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Special to theACC.com, by Max Skinner and Jacob Dennis
Duke Blue Devils (1 seed, South region)
Freshmen talent has carried the Blue Devils to this point in the season, but senior Quinn Cook’s hot-shooting performance Friday was the main catalyst in Duke clinching a spot in the round of 32.
Cook scored 22 points, including 6-10 from 3-point range, to go along with four rebounds, five assists and three steals in the Devils’ 85-56 win over 16-seed Robert Morris.
Big Man on Campus: Cook’s performance was a welcome sign for Duke, a team that would become exponentially more difficult to beat if the senior’s shooting is to heat up down the stretch. He has made a 3-pointer in every Duke game this season, including four or more in 10 games. Expect Duke to make a deep run in the tournament, especially if Cook continues to shoot well from downtown.
X-Factor: Despite not being the team’s leading scorer Friday, Jahlil Okafor was still a lethal presence in the paint for Duke. The freshman phenom was incredibly efficient in the Devils’ opening game, scoring 21 points on 9-11 shooting. Okafor is a matchup nightmare for almost any team, as there simply aren’t any flaws in his game.
Atmosphere: Playing in close proximity to home is a major advantage that a top-seeded team earns. The Devils, who played Robert Morris in Charlotte Friday night, will continue to play close to Durham. Duke plays San Diego State, again in Time Warner Cable Arena, on Sunday.
Stat of the Game: With the opening round blowout win, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski now has 26 opening round wins, one more ahead of UNC’s Roy Williams for most in NCAA history.
Preview: The Devils will face San Diego State next, a team who trails only Virginia in points allowed per game (53.5). The Aztecs beat St. John’s 76-64 in the round of 64 and allowed the Johnnies to shoot just 17.6% from 3-point range. Duke will need another strong shooting performance from its guards in order to advance, something the team is more than capable of, as Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook are both playing great basketball at the end of the season. The Aztecs are capable of shutting nearly any team down offensively, but Duke simply isn’t one of those teams.
Virginia Cavaliers (2 seed, East region)
Malcolm Brogdon scored 22 points, Justin Anderson re-emerged as a scoring threat and second-seeded Virginia defeated 15th-seeded Belmont 79-67 on Friday in the NCAA Tournament's round of 64.
Anderson had 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting and Anthony Gill added 16 points as the Cavaliers (30-3) moved on to face No. 7 seed Michigan State on Sunday in the East Region.
Big Man on Campus: Malcolm Brogdon continued to have a hot hand, finishing with 22 points and 5 rebounds. Brogdon went 4-9 from 3-point land and had to defend the pesky Craig Bradshaw.
X-Factor: After failing to score in two ACC Tournament games, Justin Anderson looked like the old Justin Anderson on Friday afternoon. The Junior guard, playing with a broken left pinky, finished with 15 points and 5 rebounds. UVa needs Anderson to keep playing at this level to make a championship run.
Preview: Next up for the 2-seed Cavs is a highly anticipated rematch with Michigan State. As you recall, the Spartans upset Virginia last year in the Sweet Sixteen at Madison Square Garden. Michigan State lost a couple key players from last year's squad, but Tom Izzos' teams are always very scary in March.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3 seed, Midwest)
Notre Dame shook off early foul trouble to defeat a pesky Northeastern team, 69-65. Although the Fighting Irish looked shaky to begin and end the game, the 3 seed in the Midwest controlled the majority of the contest.
Notre Dame played on its heels for most of the game, but prevaled against the CAA champion Northeastern squad. The Fighting Irish (30-5) have won 30 games for the first time in over 100 seasons.
Big Man on Campus: After getting two fouls in the first 3 minutes, Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste was absolutely fluid. The 6-10 center went 10-14 from the field, finishing with 25 points and 5 rebounds.
X-Factor: Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson did it on both ends of the court. The sophomore guard had 9 points to go along with 8 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Jackson was right in his wheelhouse, driving to the hoop all game.
Atmosphere: Notre Dame crowd was a little dull, probably due to the early tip-off at 12:15 PM EST. Also, to the crowd’s defense, it’s approximately 372 miles from South Bend to Pittsburgh.
Stat of the Game: Notre Dame is now 10-0 when scoring 40 or more points in the paint.
Preview: Notre Dame will go on to face Butler in the 3rd round on Saturday. Butler is yet another mold of a Brad Steven’s squad. The Bulldogs are a very heady team, as they play cool and collective.
Louisville Cardinals (4 seed, East region)
“Survive and Advance” is exactly what Louisville did Friday afternoon against UC Irvine, as 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye nearly caused the Cardinals enough trouble to eliminate them from the tournament.
