Checking In On… the ACCPosted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2009
Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.
One team continued its dominant start with big wins at the World’s Most Famous Arena. The other struggled to live up to expectations, and did so at a tiny gym in paradise.
That lame attempt at suspense is explained below:
ACC POWER RANKINGS (record as of Monday, Nov. 30)
1. Duke (6-0)
PAST: With solid wins over Arizona State and UConn at the Preseason NIT, the Devils stayed hot to start their season. The UConn game wasn’t exactly pretty, but the defense and rebounding displayed by the Dookies are a good sign going into the meat of the schedule..
FUTURE: The Devils take their first actual road trip on Wednesday when they face Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Outside of that, their next real test doesn’t really come until a return to MSG on Dec. 19 to face Gonzaga.
2. North Carolina (6-1)
PAST: The Heels continue to be ho-hum in their wins, including Roy Williams’ 600th Sunday night against Nevada…
FUTURE: …but they don’t have room to be ho-hum anymore. UNC hosts Michigan State Tuesday night in the season’s first big game (more below), and then heads to Lexington to face Kentucky on Saturday.
3. Georgia Tech (4-1)
PAST: The Jackets handled Mercer in their only game this week.
FUTURE: Siena comes calling Wednesday in an interesting matchup. It should be one Tech can handle pretty easily, as should Saturday’s date with USC.
4. Clemson (6-1)
PAST: The Tigers lost to Texas A&M, but balanced that with a solid win over Butler in the 76 Classic. Senior David Potter is the only Tiger near the top of any ACC stat list, shooting 60% from beyond the arc.
FUTURE: Two interesting home games this week for the Tigers, as they host Illinois Wednesday and in-state rival South Carolina on Saturday.
5. Miami (7-0)
PAST: I know, the Hurricanes really haven’t beaten anyone yet, defeating Florida Gulf Coast and South Carolina-Upstate this week. But a young Miami squad is playing well, ranking in the top four in the ACC in offense and defense, and winning games by more than 20 points.
FUTURE: Minnesota comes in this week for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge before the Canes head to Boston College for the ACC opener on Sunday.
6. Florida State (6-1)
PAST: The Seminoles had a busy week, losing at rival Florida before wins over Iona, Alabama and Marquette. FSU is first in the ACC in scoring defense, allowing just 53.3 points per game.
FUTURE: FSU heads to Ohio State in a winnable game that would improve their resume, then returns home to face Isiah Thomas and Florida International.
7. Maryland (4-2)
PAST: The Terps had a disappointing trip to Hawaii (if such a thing is possible), dropping not-really-close games to Cincinnati and Wisconsin. Hey, they beat Chaminade, so that’s something, right?
FUTURE: After hosting struggling Indiana on Wednesday, Maryland plays a quasi-home game against Villanova on Sunday in Washington, D.C. A win there would erase this rough start, but will be very hard to get.
8. Wake Forest (4-1)
PAST: The Deacons drop in the rankings despite a light week on the schedule. Why? After handling Winston-Salem State, Wake lost by 10 points to William & Mary. At home. Ouch.
FUTURE: Wake takes the cake for toughest week in the league, heading to Purdue on Tuesday and Gonzaga on Saturday. Have fun with that.
9. N.C. State (4-2)
PAST: N.C. State only played once this week, taking care of New Orleans. Right now, they get the honorary top spot among the ACC’s weaker lower tier.
FUTURE: Northwestern comes in already thinking of its first-ever NCAA berth and coming off solid wins over Notre Dame and Iowa State. The Wolfpack also play at Marquette on Saturday.
10. Virginia Tech (4-1)
PAST: The Hokies lost to a surprisingly good Temple squad, then needed overtime to beat Delaware at the storied Palestra in Philadelphia.
FUTURE: Tech goes to Iowa Tuesday, then hosts Georgia on Sunday.
11. Boston College (4-2)
PAST: The Eagles lost by 12 to Northern Iowa (ouch), but capped the week with a solid road win at Providence (most ACC teams haven’t even tried a road game yet).
FUTURE: BC goes to Michigan Wednesday before opening the ACC schedule against Miami Sunday.
12. Virginia (4-3)
PAST: The loss to Stanford was tough, but a solid bounceback win over Cleveland State salvaged the week. A close loss to Penn State last night doesn’t help.
FUTURE: Off for the rest of this week to prep for next Monday’s battle with Auburn.
WEEK THAT WAS…
HIGHS AND LOWS: The highlight of the week in the ACC was Duke’s dominant performance in the final two rounds of the Preseason NIT, easily handling Arizona State and UConn at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils are on fire, despite shooting the third lowest percentage in the conference (46%). Want to know why? The stereotypically-small Dookies, who are usually known for 3-point percentages and perimeter shooting, are averaging 44 rebounds per game. That’s good enough for first in the ACC and 21st in the nation. And what happens when you get so many rebounds? You take more shots (therefore missing more), but you also get more chances. Duke leads the ACC in 3-pointers made (almost 9 per night), points per game (84.5), scoring margin (26.3), free throw percentage, 3-point percentage, and many other categories. They’re good.
Yes, it’s still really early. But given the limited slate of interesting games so far, it’s our job as irresponsible bloggers to jump to crazy conclusions. That also must mean that my preseason Maryland pick is ridiculous, right? Well it’s not looking good so far. The Terps must’ve stayed out in the sun too long in Maui, because they struggled mightily in losses to Cincinnati and Wisconsin. I saw most of the game against Cincy, and was left impressed by the effort but unimpressed by the execution. Too many turnovers, too many bad shots, and too many easy shots for the Bearcats. The Terps will get it right, but they need to get their act together.
RAMBLING RANT OF THE WEEK: This whole preseason tournament thing is out of control. I understand that teams get to play extra games outside of the NCAA’s mandated maximum, and they get to take fun trips to places like Anaheim, Cancun and Maui, but it’s impossible to keep track of where everyone is. I remember as a kid staying up late to watch the Maui Invitational and Great Alaska Shootout, and knowing that those teams were honored to be invited. Now, we have as many meaningless tournaments as we have football bowl games.
FAMOUS ARENA: This week, I took my first-ever trip to Madison Square Garden. It was for college hockey, not college hoops, but I left very impressed with what the atmosphere would be like in that place for a big basketball game. It was sold out, small, and loud. It’s now on the must-attend list for an important hoops tilt.
WAITING IN THE TUNNEL…
REMATCH AT THE DEAN DOME: Obviously, Tuesday’s National Championship rematch between UNC and Michigan State is must-see TV. Losses by both early on (Florida over MSU, Syracuse over UNC) have taken the sheen off this a little, but it’s still a good chance to see an ACC team against elite competition.
MR. VASQUEZ GOES TO WASHINGTON: Maryland tries to rebound from a tough showing in Maui with a quasi-home game against Villanova on Sunday in Washington, D.C. Greivis Vasquez and his Terps will have their hands full with the Wildcats’ backcourt, including Scottie Reynolds.
DEACONS’ DEMON SCHEDULE: Wake Forest could easily have an 0-2 week, with games at Purdue and at Gonzaga this week. No one would blame the Deacons if they fall to 4-3, but even a split this week would be huge.
CUPCAKE CAVALIERS: The cupcake slate is pretty much over for the ACC – except if you live in Charlottesville. After facing Auburn, these are the next five opponents for Virginia: UNC-Wilmington, NJIT, Hampton, UAB and Texas-Pan American. So ignore the overall record for Virginia, which could be 9-3 and still be the worst team in the ACC.