GREENSBORO, N.C. — The underdogs are trying to top each other at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament — and they’re succeeding.
"I’ve been seeing all the highlights of all the games, and what it seemed like is all the lower seeds were coming out on top," North Carolina State freshman Scott Wood said. "I kind of didn’t want to let them all down."
Three upsets in the quarterfinal round set up a pair of unlikely semifinal matchups Saturday: Top-seeded Duke faces 12th-seeded Miami, and seventh-seeded Georgia Tech takes on 11th-seeded N.C. State.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils — the only one of the top six seeds to make it to the semifinals — beat Virginia 57-46 before the Hurricanes started the binge of upsets by topping fourth-seeded Virginia Tech 70-65.
Then came the evening session, when the Yellow Jackets toppled No. 19 Maryland 69-64, and the Wolfpack beat third-seeded Florida State 58-52.
The ACC’s two bottom seeds have made it to the semifinals, and five of the top six seeds are done — both firsts in the storied league tournament’s history. In fact, never before had four of the top six been eliminated by this stage of the event.
"That’s just one thing that I’ve noticed, and it just shows that the lower seeds have probably been wanting it a little bit more," Wood said. "I think that’s how it should be."At least one team — either N.C. State or Georgia Tech — is assured of becoming the latest ACC team to play four tournament games in four days. The Hurricanes, who sprung their second upset in a 24-hour period, hope to join them.
In the other half of the bracket, Wood had his second hot shooting performance against the Seminoles, scoring 18 points on six 3-pointers to send the Wolfpack into the semifinals for the first time since coach Sidney Lowe reached the title game in his first season in 2007. They’ll face a Georgia Tech team that blew most of a 19-point lead, overcame 25 turnovers and needed Iman Shumpert to strip the ball from Vasquez in the closing seconds.
That gave the Yellow Jackets’ NCAA tournament resume a boost, with Selection Sunday drawing closer. Not that coach Paul Hewitt is looking that far ahead just yet.
"Right now, we’re in this tournament. We can answer all the questions ourselves," Hewitt said. "It’s in our hands. We’ll just see what happens tomorrow, and we’ll take it from there."