Friday, March 21 2014 7:28 AM EDT2014-03-21 11:28:45 GMT
RALEIGH, NC (WMBF) - This week, Coastal Carolina joins Duke, Virginia, Tennessee and several other big name schools at PNC Arena for a weekend of games as the NCAA Tournament is off and running. TomorrowMore >>
Chants take the floor for a practice in Raleigh before taking on top-seeded Virginia Friday night.More >>
(RNN) - Everyone is sick this week.
It looked like I missed the zombie apocalypse when I (traveling* secretary here, by the way) walked into PPP command Monday. By the time I ripped the sleeves off my shirt and constructed a rudimentary crossbow with parts from the copy machine, it dawned on me I hadn't checked my voicemails. Just a stomach bug going around.
Maybe it's the dreary weather. Maybe it's post-holiday blues. Maybe it's the constant barrage of Hollywood award shows and movies that try to teach us stuff (where's an Expendables when you need one?). Whatever it is, the February swoon is upon us again, and it's affecting lots of folks. Even in the ACC.
Remember when Syracuse and Pitt looked unstoppable? At one point, the PPPollstersfeared no one would step up to challenge them.
Then the Panthers went 4-4 at home against conference foes (189-22 at the Pete before that). Not to be out-undone, the Orange fell to BC and coach Boeheim went "full Knight" on a bang-bang charge play at Duke that killed the team's chance to win.
And it wasn't only the newbs swooning like hipster scientists at a Neil deGrasse Tyson symposium. Clemson lost its swagger with the Wake loss, and FSU was circling down the drain before they used Pitt as a flotation device.
At least Syracuse still has a chance to recover from its recent rough patch this weekend. The team travels to Virginia for the de facto championship games Saturday, leading us into …
… the last week of the regular season.
*Take an extra step ONE time in a pickup game, never live it down.
Player Power Poll: Feb. 20 - 28
1. Marcus Paige, North Carolina Tar Heels
35 points, seven 3-pointers, six rebounds, five assists Wednesday at NC State (W 85-84 OT)
Mr. Second Half dropped 31 after the break on the road, including the game-winner on a contorting layup with 0.9 seconds left. He also got all 13 of his points in the final 20 minutes during the come-from-behind win over arch-nemesis Duke.
His performances in the last 10 games (10-0) are comparable to anyone's at the top of the ACC POY candidates list, and the Heels are the only team in history to knock off the top four teams in the preseason poll (Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville, Duke) in a season.
These guys are dangerous come tourney time. As long as they don't play Belmont. Or UAB. Or Wake. Or Miami. Weird season in Chapel Hill.
2. Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia Cavaliers
13 points, seven rebounds, six assists Feb. 22 vs. Notre Dame (W 70-49)
Speaking of potential ACC POYs, and the far more important ACC PPP POY Award (I think it's a plastic fern this year), this guy would win if it was only judged on conference play.
His numbers against the ACC: 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 45 percent FG, 89 percent FT, 1.4 steals and strong D on a team that allows the fewest points (53 per game), has the best scoring margin (plus-13.7) and a 15-1 record.
This, too: the Notre Dame game was tied 43-43 before the 'Hoos went on a 25-0(!!!) run. Of the 10 baskets made during the stretch, Brogdon made three of them and had the assist on three more. He is the most glaring reason the Cavaliers went from bubble team a season ago to championship contender.
3. Leslie McDonald, North Carolina Tar Heels
21 points, 9-for-12 shooting, four rebounds Feb. 20 vs. No. 6 Duke (W 74-66)
Question: How many shots does a 38 percent shooter who shoots 65 percent from the line have to take to score 10.8 per game? Answer: Too many.
Having said that, Leslie bucked his recent slump and found the range all night against the Blue Devils. He even made a couple of nice moves to the basket, something he should do more frequently when the jumper is out of order.
4. Rodney Hood, Duke Blue Devils
13 points, seven rebounds Feb. 22 vs. No. 4 Syracuse (W 66-60)
He took the charge that made Boeheim go insane. What more can anyone ask of a guy?
5. Okaro White, Florida State Seminoles
22 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, zero turnovers Sunday at Pitt (W 71-66)
Even with the win over the Panthers, the 'Noles still have more work to do if they want an NCAA tourney berth. White and the rest of the bunch can hang with anyone if they avoid having so many turnovers (12.5 per game in ACC, T-14th).
6. Jabari Parker, Duke Blue Devils
19 points, 10 rebounds three 3-pointers Feb. 22 vs. No. 4 Syracuse (W 66-60)
Don't get me wrong, he was great. But he's always great, and I'm a little bit spoiled at this point, so he gets docked a bit for the five turnovers.
7. London Perrantes, Virginia Cavaliers
15 points, 4-for-4 on 3s, four assists Wednesday vs. Miami (W 65-40)
That was 4-for-4 on 3s, 5-for-5 overall. Is it possible all of us could have room in our hearts for more than one freshman floor general (besides 'Cuse's Tyler Ennis, of course)? London hasn't put up crazy numbers, but his presence has been big in every game.
8. Erik Swoope, Miami Hurricanes
14 points, nine rebounds, four assists Feb. 22 vs. Boston College (W 69-42)
Hey, looks like Boston College might be ready to play spoil … nope. Erik and the 'Canes shut that down pretty quick.
9. Garrick Sherman, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
21 points, 10-for-15 shooting, five rebounds Wednesday vs. Georgia Tech (W 65-62)
After a living dead-esque span that saw the Deacs shuffle to seven straight losses, they managed to infect Clemson with a dash of death, at least in terms of the NCAAs. Still, that shouldn't even be close to enough to resurrect the career of Coach Bz in Winston-Salem.
If, somehow, he does find himself walking the (campus) earth next season, there may be an entirely different horror movie scene in retaliation by the disgruntled fan base. It involves torches and pitchforks.
Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
Need something to help you get through two weeks of March Madness? Try playing Basketball Cliche Bingo. Mark off the words or phrases that are overused during each game of the tourney.More >>
Don't like basketball? Need something to help you get through two weeks of March Madness? Try playing Basketball Cliche Bingo. Mark off the words or phrases that are overused during each game of the tournament.More >>