The ACC’s poor March performance is proof the conference was overrated

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There is no real way around it: The first weekend of the NCAA tournament was a total and complete disaster for the ACC.

Of the nine ACC teams that qualified for the Big Dance, only one of them remains: No. 1 seed North Carolina, who needed a late 12-0 run that was aided by a questionable no-call on a late collision involving Joel Berry II just to get past No. 8 seed Arkansas.

The ACC is the only power conference that has just a single team left in the tournament; the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC all have three teams remaining while the the Big East has two.

But that doesn’t really get to the core of just how bad it was for the ACC this weekend:

  • The ACC went 7-8 in the first weekend, with those eight losses coming by an average of 13.9 points. For comparison’s sake, the four No. 13 seeds lost by an average of 10.b points and the four No. 14 seeds lost by an average of 14.3 points.
  • There were 10 games decided by 20 or more points during the first weekend. Four of them involved No. 16 seeds getting beatdown. Three of them — No. 5 Virginia losing to No. 4 Florida, No. 3 Florida State losing to No. 11 Xavier and No. 8 Miami losing to No. 9 Michigan State — involved ACC teams losing.
  • There were only four top four seeds that lost this weekend, and three of them — No. 2 Duke, No. 2 Louisville and No. 3 Florida State — were from the ACC.
  • The ACC went 2-13 against the spread.

All this is coming from a conference that was, throughout the season, mentioned as not only the best in college basketball, but one of the best, top to bottom, of all-time.

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And, it should go without saying, that was not the case.

Generally speaking, it’s not really fair to judge a team based off of what happens in a knockout tournament like this, let alone judge an entire conference. Villanova’s run this season wasn’t any less impressive because they ran into an under-seeded Wisconsin team that matched up with them about as well as humanly possible. Those things happen in March, and it’s silly to make massive generalizations of an entire season based off of 40 minutes of basketball.

But this wasn’t just 40 minutes of basketball.

This was nine members of one conference all doing the same thing: playing below the level they should have played.

The question is ‘Why?’

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Well, part of it is that the conference won a bunch of games in November and December, which meant that teams like Wake Forest, Miami and Virginia Tech were propped up by the strength of the league. When Georgia Tech and Clemson aren’t bad losses on paper, the leagues computer numbers are going to be inflated.

That, in turn, made Notre Dame, Florida State and Virginia look better than they were. Don’t get me wrong, those three teams had incredible seasons. Notre Dame’s best big man stands 6-foot-5. Virginia had very limited perimeter weapons and lost the only front court piece that they had that could score in the post. Florida State was talented, but they were about as trustworthy as a used car salesman.

To be frank, it’s not all that shocking that those three teams failed to make it out of the first weekend.

The surprises came with Duke and Louisville.

The issue with Duke is that, at the end of the day, they were just a flawed basketball team. They didn’t have a point guard and they didn’t guard, and South Carolina had the pieces to be able to expose that. It wasn’t due to a lack of chemistry or internal strife or a power struggle for “control of the team.” Getting nothing out of Chase Jeter and Marques Bolden, and having Harry Giles III spend the year as a shell of his former self hurt, but I’m not sure what any of those three guys would have been able to do to help Duke run offense on Sunday night in a de-facto road game.

We probably should have seen that one coming.

If anyone from the league was on the wrong end of some poor madness luck, it was probably Louisville. The Cardinals ran into a Michigan team that hasn’t lost since their plane skidded off the runway en route to the Big Ten tournament in Washington D.C. The Cardinals dominated the glass, held Michigan to six threes and kept Derrick Walton Jr. from going off and still managed to lose despite holding a lead for much of the second half.

It happens, especially when you’re a team whose point guard play is subpar.

That was supposed to be a top three team in the ACC.

If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the league, than I don’t know if anything will.

And now we head to the Sweet 16 with just one ACC member left to carry the torch for the conference.

