NCAA

LeDay's 31 points lead Virginia Tech to win over Wake Forest

LeDay's 31 points lead Virginia Tech to win over Wake Forest

Zach LeDay had a career-high 31 points to go with 15 rebounds as Virginia Tech stopped Wake Forest's late-season charge with a 99-90 victory Wednesday night, overcoming an 80-foot heave by the Demon Deacons in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Seth Allen scored 18 points and Justin Bibbs had 15 for the seventh-seeded Hokies (22-9), who took over in the second half after a slow start. They will play second-seeded and 16th-ranked Florida State in the quarterfinals Thursday night.

Bryant Crawford had 21 points for No. 10 seed Wake Forest (19-13), which had won four straight in a desperate drive for its first NCAA Tournament trip since 2010. Now, the hopes of the Demon Deacons rest in the hands of the selection committee on Sunday.

John Collins, runner-up for ACC player of the year, added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Wake Forest before fouling out with 1:06 to play.

Wake Forest won 89-84 at Virginia Tech in the regular-season finale for both teams last Saturday, a huge victory for the Demon Deacons in their postseason push. They rallied from 13 down in that game, but this time it was the Hokies who came back after a stunning shot at the end of the first half.

Demon Deacons reserve forward Greg McClinton electrified his teammates -- and the buzzing Brooklyn crowd -- when he connected on an amazing chuck from behind the elbow of his own foul line to give Wake Forest a 44-37 lead.

With a second on the clock, the Hokies tried a long pass from their own baseline to the other end of the court. The pass missed its intended target, McClinton grabbed the loose ball on one bounce and let fly with a one-handed fling just before the horn sounded.

Lo and behold, the ball went in -- to the surprise of everyone in the arena. Indeed, even McClinton had started to turn away and head for the locker room before the ball went through.

Excited teammates mobbed McClinton on the baseline as he raised his arms and the Barclays Center crowd roared. Officials reviewed the replay, and the basket counted.

It was the first career 3-pointer and the only points of the night for McClinton, who played all of two minutes.

Virginia Climbs to No. 2 in Latest AP Top 25 Poll

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USA Today Sports Images

Virginia Climbs to No. 2 in Latest AP Top 25 Poll

Duke was the ACC's preseason favorite and North Carolina the defending national champion.

The conference leader and highest-ranked team so far: Virginia.

Picked to finish sixth in the ACC preseason poll, the Cavaliers (15-1, 4-0) have been the conference's most consistent team so far this season behind their still-stifling defense.

Virginia (15-1, 4-0 ACC) moved up a spot to No. 2 and received a first-place vote in the AP Top 25 released on Monday, its highest ranking since reaching No. 2 in the 2014-15 season.

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The Cavaliers, No. 1 in KenPom.com's defensive efficiency rankings, beat Syracuse and North Carolina State last week.

"They've taken care of business, so they're in this spot," Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said of his players. "Our pillar in our program is all about humility. It just means knowing who you are. I've said this before. They're very clear on how they have to play. They do it together."

Villanova remained at the top spot for the second straight week, receiving 63 of 65 first-place votes from a media panel. The Wildcats (16-1, 4-1 Big East) moved atop the poll for the second time this season after Michigan State's loss to Ohio State last week and stayed there after wins over No. 10 Xavier and St. John's .

Purdue had the other No. 1 vote and moved up two spots to No. 3, its highest ranking since reaching No. 3 in 2009-10 after extending its winning streak to 13 games with victories over Michigan and Minnesota . Matt Painter's Boilermakers (17-2, 6-0 Big Ten) are off to their best start since 1987-88 and best in the Big Ten since winning the first eight games of 1989-90.

"They're playing with a great purpose," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. "They coach themselves. Matt's a terrific coach, but you can tell they're coaching each other."

Oklahoma and star freshman Trae Young continued their rise through the poll, moving up five spots to No. 4. The Sooners (14-2, 4-1 Big 12) have their highest ranking since reaching No. 1 in 2015-16, when they reached the Final Four.

Duke moved up two spots to round out the top 5. West Virginia dropped four spots to No. 6 after losing to No. 8 Texas Tech.

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WILD BIG 12

The Big 12 has the best RPI of any conference and eight teams in the KenPom top 50. Its teams also have been beating up on each other since the conference season started just after Christmas.

West Virginia (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) reached its highest ranking since 1959 a week ago, only to lose to the Red Raiders 72-71 in Lubbock. Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma on Tuesday, creating a logjam at the top of the Big 12 between those three teams and No. 10 Kansas, which moved up two spots this week following wins over Iowa State and rival Kansas State.

No. 24 TCU remained in the AP Top 25 despite losing to Texas in double overtime and by five to Oklahoma last week. The Horned Frogs (13-4, 1-4) have lost four Big 12 games by a combined 11 points.

RISING AND FALLING

Oklahoma, No. 15 North Carolina and No. 17 Auburn had the biggest jumps in the poll, moving up five spots each.

TCU had the biggest fall, losing eight spots, followed by No. 25 Miami's seven-place drop to No. 25 following a loss to No. 20 Clemson. Arizona State dropped five spots to No. 16 after splitting games against the Pac-12's Oregon schools.

MOVING IN

No. 22 Ohio State is ranked for the first time since reaching No. 12 during the 2014-15 season after victories over Maryland and Rutgers last week. The Buckeyes also knocked Michigan State from the No. 1 ranking with an 80-64 victory on Jan. 7.

Michigan moved into the poll for the first time this season at No. 23 after beating Michigan State on Saturday.

