Tag Archives: Greivis Vasquez

ACC Tournament Preview

March Madness has arrived and first up is the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Greensboro. I’ll display my bias as a native North Carolinian up front by commenting the ACC Tournament always seems to be were it belongs when being hosted by a city in the Old North State. Not to slight Georgia, but “Atlanta” and “ACC Tournament” are not words which naturally flow together in a sentence describing this venerable event. The same can be said for St. Petersburg and Washington, D.C.

The tournament is about the haves and the have nots. The haves this year are: Duke (1), Maryland (2), Florida State (3), and Virginia Tech (4). The four teams who receive a 1st Round bye on Thursday have the best odds to win it all as they only have to win three straight games. Since the tournament expanded to include 11 teams in 2005 and then 12 teams in 2006, the #1 seed has won three times and the #3 seed has won twice. All five years the tournament was won by either Duke or North Carolina.

The have nots are: Miami (12), NC State (11), North Carolina (10), and Virginia (9). On the surface, these four teams have not a prayer of winning four straight games and earning the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament to represent the ACC as conference champions. However, this is the ACCT and strange events have transpired in the past.

For instance, back in 1983, number four seed NC State defeated number five seed Wake Forest, 71-70; then beat number one seed North Carolina, with Michael Jordan, 91-84, followed by an 81-78 defeat of number two seed Virginia with Ralph Sampson. The ACC Tournament run fueled the “Cardiac Pack” to their run to the National Championship.

In 1976, sixth seed Virginia defeated number three seed NC State, 75-63; then beat number two seed Maryland, 73-65, followed by a 67-62 defeat of number one seed North Carolina. This tournament was in the years between the departure of South Carolina and the addition of Georgia Tech so there were only seven teams participating in the tournament.

In between the haves and have nots is the muddy middle, including: Wake Forest (5), Clemson (6), Georgia Tech (7), and Boston College (8). These teams have a better chance to achieve success than the have nots, due to their somewhat superior track record during the regular season, however, winning four consecutive games is a tall order especially considering the inconsistency associated with these muddy middle ball clubs.

Taking a look at the haves:

Duke (26-5, 13-3): the Blue Devils are playing some very good basketball headed into the post season having won nine of their last 10 games including going a perfect 8-0 in the month of February. Duke is paced by first team All-ACC performers Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, and second team All-ACC performer Nolan Smith. The Blue Devils fourth starter is Lance Thomas a member of the All-Defensive Team. Brian Zoubek completes the starting line-up. Zoubek has been a dominant inside player since being inserted into the starting line-up the past seven games averaging 11.3 rebounds and 7.3 points per game.

With three seniors and two juniors in the starting line-up, Duke is the most experienced team in the tournament. With four of the five named to one of the All-ACC teams, the Blue Devils have proven to be as skilled as they are experienced. Duke was 3-1 in games against the other bye teams.

Duke will face the winner of the Boston College (8)/Virginia (9) game. The Blue Devils were a combined 3-0 against these two teams during the regular season.

Maryland (24-7, 13-3): the Terrapins earned a share of the ACC regular season title with an exciting 79-72 victory over Duke on March 3rd. Greivis Vasquez is the heart and soul of this team. The ACC Player of the Year plays the game with a solid combination of fiery leadership and icy skill. Maryland will go as far as Mr. Fire and Ice Vasquez takes them and all the way to the championship is a distinct possibility for the Terrapins. ACC Coach of the Year Gary Williams has Maryland running like a fine oiled machine as the Terrapins have won seven games in a row since losing to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 13th.

Seniors Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne are solid players who bring experience and skill onto the court. Hayes, an outstanding shooter, averages 11 points per game, while shooting .456 on 3-point field goals. Hayes also has an A/TO ratio of 2.4, which is second in the ACC behind Scheyer. Milbourne averages 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Sophomore Sean Mosley averages 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. ACC All-Rookie Team performer Jordan Williams rounds out the starting five by averaging 9.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Williams provides the Terrapins with a strong inside presence. Maryland was 4-1 in games against the other bye teams.

Maryland will face the winner of the Georgia Tech (7)/North Carolina (10) game. The Terrapins were a combined 2-0 against these two teams during the regular season.

Florida State (22-8, 10-6): Defense is the Seminoles calling card. They lead the ACC in scoring defense giving up only 60.2 points per game. Sophomores Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton were named Third Team All-ACC performers and to the ACC All-Defensive Team. Michael Snaer was named to the ACC All-Rookie Team.

The Seminoles have won seven of their last ten games including four conference wins on the road at Boston College, Virginia, North Carolina, and Miami. Florida State was 1-3 against the other bye teams. They defeated Virginia Tech and lost to Duke once and Maryland twice.

Florida State will face the winner of the Clemson (6)/NC State (11) game. The Seminoles were a combined 0-3 against these two teams during the regular season. It could be a short tournament for Florida State.

Virginia Tech (23-7, 10-6): the Hokies definitely benefited from an easy conference schedule as they played each of the other bye teams only once each and lost all three games. Virginia Tech’s 10 conference wins include two wins over number 11 seed NC State, two wins over number nine seed Virginia, one win over number 12 seed Miami, and one win over number 10 seed North Carolina.