The Anteaters led 55-53 with 1:02 to play, but clutch free throws from Quentin Snyder and a late Terry Rozier steal helped the Cards avoid the upset bid.
Big Man on Campus: Quentin Snyder wasn’t Louisville’s leading scorer, but the freshman guard did a little bit of everything against UC Irvine. Snyder had 16 points on 6-11 shooting, including the game-winning free throws, to go along with five rebounds and two assists. He also had just one turnover, a trend that must continue if the Cards are to upset an underrated Northern Iowa team on Sunday.
X-Factor: Wayne Blackshear wasn’t exactly efficient in Louisville’s win, but he was the go-to scoring option when the Cards needed a bucket. He scored 19 points on 8-20 shooting, while also grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. The seven rebounds tied his third highest total of the season.
Atmosphere: Friday afternoon’s game was played in Seattle, and UC Irvine definitely had the advantage in terms of number of attending fans. But the Cards did well enough to weather the storm, and neither team will have a significant advantage in fan attendance when Pitino’s squad faces Northern Iowa.
Stat of the Game: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Louisville shot just 36.4% with 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye on the floor, compared to 63.6% when Irvine’s center was on the bench.
Preview: Louisville will face one of the nation’s most talented teams in Northern Iowa Sunday, as the 31-3 Panthers knocked off 12-seed Wyoming 71-54 in their round of 64 game. Northern Iowa is led by Wooden Award finalist Seth Tuttle, whose game has been compared to that of former Wake Forest star Tim Duncan. Tuttle averages 15.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. UNI is one of the best shooting teams in the country, and Louisville will need another lockdown defensive effort to advance to the Sweet 16.
North Carolina Tar Heels (4 seed, West region)
Everyone thought this would be a cake walk for a more talented and athletic UNC team. At times, the Tar Heels lived up to this sentiment.
However, Harvard clawed its way back and nearly beat the ACC powerhouse. UNC's Justin Jackson hit a tying jumper in the final minute, then had a fast-break dunk to help the Heels edge off the Crimson, 67-65.
The Tar Heels (25-11) wasted a 16-point second-half lead and briefly trailed before Jackson came to the rescue.
Next up for the Heels in the round of 32 is Arkansas. The Razorbacks (27-8) took down Wofford 56-53 on Thursday night.
Diaper Dandy: After flourishing in the ACC Tournament, UNC freshman Justin Jackson showed up when it mattered down the stretch on Thursday night. Jackson showed no signs of first tournament jitters, as he finished with 14 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Preview: The Heels will face off against the No. 5 seed Arkansas Razorbacks (27-8) with a Sweet 16 berth at stake. Roy Williams needs his team to cut down on the turnovers as the Razorbacks rank seventh nationally in turnover margin.
NC State Wolfpack (8 seed, East region)
BeeJay Anya’s bucket with 0.1 seconds remaining capped an incredible comeback for NC State Thursday, as the Wolfpack rallied from 16 down early in the second half to clip LSU.
Anya took just three shots all night, but the sophomore forward scored the Pack’s last four points to set up a showdown with top-seeded Villanova.
Next up for the Wolfpack are the 1 seed from the East, Villanova. The Wildcats are 33-2.
Big Man on Campus: Cat Barber turned in another spectacular performance as he continues to build momentum late in the season. State’s top guard scored a team-high 17 points to go along with five rebounds, two assists and a steal. If the Wolfpack plan on knocking off Villanova, another strong performance from Barber will be needed.
X-Factor: BeeJay Anya was quiet for 39 minutes Thursday night, but he made more than enough noise in the game’s final 45 seconds to make up for it. Anya said in his postgame interview that while State guard Trevor Lacey “called for” a pass to take the final shot, Anya only thought about taking the game-winner for himself. “It was my turn to shoot.”
Atmosphere: The Wolfpack had a nice crowd for Thursday’s round of 64 game, but State’s fans are sure to be outnumbered Saturday against Villanova. Raleigh is almost an eight hour drive from Pittsburgh (499 miles), while Villanova is in-state and just under 300 miles away..
Stats of the Game: NC State shot just 5-24 (20.8%) from distance Thursday and also shot just seven free throws. The Wolfpack still managed to outscore LSU 40-25 in the second half.
Preview: Villanova shot 11-22 from 3-point range in their opening round contest, en route to shooting a ridiculous 63.2% from the floor. Facing the 33-2 Wildcats will be no easy task for NC State, but the Pack has already shown itself capable of beating top competition this season. Still, an outstanding defensive effort and great guard play will be needed to hang with the East’s top seed.