One day until Selection Sunday…with the ACC Tournament almost in our rearview mirror.  Not to be the old guy on his porch, but I wish they’d go back to having their title game on Sunday for multiple reasons.  First, by moving to Saturday night the ACC abdicates the prime Boardwalk real estate that the Big Ten and SEC own (yes-I know, the AAC and Atlantic 10 also play Sunday).  Second, by moving the schedule back one day Friday’s quarterfinal-fest (a must-attend staple for 30+ years) gets shoved to Thursday with a semifinal doubleheader on Friday.  It’s much easier to justify a three day weekend for fans that a four day hiatus.  Lastly, it moves the First Round (I wish they called it the Opening Round or “First Four”) to Tuesday–meaning the likes of Boston College & Wake Forest had departed 48 hours before Virginia and Miami even played one game.  The Tuesday-Saturday format dilutes the Tournament and league brand…while also shoving the Big East’s title game to 5:30 pm on Saturday.  Isn’t enough the ACC stole seven schools from their league?

First to the in-crowd:

#4 Virginia (26-6, 13-5 ACC) turned Miami over 16 times in their 73-68 win over teh Hurricanes.  Malcolm Brogdon has brought his big boy pants to DC for the tournament:  the senior scored 24 points while hitting 10-11 from the free throw line.  Prepare for a Carolina Blue/Cavalier Orange colored Verizon Center for the ACC Championship.  The Cavaliers are going to Raleigh for the first weekend as a #1 seed:  ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has them in the South region playing Jackson State while CBS’s Jerry Palm has them in the West facing Hampton.

#18 Maryland (25-7, 12-6 Big Ten) got its mojo back with a 54 point first half in their 97-86 win over Nebraska.  And yes, that was smoke you saw over the right arm of Jake Layman as the senior was on fire with 26 points on 6 of 9 three point shooting.  The reward?  A date with perhaps the best-playing team in the conference.  ESPN has the Terps as a #5 seed in the East facing Yale in Des Moines, while CBS sends the Terrapins to Spokane as a #4 in the West and a game with Northern Iowa.

VCU (23-9, 14-4 Atlantic 10).  One down, two to go for the Rams after their 85-70 win over UMass.  Coupled with losses by bubble teams St. Bonaventure and George Washington, Will Wade’s team can feel a little more secure.  ESPN has the Rams as a #8 seed in the West facing Butler in Raleigh, while CBS has them a #10 in the South playing Colorado in Brooklyn.

On the Outside Looking In-

George Washington (23-10, 11-7 Atlantic 10) lost to Saint Joseph’s 86-80…after taking a 14 point halftime lead the Colonials allowed 51 points in the second half.  Defensive breakdowns have been haunting coach Mike Lonergan’s team all season and now it puts them squarely on the fringe of the outskirts of the bubble.  The transitive property of basketball makes GW fans root for Virginia and Seton Hall this evening…as early-season victories by the Colonials look shinier with each Cavalier and Pirate triumph.  CBS has George Washington among the First Four Out…while ESPN doesn’t even have them in the next four missing the field.

Today’s games:

3:30pm– Big Ten Semifinals– Maryland takes on #2 Michigan State (27-5, 13-5).  The Spartans are playing as well as anybody not just in the league but in the entire country.  Their surge began January 23 when they beat Maryland 74-65.  Denzel Valentine tallied 19 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists in that game…and the 6-5 senior remains the player the Terps will have to watch out four this afternoon.

4pm– Atlantic 10 Semifinals– VCU plays Davidson (20-11, 10-8).  The Rams swept the regular season series as Mo Alie-Cox scored 18 points in both games while notching  11 rebounds in one and 9 boards in the other.  Can they contain A-10 leading scorer Jack Gibbs?  He scored 37 in the January matchup but was held to 18 points on 4-19 shooting just ten days ago.  The senior led the Wildcats to a 90-86 win over St. Bonaventure by scoring 29 points.

9pm– ACC Finals– Virginia plays #7 North Carolina.  The Cavaliers won the lone regular season game 79-74 in Charlottesville.  UVa’s deliberation and patience competes against UNC’s talent and up-tempo energy.  The Tar Heels dominated Notre Dame defensively last night, holding the Fighting Irish without a field goal from 6:12 remaining in the first half to the 14:51 mark in the second half.  Coach Tony Bennett’s team tries to win its second ACC Tournament in three years (after winning just the 1976 title in the first 40 years of the league) while North Carolina is trying to end a drought (for them) by taking their first ACC Tournament since 2008.

 

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