ACC Recap: Season on the line for bubble teams

The game of the week in conference play was between No. 7 Virginia and Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. on Saturday, Feb. 13.

The Cavaliers jumped out to an early start, taking a 34-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.

However, as always, the Blue Devils came crawling back in the final few minutes to take possession of the ball while only being down by one point with several seconds left.

Star sophomore Grayson Allen drove to the basket to ultimately make a tough, off balanced layup as time expired to give the Blue Devils the 63-62 win. The final play was controversial as it appeared Allen traveled before getting off the final shot. However, Duke got the call and the win.

Aside from Allen’s heroic play and 15 points, star freshman and projected NBA lottery pick Brandon Ingram finished with 25 points and seven rebounds. All-ACC first team member and ACC defensive player of the year Malcolm Brogdon finished with 18 points and five rebounds.

The player of the week was N.C. State’s Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber. Barber had 26 points last week against Duke, a staggering 38 points this past Saturday against Wake Forest and 15 points on Monday against an impressive Virginia defense. Barber, who is on track to win ACC player of the year and become a member of the ACC first team, is set to finish the season averaging just under 24 points per game with around five assists and five rebounds per game.

While all of his individual numbers are impressive, his Wolfpack are still on the outside looking in — as far as the NCAA tournament is concerned — as their only realistic way of earning a bid is to win the ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C. in a couple of weeks.

With selection Sunday only a few weeks away, the ACC is looking to break a conference record with the most bids ever given out to a single conference in one tournament.

For starters, I predict the ACC to have a few teams that, no matter what they do down the stretch, will still get into the NCAA Tournament.

The only teams definitely making the tournament are North Carolina, Miami and Virginia. The teams  that are not guaranteed to make the tournament, but have a strong chance if they continue their current course of play, include Notre Dame, Duke, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

The proverbial bubble teams, or those teams that must impress the nation and NCAA Tournament committee down the stretch to gain entry into the tournament are Clemson and Florida State.

Clemson was not impressive during the non-conference portion of the season; however, has impressed under coach Brad Brownell during conference play.

Florida State, who has been somewhat inconsistent this season, had a big win against Virginia, but also had a bad non-conference loss to Hofstra back in November.  As is the case for both of these teams, only their play throughout the end of the ACC regular season, as well as how deep they make it into the ACC Tournament will determine whether or not they get into the NCAA Tournament.