Tudor: What to watch in ACC semifinals

Tudor: 3 to watch are Paige, Kelly, Bzdelik (Image 1)

Talking points going into the semifinals of the ACC Tournament on Saturday:

• Barring
complete wipe-outs today, North Carolina and N.C. State should have played
their way out of those dreaded NCAA 8th and 9th seeding
starts.

And
if both win today in Greensboro — the Wolfpack over Miami at 1 p.m. and the
Tar Heels over Maryland in the second game — it’s difficult to see either
getting seeds lower than 5th or 6th when the NCAA field
is announced Sunday.


Duke’s loss to Maryland on Friday eliminated any chance of the Blue Devils
going off as the overall No. 1 NCAA team.

The
Devils can still hope for a No. 1 regional seed somewhere, but a No. 2 is more
likely. If there’s an upside, Duke should be the overall top No. 2 seed, which
usually means a bracket slot with the overall weakest No. 1, which could be
Kansas or Louisville if both win today.


UNC coach Roy Williams faces a tough call on the status of star shooter P.J.
Hairston (bruised left shoulder, stitched-up left hand), just as State coach
Mark Gottfried faces with Richard Howell (bruised left thigh).

Friday’s
quarterfinals ended with Hairston in the role of a bloodied Ides of March
victim after the late-game injury against Florida State. With eight stitches
between two fingers, there’s an obvious danger to exposing him to a big,
physical, intensely motivated Maryland defense.

Howell’s
availability likely hinges entirely on getting the left leg loose enough to
allow mobility.


Gottfried also faces a defensive strategy decision against the top-seeded
Hurricanes.

Boston
College used a match-up zone and some backcourt pressure to disrupt Miami’s
half-court offensive sets.

But
since it was in the first game Friday, Miami coach Jim Larranaga and his staff
had ample time to devise counter tactics.

State
used a fair amount of zone defense at times during regular season, but
Gottfried prefers man-to-man.

Either
way, the more important issue is for Howell and C.J. Leslie to avoid foul
trouble.

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