The Hokies have the league’s leading scorer in unanimous First Team All-ACC performer Malcolm Delaney. Dorenzo Hudson was named Third Team All-ACC.

Virginia Tech will face the winner of the Wake Forest (5)/Miami (12) game. The Hokies were a combined 2-1 against these two teams during the regular season.

Moving on to the muddy middle:

Wake Forest (5) and Clemson (6) are both teams with the potential to make some noise in the tournament. If they can win on Thursday, against Miami (12) and NC State (11) respectively, they will face teams in the Quarterfinals on Friday with which they match-up nicely.

Wake Forest versus Virginia Tech is an intriguing game. The Hokies defeated the Demon Deacons in Blacksburg, 87-83. The loss to Virginia Tech started a four game slide for Wake Forest. With the slide ended via a 70-65 win over Clemson, it isn’t hard to envision the Demon Deacons advancing to the Semi-Finals.

Clemson versus Florida State is a game where the lower seeded Tigers will be favored to win. Clemson defeated Florida State twice in the regular season. Beating a team three times in one season is often difficult to achieve but it is much better going into the so called “rubber match” as the 2-0 team rather than being the 0-2 team.

Georgia Tech (7) is desperately in need of a couple of wins to secure an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. If they lose to North Carolina (10) on Thursday, the only dancing the Yellow Jackets will be doing is in the NIT. With the Tar Heels reeling from their total beat-down at the hands of the Duke Blue Devils, the relevant question is whether or not North Carolina shows up ready to play. If the Tar Heels show up, it would not be surprising to see them knock off the Yellow Jackets and send Paul Hewitt job hunting.

Boston College (8) should handle Virginia (9) who is without leading scorer Sylvan Landesberg who was kicked off the team due to failing to meet academic responsibilities. However, the Cavaliers gave Maryland a battle in the last game of their regular season so nothing is guaranteed for the Eagles.

Discussing the muddy middle covered the have nots as well so let’s move on and discuss tournament expectations. First off, I expect there will be some upsets. The higher seeded teams will not win every game; however, a Duke (1) versus Maryland (2) Championship Game is a strong likelihood. In fact, I will go on record and state I expect Duke versus Maryland in the Championship Game.

Which higher seeded teams will lose? I expect Georgia Tech will lose to North Carolina; Florida State will lose to Clemson, and Virginia Tech will lose to Wake Forest.

Which team is going to win it all? Well, let’s not get carried away…I’ll make that prediction when the Semi-Finals are in the books.

Enough talk, let’s tip the ball and get on with the games….

Previewing the Terrapins II

Didn’t we just do this? Another consequence of the unbalanced conference schedule is Duke and Maryland playing each other twice with just 17 days separating the two contests. With the Blue Devils in 1st Place at 12-2 and Maryland in 2nd Place with an 11-3 record, this year’s schedule sets up nicely for hoops fanatics jonesing for marquee match-ups. A Duke victory locks-up the ACC Regular season crown for the Blue Devils.

Back on February 12th, Blue Devil nation previewed the first contest and identified three key elements to the game. Let’s revisit those key elements:

1. Outside shooting: Duke is shooting .394 on the season from behind the 3-point arc. However, in the 13 games played in Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke is averaging .442. Maryland is eighth in the league in 3-point field goal percent defense. Duke needs to knockdown the long ball in this game.

2. Rebounding: Duke leads the ACC in rebounding margin at +6.6. Maryland is 11th at +1.2. Duke is second in the ACC in offensive rebounds averaging 14.6 per game. Duke is bigger and stronger and will need to be aggressive on the glass.

3. Assists and turnovers: Both Duke and Maryland take care of the basketball with a 1.3 assists to turnover ratio. Maryland is second in the ACC with 8.4 steals per game. Neither team can afford to give the other extra possessions in a game this analyst expects to be decided in the last couple of minutes.

In the 77-56 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke more than doubled up Maryland from behind the 3-point arc outscoring the Terrapins 15-6. Duke shot 33.3 percent (5-15) against Maryland’s 15.4 percent (2-13). Jon Scheyer led the way with a 3-4 performance from downtown for the Blue Devils.

On the glass, Duke outrebounded Maryland 39-34. Brian Zoubek put in a career performance against the Terrapins with 17 rebounds and 16 points. Eight of Zoubek’s rebounds were offensive. Duke scored 20 second chance points to Maryland’s 12.

The assists statistic was basically even as Duke recorded 12 with Maryland having 10. However, turnovers were a factor as Maryland turned it over 14 times to Duke’s seven.

Basketball is actually a pretty simple game. Shoot the ball, rebound the ball, and take care of the ball. Duke executed these fundamentals better on February 13 and came away with a 21 point victory. The key to winning on March 3 will once again be superior execution of fundamentals.

Updating the Maryland player’s statistics:

Maryland is led by senior guard Greivis Vasquez (6′6″ 190) who averages 19.5 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game. Vasquez plays 33.5 minutes per game.

