College Basketball Nation: Malcolm Delaney

Expert predictions: ACC/Big Ten Challenge

November, 29, 2010
11/29/10
7:24
PM ET
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge will be the dominant storyline in college basketball over the next few nights, so might as well put our writers and contributors on the spot with predictions, right?

For what it’s worth, the group consensus for each game adds up to a 6-5 Big Ten victory over the ACC. But it’s actually even closer than that. In the highly anticipated Iowa-Wake Forest matchup, our panel took the Hawkeyes by a 5-4 margin. If one of those five had picked the Deacons, we’d be projecting an ACC overall victory.

Sounds to us like an event worth tuning in to …

MONDAY

VIRGINIA AT MINNESOTA (ESPN2, 7 ET)

Jay Bilas: Minnesota -- Tubby Smith has depth and guard play, and Tony Bennett doesn't.
Eamonn Brennan: Minnesota – The Gophers are a complete and balanced team, even if Al Nolen and Rodney Williams miss the game due to injury; Tony Bennett's rebounding Virginia squad is, well, not.
Fran Fraschilla:
Minnesota -- The Gophers are one of the country's early-season surprises and they are at home in the friendly confines of Williams Arena. This will be ugly.
Doug Gottlieb:
Minnesota -- Despite not having Al Nolen, Minnesota is still loaded. Maverick Ahanmisi was a late signee who is a year older than most freshmen, and that maturity will come in handy.
Andy Katz:
Minnesota – The Gophers are depleted with injuries, but likely get Devoe Joseph back and are too strong, too tall and too deep for rebuilding Virginia.
Diamond Leung:
Minnesota -- Minnesota might be banged up, but Blake Hoffarber and Trevor Mbakwe should be able to dominate.
Joe Lunardi:
Minnesota -- The shorthanded Gophers are still too much for the Cavs at this point.
Dana O’Neil:
Minnesota -- Even without Al Nolen and Rodney Williams, the red-hot Gophers are too talented for the still struggling Cavaliers.
Jay Williams:
Minnesota -- Even though they won't have starters Al Nolen and Rodney Williams due to injuries, I expect Blake Hoffarber, Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III to dominate.

TUESDAY

GEORGIA TECH AT NORTHWESTERN (ESPN2, 7 ET)

Bilas: Northwestern -- The Wildcats will spread the Jackets out and keep them on a string between open 3s and backdoor cuts.
Brennan: Northwestern -- Facing its first real "test" of the season, Northwestern's matchup zone and tricky Princeton offense will give Georgia Tech fits.
Fraschilla:
Northwestern -- Sadly, even a win over the Yellow Jackets won't mean much in March. Too much John Shurna in this one.
Gottlieb:
Northwestern -- Tech played well this weekend, but the travel and Juice Thompson will be too much.
Katz:
Northwestern -- If we’re going to take the Wildcats seriously, they have to win a game like this at home against the inferior Yellow Jackets.
Leung:
Northwestern -- The Wildcats should stay undefeated playing on their home court and with John Shurna playing well.
Lunardi: Northwestern -- A solid win over Creighton sets the Wildcats up nicely for another victory.
O’Neil: Northwestern -- John Shurna has been terrific all season for a Wildcat team dreaming of -- gasp! -- an NCAA bid.
Williams: Northwestern -- This is the year Northwestern makes the NCAA tournament because of Shurna and Thompson.

IOWA AT WAKE FOREST (ESPNU, 7 ET)

Bilas: Iowa -- Wake Forest will have a hard time beating anyone this season.
Brennan: Iowa -- Because as bad as Iowa is, Wake Forest is -- somehow -- worse.
Fraschilla: Wake Forest -- Someone has to win, right?
Gottlieb: Iowa -- Hawkeyes are coming off a win. Fran McCaffery will dial up something.
Katz: Wake Forest -- I can’t see the Demon Deacons losing four home games before Dec. 1.
Leung: Iowa -- Between the two, Iowa has shown a few more signs of life.
Lunardi: Wake Forest -- Neither team has played a true road game, so you have to go with Wake at home.
O’Neil: Wake Forest -- Because as bad as the Demon Deacons have looked early, the Hawkeyes have looked worse.
Williams: Iowa -- After watching Wake lose to Stetson, VCU and Winthrop, I give the edge to Iowa on the road.

OHIO STATE AT FLORIDA STATE (ESPN, 7:30 ET)

Bilas: Ohio State -- Florida State can really guard, but scoring efficiently is a problem the Seminoles have and the Buckeyes don't.
Brennan: Ohio State – FSU’s defense will keep this one close, but the interior offensive rebounding of Jared Sullinger and Dallas Lauderdale will be too much for the Noles to manage.
Fraschilla: Ohio State – The Leon County Civic Center is not the home court the Seminoles deserve.
Gottlieb: FSU's Chris Singleton has put up insane numbers with two triple-doubles, but OSU has the athletes to guard him and his compadres.
Katz: Ohio State -- The Buckeyes won at Florida and have a better inside game than Florida State, although FSU’s Chris Singleton will likely put up the best numbers.
Leung: Ohio State -- Despite the all-around talents of FSU's Chris Singleton, Ohio State has too many weapons, including Jared Sullinger in the middle.
Lunardi: Ohio State -- Buckeyes complete the Sunshine State sweep in Tallahassee.
O’Neil: Ohio State -- Tough follow for the Seminoles after an emotional, disappointing loss to the Gators. Plus, Jared Sullinger is the why to all questions about the Buckeyes.
Williams: Florida State -- Yes, I call the upset here. Xavier Gibson and Bernard James will give Mr. Sullinger a lot to deal with down low.

MICHIGAN AT CLEMSON (ESPN2, 9 ET)

Bilas: Clemson -- The Tigers are at home, and Michigan hasn't won away from home.
Brennan: Clemson -- Michigan might not be as bad as we thought, but it is not good enough to beat a capable Clemson team, whose only loss was a one-point neutral-court defeat to ODU.
Fraschilla: Clemson -- Early returns about new coach Brad Brownell are positive.
Gottlieb: Michigan -- Searching for an upset here, the 1-3-1 proves tough to tame. The Wolverines appear a bit better than expected, though they will suffer in conference.
Katz: Clemson -- The Tigers, regardless of coach, are too tough at home against similar-level teams.
Leung: Clemson -- Tigers coach Brad Brownell is fitting right in and has enough weapons to win this one.
Lunardi: Clemson -- The Wolverines are a long way from being able to win at Littlejohn.
O’Neil: Clemson -- The Wolverines have done little to prove they're over what ailed them last season.
Williams: Clemson -- After losses to both Syracuse and UTEP, I don't see the Wolverines bouncing back at Littlejohn Coliseum.

