Virginia Tech v Duke

Erick Green: ACC Player of the Year candidate?

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Given the success that Miami and Duke have enjoyed this season, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which a player from another team will win ACC Player of the Year. Shane Larkin’s been the leader for a veteran Hurricane squad that won the program’s first ACC title, and Duke big man Mason Plumlee was a part of the national Player of the Year discussion for much of the season.

But there are players worthy of consideration, including Virginia’s Joe Harris and Virginia Tech’s Erick Green. In Green’s case, is there any way a player whose team finished 4-14 in conference play can win the ACC’s top individual honor?

Many will scoff, citing the Hokies’ poor record as the biggest reason as to why the senior point guard shouldn’t even be considered. But a look at Green’s production and the other weapons around him reveals a player whose outstanding year should not be overlooked.

Green scored 35 points in Virginia Tech’s regular season finale on Sunday, a 90-79 loss at Wake Forest in which he shot 50% from the field (9-of-18), made 14 of 18 from the foul line and also contributed five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Just one other Virginia Tech player reached double figures (Jarell Eddie finished with 13 points) in what was essentially a microcosm of the Hokies’ season in their first year under James Johnson. Virginia Tech simply did not have the depth needed to compete successfully in the ACC, which left Green to shoulder the burden on many nights.

Yet Green was still productive, as his 25.0 points per game leads the country and he shot 48.1% from the field. Green also averaged 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, and per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers he’s fifth in offensive rating (a measurement of a player’s efficiency) among players who have a usage rate of 28% or higher.

The four players ahead of him: Trey Burke, Kelly Olynyk, Nate Wolters and Doug McDermott.

Will Green win ACC Player of the Year? Probably not due in large part to Virginia Tech’s lack of success. But that doesn’t mean Green’s accomplishments should be overlooked.

Essentially Green is “The Rose that Grew from Concrete” of this college basketball season, and hopefully his work is acknowledged with a first team All-ACC selection.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)