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ACC Tournament: Can Virginia earn a No. 1 seed after beating Duke for the title?

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Malcolm Brogdon scored 23 points and Joe Harris notched 13 of his 15 points after halftime as Virginia won their first ACC tournament title since 1976 with a 72-63 win over Duke.

Brogdon was the best player on the floor for much of the afternoon for the ‘Hoos, and Harris hit a massive, deflating three with just under two minutes left to push Virginia’s lead to 64-57. And the masterful defensive performance that Tony Bennett’s club put on for the first 12 minutes of the game will be a talking point as Virginia heads into the tournament, but that’s not what won them this game.

It was their work on the offensive glass.

Duke has their issues defensively, but they actually played pretty solid first-shot defense for much of the second half. It’s how they were able to overcome UVA’s hot start and work their way back into the game. But the Blue Devils allowed 11 second-chance points in the second half, eight of which came in the final nine minutes after Duke took a 45-44 lead, their first since it was 2-0.

The win caps one heckuva season that Tony Bennett was able to orchestrate, but the question now becomes whether or not the Cavaliers will be the fourth No. 1 seed when the brackets are announced. They won the ACC regular season and tournament titles and they have just two losses since the calendar changed. That’s strong, but when you put them up next to Michigan, it’s not an easy choice to make.

Michigan has five top 25 wins. Virginia now has three. The Wolverines have 10 top 50 wins. Virginia now has five. Michigan is 15-6 against the top 100. Virginia is 13-6. Granted, much of that is the result of playing in a stronger Big Ten, and the Cavs have a stronger non-conference SOS (35 vs. 83) and they don’t have a loss near as bad as Michigan getting tripped up by Charlotte, who is 149th in the RPI. But to be fair, Glenn Robinson III missed the final 30 minutes of that game with an injury and Nik Stauskas sprained his ankle in the second half.

I think it’s Michigan.

Who would you pick?

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.