Day 1 Preview of the 2009 ACC Tournament
March 5, 2009
Game 1 - #5 Georgia Tech (21-8, 8-6 ACC) vs. #12 Clemson (13-16, 2-12 ACC)
The Storyline: The Yellow Jackets, who didn't break even in ACC play until an 8-8 campaign in 2003, have now won half or more of their games in three consecutive seasons and are headed for a third straight NCAA tournament appearance. They'll have a chance to enhance their seed if they beat the Tigers and then North Carolina in the quarterfinals.
They went 1-4 against the teams seeded ahead of them in this tournament. Coach MaChelle Joseph has recruited nationally and internationally; her top six come from Australia, New Jersey, Mississippi, Washington and Tennessee. Speaking of traveling, Tech played at UConn and Texas and in a tournament in Oregon before ACC competition started.
The Tigers dropped their final nine regular-season league games but do have an All-ACC third-teamer in Lele Hardy.
Tech Tidbit: Alex Montgomery beat the first-half buzzer with field goals in three straight games in December.
Tiger Tale: Hardy is the only player in the league in the top five in scoring (fifth at 16.7 ppg) and rebounding (third at 8.7 rpg).
Game 2 - #8 N.C. State (13-16, 5-9) vs. #9 Wake Forest (18-10, 5-9)
The Storyline: It's fair to say no team has faced more hardship than the Wolfpack, which would have been easily forgiven if it had closed shop after coach Kay Yow's death on Jan. 24. Instead, State enters the tournament having won four of six. Two of the results rejuvenated the Pack and harmed the Demon Deacons' NCAA tournament hopes.
The unusual season has also been symbolized by Kristy Kenney, who will graduate in May but who qualifies for another year of competition because she didn't walk on to the team until this season. Kenney will enroll in a graduate program in veterinary science in the fall.
The Deacs have already won more overall games than in any season since a 23-8 campaign in 1987-88. They've got their highest victory total in league play since they went 6-10 in 1995-96. So why aren't they happy? Probably because they lost four of their final five regular-season games after climbing to 42nd in the RPI with a 66-44 win over Virginia Tech on Feb. 15. This isn't about vengeance as much as it about survival.
History: This is only the teams' third meeting in the tournament. The Pack won 92-72 in 1991 and 104-66 in 1983.
Pack Fact: Shayla Fields and Mikitta Gartrell both have 98 assists on the year.
Deacon Detail: The Deacs allowed 70 or more points only six times in 28 regular-season games. UNCG, Appalachian State and Winston-Salem State managed 100 points between them in the campaign's first three contests.
Game 3 - #7 Boston College (19-10, 7-7 ACC) vs. #10 Miami (13-16, 2-12 ACC)
The Storyline: The Eagles had lost five of six until closing the regular season with a victory over N.C. State, and they'd really like to regain some momentum. BC looks in decent shape for an NCAA bid. Its RPI (34) is strong, and only two ACC teams with .500 or better records in regular-season league play have been excluded from the tourney in the past eight years. It happened to the Eagles last year, but that team had an RPI of 68. This version has played a tougher schedule than the 2007-08 version and should be OK. But why risk it?
The Hurricanes went 2-12 in the league for the third straight season, but guard Shenise Johnson became the first Miami rookie to earn All-ACC acclaim when she was named to the All-Freshman squad.
BC Banter: Freshman guard Jasmine Gill will enjoy a homecoming. She played at Greensboro's Page High School, the same school that produced Kansas legend Danny Manning. Gill has played in 24 games for the Eagles.
Cane Communique: Miami is forcing 20 turnovers a game on average.
Game 4 - #6 Virginia (22-8, 8-6 ACC) vs. #11 Virginia Tech (12-17, 2-12 ACC)
The Storyline: The Cavaliers have won five straight in the series, but they can't get another crack at third-seeded Duke until and unless they dispatch the Hokies first. Lyndra Littles' 21.4 points per game would lead the ACC if she qualified by NCAA standards. She missed nine games early in the season and stands short of the threshold of 75 percent participation. In the final four regular-season games, she averaged nearly 25 points a contest and went 32-of-35 from the foul line.
The Hokies can make their year by knocking the Cavaliers out of the tournament. They led the teams' first meeting 23-8 before the Cavaliers switched to a zone and worked their way back into it and ultimately claimed the victory.
Virginia Verbiage: Junior forward Monica Wright is on target to break Dawn Staley's UVa career scoring record next season.
Hokie Hype: Senior guards Laura Haskins and Brittany Cook are both working on Master's degrees. Cook has petitioned for a sixth season of eligibility from the NCAA because of a serious knee injury.
For the latest news on the tournament, go to www.theacc.com/SheCanPlay