NORTH CAROLINA AT ILLINOIS (ESPN, 9:30 ET)

Bilas: Illinois -- North Carolina doesn't push the ball and get easy baskets, and Illinois is at home.
Brennan: Illinois -- The Illini have home-court advantage, but they also have the benefit of a veteran team that can match up with the athletic -- and as yet thoroughly disappointing -- Tar Heels.
Fraschilla: Illinois -- Are the Heels losing their mystique?
Gottlieb: Illinois -- Better guards, at home, and though Illinois does not have great strength inside, neither does UNC. Illini by more than 10.
Katz: Illinois -- The Tar Heels are still searching for a leader and the Illini need this game too much to prove their relevance.
Leung: Illinois -- It appears that catching the Tar Heels early is the way to go, and an Illini team with size can play with anyone.
Lunardi: Illinois -- What once looked like a toss-up should be a comfortable win for the Illini.
O’Neil: Illinois -- The Illini play with grit and determination, traits sorely lacking so far this season for the Tar Heels.
Williams: Illinois -- UNC does not have the poise or experience to win this one on the road.

WEDNESDAY

NC STATE AT WISCONSIN (ESPN2, 7:15 ET)

Bilas: Wisconsin -- The game is at the Kohl Center, isn't it? Next question.
Brennan: Wisconsin -- Besides the immense advantage provided by the Kohl Center, the Badgers are, for all their early-season warts, one of the better rebounding teams in the nation. The Wolfpack without senior forward Tracy Smith are one of the worst.
Fraschilla: Wisconsin -- Anywhere but the Kohl Center, I'd give the Wolfpack an even chance to win.
Gottlieb: Wisconsin -- NC State has better talent, but Wisconsin will use Jordan Taylor off ball screens and Jon Leuer is a great fit for what Wisconsin does and Bo Ryan is great at what he does. Frankly, the Wolfpack might become bored with the tedious pace of the Badgers.
Katz: Wisconsin -- The Wolfpack are without Tracy Smith and to beat the Badgers at the Kohl Center you have to be full strength.
Leung: Wisconsin -- Jon Leuer is just too much to handle, and the Badgers are playing at home.
Lunardi: Wisconsin -- The Badgers figure to be extra cranky after losing the Old Spice title game.
O’Neil: Wisconsin -- I’m guessing practice hasn't been fun for the Badgers since their uncharacteristic slide against Notre Dame. Someone will feel the brunt of that frustration.
Williams: Wisconsin -- The Badgers have compiled a 138-11 (.926) home record under coach Bo Ryan heading into the season. Enough said.

INDIANA AT BOSTON COLLEGE (ESPNU, 7:15 ET)

Bilas: Boston College – The Eagles are at home and Reggie Jackson can really score.
Brennan: Boston College -- Boston College has one awful loss (to Yale) and one solid win (over Texas A&M), so let’s give it a slight advantage over an Indiana team that has yet to leave Assembly Hall -- or play a non-cupcake opponent.
Fraschilla: Boston College -- Reggie Jackson hits it out of the park in the Eagles’ win.
Gottlieb: Boston College -- Reggie Jackson is the best player on the floor. The Eagles use the lessons learned in giving away leads in Orlando to help them beat IU.
Katz: Indiana -- The Eagles own more talent but lack focus in finishing games, something the Hoosiers seem to have now.
Leung: Boston College -- The easy part of Indiana's schedule is over.
Lunardi: Boston College -- BC is coming off a very good showing at the Old Spice and should win at home.
O’Neil: Indiana -- The recruiting good news for the Hoosiers spurs a much-needed good win on the court.
Williams: Boston College -- When Reggie Jackson is allowed to probe with the dribble and is on his game, BC is a tough team.

PURDUE AT VIRGINIA TECH (ESPN, 7:30 ET)

Bilas: Virginia Tech -- Purdue is not only missing Robbie Hummel, but really missing Chris Kramer.
Brennan: Purdue -- Both teams have played solid defense and both have had their struggles offensively, but JaJuan Johnson should provide too many matchup problems for a shallow Va. Tech front line.
Fraschilla: Virginia Tech -- Hokies are desperate for a quality nonconference win.
Gottlieb: Virginia Tech -- Virginia Tech struggles with pressure defense (see Purdue). Purdue struggles to score against legit defenses without Robbie Hummel. Hokies in a great game.
Katz: Virginia Tech -- The Boilermakers are still a formidable bunch, but winning in Blacksburg is hardly an easy task, especially when the Hokies are a top-three ACC team.
Leung: Virginia Tech -- The Boilers are showing they're not the same team without Robbie Hummel, and they'll have their hands full containing Malcolm Delaney.
Lunardi: Virginia Tech -- The Hokies want to stockpile every nonconference scalp they can get.
O’Neil: Virginia Tech -- Neither team has exactly been lighting it up offensively, but the Hokies have Malcolm Delaney, who can score, and the home court.
Williams: Virginia Tech -- Purdue simply doesn't have the same scoring punch like the Hokies' Malcolm Delaney, Dorenzo Hudson and Jeff Allen.

MARYLAND AT PENN STATE (ESPN2, 9:15 ET)

Bilas: Maryland -- Although a road game, the Terps have more talent.
Brennan: Maryland -- Maryland forward Jordan Williams is a budding star, and unless Talor Battle can sprout about 10 inches by Wednesday night, the Nittany Lions won’t be able to stop him.
Fraschilla: Maryland -- The Terps should grind out a road win in State College.
Gottlieb: Maryland -- The Terps are better inside with Jordan Williams and though Talor Battle can win a game on his own, Maryland's size and pressure in the backcourt should hurt his percentages.
Katz: Maryland -- Penn State is having a hard time being relevant while the Terps continue to play tougher, no matter the venue.
Leung: Maryland -- The Terrapins' only losses are single-digit ones to Pitt and Illinois, so Penn State should be no problem.
Lunardi: Maryland -- Penn State isn't the most athletic bunch and was already exposed by Ole Miss.
O’Neil: Maryland -- The Nittany Lions would need to borrow one of JoePa's linebackers to have a player to contend with Jordan Williams.
Williams: Maryland -- The Nittany Lions will have no answer inside for the Terps’ Jordan Williams.

MICHIGAN STATE AT DUKE (ESPN, 9:30 ET)

Bilas: Duke -- Michigan State is turning it over too much right now, and Duke's defensive pressure should capitalize.
Brennan: Duke -- After Duke’s dominant win over Kansas State and Michigan State’s sluggish start in Maui, the Blue Devils look miles ahead of the field. This early in the season, the Spartans won’t be able to close the gap in Cameron.
Fraschilla: Duke -- Tough place for ANYONE to win.
Gottlieb: Duke -- Derrick Nix is back and he should help with the depth of Michigan State inside, but MSU struggled with the quickness of Washington and UConn. Duke's pressure and athleticism are similar.
Katz: Duke -- The Spartans aren’t in March form yet, while the Blue Devils look like they’ve already made plans for Houston.
Leung: Duke -- In case you missed the CBE Classic, the Blue Devils are just better than everyone else right now.
Lunardi: Duke -- Won't make the same mistake of picking against Duke this week.
O’Neil: Michigan State -- I'll admit I'm not 100 percent in on this pick, especially with Duke playing at home. But after a few humbling visits to the other part of Tobacco Road in recent years, a disappointing loss to UConn and a tongue-lashing after a lackluster effort against Tennessee Tech, I think the Spartans are due for a show-me win.
Williams: Duke -- Duke is hands-down the best team in the country and the energy within Cameron will be too much for Michigan State to handle.


