Written by: Mike Ryan (@mikey_ryan11)
Last night was filled with awesome college basketball upsets. Villanova, Purdue, and Auburn—all who are ranked in the top 10—couldn’t win on their home court and all dropped a game last night.
Most surprising was Villanova as they were outplayed and even out hustled at times by St. John’s. St. John’s has now beaten Duke and Villanova after dropping 11-consecutive games in the Big East.
Keita Bates-Diop scored the go ahead put back with 2.8 seconds left as Ohio State stunned Purdue. Bates-Diop has been one of the most improved players in the country and will be first-team All Big Ten. Chris Holtmann should be the National Coach of the Year for having the Buckeyes at 21-5 and on the verge of a top ten national ranking.
Aubrun then went out and dropped to Texas A&M. The Aggies have to be one of the more frustrating teams to watch as they are filled with talent and depth, but injuries, suspensions and lack of effort at times has held them back. They are a serious sleeper team come March.
With all that going on, the ACC got lost in the chaos last night. Three terrific games were played. Here’s a quick recap of the impact of each game.
Virginia 59 @ Florida State 55
Virginia trailed this game by 10 at halftime and were in serious danger of losing their unbeaten ACC season. Virginia took its first second half lead at the 10-minute mark on a Ty Jerome layup. Virginia stayed in the game and overcame a slow start by controlling the tempo and limiting turnovers. A Tony Bennett staple of coaching. Devon Hall led the Cavaliers in scoring with 17 points (3-for-4 from three). For Florida State, it dropped them to an even 6-6 in ACC play and could have been another signature win for the Seminoles. A NCAA tournament berth is still likely, but for a team who averages 83.5 points a game, to score 55 on their home court shows how good Virginia’s defense is.
Wake Forest 81 @ Miami 87
Miami got all it can handle from Danny Manning’s squad. The Hurricanes, who are playing without Bruce Brown, got significant contributions from their bench to help close out the win. Miami had 32 bench points (Wake Forest had 14) and were led by a strong performance from Lonnie Walker IV. Walker IV had 19 points, four assists, three rebounds and three blocks in the win. Wake Forest continues to fail to meet expectations. Most were expecting a leap from the Demon Deacons. Instead, they have now dropped to 9-15 overall (2-10 ACC).
NC State 75 @ Virginia Tech 85
In a battle of ACC teams who are in the middle of the pack, Virginia Tech got the upper hand. Justin Robinson went off scoring 32 points in the Hokies win. The difference in the game was NC State could not stop Virginia Tech on the defensive end (Hokies shot 63.5% from the field) and the Wolfpack struggled with their three point shot (10-for-31 32.3%). Markell Johnson (15 points and 10 assists) did his part to keep NC State in the game, but they couldn’t beat the Hokies on the road. Both teams are in good position to make the NCAA tournament with strong finishes to the season.
A look ahead: Duke @ North Carolina tonight 9 p.m.
Ah yes, the best rivalry in the sport. Seriously, there’s nothing better to watch than these two basketball blue bloods battle it out for bragging rights. Every game is always close and comes down to the final four minutes regardless of the rosters or how the team is currently playing.
Duke is just a 1.5 point favorite heading into tonight’s game. Marvin Bagley grabs most of the attention, but Wendall Carter is likely to have more of an impact on tonight’s game than Bagley. Carter is Duke’s best interior defender and the freshman center is really efficient in finishing around the rim. Carter will have a significant advantage over Sterling Manley and Garrison Brooks, and if Carter is on, UNC will be in trouble.
For the Tar Heels to be successful tonight, they need to a much better job with their three-point shooting and defense. Both have been massive struggles as of late which has caused North Carolina to be in the position they are in (17-7 overall, 6-5 ACC). Kenny Williams and Cameron Johnson need to be able to match the production of Grayson Allen and Gary Trent. At the point guard spot, Joel Berry will have to prevent Duval from penetrating into the paint and setting up shooters. Berry’s senior experience will be needed as a necessary advantage and he will have to play a solid overall game for North Carolina to win tonight.