NCAA Tournament: Eventful Day for ACC Hoops


When the NCAA Tournament started Thursday, a couple of familiar faces were strangely missing. They sure made up for it on Friday. All five of the ACC tourney teams received an extra day of rest with Friday games; although the results are mixed as to whether that was a gift or a curse.

The conference started off on a high note with North Carolina State – the ACC’s lowest-seeded team – continuing their hot-streak in an upset of 6-seeded San Diego State. By the end of the day, the Atlantic Coast Conference would finish an unimpressive 3-2 capped off by 2-seeded Duke’s 75-70 loss to 15-seeded Lehigh.

Lehigh became the sixth No. 15 seed to beat a No.2 after Norfolk State became the fifth earlier in the day. It was just another day at the office at the NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina State Wolfpack 79 vs. San Diego State Aztecs 65

The Wolfpack dominated inside, outscoring the under-sized Aztecs 38-18 inside the paint. Richard Howell scored 22 points – including 15 in the first-half – on 10-of-12 shooting to lead 11-seeded N.C. State to victory.

N.C. State’s defense suffocated San Diego State, using their length and size to their advantage over their Mountain West opponents. Lorenzo Brown had 17 points, C.J. Leslie 15 while Scott Wood added 10 for the Wolfpack.

N.C. State plays No. 3 seed Georgetown Sunday in third round of the Midwest Regional after the Hoyas 74-59 victory over Belmont. The game will be an interesting match between two very-long, pesky defensive teams. It will match Georgetown’s zone against N.C. State’s brute strength.

Virginia Cavaliers 46 Florida Gators 71

A close game turned ugly as the Florida Gators rolled to victory in their first-round – technically “second-round” – matchup with the Virginia Cavaliers. Florida overcame a slow start to finish the first half on a 17-4 run and they never looked back.

Virginia was outscored 41-23 in the second half and Mike Scott was their only player in double-digits with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Both teams shot atrocious from behind the arc – 3-of-18 for Virginia, 4-of-23 for Florida – but the Gators out-rebounded the Wahoos by 15 and committed 5 less fouls.

Virginia goes home as disappointed first-round losers after starting the season with so much hope. They lost 4 of their last 5 games and 7 of their last 11 after starting the season 14-1 and being ranked in the top-25 for much of the year. Florida will face No. 15 seed Norfolk State after their dramatic win over Missouri earlier in the day.

Florida State Seminoles 66 St. Bonaventure Bonnies 63
After winning the ACC Tournament and working their way to a No. 3 seed in the NCAA’s, Florida State was a lot of bracket-fillers “wildcard” pick for a surprise Final Four run. If that’s going to be the case, the Seminoles must play a lot better than they did today.

Florida State used a 16-2 run to hold on for a 66-63 win over the upset-minded Bonnies. Florida State trailed by as many as 10 and St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson showed why he’s considered an NBA prospect as the forward scored 20 points including four big shots from behind the arc.

Florida State was led by big-man Bernard James who finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks and Luke Loucks who scored 13 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 6 assists in the come-from-behind victory.

The third-seeded Seminoles have now won six straight games and play sixth-seeded Cincinnati Sunday in the third round of the East Regional.

North Carolina Tar Heels 77 Vermont Catamounts 58

I’m not going to touch on much here; I’m going to leave it to my fellow Keeping It Heel writers. Playing without John Henson, North Carolina started their weekend off with a strong 19-point win over 16-seeded Vermont.

Tyler Zeller took up Henson’s slack with 17 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocked shots without his front-court partner. The under-matched Catamounts just had no answer to the size, skill and athleticism of the No. 1 seeded Tar Heels.

James Michael McAdoo had 17 points, Harrison Barnes added 14 and Kendall Marshall finished with a double-double of 11 points and 10 assists.

North Carolina will face 8-seeded Creighton Sunday in the third round of the Midwest Regional. Creighton defeated Alabama 58-57 earlier in the day.

Duke Blue Devils 70 Lehigh Mountain Hawks 75
Possibly the biggest shocker of the day came when the mighty Duke Blue Devils lost their first game of the 2012 NCAA Tournament to No. 15 seed Lehigh. The Mountains Hawks were the second 15-seed of the day to pull off a shocking upset although beating Duke is going to grab a few more headlines than Norfolk State’s victory over Missouri.

Losing Ryan Kelly proved to be a bigger blow than I originally thought as Duke finished 6-of-26 from three-point range which is good enough for 23 percent. While Kelly has the tendency to shoot too much and go cold at times, but at least he has the ability to hit a few of them.

C.J. McCollum shook off a bad shooting performance to lead Lehigh with 30 points. He shot just 9-of-24 from the field but hit 10-of-16 free-throws and added 6 rebounds and 6 assists in the victory. Duke was led by Austin Rivers (5-of-14 FG) and Mason Plumlee (9-of-9 FG) who each had 19 points.

Duke goes home after a disappointing end to their season while Lehigh advances to the round of 32 to face the winner of the Xavier/Notre Dame contest.