ACC Hoops Notes: Noles on the Rise; De’Andre Hunter’s NBA Potential

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Selection Sunday is on the horizon, and in ACC Country March Madness is always preceded by a Frantic February with teams jockeying for favorable seeds or one of the last spots on the bubble. Each week in this space we’ll take a look at the most interesting and important happenings around the league that made college hoops a national phenomenon.

WORKING OVERTIME: Florida State has put in extra effort to set itself up for a likely NCAA Tournament berth.

This week’s upset of Clemson was the Seminoles fourth overtime game and Leonard Hamilton’s team is undefeated in the extra periods. The latest victory was a rally from 18 points down against a Tigers team that ranked No. 4 in the RPI.

The win probably lifted the Noles off the bubble for the moment and showed why FSU won’t be an easy out in March.

Florida State is starting to develop enviable depth. Reserve guard Trent Forrest had his best game of the season against Clemson, scoring 16 points and making key plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor.

Add in the fact FSU is once again one of the biggest teams in the nation, the Seminoles are a nightmare matchup for some teams and a team to keep an eye on when the bracket comes out.

DE’ANDRE DRAFTABLE?: It’s incredibly rare for a team to win an NCAA championship without a future first round NBA Draft pick on the roster. Some have wondered if No. 1 Virginia could put that to the test this season.

Afterall, the top-scoring Cavs, Kyle Guy and Devon Hall, might have pro careers of some sort ahead of them, but aren’t surefire draft picks. Even the biggest stars under Tony Bennett at UVa — Mike Scott, Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon —  slipped to the second round.

The debate could become pointless though as redshirt freshman De’Andre Hunter continues to improve and impress.

Hunter isn’t a star of the mock drafts just yet, and likely should stay another year or two at Virginia before he thinks about leaving, but his stock among pro scouts is on the rise.

The 6-7 Philadelphia product is the type of lengthy hybrid inside-out player NBA franchises have come to value with a 7-foot wingspan and powerful athleticism. Earlier this season at Duke, something of a breakout game for Hunter, he matched up well with Blue Devils superstar Marvin Bagley III. There were moments that simply had the feel of two pros going back and forth.

He could stand to work on his jumper to get more consistent from 3-point range, but of the Cavs do get to the Final Four or further this season it will likely be in part because Hunter’s NBA-ready skills are on display.

BATTLE FOR BYES?: Virginia is running away with the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament with a 13-1 record. But 10 other teams sit between 9-4 and 6-7 as they compete for the coveted double or single byes in Brooklyn.

Teams such as the Cavaliers and Duke would gladly take a free spot in the conference quarterfinals, but for squads with less secure NCAA Tournament status, more games on neutral courts are potentially beneficial.

With the selection committee placing extra importance on games away from home this season, bubble teams might be better off not getting whisked through to a likely loss.

Shane Mettlen is a veteran journalist who lives in Virginia and also writes for The ACC Sports Journal. Follow him on Twitter @ShaneMettlen.