The 2012 ACC Tournament can now officially put a competitive basketball game on its résumé.
The quality of play was high. The energy level was a roller coaster ride of fun. And the fans were the loudest they have been all tournament (special hat tip to the Virginia fans sitting directly behind press row, well done.)
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In what some think could have been a de facto NCAA Tournament play-in game, both Virginia and N.C. State played like their seasons were on the line. For all we know, they could have been.
Virginia certainly hopes not. N.C. State pulled out the 67-64 win in a tug-of-war of wills in which both teams showed their best colors.
For the winning N.C. State Wolfpack, Selection Sunday will be that much more comfortable. In fact, it has likely played its way into the Big Dance. As for the Cavaliers, well, stay tuned.
C.J. Leslie is a man: As Fox Sports writer Vince Thomas pointed out, C.J. Leslie could be playing himself into a lottery pick in the NBA draft. The sophomore was a treat to watch Friday afternoon, showing off his uncanny athletic ability around the rim on his way to 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Virginia, statistically the best defensive team in the conference, had no answer for Leslie. When he plays like that, not many teams will.
If this team is indeed in the NCAA Tournament, C.J. Leslie will be player to keep an eye on to spoil some postseason hopes. At anything length, he’s played himself into contention for the All-Tournament team—and we are only on Day Two.
Do we need a recount?: Mike Scott, who made it clear that he packed for the entire weekend in Atlanta via his Twitter account, showed why he was in tight contention with North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller for ACC Player of the Year this season. Scott finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and was the focal point for a shorthanded Virginia team.
Many believed Scott was deserving of the award because of how far he carried the Cavaliers without a superior supporting cast—a few of his ACC opponents even called the decision “a snub.” Those supporters might be right.
Personal opinion: Zeller is extremely underrated, if that’s possible for a second team All-American and the voters made a tough, but correct decision. Also a personal opinion: Mike Scott is really good.
A sophomore?: Joe Harris plays like a senior. Hand in a cast for a fracture he suffered earlier in the year, he battled all day with guys many say will be NBA players. He was fearless taking the ball in the paint, putting the Wolfpack on alert that Scott was not the team’s only scoring option.
Harris scored 18 points and grabbed three rebounds on the defensive end.
When this guy is actually a senior, he should be one of those uncanny contributors for a really good team, one that plays his way into college basketball’s collective conscious. Harris is an NCAA Tournament player. Now it’s just a matter if his team will make it.
Meeting the requirements: N.C. State knew, whether they admitted it or not, that they likely needed two wins to earn an NCAA tournament bid. And what did the Wolfpack do? They come in and win two games, this time in a scrappy manner against a Virginia team that appeared to be fighting for its life.
For one thing, the Wolfpack certainly pass the eye test. The team plays hard, has locked in on defense and seems to be hitting its stride at the right time. There are two or three NBA players on the roster (depending on who you talk to), and who wants to see a team like that waiting for them as an eighth seed? The résumé is strong enough for N.C. State.
Mark Gottfried should have his team dancing come Selection Sunday.