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ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Highlights Championship Week 2

Posted on March 07, 2017 by Chris Kent

Championship week has arrived for college basketball! Conference tournaments abound across the country from coast to coast featuring all the power conferences, mid-majors, and small conferences that make up Division I in the NCAA. There will be great performances by teams, individuals, and coaches while the games themselves are bound to feature some come-from-behind efforts that pluck victory from the jaws of defeat with some buzzer beaters. This is what makes the month of March so special. It is the madness before the madness of the NCAA Tournament. It will feature bubble teams that solidify their spot in the NCAA field and bubble teams who see their bubble burst. Seedings for the NCAA Tourney are on the line and will be impacted by what happens over the next seven days. Quite simply it is couch potato heaven for college basketball junkies across the land.

The 2017 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament is taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY for the first time ever.

The 2017 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament is taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY for the first time ever.

While this years’ heavyweights such as Kansas, Gonzaga, Villanova, and North Carolina look to show why they are the cream of the crop for likely NCAA #1 seeds, there are plenty of other national title worthy contenders like Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA, Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Oregon. Other schools like Big East competitors Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall, Providence, and Marquette all won at least 10 conference games this season and could make some noise in March. Smaller schools from less worthy conferences like Vermont (27-5, 16-0) of the America East and Middle Tennessee (27-4, 17-1) of Conference USA could make a run. Both schools are riding winning streaks with Vermont having won 19 straight and Middle Tennessee seven. Both Vermont and Middle Tennessee have produced significant upsets in NCAA history. In 2005, 13th-seeded Vermont upset a fourth-seeded Syracuse team that was fresh off a Big East Tournament Championship. Middle Tennessee, a 15th seed, upset second-seeded Michigan State in last year’s tournament. Results like these explain why March is so thrilling and dramatic. It captivates audiences across the country based on upsets by the little schools like these. They get on a run and gain the support of their schools so much that it can carry them on a fairy tale ride.

Before we get that far, the conference tournament championships are to be decided this week. In the process, the NCAA field will be determined with some teams sneaking in, others being left out, and others altering their seed and positioning for better or worse. Here is a look at one of the power conferences, the Atlantic Coast Conference, and how its’ conference tournament shapes up this week. The ACC Tournament Championship game will be played Saturday night March 11 at 9 pm EST and it can be seen live on ESPN.

North Carolina (26-6, 14-4), #1 seed

The ACC Tournament is being held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY for the first time ever. North Carolina enters the tournament as the outright ACC regular season champion and is the defending tournament champion. The Tarheels (26-6, 14-4) ended the regular season with a 90-83 win over arch rival Duke on Mar. 4 to split the annual season series.  North Carolina has played in the ACC Tournament Championship game each of the last two years, falling to Notre Dame 90-82 in the 2015 title game before beating Virginia 61-57 in last year’s finale.

Head coach Roy Williams has his team playing at a high level yet again after coming within a whisker of winning an NCAA title last

Roy Williams has lead North Carolina to the top seed in the tournament.

Roy Williams has lead North Carolina to the top seed in the tournament.

year. Despite losing four-year starting guard Marcus Paige and Associated Press All-American forward Brice Johnson, North Carolina has enjoyed another stellar season. Both took key production with them as Johnson averaged 17.0 points-per-game and 10.4 rebounds a game while Paige scored 12.6 points-per-game and dished out 128 assists on the season. Yet the heels have retooled this season and may be a better all-around team. Junior forward Justin Jackson was just named the ACC Player-of-the-Year and leads the team with 18.3 ppg. He also dishes out 2.6 assists and hauls in 4.7 rebounds-per-game. Junior guard Joel Berry II adds 15.1 ppg and dishes out a team best 3.7 apg while senior post player Kennedy Meeks scores 12.5 ppg and leads the team with 9.1 rpg. Berry is the team’s best 3-point shooter at 42.4 percent (75-for-177) while Jackson has made a team-high 85 trifectas on the season.

North Carolina’s victories over Florida State, Louisville, and Notre Dame this season allowed them to create a two-game cushion

and ultimately win the ACC regular season title. They will likely have to face one of these teams in the ACC tournament again and this can always be interesting a second time around. Carolina will have to bring the same intensity and high production on offense that saw them score 85.2 ppg in the regular season if they are to beat these same teams again in postseason play.

