ACC Game On: 11.30.11 EditionPosted by KCarpenter on November 30th, 2011
Duke got a shellacking from a very good Ohio State team who managed to deny the ball to and otherwise nullify the efficient scoring triumvirate of Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry, and Andre Dawkins who combined to score seven points (all Curry’s) before a disgusted Mike Krzyzewski benched the trio. On the other end, the Blue Devils were unable to stop a brutally efficient Buckeye offense that shot 59.3% from the field and included four players scoring over seventeen points. Other Big Ten beat downs were provided by Northwestern who stomped Georgia Tech with John Shurna‘s versatile offensive game and Purdue who simply devastated Miami with good looks at the basket and even better shooting. Maryland had the lead over Illinois for a nice chunk of that game, but Nick Faust’s trigger happy ways (2-11 shooting) continue to hurt the Terrapins as the Illini rallied to win the game.
On a positive note, Virginia got a quality win against Michigan in Blacksburg. The Cavaliers locked down Tim Hardaway Jr., holding him to only five points, while managing to get to the charity stripe at a much greater rate than Michigan. The Wolverines shot better from the field and better from the three-point line than Virginia, but making seventeen free throws while Michigan made only four gave the Wahoos the win. The other ACC silver-lining comes courtesy of Clemson which managed an impressive showing on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Iowa simply had no answer for Andre Young’s five three-pointers and another ridiculous all-round game from Tanner Smith who had only seven points, but managed to get fourteen rebounds and eight assists.
Tonight’s the second night of the Challenge and the ACC has a steep hill to climb. The conference would have to win five of tonight’s six games to outright win. That seems like a tall order, but let’s at least look at the match-ups.
The Heavyweight Match-Up
- #7 Wisconsin at #4 North Carolina at 9:30 PM on ESPN
This is a big one. The former overwhelming #1 takes on a Wisconsin team that’s been nipping at the heels of the nation’s top teams. A win in Chapel Hill would go a long way towards showing that the Badgers belong in the National Championship conversation. A refocused Tar Heel squad hopes to bounce back from their loss to UNLV and show the world that they mean business and that they are ready to take all comers. Much more about the contest here.
- Indiana at North Carolina State at 7:15 PM on ESPN2
- Virginia Tech at Minnesota at 9:15 PM on ESPN2
North Carolina State showed that they weren’t scared of the big boys by taking down Texas, but Indiana is an even tougher match-up. The resurgent Hoosiers have managed to put together a sterling campaign early in the year, including a big win over Butler, and some of the gaudiest shooting percentages in the sport. Indiana is the better team, but the Wolfpack has been battle-tested and has shown flashes of potential that hint at a team that’s on the rise. Indiana should win, but there’s something about the ferocity of this NC State team that makes me think that if Indiana comes out sluggish, they are simply toast.
Meanwhile, in the frigid north, Virginia Tech has good shot at taking down a short-handed Minnesota team. With the injury to Trevor Mbakwe, it’s no longer clear that the Golden Gophers can even be considered the favorites in this game. Playing at home helps, but the Hokies have showed toughness in taking down Oklahoma State and were impressive against Syracuse, even if they didn’t get the win. Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson are quickly meshing into a lethal back court unit while Dorian Finney-Smith‘s versatility from the forward spot continues to impress. I think Virginia Tech wins this one, but with the injury to Mbakwe and the loss to Dayton, Minnesota has too much to prove to go down quietly.
A Really Ugly Game
- Florida State at Michigan State at 7:30 PM on ESPN
Two of the nation’s best defenses face off against two of the nation’s most turnover prone offenses. Fans who like well-executed offense should probably look away. Still, both teams are probably good enough for at-large bids and a win for Michigan State would be a step in the right direction. Florida State racked up a pair of “quality losses” last weekend against Harvard and Connecticut, but against the Spartans, the Seminoles get another shot at a quality win. This game might not be pretty, but both teams are good enough to make some noise as the season progresses and that alone makes this one worth the watch. I expect Michigan State to win at home, but I expect this one to be close.
The Basement Brawl
- Penn State at Boston College at 7:15pm on ESPNU
- Wake Forest at Nebraska at 9:15 PM on ESPNU
Penn State doesn’t figure to be a very good team this year, very possibly headed for the bottom of the Big Ten. On the other hand, Boston College might be the worst team in all of the power conferences. These teams are odd mirror images of each other, both having lost most of their 2010-11 rotation. If you like watching rebuilding projects and the formation of nascent team identity, this is a great game to watch. If you like watching basketball played at a high level, this might be one to skip. The Nittany Lions should win this one unless Patrick Heckmann decides to take the game over.
Wake Forest has made some great strides after last year’s catastrophic season. Nebraska, while not a great team, is very experienced. Against a young Wake Forest team, this experience will likely provide a slight edge. Still Travis McKie and C.J. Harris are the most potent scoring tandem in the ACC this year, both scoring more points per game than any other player outside of Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin and it’s hard to write off that much firepower against a team as middling as Nebraska.