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Blackshear, No. 16 Virginia Tech beat Miami 71-56 in ACCs

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ty Outlaw and No. 16 Virginia Tech got a quick offensive start. The Hokies didn’t need a whole lot more to advance in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Outlaw hit three 3-pointers during the Hokies’ game-opening 11-point run and they never trailed in beating Miami 71-56 on Wednesday in the second round.

Kerry Blackshear had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the fifth-seeded Hokies (24-7). They ran out to a 20-point lead before halftime, then turned away Miami’s last serious push early in the second half with a 20-5 run that drove the margin past 20 again.

“When you have teammates like ours, it makes the game a lot easier from the start, whether we’re hitting or not, because everybody is a threat,” Blackshear said. “We know that when somebody is hot, that’s the person we’re going to find.

“We know that each person is going to make the right basketball play for our team, whether that be taking their own shot, finding somebody else, setting a screen, anything like that.”

The numbers sure looked good for Virginia Tech, which shot 50 percent and made 11 of 27 3-pointers to beat the 12th-seeded Hurricanes for a third time this season — all by double-figure margins.

Virginia Tech twice made at least five straight shots during the game.

“They move the ball extremely fast to basically four guards on the perimeter and a big guy who can really handle,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “All five guys shoot the 3. They spread you out.

“Their touches — where it’s in your hand and out of your hand without dribbling — gives them a chance to get open shots. The defense can’t move as fast as the ball can.”

Chris Lykes scored 19 points for Miami (14-18) which never gave itself much of a chance by falling behind big from the jump and shooting just 34 percent.

BIG PICTURE

Miami: The Hurricanes’ first-round win against Wake Forest on Tuesday ensured they would win at least one game in the ACC Tournament in seven of Larranaga’s eight seasons as coach. That turned out to be the only highlight in a two-day stay in Charlotte at the end of a frustrating season, which included never having 6-foot-11 forward Dewan Hernandez — who was ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of his dealings with an agent and ultimately left school to pursue a professional career. Larranaga has his first losing season since going 9-18 in his first year at George Mason in 1997-98, and he had won at least 20 games in six of his first seven seasons with the Hurricanes.

“It was very, very challenging to have only seven scholarship players available to us,” Larranaga said. “It was very hard to prepare and practice properly. Because, amongst those seven players, they were dealing with injuries.”

Virginia Tech: The Hokies won’t have point guard Justin Robinson for the ACC Tournament as he continues to deal with a foot injury that has sidelined him since late January. That wasn’t a problem in their tournament debut.

LYKES’ INJURY

The 5-7 Lykes, Miami’s leading scorer at 16.2 points, was helped off after he suffered a right-ankle injury when landing on a layup with 3:24 left. Larranaga said afterward that Lykes was getting an X-ray.

Larranaga said he was “hoping it’s not bad, but I’m not optimistic.”

OUTLAW’S START

Outlaw scored all 14 of his points in the first half, including the three 3s in the first 4 1/2 minutes in a sign of how Outlaw says he’s “ready to shoot whenever (teammates kick it out.”

“If he has space and he has 10 toes to the rim, I think he’s an elite level shooter,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said.

RUN IT BACK

Virginia Tech closed the regular season with a loss at Florida State followed by a home win against Miami. Now, after beating the Hurricanes, they’re playing the Seminoles again.

“It’s strange, right?” Williams said. “We’re living last week in reverse this week.”

UP NEXT

The Hokies will face 12th-ranked and fourth-seeded Florida State in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

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ACC announces tournament sites for 2021, 2022

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The ACC tournament will play in the country’s capital and the media capital of the world in the coming years.

The league’s season-capping event will be held at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. and Barclays Center in New York in 2021 and 2022, respectively, the conference announced Thursday.

Those two spots will host after this year and next will be both be contested in North Carolina, first in Charlotte this season and then Greensboro in 2020.

“The next four years of the ACC Tournament will be played in locations that are tremendously meaningful to the ACC, our players, coaches, alumni and fans,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “All four cities offer first class venues and hospitality for our league, and we appreciate the continued partnership with each of these outstanding communities.”

The ACC has been to D.C. two previous times with the most recent coming in 2016 when North Carolina topped Virginia. Barclays hosted the event the last two seasons, with over 18,000 fans attending both the semifinals and finals of the tournament last year, a record for the Brooklyn venue.

While 11 ACC tournaments have been played in the state of North Carolina since 2000, the conference’s tournament will have played outside the Tar Heel state in five of seven years come 2022.

ACC Tournament: No. 7 Duke outlasts N.C. State behind balanced effort

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One of the hottest debates of the late college basketball season was the ACC Player of the Year battle between T.J. Warren of North Carolina State and Jabari Parker of Duke.

Although Warren beat Parker for Player of the Year honors in the conference, Jabari and his Duke teammates might have gotten the last laugh as a balanced Blue Devil outing was the difference in No. 7 Duke’s 75-67 win on Saturday in the ACC Tournament semifinals in Greensboro.

RELATED: Is your team in the field of 68? Check our latest Bracketology

Parker and Warren led their respective teams in scoring on Saturday afternoon, but Jabari had more help from his Duke teammates on both ends of the floor and it was the difference in the game.

Parker, the All-American freshman, celebrated his birthday with 20 points and eight rebounds, but he was aided in the scoring column by solid outings from Rasheed Sulaimon (16 points), Quinn Cook (14 points) and Rodney Hood (14 points). Duke shot 57 percent from the field for the game and their balance all over the floor was evident throughout the win on Saturday.

