ACC Tournament: Buzzer-beater, suspension set up a dramatic quarterfinal round Thursday
Wednesday’s 2nd-round ACC Tournament action brought packed plenty of drama into four basketball games.
Here are some notes on Wednesday’s games, and a look ahead to Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Darius Maddox 3 Virginia Tech’s bubble from bursting
The most memorable moment? Darius Maddox saving Virginia Tech’s NCAA Tournament hopes with this bomb to best Clemson in an overtime thriller.
DARIUS MADDOX. GAME 🚨
Virginia Tech avoids the Clemson upset on the buzzer-beater and moves on in the ACC Tournament! 🙌pic.twitter.com/ktEpzItTBA
— ClutchPoints CBB (@ClutchpointsCBB) March 10, 2022
The Buddy Boeheim controversy
Maddox’s 3 put a “This is March” signature on a day that, unfortunately, might be more remembered for controversy.
Buddy Boeheim has been suspended 1 game for this swing he took at Wyatt Wilkes of FSU early in the first half of Syracuse’s 2nd-round game with the Seminoles.
Here is Buddy Boeheim pretty obviously punching a dude in the gut. pic.twitter.com/xIbUSdoiRa
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) March 9, 2022
Buddy Boeheim isn’t really known as a master of basketball’s dark arts, so the fact he took a “the refs aren’t looking” swipe at Wilkes was shocking. He also almost got away with it! No foul was called, and Boeheim played the rest of the game. It was not until the ACC reviewed the play later that the punch was deemed a “flagrant act.” That resulted in Boeheim being suspended for Thursday’s quarterfinal against No. 7 Duke.
Boeheim came into Wednesday’s game averaging 19.3 points per game and on Monday was named to the All-ACC first team after also leading the conference in free throw percentage and minutes played, and obviously, his loss is devastating to the Orange’s hope of pulling a big upset.
Is the suspension fair? Jay Bilas does not think so, tweeting the suspension is “just wrong.”
The suspension of Buddy Boeheim is just wrong. pic.twitter.com/80lg4C1AEp
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) March 10, 2022
Leonard Hamilton, FSU’s head coach, seemed to agree with Bilas.
“There’s not a better kid in the ACC than Buddy Boeheim. He’s a class kid, tremendous character,” Hamilton told the media after the game.
“I don’t want anything to take away from how well they played and what type of fine young man he is,” Hamilton added. “The game is physical. You expect guys to go out and bang and be aggressive. If something inadvertently happens, sometimes we want to categorize it in one way or another. I’ve lost my composure sometimes. I’ve made some mistakes.”
We all make mistakes — and suspending Boeheim for what could be his final college game — seems draconian. But the ACC has made its decision, and the Orange will need to deal with the consequences.
Is Wake Forest in NCAA Tournament trouble?
Steve Forbes deserved the ACC Coach of the Year honors he earned earlier this week, even if he voted for Coach K. But the Demon Deacons took a brutal loss Wednesday to Earl Grant’s Boston College team, falling 82-77 in overtime. The Demon Deacons shot just 27% from deep and allowed Boston College to shoot 50%, including 42.9% from downtown. The poor defensive effort spoiled a monster afternoon from Jake LaRavia, who scored 21 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, collected 4 steals and blocked 3 shots. LaRavia is one of the nation’s most underrated players, and it would be terrific to see him in March Madness. I just don’t know if that will happen.
The Demon Deacons’ résumé lacks big-time wins: a road win at Virginia is almost certainly Wake Forest’s best win, and the committee will value wins over UNC and Notre Dame. But there are no great nonconference wins, and Wake Forest is just 1-4 in Quad 1 games and 5-7 against Quads 1 and 2. Will that be enough? It might be, but if Wake Forest gets in, don’t be surprised to see them in Dayton for the First Four.
What to Watch for in Thursday’s quarterfinals
Syracuse vs. No. 7 Duke, 12 p.m.: The Orange have made so many surprise runs in tournaments in the Boeheim era that an Orange win wouldn’t have surprised anyone in a world where Buddy Boeheim played and simply caught fire. Without him, the Orange don’t have enough offensive firepower to upend a Duke team that should score at will against the worst Syracuse zone defense of the Boeheim era. Expect Duke to roll and enjoy the first taste of Paolo Banchero in postseason tournament play.
Boston College vs. Miami, 2:30 p.m.: The Hurricanes are unbeaten against the teams remaining on their side of the bracket. A trip to the final could be just what the doctor ordered for Miami, who have a NET ranking of 61st, which makes their NCAA Tournament safety and seeding far from decided.
The Eagles and Hurricanes played last week, with Miami winning 81-70. A repeat of that type of game seems likely, but Miami would love for things to be more comfortable so they can rest players ahead of the semifinals Friday.
Shoutout to Earl Grant, by the way, for winning 2 games this week in Brooklyn. The future is very bright for Boston College basketball under Grant, who has flipped the culture from a team that yelled at each other on the court last season to one that fights for every loose ball in 2022. Wednesday’s fight and win over Wake was a signature moment for Grant’s culture flip, and a sign of what’s to come.
Virginia Tech vs. Notre Dame, 7 p.m.: Is this game a must-win for Virginia Tech? Joe Lunardi thinks so. He has Virginia Tech in the “next 4 out,” even after Wednesday’s thrilling win over Clemson. Notre Dame, by the way, is in Lunardi’s “last 4 byes” group, which suggests the Fighting Irish may need to win to avoid a trip to Dayton for the First Four. This game isn’t quite “winner gets in,” but it is certainly one of the most impactful bubble games that will be played Thursday and Saturday Road’s “game of the day” at the ACC Tournament.
Virginia vs. No. 25 North Carolina, 9:30 p.m.: The Hoos held off Louisville 51-50 on Wednesday night thanks to 17 from Jaylen Gardner and 15 from senior Kihei Clark. The Hoos, who are still in the bubble mix, could make a huge statement to the Selection Committee with a win over North Carolina Thursday night. Unfortunately for Virginia, they’ll be facing one of the hottest teams in the country in the Tar Heels, who have won five consecutive games, including Quad 1 road wins at Virginia Tech and Duke. In the first game between these two teams, the Tar Heels dominated the glass 36-25, with Armando Bacot using 9 offensive boards to post 29 points, 14 of which were second-chance opportunities. On the bright side for Tony Bennett’s team, Kadin Shedrick played only 17 minutes in the first game due to a minor injury, and Virginia seems likely to defend the arc better than the 44% the Tar Heels posted in Chapel Hill. It’s a classic game of “styles make fights,” and the Hoos will have a chance if they can limit possessions and control tempo.