Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-UpPosted by KCarpenter on February 25th, 2013
Though there were some dandy match-ups over the weekend, there was something in the water that led to some strange outcomes. The best team in the conference lost to one of the worst ones and the worst team in the conference finally got a win after nine straight conference losses. So sure, things got a little weird, but what did we learn?
- No, Seriously, It’s Hard to Win On the Road in the ACC. Miami learned this the hard way on Saturday after Wake Forest handed the Hurricanes their very first conference loss. It was the first time Miami had lost a game since Christmas. Meanwhile, although Wake Forest certainly enjoyed celebrating the big upset, no one knows the sorrows of the road and the comforts of home better than the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is 5-2 at home (the two losses were by a combined total of six points) and 0-7 on the road within the conference. Of course, maybe a big part of that is just Wake Forest: Over the course of the season the team has won exactly one true road game, against UNC-Greensboro, thirty minutes down the road (assuming no traffic) at the traditional venue of the ACC Tournament.
- Maryland Is Making Progress On Its Turnover Problem. In a win over Clemson, Maryland had only eight turnovers while the Tigers had 11. That counts for something! Seriously, things were getting pretty ridiculous: On the season Maryland has had 408 turnovers while their opponents have posted only 279. Those extra possessions make winning tricky, and if Maryland wants to keep their bubble from bursting, they need to hold onto the ball if they want any chance of winning critical games against North Carolina and Virginia down the stretch.
- North Carolina State Is Not Making Progress on Its Defensive Problem. NC State made the game interesting for North Carolina, but on the whole, the Wolfpack’s inability to stop an improving but still middling Tar Heels offense made a victory all but impossible. UNC did a fine job at slowing the Wolfpack’s potent offense and managed to do enough offensively to stymie the conference’s biggest disappointment. NC State is still an incredibly talented team, but it also seems like a squad that hasn’t improved as the season has progressed. Something needs to change, but the tail end of February seems like it might be far too late.
- Rasheed Sulaimon Heard What You Said About Olivier Hanlan. Duke smoked Boston College at home and the freshman Sulaimon took a starring role, putting up 27 points on only 15 shots. In the match-up against the Eagles, Sulaimon found himself pitted against one of his chief competitors in the conference Rookie of the Year race. Hanlan has been sensational this season, often taking a leading role for his team, but on Sunday he was simply relegated to the background as Sulaimon put together the best game of his just blossoming career. Sulaimon hasn’t exactly wrapped up the race at this point, but this game will provide another lasting memory for those among us trying to compare the two players.
- Erick Green Never Turns the Ball Over. It’s uncanny. Conventional wisdom says that ball-handlers will typically lead your team in turnovers. Distributing the ball around to your teammates gives you plenty of chances to make mistakes. Conventional wisdom also holds that players with high offensive usage also turn the ball over more often than those who don’t handle the rock as much. The same concept applies: When you try to do more with the ball, it’s easier to mess up. Players who rarely turn the ball over tend to fit two archetypes: the catch-and-shoot perimeter sniper, and the relatively stationary post player. Rion Brown of Miami currently leads the league in lowest turnover percentage at 10.1%, and sure enough, he’s mostly a shooter (although this season his shot has been less than reliable). Second in the ACC is the guy who shouldn’t be on this list at all: Erick Green turns the ball over on only 10.3% of his possessions. The fact that Green has the ball in his hands more than anyone else in the conference (31.8% of possessions) makes this feat even more stunning.
- Virginia is a Very Good Offensive Team. The fact that Virginia has been playing such strong defense and plays at such a slow pace has done a pretty good job of obscuring the excellent offense that the Cavaliers are running this season. Sure, everyone knows what an outstanding three-point attack Virginia has, but the team is also extremely talented inside the arc and Sunday’s game against Georgia Tech did a good job of illustrating this. Against the Yellow Jackets, the Cavaliers managed only 31.6% shooting from the perimeter. Inside the arc — 65%. It’s not just Akil Mitchell on the interior either; Virginia’s guards have shown that they can gun from distance. On a day when star Joe Harris was a miserable 0-of-5 from deep, he made four of five two-pointers and went 7-of-8 from the free throw line. The low scores and tough defense make it an easy thing to overlook, but Virginia has the third best offense going in the ACC.