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Sex assault count dropped against ex-Creighton player Watson

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped a first-degree sexual assault charge against former Creighton point guard Maurice Watson after questions arose about the accuser’s story.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Friday that his office had dropped the felony charge, filed earlier this year when a 19-year-old woman accused Watson of assaulting her early Feb. 4 at a party in an Omaha home. Watson has denied that allegation.

The 24-year-old Watson pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor assault for an encounter the same night with a different Creighton student, who said Watson touched her thigh and tried to make her touch his genitals. Watson was sentenced to the five days he’d already served in jail.

Watson was a senior when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, just days before the party.

Storm damage forces Paradise Jam out of Virgin Islands

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MIAMI (AP) — The Paradise Jam basketball tournament will not be played in the U.S. Virgin Islands this year because of damage caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

The tournament will be played in the U.S., with a new site expected to be announced by Sept. 29.

The Paradise Jam field this year includes Wake Forest, Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer and Quinnipiac, and each of those schools was given the chance to bid for the right to host the tournament.

Tournament officials say they looked at multiple other options, such as moving to another island and using a cruise ship for accommodations, before deciding to move the event to the U.S.

For now, the tournament is scheduled to be played from Nov. 17-20.

Kentucky lands commitment from five-star point guard

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Kentucky landed a commitment from Immanuel Quickley on Friday night, a top ten prospect and arguably the best point guard in the Class of 2018.

Quickley picked the Wildcats over Kansas, who he visited earlier this month, and Miami, who he was scheduled to visit before Hurricane Irma struck south Florida.

The 6-foot-3 point guard is the first commitment in the class of head coach John Calipari, and it really comes as no surprise. He’s been considered a Kentucky lean for months, and Quickley played for Calipari on the USA U19 team during the 2017 FIBA World Cup.

While Quickley has the size and the build – he’s 180 pounds with broad shoulders and long arms – of some of Kentucky’s former elite point guards, he’s not the same kind of point guard as, say, De’Aaron Fox or John Wall. He’s more of a smooth athlete than an explosive one, and while his long strides allow him to get out into transition, he’s not the finisher at the rim that those two were. What he is, however, is an intelligent player. He’s good in ball-screens, he’s an excellent passer and facilitator and he is a good enough shooter that he forces defenses to stay honest. He also has the potential to be a plus defender given his physical tools and the fact that he’ll try on that end of the floor.

Where this commitment gets interesting is the current point guard in Kentucky’s back court, Quade Green. Green was a five-star recruit in his own right, but he’s not quite built as a potential one-and-done prospect. Calipari has maneuvered through two point guards in the past, and each of the last five national champions have played major minutes with two point guards on the floor at the same time, but if Green is back next season that will be something to monitor.

That, however, is a long ways away.

What matters now is that Kentucky has gotten this commitment out of the way, and it paves the way for them to also receive a commitment from Zion Williamson. There has long been talk of those two attending college together, and with Quickley on the board, that likely keeps Kentucky in the driver’s seat as they pursue the South Carolina native.

If Kentucky can also wrangle a commitment out of R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 player in the 2018 recruiting class, that would likely be the end of the discussion of whether or not Duke has surpassed the Wildcats on the recruiting trail.

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

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Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”

 

Four-star forward Miller Kopp commits to Northwestern

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Northwestern has a second four-star recruit in its 2018 class.

The Wildcats received a commitment from Miller Kopp, a 6-foot-6 forward, on Thursday, he announced via social media.

“I built a really strong relationship with (coach) Chris Collins and I fell in love with the campus,” Kopp told Scout. “I knew it would be a nice campus and have that stuff, but I think me and him are wired the same way. II think that his personality fits mine and I think we complement each other. I’m definitely excited to be able to go to a program on the rise and be able to make some history.”

Kopp picked the Wildcats over offers from Georgetown, Butler, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The Houston native is ranked in the top-100 of his class by most recruiting services.

He gives Collins and the Wildcats an exceedingly strong 2018 class, which already featured four-star guard Pete Nance of Ohio along with three-star recruits Jordan Lathon and Ryan Young. It represents a major leap forward for Northwestern. It would appear that the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last March has brought momentum to the recruiting trail.