The ACC/Big Ten Challenge will be the dominant storyline in college basketball over the next few nights, so might as well put our writers and contributors on the spot with predictions, right?

For what it’s worth, the group consensus for each game adds up to a 6-5 Big Ten victory over the ACC. But it’s actually even closer than that. In the highly anticipated Iowa-Wake Forest matchup, our panel took the Hawkeyes by a 5-4 margin. If one of those five had picked the Deacons, we’d be projected an ACC overall victory.

Sounds to us like an event worth tuning into …

<strong>Monday</strong>

<strong>Virginia at Minnesota (ESPN2, 7 ET)</strong>
Jay Bilas: Minnesota -- Tubby has depth and guard play, and Tony Bennett doesn't.
Eamonn Brennan: Minnesota – The Gophers are a complete and balanced team, even if <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36271">Al Nolen</a> and <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=45983">Rodney Williams</a> miss the game due to injury; Tony Bennett's rebounding Virginia squad is, well, not.
Fran Fraschilla: Minnesota -- The Gophers are one of the country's early-season surprises and they are at home in the friendly confines of Williams Arena. This will be ugly.
Doug Gottlieb: Minnesota -- Despite not having Al Nolen, Minnesota is still loaded. <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=51535">Maverick Ahanmisi</a> was a late signee who is a year older than most freshman, and that maturity will come in handy.
Andy Katz: Minnesota – The Gophers are depleted with injuries, but likely get <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=41567">Devoe Joseph</a> back and are too strong, too tall, too deep for rebuilding Virginia.
Diamond Leung: Minnesota -- Minnesota might be banged up, but <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36270">Blake Hoffarber</a> and <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36628">Trevor Mbakwe</a> should be able to dominate.
Joe Lunardi: Minnesota -- The shorthanded Gophers are still too much for the Cavs at this point.
Dana O’Neil: Minnesota -- Even without Al Nolen and Rodney Williams, the red-hot Gophers are too talented for the still struggling Cavaliers.
Jay Williams: Minnesota -- Even though they won't have starters Al Nolen & Rodney Williams due to injuries, I expect Blake Hoffarber, Trevor Mbakwe and <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=41568">Ralph Sampson III</a> to dominate.

<strong>Tuesday</strong>

<strong>Georgia Tech at Northwestern (ESPN2, 7 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Northwestern -- The Wildcats will spread the Jackets out and keep them on a string between open 3s and backdoor cuts.
Brennan: Northwestern -- Facing its first real "test" of the season, Northwestern's matchup zone and tricky Princeton offense will give Georgia Tech fits.
Fraschilla: Northwestern -- Sadly, even a win over the Yellow Jackets won't mean much in March. Too much Shurna in this one.
Gottlieb: Northwestern -- Tech played well this weekend, but the travel and Juice Thompson will be too much.
Katz: Northwestern -- If we’re going to take the Wildcats seriously they have to win a game like this at home against the inferior Yellow Jackets.
Leung: Northwestern -- The Wildcats should stay undefeated playing on their homecourt and with <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=41742">John Shurna</a> playing well.
Lunardi: Northwestern -- A solid win over Creighton sets the Wildcats up nicely for another victory.
O’Neil: Northwestern -- John Shurna has been terrific all season for a Wildcat team dreaming of -- gasp! -- an NCAA bid.
Williams: Northwestern -- This is the year Northwestern makes the NCAA tournament because of Shurna and Thompson.

<strong>Iowa at Wake Forest (ESPNU, 7 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Iowa -- Wake Forest will have a hard time beating anyone this season.
Brennan: Iowa -- Because as bad as Iowa is, Wake Forest is -- somehow -- worse.
Fraschilla: Wake Forest -- Someone has to win, right?
Gottlieb: Iowa -- Hawkeyes are coming off a win. Fran McCaffery will dial up something.
Katz: Wake Forest -- I can’t see the Demon Deacons losing four home games before Dec. 1.
Leung: Iowa -- Between the two, Iowa has shown a few more signs of life.
Lunardi: Wake Forest -- Neither team has played a true road game, so you have to go with Wake at home.
O’Neil: Wake Forest -- Because as bad as the Demon Deacons have looked early, the Hawkeyes have looked worse.
Williams: Iowa -- After watching Wake lose to Stetson, VCU and Winthrop, I give the edge to Iowa on the road.

<strong>Ohio State at Florida State (ESPN, 7:30 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Ohio State -- Florida State can really guard, but scoring efficiently is a problem the Seminoles have and the Buckeyes don't.
Brennan: Ohio State – FSU’s defense will keep this one close, but the interior offensive rebounding of <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=51405">Jared Sullinger</a> and <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36134">Dallas Lauderdale</a> will be too much for the Noles to manage.
Fraschilla: Ohio State – The Leon County Civic Center is not the homecourt the Seminoles deserve.
Gottlieb: FSU's <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=40974">Chris Singleton</a> has put up insane numbers with two triple-doubles, but OSU has the athletes to guard him and his compadres.
Katz: Ohio State -- The Buckeyes won at Florida and have a better inside game than Florida State, although FSU’s Chris Singleton will likely put up the best numbers.
Leung: Ohio State -- Despite the all-around talents of FSU's Chris Singleton, Ohio State has too many weapons, including Jared Sullinger in the middle.
Lunardi: Ohio State -- Buckeyes complete the Sunshine State sweep in Tallahassee.
O’Neil: Ohio State -- Tough follow for the Seminoles after an emotional, disappointing loss to the Gators. Plus, Jared Sullinger is the why to all questions about the Buckeyes.
Williams: Florida State -- Yes, I call the upset here. <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=40971">Xavier Gibson</a> and <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=51353">Bernard James</a> will give Mr. Sullinger a lot to deal with down low.

<strong>Michigan at Clemson (ESPN2, 9 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Clemson -- The Tigers are at home, and Michigan hasn't won away from home.
Brennan: Clemson -- Michigan might not be as bad as we thought, but it is not good enough to beat a capable Clemson team, whose only loss was a one-point neutral-court defeat to ODU.
Fraschilla: Clemson -- Early returns about new coach Brad Brownell are positive.
Gottlieb: Michigan -- Searching for an upset here, the 1-3-1 proves tough to tame. The Wolverines appear a bit better than expected, though they will suffer in conference.
Katz: Clemson -- The Tigers, regardless of coach, are too tough at home against similar-level teams.
Leung: Clemson -- Tigers coach Brad Brownell is fitting right in and has enough weapons to win this one.
Lunardi: Clemson -- The Wolverines are a long way from being able to win at Littlejohn.
O’Neil: Clemson -- The Wolverines have done little to prove they're over what ailed them last season.
Williams: Clemson -- After losses to both Syracuse and UTEP, I don't see the Wolverines bouncing back at Littlejohn Coliseum.

