Player of the Week
Harrison Barnes is a highly-regarded talent and always a lot of fun to watch; but those who followed the ACC (or college basketball in general) a year ago know that UNC's star 6'8" forward is especially exciting in the month of March. Last season we witnessed countless clutch plays and several huge scoring performances from Barnes during the month, which managed to restore his draft stock after a mediocre start to the season. I expect more of the same from Barnes this year, and it doesn't look like he's gonna let me down. Barnes has averaged 22.3 points in his last three games (all wins, by the way) and seems to be building a lot of momentum heading into the most exciting time in college basketball. The Tar Heels' first game in March is against none other than Duke, and you have to believe Barnes still has a bad taste in his mouth from his team's loss a few weeks ago. The star sophomore was engaged in an intense back-and-forth scoring battle with the Blue Devil freshman Austin Rivers, and his team ultimately ended up on the wrong end of a buzzer-beater. It's not as if Barnes needed any more motivation to play well against Duke, but I definitely expect to see his best. In any case, I cannot wait to see what happens in March and am severely disappointed that 2012 a leap year.
Like I mentioned before, you had to expect Barnes would get hot. The real surprise is the recent performance of his teammate, Kendall Marshall. Considered a non-scoring factor by most, the savvy point guard exploded on Tuesday for a career-high 22 points to go along with his much more typical (at least by his own standards) 13 assists. Marshall shot 7/8 from the field and 4/5 from behind the three-point arc, showing the shooting ability that scouts are dying to see from him. He's considered a potential lottery pick this season based on his point guard skills alone (he also had zero turnovers during Tuesday's win). Flashes of any kind of scoring potential will inspire hope for the future, and could raise his draft stock significantly. I guess that's what being practically the only pure point guard in a draft will do for you. Anyway, that particular performance raised his season scoring average from 6.6 points a game to 7.1 points per game. I know that there are a lot of scorers on the Tar Heels without Marshall, but I would love to see a few more 20-point games from the top playmaker in the nation.
As the team's best shooter, Scott Wood has played a big part in NC State's turnaround from a season ago. While he's been fairly consistent throughout the season, the 6'6" junior has been in a funk as of late. In his last three games, Wood has averaged 7.0 points per game on 13.6% shooting from the floor and 20.0% from behind the arc -- the latter being a stark contrast to his season average of 41.6%. Of course, many would assume that the slump is due to the competition level, as those three games (all losses) were against Duke, Florida State and North Carolina (in that order). That may very well have something to do with it. It may also have something to do with his free-throw streak recently coming to an end. Wood made 66 consecutive free-throws, dating back to last season, before missing three of them in a game against Georgia Tech. He's been struggling ever since. If the Wolfpack wants any chance at making the NCAA tournament, they're going to need Wood to get his confidence back.
Top 5 ACC Teams on the NCAA Tournament Bubble
1. Virginia - Virginia is one of the few 20-win teams in the conference, but they lack a lot of super-impressive wins on their resume. They are 0-3 against Duke, North Carolina and Florida State so far this season. They'll have a chance to change that with home games against UNC and FSU over the next week.
2. Miami - The Hurricanes captured national attention after beating Duke in overtime a few weeks ago, and has been considered a bubble team ever since. But they've lost three of their last four games and can't afford to lose any more momentum if they want a tournament birth.
3. North Carolina State - The Wolfpack has been a fun team to watch but they haven't defeated a ranked opponent all year, and won't have any more chances until the ACC tournament.
4. Maryland - Another long shot. The Terps will likely have to win-out to be considered a tournament-worthy team. Unlike NC State, Maryland has a tough schedule ahead. They play at North Carolina on the 29th, and against Virginia on March 4th.
5. Clemson - The Tigers boast wins over Florida State and Virginia, but also have a lot of head-scratching losses. Their only real hope is winning the ACC tournament. Good luck!
Duke overcame a 20-point deficit to defeat North Carolina State last Wednesday. This time the late-game hero was sophomore Seth Curry, who scored 21 points in the second half to lead his team to victory ... Earlier in this season, Michael Snaer hit a game-winning three-pointer to knock off Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Last week, he connected on a three with 2.6 seconds left to beat Virginia Tech, 48-47. Pretty clutch ... Virginia Tech has a buzzer-beater of their own, as guard Dorenzo Hudson hit a three-pointer as time expired to give Virginia Tech a 74-73 win over Georgia Tech last Sunday ... Georgia Tech has suspended Glen Rice Jr. indefinitely for reasons unknown ... Duke will play at Florida State this Thursday. Should be a great game ...
Another fine effort.
great effort, looking forward to more :)
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