Checking in on… the ACCPosted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2009
Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.
A few interesting games in the last week (mostly by those wearing Carolina blue), and the debut of conference play. And yes, I know the ACC lost the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but that has a lot to do with the matchups, and a weak lower tier of the ACC. More on that below. Let’s get right to the rankings:
ACC POWER RANKINGS (record as of Monday, Dec. 7)
1. North Carolina (7-2, 0-0)
PAST: The Tar Heels slide just past Duke this week (barely), despite a tough loss at Kentucky on Saturday. Deon Thompson and Will Graves led a valiant second-half rally for UNC, but a loss in Lexington is nothing to be ashamed of right now. Oh, and there was that up-and-down, 89-82 shootout win over Michigan State. So there’s that.
FUTURE: After a double-dip week like that, UNC deserves a week off, and they’ll get it. The Heels host Presbyterian on Saturday. But another test awaits at Texas on Dec. 19.
2. Duke (7-1, 0-0)
PAST: Don’t go crazy there, Dookies. I know you were No. 1 last week, and losing on the road to a Bo Ryan-coached Wisconsin team isn’t anything to worry about. Heck, just getting back safely from Madison in December is a victory. But you did let St. John’s back in the game on Saturday, and have shown a few chinks in the armor – like the inability to shoot? Duke ranks 10th in the ACC in shooting percentage, shooting just 45%.
FUTURE: Duke does not play at all this week, before facing Gardner-Webb and Gonzaga (at MSG).
3. Georgia Tech (6-1)
PAST: Wins over Siena and USC came by an average of 19.5 points, and the Jackets’ defense continues to impress. With Derrick Favors (2.1 blocks per game), Gani Lawal (10.3 rebounds/game), Tech controls the middle. The perimeter defense ain’t bad either, as teams are shooting less than 25% from beyond the arc against the Wreck.
FUTURE: No games this week for the Jackets, with two cupcakes the week after.
4. Wake Forest (5-2, 0-0)
PAST: The Deacons lost at Purdue, while last week’s No. 4, Clemson, lost at Illinois. No shame in either loss, but Wake’s big win at Gonzaga on Saturday earns the rankings bump. There are not many trips in America tougher than one to Spokane, especially when going cross-country and coming off that loss to Purdue. Wake is holding opponents to just 36% shooting, and Al-Farouq Aminu is averaging more than 10 boards per game.
FUTURE: No games this week, and – in all honesty – no real challenges until 2010.
5. Clemson (7-2)
PAST: A tough loss to Illinois only drops the Tigers because of the nature of it – and that it was at home. Clemson held a 23-point lead before giving up a 35-10 run (AT HOME!) in a heartbreaking loss. Trevor Booker is a great player, but he came up really small when his team needed him to stop the bleeding, scoring just three points in the second half.
FUTURE: Clemson hosts Furman on Sunday in a slow week overall.
6. Miami (8-1, 0-1)
PAST: A nice home win over Tubby Smith and Minnesota early in the week was counteracted by a one-point loss at Boston College in the only conference game so far this season. Malcolm Grant’s last-second 3-pointer made the score closer than the finish actually was, but it was Grant’s missed 3-pointer in the final minute that saw the ‘Canes secure their first loss.
FUTURE: Miami jumps on the Christmas cupcake train, as well. These are their next five opponents: South Carolina State, Stetson, Florida Atlantic, North Carolina A&T, and Bethune Cookman. YAWN.
7. Florida State (7-2, 0-0)
PAST: The Seminoles were never really in the game at Ohio State, falling by 13, before thumping Florida International.
FUTURE: No games this week, which allows the basketball team to help the 6-6 football team get ready for its fraudulent trip to the Gator Bowl.
8. Maryland (5-3, 0-0)
PAST: It’s hard to gauge the Terps after their win at Indiana, for whom the word “rebuilding” isn’t strong enough. They put up 86 points against a very good Villanova team Sunday night, including contributions from Terrapins not named Greivis Vasquez, who attempted just nine shots as the Wildcats focused on him. Sean Mosely dropped 26 on 11-of-14 shooting, while Eric Hayes and Jordan Williams scored 20 and 19, respectively.
FUTURE: Maryland does play this week (if you call it that), hosting Eastern Kentucky on Friday.
9. Virginia Tech (6-1, 0-0)
PAST: The Hokies posted two strong wins over big-conference opponents – a road win at Iowa and a home thumping of Georgia. Malcolm Delaney continues to dominate the league’s scoring stats, averaging 22.6 points per game. Depth is a question though, as two Hokies – Delaney and Dorenzo Hudson – are playing more than 35 minutes a game.
FUTURE: Tech actually plays twice this week, hosting Virginia Military Academy before playing the most interesting game of an otherwise weak ACC schedule: on the road at Penn State on Saturday (ESPN2).
10. Boston College (6-2, 1-0)
PAST: The Eagles move up a spot after the win over Miami and a very impressive victory at Michigan in the Challenge. If sophomore Reggie Jackson, who had 18 points and nine boards against Miami, can continue to support Corey Raji, the Eagles could have a stronger season than many expected.
FUTURE: BC will hear all the jokes about Wednesday’s game against Harvard, after losing to the Crimson last year. But the Eagles better watch out, because their Ivy League neighbors have had a very strong start, thumping UNH, BU and Rice before hanging around in a 6-point loss at UConn on Sunday.
11. N.C. State (6-1, 0-0)
PAST: The win over Marquette was nice, but Dwyane Wade isn’t walking through that door. The Wolfpack were routed by a good Northwestern squad at home, and continue to have problems scoring. While its defense ranks third in the league, allowing less than 58 points per game, N.C. State is dead last in the ACC in scoring at just 65.7 points per game.
FUTURE: N.C. State hosts Georgia Southern on Saturday.
12. Virginia (4-4, 0-0)
PAST: The Cavs dropped a close home decision to Penn State, in a game that really was a turning point in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, followed by another heartbreaker on Monday night against Auburn. Opponents are shooting 43% against Virginia this season, which is worst in the ACC.
FUTURE: Virginia is off until Dec. 19.
WEEK THAT WAS…
HIGHS AND LOWS: Everyone needs to get in a few tuneup games, and low- and mid-major teams need to get a few paydays, but teams should take a lesson from North Carolina. This week, the new top team in our rankings faced Michigan State and Kentucky in highly entertaining, up-and-down games that featured unreal collections of talent. Kentucky freshman and Raleigh native John Wall punished the Heels for not aggressively recruiting him, clinching the game with some late free throws. These are the games that hoops fans need to see more of in the regular season. There is no reason to not schedule tough nonconference games – the selection committee takes the time to break these things down in March.
RAMBLING RANT OF THE WEEK: I know it’s exam time, and we need to take a little break for our “student-athletes,” but can’t we get a few decent matchups? These kids don’t need to be there for their exams, anyway – just ask Derrick Rose.
CHALLENGING CHALLENGE: The ACC lost the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the first time in the 11-year history of the event, taking five of the 11 games. But that had something to do with tough matchups, including UNC/Michigan State, Wake Forest/Purdue, and FSU/Ohio State. But Duke’s loss at Wisconsin – which was never really close – should raise a few red flags for Blue Devil fans.
WAITING IN THE TUNNEL…
CRICKETS….: Not much going on during exam time this week, and the schedule doesn’t get much better until after New Year’s. When the highlight of the ACC week is Virginia Tech at Penn State, you know it’s time to hit the books.