ACC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals

Virginia can only sit and wait following ACC tournament loss to N.C. State

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Most everyone involved knew what was on the line for Virginia in their ACC tournament quarterfinal against N.C. State, including the Cavaliers themselves. With a resume that features as many bad losses as quality victories, Virginia was in a position where a one-and-done weekend in Greensboro could end their NCAA tournament hopes.

In the aftermath of their 75-56 loss to the Wolfpack on Friday, Virginia will spend the next two days nervously monitoring the results across the country with the hope that they’ve done enough to receive an at-large bid.

Scott Wood shot 7-of-12 from beyond the arc and scored a team-high 23 points to lead the way for N.C. State (24-9), which advances to take on Miami in Saturday’s ACC semifinals. The Wolfpack shot 46% from the field, and through two tournament games Mark Gottfried’s team is starting to look like the group that used the ACC tournament as a springboard to the Sweet 16 last season.

Virginia (21-11) hit just five of its 20 three-point attempts on the day, and when Tony Bennett’s team struggles from deep they have a hard time scoring consistently. Akil Mitchell led the Cavaliers with 19 points and eight rebounds and Joe Harris added 13 (4-of-13 FG), but they were the only players to reach double figures against a team that had three players score 17 points or more.

Unless they were to win the ACC’s automatic bid Virginia’s resume was bound to spark debate amongst selection committee members. With their 8-4 record against teams ranked in the top 100 of the RPI the Cavaliers have a record few bubble teams can match in that regard.

But they also have seven losses to teams outside of the Top 100, which could very well result in Virginia playing its next basketball game in the Postseason NIT. Before Friday’s defeat at least Virginia knew it had an opportunity to make its case on the court.

With that opportunity now gone, the Cavaliers can only sit and wait. And hope that the positive attributes of their resume outshine the negative ones.

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

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?