Lessons Learned: ACC Weekly Wrap-UpPosted by KCarpenter on January 28th, 2013
What do you take away from an ACC weekend full of blowouts? Sure, Clemson only beat Virginia Tech by seven points, but the next most closely contested game was North Carolina State’s eight-point win over North Carolina, a score that hides how dominant the Wolfpack looked for long stretches of the game. Still, a team can reveal just as much about themselves in a lopsided tilt as in a closely contested contest. So let’s look at what we learned.
- Georgia Tech Might Not Be The Worst Team In The Conference. Just when you thought you had them pegged, Georgia Tech has to go and win a game to tie Boston College for worst team in the conference. Of course, Georgia Tech’s first win came against lowly Wake Forest, but then again BC’s only conference win was against Virginia Tech. So who is the front-runner for standings bottom-dweller? It probably actually isn’t Georgia Tech. A lot of the Yellow Jackets’ floundering has to do with their schedule: Three of their five games have been against the best three teams in the conference (Miami, Duke, and NC State). One of their losses was an overtime loss to Virginia Tech and the other was a road loss to North Carolina. Outside of some bad luck against the Hokies, Georgia Tech is playing up to expectations. Fortunately, the schedule gets a little bit easier as the season rolls on and Tech will have plenty of chances to prove they can win. For what it’s worth, Ken Pomeroy’s system of Pythagorean projections has the Yellow Jackets as only the fifth worst team in the conference.
- Erick Green Is A Machine, But It Doesn’t Matter. Virginia Tech is the worst team in the conference per Ken Pomeroy’s projections and it’s a shame. Despite all the tough losses — including this weekend’s defeat to Clemson — Erick Green has been playing sensationally. He plays hard and puts 25 points up each night and yet his team can’t give him any support. Green is running away with the league’s scoring title, averaging 25.2 PPG, while his next closest competitor, Mason Plumlee, is averaging 17.4 PPG. Green is the most efficient scorer on the list of top scorers too — he’s been excellent at just about everything he does this season. He’s easily been the best guard in the conference, but his team has just been dreadful. At the end of regulation, Virginia Tech has only finished ahead of their opponents once — beating Wake Forest by one point. The Hokies ended up winning another game in overtime against Georgia Tech by a more respectable five points, but I bring this up to emphasize how shaky Virginia Tech’s two conference wins have been despite Green’s brilliance.
- Charles Mitchell Is Rebounding Like Crazy In Limited Minutes. Duke clobbered Maryland on Saturday, but Charles Mitchell, the reserve freshman forward for the Terrapins, put on an excellent little side show. In 13 minutes of action, Mitchell scored 13 points and had seven rebounds (six of the seven were on the offensive glass!). While the scoring punch was atypical for Mitchell, the rebounding wasn’t. Though he has played only 16.5 MPG this season, Mitchell has the 10th most offensive boards in the ACC, more than folks like Daniel Miller, C.J. Leslie, Terrance Shannon, and Okaro White. He’s almost as good on the defensive glass. If you look at his tempo-free rebounding numbers, they are even more impressive. Mitchell’s offensive rebounding mark is 16.0%, and in conference play, he trails only Richard Howell in this category. In terms of defensive rebounding, he has a 23.0% mark and is fifth best in the conference (for reference, Howell has a 23.3% defensive rebounding percentage). There is a real case to be made that Mitchell is the second best rebounder in the league behind only Howell! Obviously, the rest of Mitchell’s game is a work in progress, but this kind of eye-popping production is worth watching.
- North Carolina Does Not Have A Point Guard. If you have two combo guards, is that ultimately the same as having one point guard and one shooting guard? It’s a great basketball riddle, and the best explanation I’ve heard about the answer comes from Bill Simmons. If you have two Arnold Palmers, that doesn’t mean you have a glass of lemonade and a glass of iced tea: you just have two Arnold Palmers. Dexter Strickland and Marcus Paige are both capable combo guards, yet neither is really a point guard and that was readily apparent in NC State’s beatdown of the Tar Heels over the weekend.
- The Young Cavaliers Are Helping A Lot. Junior Akil Mitchell led the Wahoos in scoring in their win over Boston College with 16 points. Freshman Justin Anderson managed to tie that mark, and fellow freshmen Evan Nolte and Mike Tobey occupied the second and third scoring spots. This freshman trio has been quite productive all year. Though Joe Harris is still typically the team’s primary scorer with Mitchell as his inside-the-paint counterpart, the three freshmen are the team’s next best scorers on the season. It’s a very good sign for Virginia’s future, even if the dividends don’t pay out this year.
- Florida State Is Deep And… Well, Not Good. In the Seminoles’ loss Sunday against Miami, Coach Leonard Hamilton played 11 players 11 minutes or more over the course of the game. This is typical of a team that leads the ACC in bench minutes with 40.4% of available playing time going to players who don’t start. This is the 21st highest mark in Division I, and in this case it doesn’t seem to be a sign of particularly great depth, because Florida State still lost the game against Miami by 24 points. Hamilton is perhaps the best coach in the conference at developing his player’s talent, but the presumptive gamble here is that big minutes now for his bench will help his team improve down the home stretch. At this point, I’m not sure it will work, but I should know better than to bet against Hamilton.