ACC Mega-Preview: Duke Tops Power Rankings

Posted by Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) on November 8th, 2013

Over the last two weeks, we have previewed each team individually to go with several more articles to get you ready for ACC basketball starting later today. Links to the previews can be found in each of the preseason power rankings listed below. Also look for our preseason conference awards later which will publish later today.

ACC Basketball Twitter Must-Follows (Chris): 

  • Part I (general ACC tweeters)
  • Part II (Maryland, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Miami, Pittsburgh,  and Georgia Tech)
  • Part III (Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, and NC State)

Early Season Tournaments (Brad):

  • Part I (Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Clemson)
  • Part II (Florida State, North Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse)
  • Part III (Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Miami)

Seven Nonconference Games to Watch (Brad)

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (75): Unanimous selection for the top spot, Coach K hopes this year’s more athletic group of players can thrive at a faster pace of play. Duke is a national contender this season.
Syracuse Orange 2. Syracuse (67): Their loaded front court and a legendary coach will help make seamless transition to the ACC, bringing their length and vaunted 2-3 zone along with them. Frosh point guard Tyler Ennis is the difference between a very good team and a great one.
North Carolina Tar Heels T3. North Carolina (64): The development of the young frontcourt will be key for a team with plenty of upside, but a daunting non-conference schedule and the suspensions of PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald loom early.
Virginia Cavaliers T3. Virginia (64): ACC stars Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell are back in Charlottesville. If the point guard position has more offensive output than last season, this team has all the pieces to be an ACC contender.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 5. Notre Dame (52)Mike Brey has to find a way to replace Jack Cooley‘s production in the post, but the Fighting Irish bring back one of the best backcourts in the ACC. The Fighting Irish look like a border-line top-25 team heading into the season.
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland (48): Losing Seth Allen for a spell and Alex Len to the lottery will hurt, but Dez Wells‘ brilliance and Maryland’s overall athleticism should propel them to new heights under Mark Turgeon assuming they can cut out some of their turnovers.
Boston College 7. Boston College (43): A veteran core and a bona fide star could take Boston College to the next level, provided Steve Donahue does something about the team’s dreadful defense. If Dennis Clifford is healthy, this team has a shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Pittsburgh Panthers 8. Pittsburgh (41): The Panthers have three solid returning starters to build around, but will need their new big men to make an immediate impact after Steven Adams’ surprising decision to bolt for the NBA Draft. Also how will the new officiating rules affect Jamie Dixon‘s style?
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 9. Georgia Tech (31): The tandem of sophomores Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt will prove even more effective as the Yellow Jackets look to make strides, but their young core is a few years away from making noise. Tennessee transfer Trae Golden should be an upgrade over Mfon Udofia at point guard.
NC State Wolfpack 10. NC State (29): TJ Warren could be one of the most talented players in the conference, but there is an enormous amount of departed experience to replace in Raleigh. Mark Gottfried‘s talented group of freshmen will be expected to contribute early and often.
Florida State Seminoles 11. Florida State (27): The Seminoles need last year’s newcomers to all make a big leap this year even to stay in the upper middle of the ACC. The key is getting back to elite team defense, though Okaro White is one of the better returning offensive wings in the ACC.
Miami Hurricanes 12. Miami (23): The best thing returning for the Hurricanes is head coach Jim Larranaga, an expert at putting pieces together to form a solid team. Unfortunately, the pieces leave a lot to be desired. Belgian star Manu Lacomte may surprise ACC fans, though.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 13. Wake Forest (19): For the first time since coming to Winston-Salem Jeff Bzdelik has experience, but do the Demon Deacons have the talent to finish above .500 and save his job? Conference expansion didn’t help.
Clemson Tigers 14. Clemson (11): A bad team is going to get worse as the program takes what is probably charitably going to be called “a rebuilding year.” Tune in for KJ McDaniels, whose shot-blocking makes him a good pick for ACC defensive player of the year.
Virginia Tech Hokies 15. Virginia Tech (6): Erick Green is gone, and there isn’t anyone stepping up to replace him on a team destined to rest in the ACC cellar this year. Things could be ugly for James Johnson‘s second season in Blacksburg.

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ACC Team Preview: Maryland Terrapins

Posted by Chris Kehoe on November 2nd, 2013

Last year, Maryland had an impressive 13-game winning streak after an opening-night three point loss to the defending champions, Kentucky. Most of that run can be attributed to soft scheduling by head coach Mark Turgeon, but nonetheless it showed promise. Maryland finished out the regular season with a solid record of 20-11 and was rewarded with an NIT bid for its troubles. In addition to a run to the NIT semifinals (losing to Iowa), the Terps had a couple of signature wins on their résumé over #2 Duke late in the season. After the season was finished, they lost Ukrainian center Alex Len to the NBA Draft, but he struggled with inconsistency under Turgeon and never quite lived up to his potential.

