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Thursday, March 10, 2011

ACC Tournament: Friday Quarterfinal Preview

Posted by on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 11:14 PM

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The first round of the ACC Tournament Thursday held no major surprises, as the 10, 11, and 12 seeds, by some margin the worst teams in the conference, did little to dispel the view that the ACC needs to shrink the tournament to those with a realistic chance of winning it. Two coaches, Sidney Lowe of N.C. State and Paul Hewitt of Georgia Tech—a former national champion player and a former national runner-cup coach—likely coached their last games at their respective schools. The Yellow Jackets in particular turned in a shocking performance against Virginia Tech.

If Thursday is remembered at all, it will be for the epic meltdown by the Virgina Cavaliers in the final minute of their game with Miami, in which they blew a double-digit lead, then went on to lose handily in overtime. Virginia had several bad turnovers to gift Miami points. The Cavaliers thoroughly deserved to win the game over the first 39 minutes, but the loss will hurt Tony Bennett's reputation and possibly damage Virginia's late charge for an NIT bid.

Instead, Miami goes on and surely will be pumped up to play North Carolina in Friday's first quarterfinal. The second afternoon game features Clemson and Boston College, in a battle of two teams in or around the NCAA bubble. The loser almost certainly is out of big dance consideration.

Friday night Duke gets Maryland in what could prove an excellent contest. The Terps have laid their share off ACC Tournament clunkers over the years, but they got the job done against N.C. State and should have no trouble getting motivated to play the Blue Devils. In the nightcap is possibly the day's most important game. Florida State, the #3 seed, is probably already in the tournament, but #6 seed Virginia Tech is not. A win by the Hokies probably gets them in, and a loss probably knocks them out. So that game probably has the most effect on the number of bids to the NCAA Tournament the league will get this year.

I will be on site in Greensboro covering the tournament, so look for updates tomorrow on Triangle Offense as well as in-game updates and observations on http://twitter.com/#!/IndyweekSports

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