<strong>North Carolina at Illinois (ESPN, 9:30 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Illinois -- North Carolina doesn't push the ball and get easy baskets, and Illinois is at home.
Brennan: Illinois -- The Illini have homecourt advantage, but they also have the benefit of a veteran team that can match up with the athletic -- and as yet thoroughly disappointing -- Tar Heels.
Fraschilla: Illinois -- Are the Heels losing their mystique?
Gottlieb: Illinois -- Better guards, at home, and though Illinois does not have great strength inside, neither does UNC. Illini by more than 10.
Katz: Illinois -- The Tar Heels are still searching for a leader and the Illini need this game too much to prove their relevance.
Leung: Illinois -- It appears that catching the Tar Heels early is the way to go, and an Illini team with size can play with anyone.
Lunardi: Illinois -- What once looked like a toss-up should be a comfortable win for the Illini.
O’Neil: Illinois -- The Illini play with grit and determination, traits sorely lacking so far this season for the Tar Heels.
Williams: Illinois -- UNC does not have the poise or experience to win this one on the road.

<strong>Wednesday</strong>

<strong>NC State at Wisconsin (ESPN2, 7:15 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Wisconsin -- The game is at the Kohl Center, isn't it? Next question.
Brennan: Wisconsin -- Besides the immense advantage provided by the Kohl Center, the Badgers are, for all their early-season warts, one of the better rebounding teams in the nation. The Wolfpack without senior forward <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36377">Tracy Smith</a> are one of the worst.
Fraschilla: Wisconsin -- Anywhere but the Kohl Center, I'd give the Wolfpack an even chance to win.
Gottlieb: Wisconsin -- NC State has better talent, but Wisconsin will use <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=41152">Jordan Taylor</a> off ball screens and <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36138">Jon Leuer</a> is a great fit got what Wisconsin does and Bo Ryan is great at what he does. Frankly, the Wolfpack might become bored with the tedious pace of the Badgers.
Katz: Wisconsin -- The Wolfpack are without Tracy Smith and to beat the Badgers at the Kohl Center you have to be full strength.
Leung: Wisconsin -- Jon Leuer is just too much to handle, and the Badgers are playing at home.
Lunardi: Wisconsin -- The Badgers figure to be extra cranky after losing the Old Spice title game.
O’Neil: Wisconsin -- I’m guessing practice hasn't been fun for the Badgers since their uncharacteristic slide against Notre Dame. Someone will feel the brunt of that frustration.
Williams: Wisconsin -- The Badgers have compiled a 138-11(.926) home record under head coach Bo Ryan heading into the season. Enough said.

<strong>Indiana at Boston College (ESPNU, 7:15 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Boston College – The Eagles are at home and <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=41460">Reggie Jackson</a> can really score.
Brennan: Boston College -- Boston College has one awful loss (to Yale) and one solid win (over Texas A&M), so let’s give it a slight advantage over an Indiana team that has yet to leave Assembly Hall -- or play a non-cupcake opponent.
Fraschilla: Boston College -- Reggie Jackson hits it out of the park in the Eagles’ win.
Gottlieb: Boston College -- Reggie Jackson is the best player on the floor. The Eagles use the lessons learned in giving away leads in Orlando to help them beat IU.
Katz: Indiana -- The Eagles own more talent but lack focus in finishing games, something the Hoosiers seem to have now.
Leung: Boston College -- The easy part of Indiana's schedule is over.
Lunardi: Boston College -- BC is coming off a very good showing at the Old Spice and should win at home.
O’Neil: Indiana -- The recruiting good news for the Hoosiers spurs a much-needed good win on the court.
Williams: Boston College -- When Reggie Jackson is allowed to probe with the dribble and is on his game, BC is a tough team.

<strong>Purdue at Virginia Tech (ESPN, 7:30 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Virginia Tech -- Purdue is not only missing Hummel, but really missing Chris Kramer.
Brennan: Purdue -- Both teams have played solid defense and both have had their struggles offensively, but <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36150">JaJuan Johnson</a> should provide too many matchup problems for a shallow Va. Tech front line.
Fraschilla: Virginia Tech -- Hokies are desperate for a quality nonconference win.
Gottlieb: Virginia Tech -- Virginia Tech struggles with pressure defense (see Purdue). Purdue struggles to score against legit defenses without <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36149">Robbie Hummel</a>. Hokies in a great game.
Katz: Virginia Tech -- The Boilermakers are still a formidable bunch, but winning in Blacksburg is hardly an easy task, especially when the Hokies are a top-three ACC team.
Leung: Virginia Tech -- The Boilers are showing they're not the same team without Robbie Hummel, and they'll have their hands full containing <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36544">Malcolm Delaney</a>.
Lunardi: Virginia Tech -- The Hokies want to stockpile every nonconference scalp they can get.
O’Neil: Virginia Tech -- Neither team has exactly been lighting it up offensively, but the Hokies have Malcolm Delaney, who can score, and the homecourt.
Williams: Virginia Tech -- Purdue simply doesn't have the same scoring punch like the Hokies' Malcolm Delaney, <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=40725">Dorenzo Hudson</a> and <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=31599">Jeff Allen</a>.

<strong>Maryland at Penn State (ESPN2, 9:15 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Maryland -- Although a road game, the Terps have more talent.
Brennan: Maryland -- Maryland forward <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=45916">Jordan Williams</a> is a budding star, and unless <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=36465">Talor Battle</a> can sprout about 10 inches by Wednesday night, the Nittany Lions won’t be able to stop him.
Fraschilla: Maryland -- The Terps should grind out a road win in State College.
Gottlieb: Maryland -- The Terps are better inside with Jordan Williams and though Talor Battle can win a game on his own, Maryland's size and pressure in the backcourt should hurt his percentages.
Katz: Maryland -- Penn State is having a hard time being relevant while the Terps continue to play tougher, no matter the venue.
Leung: Maryland -- The Terrapins' only losses are single-digit ones to Pitt and Illinois, so Penn State should be no problem.
Lunardi: Maryland -- Penn State isn't the most athletic bunch and was already exposed by Ole Miss.
O’Neil: Maryland -- The Nittany Lions would need to borrow one of JoePa's linebackers to have a player to contend with Jordan Williams.
Williams: Maryland -- The Nittany Lions will have no answer inside for the Terps’ Jordan Williams.

<strong>Michigan State at Duke (ESPN, 9:30 ET)</strong>
Bilas: Duke -- Michigan State is turning it over too much right now, and Duke's defensive pressure should capitalize.
Brennan: Duke -- After Duke’s dominant win over Kansas State and Michigan State’s sluggish start in Maui, the Blue Devils look miles ahead of the field. This early in the season, the Spartans won’t be able to close the gap in Cameron.
Fraschilla: Duke -- Tough place for ANYONE to win.
Gottlieb: <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/player/profile?playerId=46227">Derrick Nix</a> is back and he should help with the depth of Michigan State inside, but MSU struggled with the quickness of Washington and UConn. Duke's pressure and athleticism is similar.
Katz: Duke -- The Spartans aren’t in March form yet, while the Blue Devils look like they’ve already made plans for Houston.
Leung: Duke -- In case you missed the CBE Classic, the Blue Devils are just better than everyone else right now.
Lunardi: Duke -- Won't make the same mistake of picking against Duke this week.
O’Neil: Michigan State -- I'll admit I'm not 100 percent in on this pick, especially with Duke playing at home. But after a few humbling visits to the other part of Tobacco Road in recent years, a disappointing loss to UConn and a tongue-lashing after a lackluster effort against Tennessee Tech, I think the Spartans are due for a show-me win.
Williams: Duke -- Duke is hands-down the best team in the country and the energy within Cameron will be too much for Michigan State to handle.

