The Seminoles improved to 12-0 for the first time since 1999 and likely will earn a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game by beating Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game next Saturday.
Duke Earns Trip To ACC Championship Beating North Carolina 27-25
No. 24 Blue Devils "The Are You Kidding Me ACC Team of The Year" made the once-unthinkable goal a reality. Ross Martin kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:22 left for a 27-25 to beat North Carolina. Duke fans took over the Tar Heels stadium as the ACC Cinderella win face Florida State in the ACC Championship Game.
Clemson Drops Its 5th Game In A Row to South Carolina.
The Tigers (10-2) had never lost five consecutive games to their rival in a series that began in 1896 - which they still lead 65-42-4. The loss also left record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd 0-for-4 against the Gamecocks. This was a painful loss for the Tiger, but this was still great season.
Unfortunately, in the ACC’s last year as we have known it, there has been plenty of speculation about whether or not the ACC was having a down year. Selection Sunday may have put a close to this argument when only four of the twelve ACC teams received bids to this years’ NCAA tournament. This is extremely low compared to the number of teams the league usually sends to the big dance. To put it into perspective the MWC (Mountain West Conference), which is typically not one of the most esteemed conferences and does not usually have more teams in the tournament than the ACC, had five teams receive tournament bids. Of the remaining eight ACC teams, only three were invited to the NIT (National Invitational Tournament). These facts are not a surprise when 4 teams in the conference had records under .500. ACC fans have come to expect much more.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, one cannot help but raise the question: In the last year of the current ACC, did the conference end in a less than stellar fashion? The answer is a resounding yes!
Yes, the conference did have two teams, Duke and Miami, receive number two seeds. Miami had also built a strong case for a number one seed by winning the conference regular season and tournament championship, but unfortunately they became the first ACC team to not receive a one seed after accomplishing these feats. Miami’s success may be due to the longevity of their team, and not falling victim to the one-and-done phenomena; ten of Miami’s thirteen players are either juniors or seniors and along with a tremendous sophomore, Shane Larkin, one would expect them to be very successful.
Miami’s success, regardless of their longevity, came as a surprise; but one team that ACC fans know to expect a lot from in the postseason is Duke, led by their Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Duke also had a case for a number one seed before a mid-season injury to senior Ryan Kelly. Duke was 18-1 with Kelly in the starting lineup, but a few bad losses, including a quarterfinal lost to unranked Maryland in the ACC tournament, was the reason they received a number two seed.
Miami and Duke both had great years and in all honesty carried the conference this year. While North Carolina and North Carolina State both received bids to the big dance, they also both received eight seeds and will be playing very tough opponents in the first round and will have to face one seeds, Kansas and Indiana respectively, if they advance to the round of 32.
The additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Louisville next year and Notre Dame in 2015, all of which are in this year’s tournament, the ACC will most definitely regain its position as the best conference, and most competitive in the country. However for this year, the ACC, without a one seed and only four teams in the tournament, has just been mediocre.
Miami Hurricanes’ head coach Jim Larranaga refers to shooting guard Durand Scott as the “heart and soul” of the team. Scott displayed his leadership again today, this time by scoring a career high 32 points against a normally stingy Wolfpack defense. The Canes needed every one of his baskets prevent the predicted ACC champion in the preseason from upsetting the number one seed. The Canes came storming out of the gate, jumping out to a quick 16-5 lead in the first ten minutes of the game. Scott helped Miami extend its lead to nineteen with three minutes left in the first half by scoring nineteen first-half points. The Wolfpack rallied back with a run of their own at the end of the first half, led by senior Scott Wood. Wood hit two threes at the end of the first half and shifted momentum towards the Wolfpack as the two teams headed towards the locker room for halftime.
The second half began with the two teams exchanging blows. The Canes had trouble pulling away while the Wolfpack had trouble making a game-changing run. North Carolina State was able to end the stalemate by cutting the Canes’ lead to six. Once again, Scott Wood inspired the Wolfpack run with his pinpoint three-point shooting. It also did not help the Canes’ cause that they were being careless with the basketball and not getting back in transition. Durand Scott came to the rescue again by hitting a big three that shifted momentum back towards the Canes. Backcourt teammate Shane Larkin followed Scott’s lead and scored critical baskets for Miami when they needed it the most. Together, Scott and Larkin combined for 55 of Miami’s 81 points, accounting for 68 percent of the total offense. Not only did Miami’s backcourt get it done on offense, but the two best perimeter defenders in the ACC also led the way on defense, creating five steals between them. Scott and Larkin also forced Scott Wood and Lorenzo Brown into tough shots, making it difficult for NC State to stay in the game.
With less than three minutes left in the game, Durand Scott fouled out. He received a standing ovation from the limited Miami supporters at Greensboro Coliseum. The Wolfpack looked to make another run, cutting the lead to eight with less than two minutes to go. This time, Shane Larkin silenced the crowd with his lightning quick handles, smart decision-making, and clutch free throws. Larkin dribbled the ball at the end of the game, as the Canes celebrated making their first ever ACC Championship game. The Hurricanes will play the North Carolina Tar Heels tomorrow, whom they have already defeated twice this season. They will be favored to win again and take home their first ever ACC Championship.