After a red-hot first half that saw him score 13 points, Warren was slowed down significantly in the second half as he finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. No other Wolfpack starter finished in double-figures for the game, but Lennard Freeman (13 points) and Cat Barber (12 points) each added points off the bench.

MORE: Get caught up on all of today’s Bubble Banter

As Duke’s defense doubled T.J. Warren and prevented him from getting comfortable touches, they pulled away in the second half. Every time Warren put the ball on the floor, Duke’s defense collapsed and forced the star sophomore forward to make a play other than scoring. It ultimately limited N.C. State’s offense and now the Wolfpack will spend Selection Sunday sweating as they see if they’ll make it in the field of 68.

We’ve seen all season that Duke can put up points. With capable scorers like Jabari Parker and Rodney hood, getting buckets will never be an issue with this Blue Devil group. But if Duke defends like they did in the second half on Saturday, they become a championship contender. The Duke defense made it tough on Warren — one of the best and most efficient scorers in the country — in the second half and if they can stop a guy like him from doing significant damage than it is a very good sign entering the NCAA Tournament.

Duke advances to face No. 6 Virginia in the ACC Tournament title game on Sunday and both teams still have an outside shot at a No. 1 seed.

ACC Tournament: No. 6 Virginia advances to first ACC title game in 20 years with win over Pitt

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Tony Bennett’s Virginia team doesn’t win a lot of games with ease, but the No. 6 Cavaliers have found ways to methodically grind out wins throughout the entire season. Virginia did it once again on Saturday, as the Cavaliers held off upset-minded Pitt, 51-48, in an ACC Tournament semifinal contest in Greensboro.

Virginia (27-6) advanced to its first ACC title game since 1994 with the win as they still hold out hope for the fourth No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

RELATED: Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

The Cavaliers led for the final 21:45 of Saturday’s win over Pitt — despite never leading by more than eight points — as Virginia’s ball-control offense and steady team defense allowed them to slowly squeeze the Panthers out of the game.

Virginia shot 21-for-45 from the field (46 percent) and 6 of 7 from the free throw line as the Cavalier defense held Pitt to 36 percent shooting from the field.

Pitt freshman point guard James Robinson’s steal and tough, contested lay-up with 11 seconds left cut Virginia’s lead to a point at 49-48, but Anthony Gill made a pair of free throws to get to the final score. Bennett opted to have Virginia play defense instead of fouling on the final possession with his team up three and he was rewarded by reserve sophomore forward Justin Anderson blocking Robinson’s tying three-point attempt to seal the victory.

RELATED: Is your team in the field of 68? Check our latest Bracketology

Senior Joe Harris led Virginia with 12 points on the afternoon while Malcoln Brogdon (10 points) and Gill (10 points) also finished in double-figures.

Pitt (25-9) was led by Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson, as the seniors each had 15 points in the loss.

Virginia isn’t the sexiest team to pick to go to the Final Four, but they’ve won 15 of their last 16 games — with the overtime loss at Maryland last Sunday being their only loss — and with their ability to hold on to the ball and take good shots, they make a five-point lead seem like a 15-point lead. As long as the Cavaliers can dictate the pace of the game and slow things down, they’ll be a very tough out in the tournament.

ACC announces that Washington, D.C. will host 2016 ACC Tournament

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Since the first ACC men’s basketball tournament was first held in 1954, 49 times the conference has determined its official champion in the State of North Carolina. On Wednesday afternoon the conference announced that it will play the 2016 version of the event at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The move will come after playing the 2014 and 2015 versions in Greensboro, which has hosted the ACC tournament 24 times.

“We are excited to bring the ACC Tournament back to the nation’s capital in 2016,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in the release. “Verizon Center is a tremendous showcase for our event, and the Washington, D.C. area is an appealing tourist destination for our member institutions, as well as the alumni and fans of our teams.

“We received a lot of positive feedback after our 2005 Tournament in Washington, and we look forward to duplicating that success in 2016.”

With an expanded footprint that now includes Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and (in 2014) Louisville, moving up the eastern seaboard isn’t a bad idea. This won’t be an unfamiliar environment for the newcomers either, as Georgetown calls the building home.

With the shift north, will the conference eventually get to hold its showcase event in the New York metropolitan area? That remains to be seen, and while there’s certainly the benefit of playing in the New York media market people will find a way to watch (and cover) the ACC tournament regardless of where it’s played.

One other question that some may be asking: was the move to D.C. a sneaky jab at Maryland, which is moving to the Big Ten and is about a half-hour drive from the nation’s capital?

ACC Tournament will reportedly not move to Madison Square Garden in foreseeable future

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It’s clear now that the Big East will survive a mass exodus of teams to the ACC and, according to a report by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, will not lose its unofficial home of almost 30 years: Madison Square Garden.

The bidding window to host the 2016-21 ACC tournaments has closed and Madison Square Garden did not enter a bid, according to the report, meaning speculation that the ACC would invade The Garden can be put to rest.

MSG seemed like a good fit for the ACC, were it to have made the move, especially considering it is soon to be armed with Syracuse, a team that packs The Garden every time it visits.

Another possible New York alternative also did not submit a bid, according to ESPN—the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

That means that a possibility brought up last year by ACC commissioner John Swofford will not come to be.

“I don’t think there’s any question that taking a look at New York and Madison Square Garden would be very appealing for Atlantic Coast Conference basketball fans,” Swofford said last year, as cited in the ESPN report.

“And even more so now with even more teams in closer proximity. With that being the media center of the world, so to speak, we’d probably be remiss if we didn’t think of it in those terms.”

Along with Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who announced their intent to depart from the Big East last year, Notre Dame recently announced that it, too, would be headed to the ACC.

The site of the 2016-21 ACC tournaments is still yet to be determined.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_