Maryland Preview 2013

This season the Terps will be bolstered on the interior by Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz, a versatile 6’8” junior who can play as a stretch-four for this athletic Maryland team. They also have a powerful 260-pound tandem of interior sophomores in Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell, who are expected to shoulder the majority of the rebounding and post defense responsibilities this season. How they are able to perform as two of the biggest players on the Maryland roster will go a long way in determining this team’s ultimate success. This may also speak to Maryland’s lack of frontcourt height, seeing as Cleare is 6’9” and Mitchell is only 6’8”. Going against larger ACC frontcourts, some with legitimate seven-footers, may prove to be a problem for this relatively inexperienced duo. Another particularly relevant story surrounding this year’s Terps will be their pending move to the Big Ten, which will show up in press conference quotes and in the form of cheers (and jeers) from opposing fan bases. Maryland will want to leave the ACC on a positive note, and this team certainly has the requisite talent to make an NCAA run in its ACC finale. If last season proves as any indicator, Maryland’s fate is inextricably tied with Dez Wells‘ output and performance.

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Breaking Down Pac-12 Non-Conference Schedules: Oregon and Oregon State

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 9th, 2013

October is here, and that means we are just weeks away from real, live basketball games. In order to prepare you for the first two months of the season, we’re going to break down all 12 non-conference slates over the next couple of weeks. Up next; the Oregon schools.

Teams are listed in order of which they will be played. Last season’s RPI in parenthesis. Potential opponents (one round in advance) are italicized. All times listed are Pacific.

Oregon

Dana Altman's Oregon Team Is On The Rise, But They Have A Few Tests To Handle Before Pac-12 Play Begins In January. (credit: Alex Brandon)

Dana Altman’s Oregon Team Is On The Rise, But They Have A Few Tests To Handle Before Pac-12 Play Begins In January. (credit: Alex Brandon)

Cream of the Crop: vs Georgetown (11), vs Illinois (40)

Oregon has managed to get two high profile, neutral site games on its non-conference schedule. The Ducks will face Georgetown on opening night at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, in a game to be televised by ESPN. The Hoyas finished 2012-13 with a 25-7 record and notched six victories over Top 25 opponents. Of course, the last time we saw Georgetown, it was getting dunked all over by Florida Gulf Coast in an NCAA Tournament opener. Oregon’s second marquee opponent is Illinois, who they will meet in Portland on December 14 at 6:00 PM in a game also televised by the ESPN family of networks. It looked as if this would be a return game for former Oregon State point guard Ahmad Starksbut his transfer waiver was denied last week by the NCAA. The Fighting Illini are still loaded at guard, with both Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand returning.

Solid Names: San Francisco (167), Pacific (97), Cal Poly (164), @ Mississippi (48), UC Irvine (126), BYU (63)

Mississippi headlines the second group, and the Ducks and Rebels will meet December 8 in Oxford. The game will tipoff at 2:00 PM and be carried by ESPNU. Dynamite senior Marshall Henderson is back after leading Ole Miss with 20.1 PPG last year, and while the guard is currently suspended, he will likely be back by December. Outside of him, however, the Rebels are pretty thin, and a finish in the lower half of the SEC is likely. BYU presents a challenge for Oregon. The Ducks and Cougars will play December 21 in Eugene, and the team that won 24 games in the 2012-13 campaign is expected to compete with Gonzaga for the WCC title. Pacific is the only other team on Oregon’s non-conference slate with a double digit RPI.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Alex Len

Posted by BHayes on June 24th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Alex Len

School: Maryland

Height/Weight: 7’1” / 255 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Top Ten

In his signature performance of 2013, Alex Len dominated Mason Plumlee during Maryland's upset of Duke

In his signature performance of 2013, Alex Len dominated Mason Plumlee during Maryland’s upset of Duke

Overview: Alex Len put together a very impressive sophomore season in College Park. His freshman year may have included (relatively) limited individual production, but it offered plenty of glimpses at the massive upside of the Ukrainian-born seven-footer, and we began to see Len cash in on that potential in year two. He played 26 minutes per game as part of Mark Turgeon’s 10-man rotation and averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per contest. Free throw shooting improved (both percentage and attempts), assist-to-turnover ratio elevated, and offensive-rebounding percentage shot through the roof for Len as a sophomore. All wonderful strides, but the development went well beyond the stat sheet for Len, as anyone consistently watching the Terps this season witnessed a more complete, confident player manning the middle. Len was tougher and more aggressive down low (on both ends) and also more skilled offensively — both with his back to the basket and when roaming the high-post area. Len’s improvement was best highlighted in dominant performances against fellow potential lottery picks Nerlens Noel and Mason Plumlee. In the season opener against Kentucky, Len went for 23/12 versus Noel in a narrow loss. Then, in the February win over Duke, he dominated Plumlee (four points, three rebounds, five fouls) in scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Those two performances were as vital to Len’s draft stock as anything, for as far as he came skill-wise in year two at Maryland, he also made it quite clear that he was not ready to back down to anyone – a fearlessness that NBA GMs have to have begun to appreciate.

