Reviewing the Performance of ACC Teams in Feast Week: Part IPosted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 27th, 2013
After a lackluster start in non-conference play, the ACC has somewhat rebounded with some impressive showings in the early season tournaments so far. In the seven events that have already completed, the ACC has a record of 12-5 (not counting designated home games related to the events, only the neutral court games). That record includes three championships, one runner-up, and two third place finishes. That’s a big improvement over recent years, considering that ACC schools have only won five such titles in the previous three seasons combined.
Leading the way was North Carolina, which bounced back from a home loss to Belmont the weekend before to stun #3 Louisville 93-84 in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Connecticut on Sunday. That followed a 82-72 Tar Heels win over Richmond the day before. Marcus Paige was sensational in his new role as North Carolina’s primary perimeter scorer, scoring 58 points in the two contests. He displayed a tremendous shooting touch going 9-of-14 on three-point attempts and 19-of-20 from the free throw line over the weekend.
Similarly, Maryland rebounded from a bad home loss last Sunday to Oregon State, winning the Paradise Jam Tournament title. The Terrapins got to the title game with wins over Marist, 68-43, and Northern Iowa, 80-66. They then beat Providence, 56-52, in Monday’s championship game. Dez Wells was selected as the tournament MVP while averaging 15 points and five rebounds over the three games. He was supported by transfer player Evan Smotrycz who scored 20 points against Northern Iowa and had a double-double (13/11) in the finals.
The latest ACC team to join the tourney title club is Pittsburgh. While the Panthers’ early schedule has not been too challenging, one must be impressed with how easily the Panthers won the Progressive Legends Classic in Brooklyn this week. After whipping Texas Tech, 76-53, in Monday’s semifinal round, Pitt then dominated Stanford, 88-67, in Tuesday’s championship game. Senior Lamar Patterson had a great two-game performance, with scoring totals of 23 and 24. It appears that Jaime Dixon’s squad may be a contender for the ACC championship in its first year in the league.
Based on their performance so far, Clemson could turn out to be better than expected. After thumping South Carolina by 14 points in their third game of the season, the Tigers took a 3-0 record into the Charleston Classic and gave another good performance. After convincing wins over Temple, 72-58, and Davidson, 85-54, Clemson fell to #24 Massachusetts in Sunday’s championship game by a 62-56 score. K.J. McDaniels is leading the way for the Tigers at both ends of the floor. He’s averaging 18 PPG so far this season and has already had a couple of games with seven blocked shots.
After a very shaky start to the season, Boston College played better in the 2K Sports Classic games in New York last Thursday and Friday. In their first game in New York the Eagles took #13 Connecticut right to the wire, losing 72-70. BC then came back the next day to handle Washington, 89-78. A big key to that win was the scoring of Joe Rahon in support of Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlan. After going scoreless against Connecticut in 23 minutes, Rahon bounced back to tally 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field against the Huskies from the west.
Outside of North Carolina’s upset of defending national champion Louisville, the most impressive single game tournament performance has to be the 85-67 whipping Florida State put on #10 VCU in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Seminoles were well on their way to another huge win in the semifinals before blowing a 16-point second half lead to #14 Michigan, eventually losing 82-80 in overtime. Florida State then edged Northeastern by two on Sunday to claim third place in the event. Balanced scoring has been the Seminoles’ calling card so far this year, led by seniors Ian Miller (15.5 PPG) and Okaro White (14.3 PPG). Also, it appears that their three sophomore perimeter players have made good improvement over inconsistent freshman years, with Devon Bookert, Montay Brandon, and Aaron Thomas all averaging over 10 points per game.
As expected, Virginia Tech went winless in it’s two Brooklyn games last Friday and Saturday as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but they probably played their best basketball of the young season in those games. The Hokies actually were only down by one point to #1 Michigan State, 31-30, and had the ball with five minutes to play in the first half of Friday’s game. Things went downhill from there as the Spartans went on an offensive spurt that led to a final score of 96-77. The next night, Virginia Tech lost a tight game to Seton Hall, 68-67. Senior Jarell Eddie is off to a hot shooting start this season making 19 of his 37 three point attempts, including a sparkling 6-of-9 in the Michigan State game.
After the first two weeks of this season, the ACC’s national reputation took a deserved hit. To turn around that perception, the ACC needs to show out even stronger in the rest of this week’s tournaments, but the conference is off to a pretty good start.