ACC picture still scrambled entering final week
CLEMSON -- Entering the final week of ACC regular season play, all that has been decided are Duke and Maryland's first-round ACC Tournament byes, and invitations to the NCAA Tournament. Duke travels to Maryland on Wednesday.
Nothing else is guaranteed for any ACC team.
Five ACC teams are within a game of each other. Clemson (8-6), Virginia Tech (8-6), Wake Forest (8-6), Florida State (8-6) and Georgia Tech (7-7) are each in the mix for one of the final two ACC byes, but each team could also conceivably fall out of the NCAA Tournament with a poor close to the season.
Teams in the bottom tier of the conference -- Boston College, Virginia, Miami, N.C. State and UNC -- need an improbable ACC Tournament championship to advance to the NCAAs.
With the Terps' overtime win at Virginia Tech on Saturday, Maryland secured second place in the ACC and Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez might have locked up ACC Player of the Year honors with a career-best 41 points.
The UNC freshman forward showed why he entered Chapel Hill so highly acclaimed, blocking five shots to go along with 12 rebounds and nine points in a road win against Wake on Saturday. It's been a tough year in Chapel Hill, but the win made it a three-way tie between Miami, N.C. State and North Carolina for last place in the ACC. For the Tar Heels, it's better than being alone in the cellar.
Clemson's FT shooting
The Tigers made all six of their free throws during the final minute of a critical come-from-behind, 53-50 road win Sunday night at Florida State. It was the fourth straight game the Tigers have shot 79 percent or better at the line, and the win was Clemson's second on the road in the ACC this season. The quality win might be enough to get the Tigers in the NCAA Tournament, but another win wouldn't hurt.
The Demon Deacons threw away an excellent chance to create separation for one of the last two byes in the ACC Tournament by losing to a struggling UNC at home Saturday. Wake has lost three straight games and might be losing its grip on an NCAA at-large berth. Wake is now 18-8 and 8-6 in the ACC.
Wake freshman C.J. Harris was an early-season surprise, joining Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors as the only ACC freshmen in double-figure scoring. But Harris is cooling off. He was scoreless Saturday and has made just 3 of his last 18 3s.
Remember when Virginia was in first place in the ACC? With the Cavs' loss against Duke on Sunday night, UVA has lost seven games in a row and is hovering a game above last place. The Cavs were without an injured Sylven Landesberg. The sophomore guard is really, really good -- he scored 27 of Virginia's 62 points in a loss to Miami Feb. 23 -- but he needs some help.
He said it
"I don't want to say I'm nervous or anything like that, but I am getting apprehensive," Wake star Al-Farouq Aminu told the Winston-Salem Journal after scoring just seven points in Saturday's loss to UNC. "All I can wish for is that our team comes back and then just regains confidence and starts knocking down shots and playing like we were earlier."
By the numbers
3.5 -- Number of hours Saturday's double-overtime game between Virginia Tech and Maryland was delayed because of a water main break.
29.7 -- Wake's shooting percentage in its loss to North Carolina on Saturday.
41 -- Points by Vasquez in Saturday's win against Virginia Tech. Vasquez is the first Terp to reach 40 points in a game since Joe Smith scored 40 at Duke in 1995. It should be noted it took Vasquez 33 field-goal attempts to reach the number.
-- The schedule gods were against Clemson this season. The Tigers had to face the top two ACC teams twice (Duke and Maryland) while playing the bottom three teams only once. Oh yeah, the Tigers didn't travel to Chapel Hill, and if there was ever a year to end their 0-for-54 drought at UNC, this was it.
-- With the second-best RPI, Duke is in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. While most doubt the Blue Devils can advance to the Final Four, don't count them out -- the Blue Devils are bigger and more experienced than a year ago.
-- I know conference tournaments are entertaining and great for television, but NCAA auto bids should go to the regular season champions. Shouldn't the larger sample size carry more weight?