Previewing UNLV-Va Tech in 76 Classic final

November, 27, 2010
11/27/10
10:00
PM ET


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Murray State guard Isacc Miles only needed a couple sentences during a postgame news conference to sum up why UNLV will be difficult to beat when the Rebels face Virginia Tech for the 76 Classic championship on Sunday (9 ET, ESPN2).

"They made all the shots they needed to make, and they didn't hurt themselves," Miles said after the Runnin' Rebels beat his team by 14 in the semis. "When they do that and shoot 60 percent, it's pretty hard to win."

Not only is 5-0 UNLV getting scoring production from junior forward Chace Stanback (17.2 ppg), but its swarming defense is also looking good behind the efforts of Stanback and guards Derrick Jasper and Anthony Marshall.

The Rebels, who have already beaten a ranked Wisconsin team, are doing all this without big numbers from returning leading scorer Tre'Von Willis. Willis continues to come off the bench while playing his way back into game shape following a four-game suspension.

"We know Tre is going to return in full form in time," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said.

Kruger is also well-aware that Virginia Tech presents challenges after the Hokies successfully got other teams to play their style, which is, as coach Seth Greenberg lovingly calls it, "ugly."

Virginia Tech squeezed out a win against Oklahoma State in the semis despite shooting 34.7 percent from the field, so Malcolm Delaney and Co. are accustomed to grinding out wins when the shots don't fall.

It helps the Hokies' backcourt if they get guard Erick Green back for the game after he exited the first-round game against Cal State Northridge with a calf injury.

But Delaney is more than capable of generating offense by himself, and with forward Jeff Allen also having a fine tournament, it'll be an intriguing matchup against a stingy defense.

A championship game win would mean an early boost for UNLV before the Mountain West Conference season. For Virginia Tech, anything that helps get it over the hump and into the NCAA tournament is seen as crucial.

Beating a red-hot Rebels team would qualify.
When Virginia Tech forward Allen Chaney transferred from Florida last summer, the Hokies hoped he would add some much-needed size to a team with its sights set on an (eventual, anyway) NCAA tournament berth. That has not gone according to plan.

Chaney fainted in April following a workout in Blacksburg, Va., and had to be revived via mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by a trainer. Tests revealed no abnormalities; Chaney was diagnosed with nothing more than dehydration and was cleared to do some light shooting drills. That's when things got a bit more serious: Chaney had another episode soon thereafter, which, unless he chugs four Red Bulls before every shootaround (from personal experience, let me assure you this is a terrible idea) indicated the problem was something more serious than a mere lack of water.

With that in mind, Chaney underwent a diagnostic procedure on his heart last Tuesday. The doctors at the University of Virginia's hospital believe Chaney's issue is related to a viral inflammation of the heart. They can probably explain it better than I can:
The procedure "involved evaluating the electric activity of his heart," the doctor, Mark Rogers, said yesterday in a press release. "Based on the results of this, we are recommending that another heart specialist evaluate him further. At this point, the consensus is that the abnormality in the study is most likely related to a viral inflammation of the heart. We certainly anticipate Allan's return to the court when it is deemed safe for him."

That last part is the major Hokies-related news: Just how soon can Chaney return to the court? The answer is ... well, there is no answer. The virus requires six to 18 months to run its course, with the "only steps to recovery includ[ing] rest and avoidance of physical exertion." That's the major bummer for Chaney, who waited an entire year to get on the court for the Hokies only to have the prospect of playing this season ripped right out from under him.

As of now, Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg says he doesn't know when Chaney will be back, or if he'll be able to kick the virus before the 2010-11 season runs out. Chaney recently spoke to NBA veteran Juwan Howard, who missed a large portion of the 2005 season thanks to that exact condition.

It's not a given that Chaney's absence will drastically affect the Hokies' chances of making the tournament in 2010-11. After all, Malcolm Delaney and company were on the cusp of the bubble last year, and the core of that team will all return this year. It's almost beside the point, though, because this is just kind of a bummer. There's no getting around it.
NCAA coaches got what they wanted: a mostly stress-free May and early June.

No one can whine anymore about an early-entrant testing the draft process and holding the program hostage for two months. The NCAA's deadline passed Saturday, and the with the official early-entry list forthcoming from the NBA this week, the uncertainty of rosters -- save a few late recruits -- is no longer an issue for 2010-11.

Some of the programs either hit or salvaged from the decisions had obvious consequences. Earlier in the blog, I discussed the impact on Kentucky and the rising programs at NC State and Richmond. Here are some quick takes on 10 other schools affected in some way by the draft process:

  • Purdue is now a Big Ten co-favorite along with Michigan State and a realistic team to reach the Final Four now that JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore have decided to stay in school and join Robbie Hummel to give the Boilermakers three senior studs.
  • BYU will remain a Mountain West title contender with the return of Jimmer Fredette. New Mexico will have to be in reload mode with the early departure of Darington Hobson and the graduation of Roman Martinez.
  • Butler is still the clear favorite to win the Horizon, but no longer a projected Final Four repeat visitor with Gordon Hayward's decision to stay in the draft.
  • Ole Miss lost Terrico White, a likely first-round pick, but the Rebels still have leading scorer and fellow guard Chris Warren, who didn't flirt with the NBA draft.
  • Mississippi State lost its point guard (Dee Bost), but got back its shooter (Ravern Johnson) and will at the very least be back on the NCAA bubble again.
  • Illinois hopes to get off that bubble and in the NCAA tournament with the return of Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey.
  • Virginia Tech has a chance to be an ACC contender with Malcolm Delaney's sensible decision to return. The Hokies return essentially their entire roster.
  • With Alex Tyus listening to reasoned minds and returning to school (his father and uncle thought he should leave Florida because he wasn't playing the 3 position), the Gators can now claim they have all five starters back for the first time since starting the season as the preseason No. 1 in 2006.
  • Xavier lost its best player in Jordan Crawford and won't be the A-10 preseason favorite that it probably would've been. Meanwhile, Temple remains a contender in that conference with the return of Lavoy Allen.
  • Penn State wasn't going to be an NCAA team either way, but at least it has its marquee player returning in Talor Battle.
There's no question that the NCAA's decision to cut back from two months to 10 days had a positive affect for coaches. Players who normally may have had time to work out and move up on the second- or first-round board didn't have a chance. There were barely any workouts to be had, so the players didn't get a true chance to test the draft process.

For some likely first-round players, it didn't matter as they were leaving anyway with the fear of a lockout and a lower rookie salary scale in 2011 and beyond. For many others, however, the lack of workout opportunities and inability to go to the NBA-sponsored Chicago draft camp probably forced them to return to school.

