ACC Stock Watch: Holiday Edition

Posted by Lathan Wells on December 26th, 2014

As the holiday break kicked in, some ACC teams and players were probably thrilled to review their last few weeks of action with family and friends. Others were undoubtedly just glad they had some time away from the hardwood to refresh and reset expectations. We’ve now had three weeks since we last evaluated the state of the conference’s players and coaches, so here’s the Holiday Edition of the ACC Stock Watch:

Trending Up

  • Notre Dame. All the Fighting Irish have done since we last checked in is to reel off five straight wins, bringing their overall record to 12-1 (including an early ACC win over Florida State). Mike Brey’s team is one of the most dynamic offensive groups in the country, averaging 86.1 points per game and putting up 94 and 91 points, respectively, in blowout wins over Purdue and Northern Illinois. More impressive than the overall offensive output in those two games is that Jerian Grant scored a total of 21 points on just 5-of-22 shooting from the field. Once the All-American candidate returns to form, look out.
  • Virginia. Don’t look now, but the Cavaliers are finally getting their due as a serious national title contender. Tony Bennett’s team may be even better defensively this year than last, holding a talented Harvard team to eight first-half points en route to an impressive 76-27 win following a 17-point victory over rival VCU in Richmond two weeks prior. Duke and Louisville have gotten the majority of the attention so far, but the Cavaliers’ 11-0 start is something more pundits on the national scene are paying attention to.
Malcolm Brogdon and Virginia's throttling of Harvard proved they're a player in the national conversation (AP Photo)

Malcolm Brogdon and Virginia’s latest win, a throttling of Harvard, proved the Cavaliers are a player in the national conversation (AP Photo)

  • North Carolina. For all of the talk about this team’s uneven play and noticeable deficiencies, the Tar Heels actually have put together a nice stretch since our last stock watch. Although they fell to Kentucky in Lexington, it took the Wildcats’ best shooting day of the year to knock off the Tar Heels by a mere 14 points (plus North Carolina actually outscored the Cats in the second half). In addition to blowout wins over East Carolina and UNC-Greensboro, the Heels won an important non-conference battle with a good Ohio State team last weekend. At 8-3, there are still some reasons for pessimism in Chapel Hill, but you can’t ignore that Roy Williams’ team has earned some solid wins while playing the ACC’s toughest non-conference schedule.

  • Pat Connaughton, Notre Dame. With Jerian Grant struggling in Notre Dame’s most recent two contests, Connaughton has continued to do what he’s done all year: score and rebound the ball at an extremely high level. His season averages of 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game are solid, but in putting up 19/14 against Purdue and 21/10 against Northern Illinois, he showed he can put the team on his back offensively without the Irish missing a beat. He’s a very good player on a very good team that is flying under the radar right now.
  • Olivier Hanlan, Boston College. Much was made of Hanlan’s terrible assist-to-turnover ratio after assuming the primary ball-handling duties for the Eagles this year. But in the team’s last four games — in which Jim Christian’s squad went 3-1 — Hanlan handed out 19 assists to nine turnovers, a much more palatable 2-to-1 ratio. He’s still scoring, as well, averaging nearly 16 points per game in the last four contests. If Hanlan can continue to keep his turnovers low, the team will run more smoothly come conference play.


  • Syracuse. It’s still difficult to tell what this Syracuse team is going to do this year. Rakeem Christmas has been the team’s lone constant on offense, as players have taken turns with efficient offensive days but shown little consistency on that end of the floor. The Orange are 7-4 but have zero resume-enhancing wins after falling at home to a resurgent St. John’s and top-10 Villanova team since our last stock watch. Jim Boeheim’s crew will need an impressive run in the ACC this year to ensure a return to the Big Dance.
  • Ralston Turner, NC State. The Wolfpack are 4-2 since we last checked in on them, and while Trevor Lacey has gotten most of the attention, a lot has been revealed about the importance of Ralston Turner over this stretch. In the last six games, Turner has averaged 15.5 points per game, shooting 44 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. However, in the team’s two losses to Wofford and West Virginia, and its befuddling comeback win over Louisiana Tech, Turner scored a total of 22 points and shot 24 percent from the field. Clearly Turner is an important complement on the perimeter to Lacey and Cat Barber, and his play will go a long way to determining this team’s ultimate success.
Ralston Turner's uneven showings over the past six games mirror those of his team (AP Photo)

Ralston Turner’s uneven showings over the past six games mirror those of his team (AP Photo)

Trending Down

  • Miami. It’s been quite a tumble for Jim Larranaga’s team since December 6, a four-game sequence in which the Hurricanes have gone 1-3. Wisconsin-Green Bay and Eastern Kentucky were both head-scratching losses, and they ended the pre-holiday slate with a reasonable but disappointing loss to Providence. The other troubling sign? All three losses came at home. It’ll be interesting to see if this is an aberration or whether too much was made of the Hurricanes after their early wins over Florida and Illinois.
  • Angel Rodriguez, Miami. The team’s second-leading scorer shot just 25 percent in the past four games, three of those coming as losses. There’s not a ton of offensive firepower on the Hurricanes outside of Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan, so if the former’s shooting slump continues, Miami may be slipping into dangerous territory as ACC play begins. Jim Larranaga needs both impact transfers to produce on a regular basis in order for this team to make a run into the top half of the league standings.
  • Chris McCullough, Syracuse. The freshman from the Bronx had to be thrilled when the holidays finally arrived. His last four outings for the Orange included two disqualifications from fouls and a miserable 6.3 points per game on 25 percent shooting. The entire team is a game-to-game experiment, but McCullough had shown early flashes that he could provide some production off the bench. It could be a case of freshman fatigue, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can become more consistent for an Orange team that needs to find answers come ACC play.
Lathan Wells (77 Posts)

A 30-year old unabashed college basketball fan, I currently reside in Richmond, Virginia. I especially enjoy following the ACC and the local teams, VCU and the University of Richmond. I hope to continue my journalistic pursuits in the sports arena full-time in the future, but in the meantime I am really enjoying covering the greatest sport there is for RTC. Follow me on Twitter @prohibitivefav.

Share this story

One response to “ACC Stock Watch: Holiday Edition”

  1. Hurricane Moe says:

    Actually Miami’s loss to Providence was a neutral site loss not home. Actually Providence was designated the home team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *