick Green free throw sent the game to overtime. Ultimately, N.C. State had too much for Virginia Tech. Oh, and the Wolfpack shot 43 foul shots to just seven for Virginia Tech which automatically means the officiating was terribly biased for N.C. State, right? NARRATIVES ABOUND!
Special shoutout: Scott Wood.
The senior sharpshooter had 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting (all from three), so I’d imagine losing that game at home would’ve been more frustrating than ... never mind. But in all seriousness, Wood has been on quite a roll, hitting the game-winner at Clemson last weekend and 22 huge points in this one. He’s also hit 21 of his last 44 three’s (47.7%) in N.C. State’s last six games and 15-of-30 in the last four. He’s been quietly clutch for the Wolfpack all season. But now, it would appear that ... <SCOTTY’S ON FIRE!>
(Hat tip: Erick Green. Consider it an enormous sombrero tip, sir. WE STILL SEE YOU! WE SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING!)
Maryland 83, No. 2 Duke 81
Maryland beat Duke for the first time since 2010! This win that saved Mark Turgeon’s job, which we didn’t even know was in jeopardy! This win is proof that Maryland BELONGS in the elite Big Ten! Okay, I made all of those things up. Except that Maryland won. The Terps committed inbounds violations, traveled, got called for three seconds, lost a shoe - really they invented new ways to turn the ball over a total of 26 times. Yet they led much of the second half. Of course, they took 31 free throws in that half alone (to 16 for Duke). It was far from pretty: Maryland’s Jake Layman fouled Rasheed Sulaimon on a three-point attempt with 16 seconds left, and Sulaimon tied the game. Fortunately for the Terps, Maryland freshman Seth Allen drew a foul on Quinn Cook with two seconds left, and his free throws were the final margin. Big win for Maryland, which is BACK ON THE BUBBLE!
Also ... um ... Mason Plumlee? Has anyone seen him? No? The box score says he played 33 minutes, but ... he had four points, three rebounds, shot 2-of-7, fouled out and turned it over twice. Duke’s just not going to win many games when he doesn’t show up, particularly on the road. He looked that bad against North Carolina in the first half as well in the previous game, but he snapped out of it. He just never did in College Park.
Special shoutout: Alex Len
He said he didn’t want to be Duke’s Mason Plumlee’s little brother anymore. Well, okay, so only Turgeon called him that. Either way, Len didn’t like it. He was as aggressive as he’s been, taking the ball right at Plumlee and finishing with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He also took eight free throws (making seven) and added a team-high nine rebounds and three blocks in 28 minutes. Turgeon likes Aggressive Alex. ACC fans like Aggressive Alex. Now, if only we could see him for a few games in a row?
(Hat tip: Seth Curry. He has 85 points in Duke’s last four ACC road games. That’s just three fewer points than Miami and Clemson’s teams combined to score last night. GO ACC!)
Miami 45, Clemson 43
If you have an extreme aversion to missed shots (and really, who doesn’t?), you probably set yourself on fire during this Sunday night classic. Sunday night ACC hoops has brought us such gems as Miami 54, Maryland 47 and Miami 71, Florida State 47. Naturally, in an offensively-challenged game that didn’t see both teams achieve the elusive #QuestFor40 until a minute remained, Clemson had a four-point lead with 2:00 left (almost like 10 points in football with 30 seconds left! I made that up). Clemson committed four fouls (one on purpose) in the final 1:04, turned it over once and missed the front end of a one-and-one. Miami made plays: Rion Brown had a three-point play with a minute to go, and a Kenny Kadji three with 36 seconds was the game-sealer, basically - but Clemson had two shots at the end to tie it from point-blank range that didn’t go.
Special shoutout: Jordan Roper.
A career-high 19 points for the freshman, which in a game like this is the equivalent of about 64 points or so. Give or take. He led all scorers with his 19 points, and he shot 8-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the three-point line. His teammates combined shot 9-of-45 from the floor and 1-of-13 from the three-point line. That’s Erick Green territory right there, Jordan. So of course, it makes perfect sense that he wouldn’t take a shot for the final two minutes. Roper also had four steals (which were a career high). Considering he set a new career-high in his last home game against N.C. State and then passed it in his next home game, he’s due for about 20-some when North Carolina comes to town on February 28.