That's good for the coaches and their nerves, but is it good for the players and the overall process? That's debatable.

What's not is that it's the new reality.
NBA draft boards are safe.

Saturday’s NCAA-imposed deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft (international players still have until June 14) didn’t produce any last-minute decisions that will affect the first round, but that’s not the case for the preseason top 25 in men’s college basketball.

[+] EnlargeJaJuan Johnson
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesBoth JaJuan Johnson (left) and E'Twaun Moore will be staying in Purdue.
None of the players who were still mulling over decisions would have affected the first round of the NBA draft. On Friday night, the official decisions of Kentucky freshmen Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe put two more undecided early-entrants in the first round. But on Saturday, the most anticipated decision came out of West Lafayette, Ind., where JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore told coach Matt Painter they will return for their senior seasons. The Boilermakers, with the return of Robbie Hummel, will have what is likely the most experienced and productive trio returning of any power-six club.

Staying in the Big Ten, Illinois desperately needed Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey to come back to school after a season in which the Illini just missed out on the NCAA tournament. Losing one of their productive forwards and their most experienced guard would have crushed Bruce Weber's team, even though there is an influx of young talent there. Neither Davis nor McCamey were considered first-round draft picks.

With these decisions, the Big Ten likely will receive considerable hype as the nation's best conference for the second preseason in a row. Purdue could be a preseason No. 1, Michigan State will be right on its heels, and Ohio State (with its loaded recruiting class), Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Northwestern (which gets back Kevin Coble from a season-ending foot injury) are all capable of contending and making the NCAA tourney.

In the ACC, Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney decided Friday night to return to school. It was a good move. He wasn't a first-round pick, but he’s certainly one of the top guards in the conference and gives the Hokies, who return nearly their entire team, a chance to be a top-25 team next season.

New Mexico figured it would lose leading scorer Darington Hobson, and it did, meaning the Lobos will have to start the season again having to prove themselves as a Mountain West title contender. Xavier figured it was going to go into next season without Jordan Crawford, and it will, meaning the Musketeers will need to find another headline act. But the Musketeers’ program hardly lacks for talent and it's never wise to overlook this team in the preseason.

Richmond received news that it can still be competitive in the A-10 with conference player of the year Kevin Anderson's return. The Spiders would have had to rebuild had they lost both Anderson and senior David Gonzalvez. Temple would have faced a similar situation had Lavoy Allen not come to his senses and returned to school.

Alex Tyus' father and uncle both told the local press recently that they felt Tyus was a natural small forward, that he was being underutilized at Florida and that he should declare -- even go overseas if he wasn't drafted. He apparently didn't listen. Tyus, who wasn’t a first-round pick and might not have been a second-round pick, will return as a solid role player for a team that will challenge for the SEC East title. Florida may not have cried if Tyus had left, but it would have taken another system player out of the mix. His return allows the Gators to go through the offseason without a distraction, unlike when Marreese Speights left early in 2008 and Nick Calathes bolted for Greece in 2009.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Faried’s decision to stay at Morehead State means one of the better talents in the country will shine more of a spotlight on the Ohio Valley next season. Faried had a shot to alter the draft board in the latter part of the first round, but is just one less name for NBA personnel to sweat over during the next six weeks.
The NBA retired players association reached out to the NCAA to see if there was interest in a combine for early entrants to test the draft process.

According to Charles Smith, the retired players association executive director, there was no interest in having one during the 10 days underclassmen have now been allotted to see where they stand before making a decision on whether to stay in the draft.

It's almost impossible for prospects to get a real read on where they'd go in the draft for a number of reasons: Prospects have only one weekend to work out from April 29 to May 8, teams aren't interested in conducting workouts so early in the draft process when the official list of entrants will be available in another week, and the players are unable to work out for teams until they’ve completed final exams.

Previously, agentless underclassmen had until 10 days prior to the NBA draft to decide. That rule is still intact from the NBA, but international players will be the only group using that withdrawal date this spring.

“They don’t have a chance to be evaluated,’’ Smith said Friday of the NCAA’s new rule. “It’s not fair to the players. We wanted to host a combine, but the NCAA wasn’t for it.’’

But NCAA spokesperson Bob Williams said Friday that the combine wasn’t sponsored by the NBA or a team and that the retired players association was told it could not provide expenses or have organized competition. Williams said the NBA players association could have had drills or even some pickup games, but not kept score or had officials.

[+] EnlargeMalcolm Delaney
Jeff Lack/Icon SMIMalcolm Delaney will be one of the top guards in the ACC next season.
Smith said he will make another attempt in 2011 to do a combine in some form to give players a chance to make a more informed decision.

The overriding reason borderline draft picks have given coaches as to why they left for the NBA early has been the fear of a lockout and a possible lower rookie-salary scale in 2011.

Regardless, a number of fence-sitters are making their coaches sweat down to the last minute. Here is the latest through sources close to the situation:

Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey, Illinois: Coach Bruce Weber was already told Davis will return to school, which boosts the Illini's chances to mount a return trip to the NCAAs. But Weber has to still speak with McCamey, which is quite amazing considering he's unlikely to be drafted if he stays in.

JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, Purdue: Coach Matt Painter might have to wait until Saturday’s 5 p.m. deadline to see if Johnson and Moore decide to stay in the draft. Johnson would be the more likely candidate since he’s a likely second-round pick. Moore would run the risk of going undrafted.

Ravern Johnson and Dee Bost, Mississippi State: Johnson has let the Mississippi State staff know he will likely return to school, but in a stunning development, Bost actually may look to go overseas instead of return to school. Bost has been told he can make money overseas even if he’s not selected in the draft. The Bulldogs, no stranger to waiting until the final hours of the NBA early-entry deadline, will sweat out Bost’s decision. The backcourt would be much younger without him, but the emergence of Renardo Sidney in the starting lineup after serving his nine-game suspension will help offset any departures, especially of senior Jarvis Varnado.

Alex Tyus, Florida: Tyus isn’t a first-round pick. He easily could go undrafted. But that might not stop the Gators from losing yet another player early to the NBA draft. At least in the cases of Marresse Speights and Nick Calathes the past two seasons, they were first-round talents. But when I spoke to UF coach Billy Donovan late Friday afternoon, he wasn’t sure which way Tyus would go.

Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech’s chances to get into the 2011 NCAA tournament took a huge step forward with the decision of Malcolm Delaney to return for his senior season. Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said Friday night that Delaney will withdraw from NBA draft by Saturday’s deadline. Delaney averaged a team-high 20.2 points for the Hokies last season.

Jordan Crawford, Xavier: No word out of the Musketeers on whether Crawford will stay or go, but with Crawford considered one of the top shooting guards it’s unlikely he'll return.

Lavoy Allen, Temple: Nothing official from the Owls regarding Allen's status, but leaving would make little sense since he’s not likely to be picked in this deep draft. The Owls would be an A-10 contender again with Allen around.

