The ACC has completed their 1st round of the NCAA tournament. It was certainly a mixed bag. North Carolina, NC State, and Florida State advanced. Duke and Virginia were sent home. Let’s grade out each team’s performance.
Of all the ACC teams, I was the most impressed by NC State and there 14 point win over San Diego State. Every time the Aztecs made a run the Wolfpack had an answer. This isn’t the same NC State squad that blew a 20 point lead at Duke. This was a confident poised bunch. What makes the Pack so good is that even though they are not very deep, they had 7 players score at least 6 points today. 4 had more than 10. Who are you going to defend? Mark Gottfried has done an amazing changing the culture at NC State. The Wolfpack has already exceeded their seeding and now anything else is a bonus. They get an intriguing game with Georgetown next. Sweet 16? Sure why not.
North Carolina – B
UNC beat Vermont 77-58 Friday. It was workman like performance. The Heels got off to a slower start than you would care for, but were never really threatened by the Catamounts. Harrison Barnes took a while to get going, and I’d like to see a more consistent game out of him. John Henson didn’t play today, and I’ve read he’s 50/50 for Sunday. The Heels can’t get to the Final 4 without him so the Heels need him back. Next up is Creighton who defeated Alabama 58-57. The Bluejays are not particularly big, so I’d expect the UNC post guys to have a big game. The Tar Heels should advance comfortably.
Florida State – B-
The Noles magical ride almost came to a screeching halt Friday against St. Bonaventure. Florida State prevailed 66-63, but it was much harder than it should have been. The Noles fell behind early and trailed by 6 at Halftime. You might be able to get away with that in the First Round, but no more. Michael Snaer was held scoreless and that certainly can’t happen as the competition gets better. Bernard James willed the Seminoles to victory with his hard nosed play. I give credit to FSU though, the key is to survive and advance and that’s what they did. Cincinnati is more than good enough to beat FSU if the Noles have another off game, but I think this team is too good to have back to back bad performances.
Virginia – D
I don’t give the Cavs an F, because I thought today would be the end of their tournament anyways. Florida was bad matchup for a Cavs team that only suited up 7 scholarship players. The Gators were considered a 2 or 3 seed until a late season swoon. They were under seeded as a 7, and Virginia was no match for them. That’s why I’m giving Virginia a D though. When you lose 71-45 you didn’t do many things right. Florida went solidly 8 deep while Virginia had every starter with over 30 minutes. They got killed on the boards, and the Gators shot a sizzling 52% against a normally stout UVA defense. It’s a shame Mike Scott’s career ended with such an ugly loss.
Duke – F
I don’t know what else you can give Duke but an F. Playing some 50 miles from their campus in Greensboro, NC, that was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from a Mike Krzyzewski coached team. Don’t get me wrong, Lehigh was the better team Friday night. They player harder and they played better, but under no circumstances should Duke lose to Lehigh in an opening round tournament game. Lehigh exposed every Duke weakness we already knew about. They don’t defend well and no body but Austin Rivers can break you down off the dribble. When Duke goes 6-26 from 3 point range they aren’t going to win many games. Since Ryan Kelly went down the Blue Devils have struggled mightily to score. 60 points against Virginia, then 59 against FSU, and tonight 70, but they still should have beat Lehigh. An embarrassing loss for Duke and the ACC. Coach K go find you some athletes please.