Florida State (24-7, 12-6) is the second seed followed by Notre Dame (23-8, 12-6) and Louisville (24-7, 12-6) as the third and fourth seeds respectively. These three schools along with North Carolina all received a double bye and won’t play until the quarterfinal round beginning on Thursday March 9. You can easily make a case for any of these top four seeds to win the tournament championship as they were very competitive against each other during the season. While North Carolina beat each of the other three to create separation from them in winning the regular season crown, all four teams were very competitive against each other.

Florida State beat both Louisville and Notre Dame at home and lost at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish split home and home wins with both Florida State and Louisville while Louisville lost to Florida State and split home and home wins with Notre Dame. Basically, the top four seeds in this year’s ACC Tourney beat up on each other in the regular season. Even though North Carolina beat the other three teams, the games between the four teams were very competitive and could of gone either way. What each team learned from the other one in those games should be a factor in preparation for potential matchups among the quartet this week. Read the rest of this entry →

How Exactly Does March Madness Work? 4

Posted on March 23, 2014 by Danielle Ward
Who will follow Louisville as the NCAA Champions?

Who will follow Louisville as the NCAA Champions?

March Madness, unless you have fair idea of what it exactly is, is bound to leave you confused as to what it means! It’s a cool name given to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s, that’s NCAA, basketball tournament for men and women teams, held from the second week of March into the first week of April. At the end of this high octane basketball marathon remains the undisputed national champion of basketball at college level. The NCAA oversees more than 1300 college and university members, and is managed by volunteers from these member institutes. Certain criteria are laid down to define active members, and these active members are allowed to participate in tournaments. Also, based on the number of sports sponsored for men and women by the schools and colleges, they are arranged in 3 divisions. Out of all the teams from Division 1, 68 men’s teams and 64 women’s teams are invited to the national championship. A selection committee sits before the tournament to decide upon the invitees. Read the rest of this entry →

Coach K Shows True Sportsmanship 2

Posted on March 22, 2014 by Darian Hybl
Coach K congratulated the Mercer players and coaches on their well deserved victory.

Coach K congratulated the Mercer players and coaches on their well deserved victory.

When I read that Duke had lost in the NCAA tournament, I was not surprised, but when I heard what Coach K did showed me what true leadership really means.

In 2008, I had the opportunity to go to Catholic Mass in Durham, NC.  And low and behold, Coach K attended the same mass and was sitting less than 20 feet away from my wife and myself.  A tall man, I really appreciated his humbleness at mass and how he put his faith first.

Back to the loss to Mercer.  After loosing such a close game, Coach K in true leadership style went to the winners locker room and congratulated them on their accomplishment.

This is the true sign of a true leader who acknowledges his loss, but congratulates his opponent on a game well played.  Coach K is the epitome of a great leader, not only showing it on the floor, but even behind closed doors by emulating style and leadership for his players and anyone who needs a figure to look up to during this day and age.

Thanks for being a model of leadership for me Coach K!!

Read the rest of this entry →

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Who Will Be the Bracket Busters? 32

Posted on March 18, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Harvard will look to be a bracket buster for the second straight year when they face the fifth seeded Cincinnati Bearcats.

Harvard will look to be a bracket buster for the second straight year when they face the fifth seeded Cincinnati Bearcats.

Now that the field for the 2014 Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament has been set, it is time for the best sports week of the year as millions try to complete the “perfect bracket.” This year the quest has taken on an even greater significance thanks to billionaire Warren Buffett and the Quicken Loans’ Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge.

The financier and Quicken Loan CEO Dan Gilbert, who also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, have taken the traditional NCAA bracket pool to a new level.

But while the odds of selecting the winner in every single game is even greater than that of Vladimir Putin abruptly allowing Ukraine to become a democracy or the missing Malaysian airplane suddenly showing up on a runway in Florida, it isn’t keeping millions from trying to make the perfect picks.

The contest is being capped at 15 million entries, but even if no one gets every game correct, the top 20 brackets will each net $100,000.

To no surprise, the real “big” winners in this competition are going to be Buffett and Gilbert.

While there is no cost to enter, participants must provide their e-mail address and phone number and answer some questions about their mortgage. That means Gilbert’s company will have 15 million new potential customers to send e-mails and contact by phone.

Though Buffet isn’t part of Quicken Loans, he has already received plenty of press to continue stroking his public image.

What will be especially interesting will be to see if any of the 15 million entries can even make it through the first weekend of games undefeated.

Here is a look at five games that could make it tough to predict:

South Regional: #5 VCU vs. #12 Stephen F. Austin
It was just three years ago that VCU was the bracket busting tournament darling that went from the play-in game to the Final Four. This time the Rams are a highly respected fifth seed and many think they could again make a long tournament run. However, their journey could be mighty short if Stephen F. Austin has anything to say about it. The number 12 seed enters the tournament with a 31-2 record and has four players who average at least 12 points per contest.

