Reviewing the ACC’s Five Early Losses

Posted by Mick McDonald on November 16th, 2018

We’re just over a week into the season and the ACC has suffered a total of five losses. Two of those defeats came from teams that were expected to struggle, two others were from teams that were hoping to be on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament, and one came from a potential contender. RTC ACC writer Mick McDonald (@themickmcdonald) breaks each of those early losses down. (All rankings via KenPom as of November 15.)

Syracuse Struggled Against Old Enemy UConn Last Night (USA Today Images)

  • #96 Connecticut 83, #7 Syracuse 76. As the old saying goes, throw out the KenPom rankings when two old rivals get together. Syracuse had to scratch and claw to make the NCAA Tournament last year despite an elite defense because the Orange simply couldn’t score (135th nationally). Last night against Connecticut in Madison Square Garden, they were up to their old tricks again. The Orange shot just 39.4 percent from the field and made just six threes while allowing Connecticut to nail 12-of-21 from three-point range. Most teams won’t shoot nearly that well against Syracuse’s length this year, but its lack of consistent offense leaves the Orange vulnerable when a team gets hot.
  • #259 IUPUI 76, #90 Boston College 69. Whatever dreams Boston College had at making a run at an at-large bid this year may already be over with its bad loss earlier this week to IUPUI. Jim Christian’s team simply isn’t making enough shots, hitting only 29.5 percent of its three-pointers so far this season and getting limited production from its frontcourt of Steffon Mitchell (46.4% eFG) and Nik Popovic (47.4% eFG). Most importantly, Boston College needs to find some depth — through only three games, the Eagles’ five starters are averaging at least 28 minutes per contest. Freshman Jairus Hamilton is playing just over 18 minutes per game off the bench. Nobody else is seeing more than five minutes per contest. If Christian can’t find anyone else he trusts to give the occasional spell to Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman, Boston College is in major trouble in the ACC.

  • #143 Radford 63, #65 Notre Dame 60. Despite Radford being a solid mid-major team (the defending champions and pre-season pick to win the Big South), this was still a surprising loss. Mike Brey appeared to be in for a rebuilding year, but we’ve seen him make magic with teams supposedly rebuilding before. The Fighting Irish shot just 36.1 percent from the field on Wednesday night, with TJ Gibbs, going 5-of-16, including seven misses from three-point range. The most disturbing news for Notre Dame is that, through three games, Gibbs (33.8% eFG, 8.1 PER, 13.6% 3FG) has been about as bad as he can be. Brey’s system relies on his role players from previous years becoming stars in their junior and senior seasons, but if Gibbs can’t make that necessary leap, it will be nearly impossible for the Fighting Irish to return to the NCAA Tournament in March.
  • #75 Saint Joseph’s 89, #118 Wake Forest 69. Wake Forest ranked 130th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings last year, better than only lowly Pittsburgh among ACC teams. Danny Manning’s squad this season, however, isn’t showing much improvement, currently ranking 174th nationally. In two games, Wake’s opponents have made 24 three-pointers, including 16 by Saint Joseph’s yesterday in a 20-point loss. Despite an influx of young talent, it looks like another long season ahead in Winston-Salem.
  • #10 Tennessee 66, #92 Georgia Tech 53. Nothing to see here — there’s no shame in losing in Knoxville this year. Keep an eye on senior Brandon Alston, though, whose start to the season (29.9 PER, 66.7% eFG) has been a very pleasant surprise for Josh Pastner’s club.
Mick McDonald (70 Posts)

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