Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-UpPosted by KCarpenter on March 11th, 2013
The end of the regular season has arrived. After the six final games, we have a body of work for each team and, we can with some degree of confidence begin to look to the postseason. Many questions linger, but we were given no shortage of answers. It was an instructive final weekend for teams in the conference, and the ACC Tournament will offer a final test for at least six of these teams. What lessons will they carry through next weekend?
- Duke Is Beginning To Peak At The Right Time. Too often, the Blue Devils have looked dominant in the early part of the season only to wilt at the end of the regular season or far too early in tournament play. This year, the dip came early, with the loss of Ryan Kelly for a big chunk of the conference slate and a disappearing act by Mason Plumlee who seemed to vanish when his team needed him. Yet the early dip may have worked to Duke’s advantage. The team has rallied and on Saturday, against a solid North Carolina team playing at home, demonstrated the terrifyingly potent form that the Blue Devils have started to slip into. Duke has had the misfortune of playing their best basketball too early in the past couple of seasons, but right now, everything looks like it is coming together at just the right time.
- Clemson Looks Terrible. Virginia Tech may have clinched the bottom seed for the ACC Tournament, but make no mistake: Clemson looks like the worst team in the conference. After going 4-4 over the first eight conference games, the Tigers would only win one more the rest of the way. While the team’s defense would remain somewhat effective, the offense fell off a cliff. Sure, the Tigers managed to tie Miami at the half, but that speaks more to Miami’s penchant for offensive droughts than anything about Clemson. It’s possible that Brad Brownell’s squad might round into form this week, but it honestly looks like this team gave up on trying to do much of anything more than a month ago.
- Boston College Finished Strong. The Eagles eked out a narrow win over Georgia Tech that capped off a three-game winning streak to close out the season. As a team that spent most of the season competing for the worst record in the league, that makes these wins feel like a sign of momentum. In terms of teams that almost certainly won’t make the NCAA Tournament, Boston College is at the top of the ACC losers’ heap. The team will get to celebrate its accomplishments and its Saturday victory over Georgia Tech on Thursday when BC gets to face… Georgia Tech. Despite the hard-earned higher seed, the Eagles’ two-point home victory against the Yellow Jackets doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence for the rematch.
- NC State Is Still The Worst Good Team In The ACC. After rattling off six wins in the past seven games, it looked like the Wolfpack might be back on track. Of course, the team that was once considered the likeliest top team in the conference then managed to close out their season by losing to Florida State. NC State’s defensive woes have simply not been fixed. Florida State is the eighth best offense in the conference, but that didn’t seem to matter all that much against the ninth best defense. The Wolfpack has so much potential and enough offensive firepower to make most teams cry, and this team could get hot or lucky or both, but it’s hard to put much faith in a team that only plays on one end of the floor.
- Erick Green Has Not Given Up. Against all odds, the one man army named Erick Green is still playing hard. His 35 points on 18 shots in a loss didn’t cause anyone to bat an eyelash (though it’s worth noting that CJ Harris was just as good). Sure, that’s pretty close to the same ridiculous stat lines put up by Ryan Kelly and Joe Harris, but when Green does it, everyone just shrugs. That’s the craziest part of this season for me: Erick Green has been playing out of his mind on a losing team, turning in incredible performance after performance, and everyone’s reaction seems to be a simple nod. The fact that Green continues to play so well in the face of staggering indifference is impressive, and seems to hint at a 40-point tournament game to come.
- Maryland Is Dangerous. Yes, the Terrapins lost to Virginia, but losing to one of the best teams in the conference after forcing overtime on the road is a feat worth noting. Maryland has improved over the course of the season, working hard to cut down on its turnovers and to space the floor more effectively. The team can play rough-and-ready defense and is an elite offensive rebounding squad. More importantly, Maryland is the one team in the top half of the bracket that is currently on the wrong side of the bubble (assuming that Virginia is in, though just barely). More than any other team, Maryland needs to grab some wins and is capable of actually stealing those wins. Other teams want to win the ACC Tournament or wish they could win the ACC Tournament. Maryland is going to come to Greensboro this week determined to win it.