Nate Britt, Cameron Wright, Talib Zanna

ACC Tournament: Pitt locks up tourney bid by beating struggling No. 16 North Carolina

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Pitt got the win it needed on Friday afternoon, holding of to beat No. 16 North Carolina in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.

The Panthers entered the day with good computer numbers and a dearth of bad losses — something that is unique on the bubble this season — but until their 80-75 victory over the Tar Heels, Jamie Dixon’s club had really lacked a marquee win.

They finally got it, and that should mean that Selection Sunday is just that much less stressful in Pittsburgh.

But the more pressing issue is North Carolina.

Have they been figured out? The Tar Heels won 12 straight games after starting out ACC play 1-4, but they struggled to hang on in the last two wins before getting smacked around by Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. And while Friday’s final score made things seem respectable, quite frankly, it wasn’t. Pitt was up by 20 points late in the second half, and if it wasn’t for an embarrassing display of ugly turnovers and missed free throws, North Carolina never would have gotten back into the game.

What happened?

For starters, they were absolutely massacred in the paint by Talib Zanna, who finished with 19 points and 21 boards, 10 of which came on the offensive end of the floor. That’s especially concerning when you consider the fact that the front court had been a strength of UNC’s during their winning streak.

The other issue came on the offensive end. Marcus Paige has developed a reputation of late for putting on second half shows, but the Tar Heels need him to become more assertive offensively in the first half. The Heels dug themselves a 27-8 hole in the first half and at one point were shooting just 3-for-19 from the floor.

This isn’t like the typical North Carolina teams that we are used to. They aren’t an offensive juggernaut. Paige is really their only consistent deep threat, and they can go through scoring droughts on the nights that James Michael McAdoo and Paige are off.

The Tar Heels are making a habit out of being a team that digs out of a hole late in the second half.

That’s not an ideal way to play.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.