Tough ACC women's basketball tournament begins

CorrespondentMarch 4, 2014 

Duke North Carolina Basketball

Duke's Tricia Liston dribbles as North Carolina's Diamond DeShields defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, March 2, 2014. North Carolina won 64-60. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)


  • NCAA tournament chances

     Notre Dame (29-0), Duke (25-5), Maryland (24-5), N.C. State (24-6), North Carolina (22-8) and Syracuse (21-8) appear to be locks for the NCAA regardless of their performance in Greensboro this week.

     Notre Dame will have a No. 1 seed, Duke probably a No. 2, while Maryland, N.C. State and UNC could be seeded No. 4 or higher in their regionals.

     Georgia Tech (19-10) and Florida State (19-10) are likely to make the NCAA tournament, while Miami (16-13) is the only other team that could play its way into the NCAA without winning the ACC. The Hurricanes, who probably hold an automatic WNIT berth, might earn an NCAA invitation by at beating FSU in the second round and Notre Dame in the quarterfinals.

     Among the bottom six, Virginia (13-16), Wake Forest (14-15), Virginia Tech (14-15), Clemson (12-18), Pittsburgh (11-19) and Boston College (12-18) would all need to win five games and the tournament to play in the NCAA.

     Wake or Virginia Tech would almost certainly receive WNIT berths if they win their first-round games and pull off big second-round upsets. If the top nine seeds all receive NCAA bids, Virginia as the No. 10 seed could claim the automatic WNIT spot.

  • 37th ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament

    When/where: Wednesday-Sunday, Greensboro Coliseum

    Book tickets: $99

    Session tickets: $10-20 ($7-15 for students and seniors)

    Tickets available for all sessions; tightest on sessions 3, 6, 8, 9 and 10.

    TV: First three rounds on FOX Sports Carolinas; semifinals on ESPNU; championship on ESPN.

    Radio: First four rounds on Sirius 108/XM 190; championship on ESPN Radio Sirius XM 84.

    Wednesday’s games: Virginia Tech vs. Clemson, 1; Virginia vs. Boston College, 3:30; Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh, 6:30.

When the 37th ACC women’s basketball tournament tips off at 1 p.m. at Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday, it will be the biggest and deepest in conference history.

The next five days will determine if it’s the best.

Newcomer Notre Dame is the No. 1 seed with a 29-0 record (16-0 ACC). No. 3 seed Maryland (24-5, 12-4) gave a good account of itself during its final regular season in the ACC – the Terps will leave for the Big Ten and will be replaced by Louisville next season.

Good news for Triangle fans is no matter what happens this week, all three area teams seem sure to make the NCAA tournament. No. 2 seed Duke (25-5, 12-4) and No. 6 seed North Carolina (22-8, 10-6) are expected to open that event on their home courts. Also in will be No. 4 seed N.C. State (24-6, 11-5), which was picked 10th in the conference under first-year coach Wes Moore.

UNC will be the first Triangle team to play this week, taking the court Thursday at 8 p.m. to take on the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between Wake Forest (14-15, 5-11) and Pittsburgh (11-19, 3-13).

N.C. State will play its first game Friday at 11 a.m., and Duke will play Friday at 6 p.m.

All three teams have faced major challenges.

Freshman-laden No. 13 UNC learned just before October practice began that coach Sylvia Hatchell was diagnosed with leukemia.

Long-time assistant Andrew Calder has directed the Tar Heels, with Hatchell possibly returning to the sidelines for the NCAA tournament. UNC swept Duke and N.C. State this season, but lost to three unranked conference teams at home.

“We’re just trying to get better every day,” Calder said. “We’ve been up and down and I take responsibility for the down parts. We’re talented and we feel like we have a chance to beat anyone anywhere. We’re looking forward to getting into the tournament and showcasing our skills.”

Freshman wing Diamond DeShields (17.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg.) leads UNC, followed by freshman guard Allisha Gray (14.4, 5.3), sophomore forward Xylina McDaniel (12.2, 5.8) and freshman center Stephanie Mavunga (11.1, 8.5).

No. 14 N.C. State, which was never very deep, suffered back-to-back injuries when senior guard Myisha Goodwin-Coleman tore her ACL on Feb. 20 at Duke. Teammate Lakeesa Daniel had the same thing happen in practice the next day.

“It’s just been a great ride,” Moore said. “We’ve had to battle and scratch for every win, but we’ve won the games that we needed to win to stay in that top four spot. We’ve obviously suffered some tough injuries here in the last week or two, but the kids have held it together. We come into the tournament still searching a little bit as to how we want to adjust due to the injuries but at the same time excited about the opportunity. I’m pleased that we were able to get the double bye and hopefully we can go into the tournament rested and ready to play.”

Senior center Markeisha Gatling (17.2, 7.1) leads N.C. State, followed by senior forward Kody Burke (15.1, 6.0).

No. 10 Duke, the defending champion, was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally before injuries decimated its point-guards. Senior Chelsea Gray was lost for the season with a broken kneecap Jan. 12 against Boston College, and sophomore Alexis Jones suffered a torn ACL Feb. 23 at Notre Dame.

Duke’s losses this season have been to No. 1 Connecticut, and twice each to Notre Dame and UNC.

“It has been a tremendous challenge,” said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, whose teams have won at least three NCAA tournament games each of the past four seasons.

Senior guard Tricia Liston (17.9, 5.4) leads the Blue Devils, followed by junior center Elizabeth Williams (13.9, 7.3) and senior forward Haley Peters (10.8, 7.7).

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