Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 1, the record is....



Should have been 14-2, but VCU got the small conference no-call on their last shot against "mighty" UCLA. The Rams got hosed, and should have had a chance at the free throw line, but I digress. All 3 teams that I picked against didn't figure into the big picture of my bracket, so as long as the ink holds on my sheet, I'll be fine.

Looking at Thursday's action:

Duke, as expected had little problem with Binghamton, winning 86-62. Fairly complete on all fronts. Duke shot the ball well (49% from the floor, 45% from 3-point range, 84% from the stripe), and rebounded well (35-18 edge). Duke will be tested by their next opponent, Texas, on Saturday. Texas handled Minnesota 76-62 on Thursday, led by A.J. Abrams' 26 points. The Blue Devils will see a much more physical team than they face in Binghamton, but to Duke's credit they did roll 8 players through their rotation while the game was being decided. Ultimately, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski played 12 players total, but 8 saw most of the workload.

UNC hardly broke a sweat against Radford, and they did it with Ty Lawson on the bench, still nursing a toe injury. Carolina won it 101-58, and Tyler Hansbrough became the ACC's all-time leading scorer in the process. Think about that for a minute. It's fairly amazing that a guy that doesn't take advantage of the 3-point arc is the leading scorer in ACC history. Hansbrough passed former Duke guard J.J. Reddick for the top spot, and Reddick was a witch from 3-point land. Hansbrough's detractors will say that he scored a ton of his points from the free throw line, due to him drawing calls by "flopping." I say RUBBISH! At the end of the day, he still had to put the ball in the hole, and he has done that better than anyone in conference history. Congrats to Hansbrough. Amazing feat.

As for the UNC game itself, I wasn't kidding about the "breaking a sweat," thing. That was serious. Wayne Ellington's face was dry with about a minute left in the first half, and UNC had crossed the 50 point mark by then. They weren't challenged (forget about the lip service anyone paid Radford afterwards--this was a rout). Carolina could very well get Ty Lawson back on the floor Saturday when they meet LSU, which would be ideal for them. First, they would get the ACC Player of the Year back in their lineup, and it would allow Lawson to knock off some rust. He hasn't played since the regular season finale against Duke, a total of 3 games. Granted, there won't be a lot of rust, but still, if UNC hopes to carry on in the tourney beyond LSU (which will be tough early, but Carolina should finish them off), Lawson needs to be on the floor.

Wake Forest tips off just before sunrise against Cleveland State (ok, I'm kidding, around 9:40pm), in Miami tonight, and I expect Dino Gaudio's team to take care of their business. We'll have coverage for you on News 14 Carolina.

Oh, and for the record, I lead the Davidson Mathletes 13-12 in the brackets. Don't know what I'm talking about? Click here!

Mike Solarte

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