Jimmer Fredette, BYU: Coach Dave Rose isn’t sure if Fredette will stay or go. The decision is expected to go down to the final hours Saturday as Fredette figures out if he’s a viable candidate in the first round. Defensive liabilities would say no shot, but it’s hard to project what he will be told in the final hours.

Darington Hobson, New Mexico: Hobson is regarded as a possible late-first round pick and for that reason Lobos coach Steve Alford expects Hobson to keep his name in the draft. He'll also be 23 years old by the time the new season rolls around. There could be a last-minute decision to return, but it doesn’t appear likely.
Well, the small draft window and an uncooperative travel situation, that is. But let's just blame the draft window. It feels better that way.

Of what do I speak? Virginia Tech guard and 2009-10 ACC leading scorer, Malcolm Delaney, is currently considering his NBA draft options. He hasn't hired an agent, which means he has until May 8 -- a month less than in the past, thanks to an ACC-inspired rule change -- to either stay in the draft for good or return to Virginia Tech for his senior season. If you have a calendar handy, you know it's already May 6, which means Delaney's time is running out. He has to get in as many meetings and workouts as possible before Friday night. He has about 48 hours to figure out his professional life.

So it was doubly unhelpful when Delaney's flight to Portland Thursday morning was canceled, leaving him stuck in Roanoke Airport for six extra hours while he waited for the next flight out of Virginia. Of course, faced with a flight delay, Delaney did what all of us do when we're bored in the airport (besides, you know, hit the airport bar and talk to random travelers): He informed the world via Twitter. (Delaney's tweets are protected.)

Obviously, a flight delay this close to the deadline puts Delaney's chances of spending quality time with the Trail Blazers in jeopardy. Hopefully, Delaney gets a decent look from Portland and can make an informed decision, but even if he does, it's situations like this that cry out for an appeal of the May 8 draft window deadline. Figuring out whether you're the apple of an NBA team's eye was already difficult enough. Having to do so in such a short period of time, with little margin for error, and almost no time to schedule workouts or meetings or even some downtime for deliberations -- this is where the new rule hits players hardest. Man, is it bad.
If you didn't already know, and you were forced to guess (for the sake of this exercise, let's say someone is threatening you with the prospect of watching Monique's Oscar acceptance speech on an infinite loop), who would you say is the ACC's fourth leading scorer? I'm betting you wouldn't go with Duke guard Nolan Smith.

[+] EnlargeNolan Smith
Andrew Synowiez/US PresswireDuke guard Nolan Smith is averaging 17.6 points per game this season.
But it's true. Smith scores 17.6 points per game, third on his team behind Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer, and fourth overall in the conference. (Malcolm Delaney tops all scorers with 20.9 points per game.) You hear very little about this, likely because Smith seems a less integral part of his team's offense than either Singler and Scheyer, and possibly because Smith doesn't seem to have the same NBA expectations thrust upon him as Singler. He's not high profile. He's just good.

Duke fans ought to be thankful for this, because it's made Smith's decision about entering the NBA draft after his junior season -- which Singler is likely to do; Scheyer, a senior, is a late pick at best, and will probably head overseas when his college career is finished -- a foregone conclusion:
Nonetheless, Smith was asked during a Friday media availability whether he'll be back. "I'm coming back next year, of course," he said.

Good news for Duke, right? The Blue Devils may or may not lose Singler, but if they do they'll be losing their two leading scorers, who alongside Smith make up a huge chunk of minutes and production in Duke's rather imbalanced attack. (Imbalanced being a relative term here, of course; who wouldn't want three players averaging 17-plus minutes for their team?) Coach K's 2010-11 team will rely heavily on freshmen whose minutes waned as the ACC season picked up speed, and having Smith around to take over point guard duties for that team will be a major boost.

Enough of a boost to keep North Carolina fans in full-on post-blowout freak-out mode? Well, that's the goal. Achieving it will be a different story.
ATLANTA -- Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg doesn't care that the Hokies played most of the ACC's better opponents only once this season.

And he doesn't care that the Hokies' RPI rating is worse than each of the six other ACC teams in contention to play in the NCAA tournament, either.

The only thing that matters to Greenberg is that Virginia Tech finished 10-6 in ACC play this season after beating Georgia Tech 88-82 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.

"To win 10 games in the ACC is really hard," Greenberg said Saturday, shortly after the Hokies improved to 23-7 overall and earned a first-round bye in next week's ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C. "I don't care what schedule you played. We played the schedule we were given. It's tough to win 10 games."

Ask Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt how hard it is to win 10 games in the ACC.

Even during a season in which defending national champion North Carolina limped through one of its worst seasons in history, his team only won seven ACC games during the regular season.

The Yellow Jackets, despite having potential NBA lottery picks Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal playing in their front court, find themselves firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble heading into next week's ACC tournament. And by finishing 7-9 against ACC opponents, Georgia Tech just gave the NCAA selection committee an excuse to leave it out of the NCAA field.

"I still feel we have a very good shot," Hewitt said, after his team lost for the fifth time in its past seven games. "We have to go to Greensboro and get a couple of wins and see where it falls from there. Thankfully we have a chance to improve it. They're not handing out bids tomorrow, and that's how we have to look at it."

If Selection Sunday were tomorrow, there's a good chance the Yellow Jackets would be excluded. They won only one ACC road game in eight chances, beating North Carolina 73-71 on Zach Peacock's go-ahead shot with 25.7 seconds left after nearly blowing a 20-point lead.

The Yellow Jackets lost at Virginia and Miami, two of the ACC's worst teams. Against NC State, the league's other cellar dwellar, they nearly blew a 16-point lead in the final five minutes before winning by a 73-71 score at home.

Since beating Clemson and Wake Forest in consecutive home games in late January, the Yellow Jackets haven't beaten anybody of consequence. They've beaten four opponents since Jan. 29 and each of them at home: Division II Kennesaw State, NC State, North Carolina and Boston College.

That's hardly the resume of an NCAA-worthy team.

"We're just focusing on getting us back together mentally and physically," Hewitt said.

Hewitt might want to focus on his team's lack of defense. In their past two games, the Yellow Jackets surrendered 91 points in an 11-point loss at Clemson on Tuesday night, and then 88 points to a Hokies that played without junior guard Dorenzo Hudson, their second-leading scorer.

Virginia Tech came into the game ranked last in the ACC in 3-point shooting, but went 9-for-17 beyond the 3-point arch against the Yellow Jackets.

"We did not do a great job of defending, but at the same time give Virginia Tech credit," Hewitt said. "They made some big shots."

Junior guard Malcolm Delaney made many of them, matching his season-high with 32 points. Tech's defense allowed the Hokies to spread the floor whenever they wanted to, and Delaney worked his magic from there.

"Delaney does a good job of penetrating," Hewitt said. "He did a good job of getting into the paint. He does a great job of drawing fouls. You've got to put good pressure on him and deny him when he gives it up."

Now the pressure is on the Yellow Jackets as they head to Greensboro.

The Hokies are probably in pretty good shape, but Greenberg isn't taking any chances.

"I said before the season we'll win as many games as we can and see what happens," Greenberg said. "We've had the same mindset all season, even when we lost three games in a row. That's been our focus all season -- control what we can control."
ATLANTA -- Can you leave a team out a team which finished 10-6 in ACC play?