South Regional: #6 Ohio State vs. #11 Dayton
The Buckeyes have made a sport out of dodging their high-caliber in-state competitors, but this time there is no escaping a date with the Fliers. Ohio State was one of the top squads in the country early in the season, but struggled through the second half and a long tournament run would be a huge surprise. Dayton is one of six NCAA Tournament teams from the Atlantic-10 and will have extra motive against OSU. Read the rest of this entry →

VCU Quiets the Basketball “Experts” 6

Posted on March 27, 2011 by Dean Hybl

VCU has shouted loudly with their actions during the NCAA Tournament to reach the Final Four.

If Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale and the legion of other NCAA basketball “experts” we regularly see on television were in charge of selecting the NCAA Tournament field, the VCU Rams might be on their way to New York for the NIT Finals or getting back in the swing of classes after the end of basketball season. But fortunately, those “experts” are not in charge and instead the Rams are preparing for a trip to Houston for the first Final Four appearance in school history.

Given how bleak the experts believed the chances were for the Rams to make the field two weeks ago, the team didn’t even bother watching the selection show together. But within hours of the announcement they were on their way to Dayton and have been on an amazing trip ever since.

Following their dominating 71-61 victory over top seeded Kansas, the Rams are now the first team in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the Final Four after winning five tournament games. They did so by defeating teams from the Pac-10, Big East, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 and winning four of those games by double digits.

Coupled with the Elite Eight victory by Butler, we are now guaranteed a team from a non “power” conference reaching the NCAA Championship Game for the third time in four years.

Both Butler a year ago and Memphis in 2008 fell just short, but given the lack of dominance by big conference schools in recent years you have to believe that 2011 could bring the first NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Champion from a non-power conference to cut down the nets since UNLV in 1990. Read the rest of this entry →

Memorable NCAA Tournament Runs – Part 2, 25-11 2

Posted on March 16, 2011 by A.J. Foss

The 1979 Penn Quakers defeated North Carolina and Duke to reach the Final Four.

Welcome to Part 2 of the 50 most memorable NCAA tournament runs since 1979.

This installment features tournament runs 25 through 11 since the tournament began to seed teams back in 1979.

We start with #25:

25. 2002 Kent State
The Golden Flashes entered the 2002 tournament with the longest winning streak in the country, at 18 games, but were given only a #10 seed in the South Regional.

Led by future San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Kent State knocked off Oklahoma State in the first round, then easily defeated SEC champion Alabama in the second round to make it out of the first weekend.

In the Sweet 16, the Flashes pulled off a 76-73 overtime victory over #3 seed Pittsburgh to become the first Mid-American Conference team to reach the Elite Eight since Ohio back in 1964.

However, Kent could not get past Indiana in the regional final as they lost 81-69, denying the Flashes a trip to the Final Four.

24.  1979 St. John’s
St. John’s was the 40th and last team to make it to the 1979 NCAA tournament, by winning nine of its last 11 games in the regular season.

The Redmen continued their hot streak into the tournament as they defeated Temple in the first round, then stunned 2nd seeded Duke 80-78 as part of “Black Sunday”, where the Blue Devils and North Carolina both lost their games in the state of North Carolina.

St. John’s held off Rutgers 67-65 in their Sweet 16 match-up to advance to the East Regional Final, where they faced off Pennsylvania, the team who knocked off North Carolina.

The Redmen’s memorable run ended just short off the Final Four as they lost to Penn 64-62.

23. 1987 LSU
One year after making the Final Four as a #11 seed, the Tigers almost pulled off another Final Four run as a double digit seed.

LSU actually had a worse record in 1987 than they did the previous season as they finished the season with a 21-14 record, 8-10 in the SEC, but earned berth as a #10 seed.

The Tigers defeated Georgia Tech in the first round, followed by a win over second-seeded Temple in the second round to move onto to the second weekend of the tournament where they defeated #3 seed DePaul to face where they faced top seed Indiana in the Midwest Regional Final.

LSU was on the brink of a second consecutive Final Four as they lead the Hoosiers 75-66 with 4:38 left in the second half, but Indiana outscored the Tigers 12-1 with forward Rick Calloway scoring the winning basket with seven seconds remaining to give Indiana a 77-76 win and denying the Tigers a return trip to the Final Four. Read the rest of this entry →

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