NEW YORK — After a duo of phenomenal powerhouse match-ups in the afternoon session, fans were treated to another set of great games between more under-the-radar teams. Despite the teams not being as big named as Duke or North Carolina, the competitiveness and great basketball action was not in short supply.
In the first match-up of the game, Florida State pulled away from Virginia Tech in the second half to win 74-68. In the second game of the night, Notre Dame comfortably defeated Virginia, winning 71-58.
Tonight, nothing abnormal grabbed my attention. The crowds continued to grow in size, the arena got louder every game, and every game had intensity. With that being said, here are a couple of things on my mind.
Notre Dame is a Darkhorse:
Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey has yet another solid team this year heading into March. Better yet, Mike Brey has a typical Notre Dame team this year if there ever was one.
Like teams of old, Notre Dame has a team of shooters that can move the ball around the floor. On the season, Notre Dame shoots a respectable 38.9% from beyond the arc and every player contributes to that percentage. In addition to that, Notre Dame moves the ball around well, as the team averages 16 assists per game, tied for 28th in the nation.
In even more of a comparison to Notre Dame teams of old, this year’s team has an athletic big man who doesn’t have an exact position on the court. Bonzie Colson, the walking double-double (17.0 PPG & 10.4 RPG,) is reminiscent of former Notre Dame big man Zach Auguste. In 2015, Auguste led a similar styled team to an Elite Eight appearance. Can this Notre Dame team recreate the magic of the 2014-15 squad?
Yes, they can! Watch out for the Fighting Irish not only in the rest of the ACC Tournament but in the NCAA Tournament next week. If there shooters get hot and Bonzie continues to cause a havoc for a opposing defenses down low, Notre Dame will be a tough out for any opponent.
Florida State: NCAA Bust Waiting to Happen
When watching the waning moments of the Florida State versus Virginia Tech game, one play stood out to me in a negative way. With just over twelve seconds left, Florida State grabbed an errant three ball by Virginia Tech and lobbed it up the court. Instead of running out the clock (especially after Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams called off the press), Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes through an alley-oop to forward Terance Mann to cap off a six point win.
Now you are probably wondering why this is a big deal in my eyes. For me, that alley-oop shows a lack of discipline and here is why.
That lack of discipline did not only occur in the final seconds of the game but occurred throughout the entire game, as after every questionable call or no-call, Florida State players ran their mouths at the refs, often swearing as they walked away.
Now yes, many players swear on the court and complain about calls. However, the combined package of everything mentioned above has me put off.
I can forsee Florida State overlooking a small school in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, therefore getting upset, thus sending their butts back to Tallahassee much earlier than they probably would have hoped.
On a more statistical note, Florida State should scream concerns for fans (and bracket-makers) as they have given up an astounding 71.2 points per game this year, ranking 148th in the nation. Simply put, that is terrible.
To be fair to Florida State, they do rank 17th in the nation in points-per-game, as they average 83 points per contest. However, as we all know in March, playing good defense and getting rebounds (in which FSU ranks 92nd in the nation) is the way to win games.
With a lack of discipline and laziness on defense evident, Florida State could be headed towards a quick trip in and out of the NCAA Tournament.
The Granddaddy of the All In the Semi-Final: Duke vs. North Carolina:
Tomorrow at 7:00 pm ET, Duke and North Carolina square off for the third time this year (series split 1-1) in the semi-finals of the ACC Tournament. What should you expect from this game the third time round? A lot of heart and fight from the losing team, Duke.
After playing a nailbiter with Louisville on Wednesday, whom Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski called “a final four team,” Duke will be playing its third game in as many days. Additionally, both of the games Duke has played so far have been competitive hard-fought games. North Carolina cruised by Miami earlier on Wednesday and looked relaxed during most of the game, thus giving them the edge as far as fitness is concerned.
As for Duke, fatigue for players is imminent. In both of their games, Duke starters have played most of the minutes, as depth seems to be an issue for Coach K. In addition to that, 6th man and attention-getter Grayson Allen is still recovering from an ankle injury.
“The ankle is preventing him from exploding in practice,” said Krzyzewski. With that being said, expect signs of fatigue from the Duke team tomorrow, as playing “two final four games in 24 hours” according to Krzyzewski, will be extremely difficult for the Blue Devils.
Nevertheless, expect a thriller from Duke and North Carolina as usual as “Holy Mackerel,” tomorrow is going to be great!
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