DROPPING OUT

Creighton dropped out of the poll from No. 25 after a loss to No. 10 Xavier. Florida fell out from No. 23 after losing to Louisville.

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Bracketology 2018: No consistency around the bubble

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USA TODAY Sports

Bracketology 2018: No consistency around the bubble

For many college basketball fans, now is the time that people begin to get interested.

College football is done, there are fewer and fewer NFL teams still playing each week, conference play just started and after the Super Bowl, March Madness is the next mega-sporting event.

Anyways for those just now joining the party, you missed one heck of a season so far.

For the first time since the 1948-49 season, no Division I program entered January with an undefeated record.

That’s right, Michigan State led by Miles Bridges couldn’t keep a perfect record, nor could a blue blood avoid a trip up before the New Year turned. Not even a mid-major, Gonzaga-type could navigate their non-conference schedules.

Storylines throughout the first half of season include:

-Arizona’s 0-3 weekend in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament
-Trae Young’s incredible numbers (29.2 ppg, 10.1 apg) for Oklahoma
-The Big Ten struggles in non-conference play; they may have less than four teams in the tournament
-Virginia’s rise back to the top
-And of course upsets, a ton of them, but none quite as big as Wofford over Duke.

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Getting acclimated to the college basketball landscape, lets take a look at what some of the top Bracketologists think. These projections are based on their latest bracket as of Jan. 15.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN):

No. 1 seeds: Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, and Duke
No. 2 seeds: Oklahoma, Wichita State, West Virginia, and Texas Tech
Last Four in: Maryland, UCLA, Houston, Providence
First Four out: Middle Tennessee, Georgia, Baylor, LSU

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (ACC Champ)
No. 11: Maryland (at-large)
No. 14: William & Mary (CAA Champ)
No. 15: Radford (Big South Champ)

Dave Ommen (NBC Sports/ Yahoo/ Bracketville):

No. 1 seeds: Villanova, Purdue, Oklahoma, and West Virginia
No. 2 seeds: Virginia, Wichita State, Texas Tech, Duke
Last Four in: Washington, Alabama, NC State, and Texas A&M
First Four out: Baylor, Missouri, St. Bonaventure, and Maryland

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 2: Virginia (ACC Champ)
No. 13: William & Mary (CAA Champ)
No. 15: Radford (Big South Champ)

Shelby Mast (USA-Today):

No. 1 seeds: Villanova, Purdue, West Virginia, and Virginia
No. 2 seeds: Kansas, Duke, Oklahoma, and Wichita State
Last Four in: Notre Dame, Syracuse, Western Kentucky, and USC
First Four out: St. Bonaventure, Saint Mary’s, Boise State, and Georgia

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (ACC Champ)
No. 14: William & Mary (CAA Champ)
No. 16: Radford (Big South Champ)

Chris Dobbertean (SB Nation):

No. 1 seeds: Villanova, Duke, Purdue, and West Virginia
No. 2 seeds: Arizona State, Kansas, Xavier, and Virginia
Last Four in: St. Bonaventure, Alabama, Texas, and Minnesota
First Four out: Missouri, Syracuse, Houston, and USC

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 2: Virginia (ACC Champ)
No. 9: Maryland (at-large)
No. 12: Old Dominion (C-USA Champ)
No. 13: William & Mary (CAA Champ)
No. 14: Radford (Big South Champ)

Jerry Palm (CBS Sports):

No. 1 seeds: Villanova, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Virginia
No. 2 seeds: West Virginia, Wichita State, Purdue, and Auburn
Last Four in: Western Kentucky, USC, St. Bonaventure, and Georgia
First Four out: Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, and Maryland

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 1: Virginia (ACC Champ)
No. 13: William & Mary (CAA Champ)
No. 15: Radford (Big South Champ)

Delphi Bracketology (Most accurate bracket projection of past two years):

No. 1 seeds: Villanova, West Virginia, Duke, and Purdue
No. 2 seeds: Oklahoma, Virginia, Xavier, Clemson
Last Four in: SMU, Baylor, Houston, UCF
First Four out: USC, LSU, Mississippi State, NC State

Mid-Atlantic Interest:

No. 2: Virginia (ACC Champ)
No. 12: Old Dominion (C-USA Champ)
No. 14: Radford (Big South Champ)
No. 15: William & Mary (CAA Champ)

Local Rundown:

Based on these projections, the Mid-Atlantic Region (Delaware, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) may only end up with two teams in the NCAA Tournament, and that is with one mid-major pulling out a conference championship.

The Virginia Cavaliers are the only legitimate lock even if they do not win the ACC. They have racked up top-100 wins over Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and even ranked North Carolina. Their only loss is to a projected No. 1 seed: West Virginia. Aside from a historic fall to end the season, the Cavaliers will be dancing in March.

Maryland is in a funky situation. The Big Ten did not perform in non-conference play, therefore many teams will be taking each other out of contention in Big Ten competition. Most of these brackets have 3-5 teams from the Big Ten playing in March. More often than not Maryland is that fifth team and in some projections, they do not even make the First Four out. Major work to do in College Park for the remainder of the season.

Two teams have an outside shot of making an at-large bid and they were barely mentioned by the bracketologists. Both Virginia Tech and Old Dominion have interesting resumes, that a strong showing in conference play (ACC and C-USA) may do enough to send them over the hump.

From here there is a long list of teams that need a conference championship bid to make it to the big dance. Here is a list of the Mid-Atlantic teams with a legitimate chance to win their conference tournament in no particular order: VCU (A-10), William & Mary (CAA), Towson (CAA), Radford (Big South), Liberty (Big South), Mount St. Mary’s (NEC), Morgan State (MEAC).

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