A very exciting day of college basketball in the ACC on February 25, 2012.
The day began with #5 Duke hosting Virginia Tech and getting everything it could handle in a 70-65 overtime win. Once again, it was Austin Rivers and Seth Curry stepping up for Duke, scoring 23 points and 19 points, respectively. Of course, it also helps to have a 34-16 free throw attempt advantage. Mason Plumlee added 15 rebounds as Duke stayed atop the ACC with a 25-4 overall record and 12-2 in conference play. For the Hokies, it was another tough loss, dropping them to 15-14 overall. Dorenzo Hudson, Erick Green, and Cadarian Raines each scored 16 points for Virginia Tech.
In another overtime game, Clemson once again pulled off an upset–beating North Carolina State, 72-69. At 18-11, North Carolina State suffers a defeat that will hurt their Big Dance chances. But credit pesky Clemson for winning and matching the Wolfpack’s 7-7 conference record. At 15-13, the Tigers are not going to be part of March Madness, barring an ACC tournament victory. Milton Jennings led Clemson with 17 points. North Carolina State was led by CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown, who each scored 18. With games against Miami and Virginia Tech, North Carolina State can still get to twenty regular season wins.
In two games of lesser importance to the conference and post-season picture, Wake Forest dominated Boston College, 85-56. CJ Harris scored 23 points for the Demon Deacons, while Ryan Anderson scored 18 for the Eagles. And Georgia Tech upset Maryland, 63-61. Kammeon Holsey had a double-double for Georgia Tech with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Terrell Stoglin led Maryland, as usual, with 18 points.
ESPN Game Day was on hand for the night game featuring #2 Syracuse and UConn, which Syracuse won 71-69. Viewers got their money’s worth as Syracuse jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead, UConn rallied to tie it last in the second half, and the game came down to the final possession. Syracuse was led by Kris Joseph’s 21 points. With the win, the Orange improve to 29-1 on the season and clinch their status as regular season champions of the Big East. The ACC cannot get these guys here soon enough.
Finally, the big match up of the day featured #7 North Carolina and #25 Virginia. As expected, this was a game of contrasts, with Virginia hoping to control tempo. The Cavaliers certainly did that, holding the Tar Heels to 54 points. The problem was that Virginia only scored 51, resulting in a loss. Virginia had multiple opportunities in the final seconds to tie, but fell short. Still, it was an impressive game for Virginia as they get prepared for the Big Dance. Jontel Evans led Virginia, who dropped to a very respectable 21-7 overall, with 13 points. Tyler Zeller led the Tar Heels with 20 points. North Carolina improved to 25-4 overall and 12-2 in conference play–the exact same records as Duke. Both teams hope to win their midweek games, resulting in a match up for the conference title next Saturday.