Can you take a team which finished 7-9?

Those are the questions the NCAA selection committee will face next weekend, after Virginia Tech defeated Georgia Tech 88-80 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.

The victory was enormous for Virginia Tech, which won the game despite not having guard Dorenzo Hudson, its second-leading scorer, who sat out with a bruised bone in his right foot. The Hokies finished 10-6 in ACC play, three games better than the Yellow Jackets.

If the Hokies had lost at Georgia Tech, the NCAA selection committee might have been tempted to take the Yellow Jackets over them because of the head-to-head meeting. Georgia Tech also had a better RPI rating and strength-of-schedule ranking coming into the game.

Malcolm Delaney scored 32 points, his fifth 30-point performance of the season. Junior forward Jeff Allen added 17 points, and junior forward Terrell Bell had a season-high 14 points. Bell is from nearby Stone Mountain, Ga.

The Hokies led by as many as 16 points in the second half.

Freshman Derrick Favors had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Yellow Jackets, who might need to win two games in next week's ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C., to feel even remotely confident on Selection Sunday.
ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech must think today's ACC regular-season finale at Alexander Memorial Coliseum is as important as everybody else believes it is.

Bodies were flying to the floor during the first half. The players were exchanging words walking into the tunnel to their locker rooms at halftime. Hokies coach Seth Greenberg was chirping at officials during his walk off the floor.

Even though the Hokies are playing without junior guard Dorenzo Hudson, their second-leading scorer, they have a 45-39 lead over the Yellow Jackets at the half.

Both teams really need to win this game to feel better about their chances of getting an NCAA at-large bid. The Yellow Jackets need a victory here to finish 8-8 in the ACC standings. I still the Yellow Jackets are in OK shape for an at-large bid because of their high-end victories and tougher ACC schedule. But a 7-9 finish would at least give the NCAA selection committee a justifiable reason to keep them out of the 65-team field.

With a win over Georgia Tech, the Hokies would finish 10-6 in the ACC. They played one of the country's softer schedules and played most of the ACC's best teams only once in an unbalanced schedule, but I seriously doubt the NCAA is going to leave out a 10-6 ACC team.

Junior guard Malcolm Delaney is once again carry the Hokies, scoring 17 points and dishing out seven assists in the first half. Junior forward Jeff Allen has eight points, and Terrell Bell of nearby Stone Mountain, Ga., scored seven in the first half.

Forward Gani Lawal led Georgia Tech with nine points in the first half, and freshman Derrick Favors had six points and four rebounds. Tech's other players basically ignored their low-post stars during the first seven or eight minutes, but the forwards touched the ball more frequently in the final 12 minutes of the half. With Allen sitting out the last four minutes of the half with four fouls, look for Tech to attack the paint early in the second half.
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UNC goes down again

January, 31, 2010
1/31/10
11:02
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A 15-point loss at home to Virginia has the defending national champions reeling, with North Carolina having lost five of its past six games.

As Robbi Pickeral notes in the Charlotte Observer, the Tar Heels aren't stopping anyone right now.

Cavs sophomore Sylven Landesberg joined what it quickly becoming an "I-lit-up-Carolina" club, scoring 29 points on 11-for-18 shooting. He joins five other perimeter starters in the league who have scored at least 19 against UNC this season: Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney (26 points), Georgia Tech's Iman Shumpert (30), Clemson's Demontez Stitt (20), Wake Forest's Ishmael Smith (20) and N.C. State's Javi Gonzalez (19).

A few thoughts on Sunday's results

December, 6, 2009
12/06/09
10:30
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I attended Boston College's 61-60 win over Miami on Sunday and you can find my write-up on that game in Monday's Daily Word. For now, here are some thoughts on the other action from today:
  • A player that continues to be overlooked nationally: Jeremy Lin of Harvard. All he did was go for a career-high 30 points, nine rebounds and three assists in a 79-73 loss at Connecticut. The race between Cornell’s Ryan Wittman and Lin for Ivy League player of the year will be quite a chase.
  • Speaking of Cornell, the Big Red beat Saint Joseph's by 12 on Sunday. That means Cornell now has wins at Alabama (SEC), at UMass (A-10), at Drexel (CAA) and over St. Joe’s (A-10), all higher-rated conferences than the Ivy.
  • UCLA gave Kansas a game, Reeves Nelson got a shiner and the Bruins at least showed they have grit in the 73-61 loss to the top-ranked Jayhawks at Pauley Pavilion.
  • Was there another team that needed a win more than Clemson? The Tigers had to beat a Dominique Archie-less South Carolina team after blowing a 23-point lead to Illinois. They did just that, winning 72-61 and beating their rival for the sixth straight time.
  • The Gamecocks are now essentially 2-2 without Archie, who was hurt early in the loss to Miami in the Charleston Classic. South Carolina has two tough games upcoming, against Richmond and at pesky Wofford before a Dec. 30 date at Boston College.
  • After returning from a stress reaction in his right tibia, UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt played for the first time and registered 19 minutes against Kansas. He was just 1-of-6 from the field for three points. Obviously it’s hard to have your first game against KU, but the Bruins will need more out of him. In the first post-Drew Gordon game for UCLA, the inside players -- Reeves Nelson, James Keefe, Brendan Lane and J’mison Morgan -- combined for 13 points.
  • Notre Dame desperately needs Tim Abromaitis to break out as a scorer to compliment Luke Harangody. The Irish got that Sunday when Abromaitis scored 31 points with Harangody scoring 29 in the Irish’s 90-72 win over Central Florida.
  • Tulsa avoided a major letdown after beating Oklahoma State by squeaking out an 81-80 win over Ohio.
  • Don’t sleep on Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney as a first-team all-ACC player. He lit up Georgia for 31 points in a 74-62 victory in Blacksburg. Delaney is the ACC’s leading scorer at 21.2 points a game. Virginia Tech may not finish in the top five, but Delaney will be a consistent scorer this season.
  • At 2-4, Creighton had been struggling quite a bit, albeit against a tough schedule. That’s why Sunday’s 67-61 win over in-state rival Nebraska was much-needed. Kenny Lawson scored 25 points and grabbed 10 boards in a victory that will potentially jump-start the Bluejays.
  • Arizona falling to Oklahoma 79-62 after losing to UNLV, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin means the Wildcats have few chances for power-rating points remaining. The Wildcats, trying to extend their NCAA-tournament streak to 26, still play at San Diego State and host NC State and BYU, with the Cougars possibly the only NCAA-tourney team in the bunch.
  • Give credit to Villanova for going into a pro-Maryland Verizon Center in D.C. and gutting out a 95-86 win on Sunday night. But one has to wonder if this isn't the exact same Terrapins from a year ago -- a team that will have to grind for just about every win it can get in order to squeeze out an NCAA tournament bid. It would help if Greivis Vasquez re-discovered his shooting touch. Maryland's star is shooting just 32 percent from the field on the season (28 percent from 3) and was just 3-of-9 against the Wildcats. He also piled up a season-high seven turnovers.

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