(Hat tip: Kenny Kadji. He was Miami’s leading scorer with 12 points, and hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 36 seconds left. A nice bounceback game for Kadji after he had just three at FSU.)
North Carolina at Georgia Tech, Tuesday, 9:00 p.m.
The Tar Heels, who appear to have their proverbial ship righted somewhat, will start the murderer’s row portion of its schedule. UNC plays just one team outside the Ken Pom top 100 in its final six games, and that’s No. 109 FSU. UNC only has four wins all season against current Ken Pom top-100 teams. But what’s more? The Tar Heels are headed to the Atlanta Abyss. Carolina is 1-4 in Atlanta under Roy Williams, and the lone win came by one point in 2008. North Carolina lost two regular-season games all year that season and reached the Final Four. (Georgia Tech finished 15-17.) The real head-scratcher was the thumping the 2011 team took at Georgia Tech; the Yellow Jackets would go on to finish 13-18 and UNC would make the Elite 8. Of course, UNC should thank Georgia Tech because that game led to Kendall Marshall starting over Larry Drew II.
Player to watch: Kammeon Holsey
If you think the Georgia Tech big man’s numbers are confusing, wait until you see him in person. At times, his athleticism especially makes him look dominant. At other times, he doesn’t look nearly as skilled as he needs to be to play at this level. Either way, he’s averaging 6.5 points in Georgia Tech’s last two games on 5-of-16 shooting and 18.0 minutes. Last time against UNC, he had 18 points (on 8-of-13 shooting) and nine rebounds in 21 minutes (but fouled out), pulling down six offensive boards. He needs to play that kind of a role in this one, too.
Virginia at Miami, Tuesday, 9:00 p.m.
Anytime these two teams play, I can’t help but the think about their two epic meetings in 2011. In the first one, Virginia lost a five-point lead with 38.9 seconds left and eventually lost in overtime in Coral Gables. Remembering that and wanting to avenge the loss in the ACC Tournament, the Cavaliers still managed to lose another lead - this one more ridiculous, as it was 10 points with 42.5 seconds to go. And Miami would go on to win that one in overtime as well. Virginia hasn’t won at Miami under Tony Bennett (in just two tries, mind you). Ultimately, none of this means anything. Back to the present: Miami could certainly lose this game, and Virginia kinda-sorta really needs to win it. The Cavaliers are running out of chances to get marquee wins, with just Duke at home remaining.
Player to watch: Joe Harris
Because, why not? He was the best thing about Virginia’s performance at North Carolina on Saturday, and that is saying a lot considering his team shot nearly 60% from the floor. Harris was brilliant with 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting, getting into the lane seemingly at will and knocking down three’s (4-of-6). He’s just on such a roll for the Cavaliers, averaging 24 points in the last four games. At Virginia’s pace, that’s basically like 78.5 ppg per 40 minutes. (Again, this is made up.) Joey Hoops is fun to watch, and he looks like a sure All-ACC First-Teamer at this point.
N.C. State at North Carolina, Saturday, 4:00 p.m.
With the exception of a late surge by the Tar Heels that gave N.C. State a scare, the Wolfpack dominated the first meeting in Raleigh. And interestingly enough, N.C. State was the team coming into that meeting having lost two of its last three. This time, that team is North Carolina. The Tar Heels’ new small lineup has been a big hit, but will Roy Williams stay with it? And can he, against an N.C. State team that actually has two legitimate big men who can score down low? Will P.J. Hairston be able to guard C.J. Leslie? Can N.C. State beat a good team on the road? Can the Tar Heels get a much-needed marquee win for its NCAA Tournament resume? Is N.C. State even a marquee win right this second? Can I stop asking myself questions?
Player to watch: Lorenzo Brown.
N.C. State’s point guard dominated the matchup with UNC’s Marcus Paige in the first meeting, as Brown should, with 20 points, 11 assists and two steals in 36 minutes. Paige had seven points on 2-of-11 shooting and four assists to just three turnovers. Brown showed why he is an elite point guard with the way he controlled both ends of the court, and his stats don’t even suggest the command he had in that matchup and in the game in general. The very next game, though, Brown hurt his ankle and has been back for just two games since. He appears to be nearing 100%, which is a bad omen for the Tar Heels. Oh, that, and he has played very well on the road.