Caulton Tudor

Badly wounded ACC down to a single bullet

Posted March 20

If the proof’s in the pudding, we know now that ACC basketball consisted of more pudding than proof this season.

There’s not much doubt the league had a lot of defensive soft spots, which is primarily why regular-season conference champ North Carolina was the lone survivor of the first NCAA Tournament weekend.

Nine ACC teams got bids. Six absorbed fairly one-sided losses in one of the first three rounds, starting with Wake Forest’s 95-88 loss to Kansas State in an 11th-seed play-in game on March 14 in Dayton and ending with Duke’s 88-81 loss to South Carolina Sunday in Greenville, S.C.

After going 19-7 with seven teams in last season’s NCAA, the ACC now is 7-8 with the South top-seed Tar Heels certain to face another tough test Friday in Memphis against No. 4 Butler.

It took everything they had for the Heels to survive No. 8 Arkansas, 72-65, Sunday in Greenville, S.C.

Meanwhile, three SEC teams (Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina) are in the Sweet 16, along with three from the Pac-12 (Arizona, Oregon, UCLA), three from the Big 10 (Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin), three from the Big 12 (Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia), two from the Big East (Butler, Xavier) and one from the West Coast Conference (Gonzaga).

In retrospect, the ACC featured a lot of suspect defenses all along. There was a lot of balance, which probably led to the popular belief that the ACC was the nation’s best league top to bottom.

But looking back, it was rare indeed that any ACC team delivered the sort of lockdown defensive work executed over the weekend by Florida, Butler, West Virginia, Michigan, Xavier and Wisconsin among others.

There was a general assumption that Virginia was a superior defensive team, but that probably was based more on low scoring outcomes that were just as much a product of the Cavaliers’ offensive style as defensive shutdowns.

A prime example of the defensive gap was Xavier, which went 9-9 during regular season in the Big East.

Seeded 11th in the West, Chris Mack’s team eliminated sixth seed Maryland, 76-65, in its opening game and then embarrassed Florida State, 91-66, to advance in Orlando.

And even though the Blue Devils, seeded 2nd in the East, scored 81 points against No. 7 South Carolina, Mike Krzyzewski described the Gamecock defense as “the toughest we’ve played against all year.”

As much as defense, the absence of top-tier guard play tripped the ACC.

Several of the league’s best guards were on the weaker six teams that failed to land NCAA bids and many of the guards in the event basically were average performers most of the season. It all added up to a sour stew for the proud basketball league.

And the ACC’s misery isn’t over unless Carolina can fix some things before the South semifinals Friday in Memphis. The South was the most difficult regional all along and it’s only tougher now that the four top seeds – UNC, Kentucky, UCLA and Butler – survived.

Carolina has opened as an early 7-point favorite in the 7 p.m. game, but the Heels will need to be a lot better on offense to win.

Against Arkansas, playmaker Joel Berry was battling injuries, but the offense lacked structure while scoring leader Justin Jackson took a lot of bad shots and committed four turnovers. The two missed 20 of their 27 combined field-goal attempts and Berry missed three of seven free throws.

Thanks to their rebounding and late defense, the Heels (29-7) were able to survive even though they committed 17 turnovers and shot only 38 percent.

Those stats don’t bode well for an assignment against Butler (25-8, 12-6 Big East), which is holding opponents to 68 points per game and 44 percent shooting.

Berry, who began Sunday with an injured ankle and then suffered a finger injury during the game, should have time to do some healing and Johnson will have plenty of time to watch film.

But the ACC is down to one bullet and in the same locale with three other big guns.

Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • HighSchoolOT Live: Kickoff special

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Football Friday

    Tomorrow at 11:35 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Premier League Soccer: Stoke City vs. Arsenal

    Saturday at 12:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series #3: Bristol

    Saturday at 7:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • P&G Gymnastics Championships

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • AVP Pro Beach Volleyball: Manhattan Beach

    Sunday at 2:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Golf: Solheim Cup

    Sunday at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Premier League Soccer : Manchester United vs. Leicester

    Saturday, Aug. 26 at 12:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL Football Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL Football Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys

    Saturday at 7:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Minor League Baseball
International League
Rochester 9:05 PT10:05 MT11:05 CT12:05 ET10:05 MT12:05 ET5:05 GMT1:05 北京时间
Columbus 
Lehigh Valley 9:05 PT10:05 MT11:05 CT12:05 ET10:05 MT12:05 ET5:05 GMT1:05 北京时间
Norfolk 
Indianapolis 10:05 PT11:05 MT12:05 CT1:05 ET11:05 MT1:05 ET6:05 GMT2:05 北京时间
Buffalo 
Durham 3:35 PT4:35 MT5:35 CT6:35 ET4:35 MT6:35 ET11:35 GMT7:35 北京时间
Syracuse 
Gwinnett 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET5:05 MT7:05 ET12:05 GMT8:05 北京时间
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 
Toledo 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET5:05 MT7:05 ET12:05 GMT8:05 北京时间
Charlotte 
Pawtucket 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET5:05 MT7:05 ET12:05 GMT8:05 北京时间
Louisville 
Womens British (LPGA)
PosNameScoreThru
1I. Kim-18F
2J. Ewart Shadoff-16F
3tG. Hall-13F
3tC. Masson-13F
3tM. Wie-13F
6J. Shin-12F
7tS. Feng-11F
7tH. Kim-11F
7tS. Lewis-11F
7tA. Nordqvist-11F
View Full Leaderboard
 
Paul Lawrie (EURO)
Leader in BOLD/CAPS
MatchHScore
Im v BJERREGAARD141 and 4
Fisher v FRITSCH181 up
Jamieson v PAISLEY22 up
Morrison v KIMSEY172 and 1
WALL v Walker181 up
Havret v PORTEOUS172 and 1
OTAEGUI v Stal164 and 2
Hanson v BERTASIO172 and 1
Drysdale v JACQUELIN182 up
Rock v Warren18AS
Colsaerts v WU153 and 3
KARLBERG v Wallace145 and 4
CAMPILLO v Aguilar152 up
Peterson v Donaldson15AS
Molinari v Karlsson14AS
CHESTERS v Gouveia132 up
Detry v De La Riva5AS
Elvira v WALTERS41 up
Bland v Canizares3AS
Hanson v LAWRIE11 up
BOURDY v Fraser21 up
Kieffer v Carlsson00 and 18
Jensen v Knappe00 and 18
Dredge v Dubuisson00 and 18
Pavon v Ilonen00 and 18
Quesne v Siem00 and 18
Dunne v Holman00 and 18
Fahrbring v Edfors00 and 18
Southgate v Wattel00 and 18
Carlsson v Brooks00 and 18
Ramsay v Lewis00 and 18
Lombard v Gros00 and 18
View Full Leaderboard
Fiji Intl (EURO)
PosNameScoreThru
1D. Pearce-618
2tB. Campbell-518
2tD. Valente-518
4tA. Bland-418
4tG. Green-418
4tD. McKenzie-418
4tP. Wilson-418
8tD. Brandt-Richards-318
8tA. Connelly-318
8tR. Gangjee-318
View Full Leaderboard
 
3M Championship (CHMP)
PosNameScoreThru
1P. Goydos - z-20F
2G. Sauers - y-20F
3tB. Jobe-18F
3tS. Stricker-18F
3tK. Sutherland-18F
6S. Verplank-17F
7tM. Dawson-16F
7tK. Perry-16F
7tW. Short, Jr.-16F
7tD. Waldorf-16F
View Full Leaderboard
z = Won in Playoff   y = Lost in Playoff
 
WTA Scoreboard
Thursday, Aug. 17
Western & Southern Open (ATP/WTA)
Third Round
(2) S. Halep 
(15) A. Sevastova 
(8) S. Kuznetsova 
C. Suarez Nav 
(6) C. Wozniacki 
A. Barty 
(4) G. Muguruza 
(16) M. Keys 
(7) J. Konta 
(11) D. Cibulkova 
(1) K. Pliskova 
C. Giorgi 
(5) E. Svitolina 
J. Goerges 
S. Stephens 
E. Makarova