I’ll admit, when Virginia and Miami entered the ACC tournament without their respective leading scorers, that was one of the deciding factors for me to pick against them.
Instead, both teams saw unsung heroes step up and take control of their first round games.
First, it was Sammy Zeglinski hitting five three-pointers to lead Virginia past Boston College 68-62.
Next, it was Reggie Johnson hitting all eight of his shots from the field to lead Miami’s dominating 83-62 win over Wake Forest.
The amazing thing about both of those wins was the absence of Sylven Landesburg and Dwayne Collins.
Landesburg, the starting point guard for Virginia, was suspended indefinitely for academic reasons. Collins was out with a stress reaction in his tibia.
For the Cavaliers, it was an extremely surprising win considering they entered the game on a nine-game losing streak. Tony Bennett’s team played lockdown defense on the Eagles’ best offensive threat Joe Trapani, who scored only two points.
Jeff Jones also came up big for Virginia as he needed to. Jones hit three of five shots from behind the arc en route to a 14-point performance.
Mike Scott and Jerome Meyinsse both stepped up in the post as well, combining for 23 points. Scott also grabbed 13 rebounds.
In game two in Greensboro, Miami played zone defense most of the game, and it certainly perplexed Wake Forest. The Deacons shot 35 percent from the field in the loss. Al-Farouq Aminu, the star of the Deacons’ squad, scored 11 points, which was not enough production out of their best players.
The embarrassing loss for Wake could very well keep them out of the NCAA Tournament. Despite a strong non-conference slate that included wins against Richmond, Xavier and Gonzaga, Wake has lost five of its last six games, including one loss to each the 10th, 11th and 12th place teams in the ACC.
The overall body of work is solid enough to make the field, but don’t be surprised if Wake gets robbed of a bid on Selection Sunday.