Senior forward Landon Milbourne (6′7″ 207) is Maryland’s second leading scorer at 13 points per game. Milbourne also averages 5 rebounds and plays 29.7 minutes per game.

Senior guard Eric Hayes (6′4″ 184) is a deadly 3-point shooter making 45.5 percent (55 of 121) on the year. Hayes averages 10.9 points, 3.9 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game. Hayes plays 30.6 minutes per game.

Sophomore Sean Mosley (6′4″ 210) contributes 10.9 points, 2.7 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game in 28.3 minutes of playing time.

Freshman Jordan Williams (6′9″ 245) averages 9.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game in 24.1 minutes of playing time.

Off the bench, Maryland has four players averaging double digit minutes: Cliff Tucker (15.3), Dino Gregory (20.3), Adrian Bowie (15.4), and James Padgett (10). Maryland has more depth inside this season but they are a smaller team than Duke.

This will be senior night for Vasquez, Milbourne, and Hayes, and emotions will be high. Those guys desire to go out winners in their last home game. Throw in the ACC Regular season title and number one seed in the ACC Tournament that Duke can secure with a victory and the stakes are in the stratosphere.

In the first preview, Blue Devil nation discussed both teams keeping emotions in check and preventing the other from jumping out to an adrenalin fueled early lead. The same caution applies to this game. In the end, this game will be a tighter and tougher contest than the game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The stakes are higher and the team with superior execution will prevail.

Previewing the Terrapins

#7 Duke (20-4, 8-2 ACC) host unranked Maryland (16-6, 6-2 ACC) on Saturday afternoon at 1 pm in a game which will determine first place in the ACC standings. This will be the 1,000th game at Duke for Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Duke defeated Maryland three times last season and has won the previous five meetings. Maryland last defeated Duke on February 28, 2007.

Maryland is led by senior guard Greivis Vasquez (6’6″ 190) who averages 18.1 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game. Vasquez is a crafty player who likes to push the tempo and is a very good passer in Coach Gary Williams’ flex offense. Vasquez plays 32.5 minutes per game.

Senior forward Landon Milbourne (6’7″ 207) is Maryland’s second leading scorer at 14.5 points per game. Milbourne also averages 5.4 rebounds and plays 30.3 minutes per game.

Senior guard Eric Hayes (6’4″ 184) is a deadly 3-point shooter making 46.1 percent (47 of 102) on the year. Hayes averages 11.1 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game. Hayes plays 30.4 minutes per game.

Sophomore Sean Mosley (6’4″ 210) contributes 11.5 points, 3 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game in 28.1 minutes of playing time.

Freshman Jordan Williams (6’9″ 245) averages 8.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 22.9 minutes of playing time. Williams is touted as having great hands.

Off the bench, Maryland has four players averaging double digit minutes: Cliff Tucker (15.2), Dino Gregory (19.9), Adrian Bowie (16.5), and James Padgett (11.2). Maryland has more depth inside this season but they are a smaller team than Duke.

Duke and Maryland have had eight common opponents on the season. In out of conference games, both teams have beaten UNC-Greensboro and lost to Wisconsin. In conference, both teams have beaten UNC, Florida State, and Boston College. Maryland has beaten N.C. State who defeated Duke, while Duke has beaten Clemson and Wake Forest who both defeated the Terrapins.

The Blue Devils will be without starter and defensive specialist Lance Thomas who suffered a severe bone bruise in his right knee when he collided with Larry Drew II during the Carolina game. Replacing Thomas’ minutes will require Coach Krzyzewski to be creative with the rotation. Coach Krzyzewski has stated he expects Dawkins to play increased minutes with Kyle Singler rotating from small forward to power forward.

Another line-up which will surely see time together will be Brian Zoubek and Mason Plumlee together with Scheyer, Smith, and Singler. This is Duke’s most effective non-Thomas line-up from a +/- perspective.

The keys to the game will be:

1. Outside shooting: Duke is shooting .394 on the season from behind the 3-point arc. However, in the 13 games played in Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke is averaging .442. Maryland is eighth in the league in 3-point field goal percent defense. Duke needs to knockdown the long ball in this game.

2. Rebounding: Duke leads the ACC in rebounding margin at +6.6. Maryland is 11th at +1.2. Duke is second in the ACC in offensive rebounds averaging 14.6 per game. Duke is bigger and stronger and will need to be aggressive on the glass.

3. Assists and turnovers: Both Duke and Maryland take care of the basketball with a 1.3 assists to turnover ratio. Maryland is second in the ACC with 8.4 steals per game. Neither team can afford to give the other extra possessions in a game this analyst expects to be decided in the last couple of minutes.

With the celebration for Coach Krzyzewski’s birthday, his 1,000th game as head coach at Duke, and first place in the ACC on the line, the atmosphere will be electric inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. Both teams must be cautious of emotions to ensure the other team doesn’t jump out to an adrenalin fueled early lead. Once the teams settle in and commence execution of their game plans, this should be a very exciting basketball game.