ACC Game On: 11.14.11 EditionPosted by KCarpenter on November 14th, 2011
ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward at key upcoming matchups.
Every team in the Atlantic Coast Conference has played at least one game so far, except for Boston College which makes it’s debut tonight. Before we get to breaking down Monday night’s slate of games, let’s spend a little time taking a look at this past weekend and the first few games played by ACC teams. While most everyone stuck pretty closely to the script, there were a few pleasant surprises for ACC fans.
Unsurprisingly, the star of the Carrier Classic was the aircraft carrier itself. The USS Carl Vinson was an incredibly cool setting for a basketball game. So cool, in fact, that the basketball game seemed like an afterthought. While North Carolina beat Michigan State, and John Henson was able to show off his shot-blocking ability by getting nine of them, it was his increased offensive arsenal (which he continued to demonstrate on Sunday against UNC Asheville) that should excite Tar Heel fans. But the real MVP of the event was probably the San Diego sky.
Belmont lived up to its reputation as a dangerous team and came within one point of upsetting Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke held the line and eked out a victory against the pesky and talented Bruins. This, combined with a blowout over Presbyterian confirms very little about this year’s Blue Devils. Rather, viewers learned a great deal more about Belmont and Presbyterian (one’s quite good and the other’s quite bad) than they did about the as-yet-enigmatic and still-emerging Blue Devils. Wins are wins though, and now Mike Krzyzewski has as many of them (902) as any men’s college basketball coach in Division I history.
In the rest of the conference, the less-heralded matchups played out pretty much as expected with the ACC teams winning every single one. That said, there were still some impressive individual performances over the weekend. North Carolina State‘s Richard Howell is making the most of his new found role as a starter, scoring 14 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in his season opener, and scoring 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds against Morehead State. At Wake Forest, Carson Desrosiers is another big man who looked like he might be poised for a breakout year. Against a talented Loyola (MD) team, Desrosiers snagged ten rebounds, scored eight points, and amassed eight blocks. In terms of strong performance by freshmen,Virginia Tech‘s Dorian Finney-Smith made a persuasive opening statement in his campaign for Freshman of the Year. The versatile forward had ten points, 16 rebounds, five assists, and four blocks. Finney-Smith’s ability to do everything bodes well for the Hokies.
The strangest performance of the weekend, however, goes to Clemson‘s Tanner Smith. Last year, Smith served as an able but unexceptional swingman for the Tigers. This year, it looks like Smith might be the Tigers’ point guard. The early returns of this experiment in non-traditional position roles are intriguing. Though Smith scored only six points against Gardner-Webb, he did a little bit of everything else. He grabbed 14 rebounds, had eight assists, five steals, and two blocks. It’s one of the weirder stat lines that I’ve ever seen for a point guard, but I’m sure Brad Brownell will take it.
On tonight’s menu, we have a bunch of small conference teams trying to embarrass their ACC hosts. No one seems to have a clear shot at an upset, but let’s check on their chances.
The Main Event
UCF at Florida State at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.com
If you had asked me about this matchup a week ago, it would have easily been the game that I would have been most excited to watch. Florida State is, in all likelihood, the best defensive team in the country and on the inside track to challenging the ACC’s upper echelon. Central Florida, on the other hand, is a less-heralded in-state rival that now boasts two of Michael Jordan’s sons and is probably more talented than most fans outside of Conference USA think. Unfortunately, scandal is currently shaking UCF and four key contributors were held out of the season opener. Starters Marcus Jordan, P.J. Gaynor and Oregon transfer Josh Crittle have been suspended due to an as-yet-unknown violation of team rules. Point guard A.J. Rompza is currently awaiting the result of an NCAA hearing on his eligibility. While Rompza is almost certainly out for tonight’s game, if the suspended three players aren’t reinstated, it seems unlikely that Central Florida will have the firepower to beat Florida State in Tallahassee.
New Hampshire at Boston College at 7:00 PM
A host of new faces at Boston College (predicted to finish last in the ACC at Operation Basketball) plays New Hampshire, a team that went 6-8 in the America East Conference last season. Still, while this game might not look great on paper, it’s a chance to see how BC’s almost entirely renovated team performs on the hardwood. For consideration of what figures to be a largely unknown quantity, this game is worth checking out.
Monmouth at Virginia Tech at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.com
Monmouth isn’t a particularly good team, but as it turns out Dorian Finley-Smith is a particularly good player. He had a sterling debut, but the question remains: Is he a one-hit wonder or a superstar in the making? I’ll be very curious to see how the young man performs in this, his second collegiate game.
For Fans Only
Delaware State at Georgia Tech at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.com
Georgia Tech played it’s opener over the weekend against Florida A&M. The Yellow Jackets played well against their opponent, particularly on defense, but it’s unclear what it means. While Delaware State is a rung up the ladder from Florida A&M, we’re still talking close to the bottom of the D-I talent pool. Georgia Tech should lock down this team and win easily despite the current suspension of Glen Rice, Jr.