Will Translate to the NBA: First things first: when it comes to size and athleticism, Len is already working with above-average NBA levels of both. Will he use that raw ability as efficiently as possible? No, but the pure existence of it means he will be prepared to get on the court and not be overwhelmed by the athleticism of NBA opponents. Aside from his frame and athleticism, Len really doesn’t have any other signature attributes that you would term “NBA-ready.” The closest we can come here is probably commenting that his overall offensive game is much further along than that of many of his draft-mates, and unlike most rookie big men, Len may be able to enter the league and flash a little of that offensive skill right off the bat. He has a soft touch down low, an improving mid-range game, and is also a good passer who will move the ball when doubled. None of these traits may be “NBA-ready” on their own, but the overall offensive package is in pretty good shape as Len makes the transition from college to the pros.

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Rushed Reactions: North Carolina 79, Maryland 76

Posted by mpatton on March 16th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after the ACC Tournament semifinal between North Carolina and Maryland on Saturday afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Turgeon sounded as positive as ever, despite his team's loss.

Turgeon sounded as positive as ever, despite his team’s loss.

  1. Maryland Looked NCAA Good: This hasn’t been the case most of the year, but Maryland looked like an NCAA tournament team this weekend. The past couple of weeks, the Terrapins have looked much better. They’ve improved as much as any group in this league other than possibly Boston College. After the game, Mark Turgeon heaped the praise on Nick Faust, but credit also goes to the more active Alex Len and Dez Wells. Turgeon’s team — known to be very turnover prone — only finished with 10 turnovers against a very active defensive team (Faust, Pe’Shon Howard and Seth Allen combined for three between them). This team may not make the Big Dance, but there’s a lot to be positive about in College Park going forward.
  2. North Carolina Rebounding Struggles: The biggest concern people should have coming out of the game about the Tar Heels is one that will certainly rear its head against Miami. North Carolina couldn’t keep Maryland off the offensive glass. Despite only a 13-9 advantage on the offensive glass, the Terrapins owned a remarkable 24-4 advantage in second-chance points. Charles Mitchell had three offensive rebounds in 12 minutes. Jake Layman added two in 14 minutes. Len added three more. That could kill North Carolina against a team as big as Miami.
  3. Layman’s Reduced Role: After playing most of the game against Duke and acting as the Ryan Kelly stopper, Jake Layman saw his role dramatically reduced (even after starting) against North Carolina. Mark Turgeon turned to Logan Aronhalt instead, looking for another shooter and not needing Layman’s size. However the shift showcased Maryland’s youthful depth. Not only can the Terrapins execute hockey-style front line changes with Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell, they have the ability to adapt their backcourt as well.

Star of the Game: Reggie Bullock deserves a ton of credit. He shut down Dez Wells for much of the game with terrific defense, and ended up tied as North Carolina’s leading scorer with 15 points on 10 shots, four assists and no turnovers. Bullock is the best player North Carolina has on both ends of the floor. He’s a ballhawk on defense and the most consistent shooter on the roster. The only thing missing from Bullock’s game is the attitude that he needs to shoot more and take over games. 

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ACC Tournament: Previewing the Quarterfinals

Posted by KCarpenter on March 15th, 2013

If you love everything going totally to plan, then you loved the first day of the ACC Tournament. Will chalk continue to reign as the conference’s top teams join the fray? Well, it’s at least possible. Let’s go over the match-ups:

Miami vs. Boston College at 12:00 PM

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

What Does Hanlan Have in Store For Today? (Photo via Boston Globe)

Remember that time that an early season Miami team came within one point to losing to Boston College? I’m sure the Hurricanes have tried to forget it too, but it did happen. When the Eagles went to Coral Gables, Miami totally destroyed its overmatched foe, dominating nearly every aspect of the game. That’s what happened to nearly everyone who went down to Coral Gables this season, though. Yet, Boston College comes into this game hotter than a two-dollar pistol, having swept its last three regular season games (including a win over Virginia) and then dominating Georgia Tech in the first round on the wings of a  legendary and record-setting 41-point performance by Freshmen of the Year, Olivier Hanlan. This game may very well come down to the match-up at shooting guard with scoring sensation Hanlan trying to best the savvy veteran and newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year, Durand Scott.

Virgina vs. North Carolina State at 2:00 PM

In their first game of the tournament, North Carolina State showed something new — an ability to shut down a big time scorer. Though the Wolfpack has struggled on defense all year, the team held Virginia Tech’s Erick Green to 15 points on 19 shots and also forced him into four turnovers. NC State will need to maintain that concentration if this team is going to have any chance at stopping the equally deadly Joe Harris. The Wolfpack has the right personnel to stop the Cavaliers on the defensive end, but it will take some serious focus. Virginia won the team’s only match-up in Charlottesville by a mere 3 points, but in Greensboro, NC State will effectively hold the home court advantage. This figures to be the closest game of the day, but even so, counting on the Wolfpack to give consistent effort on the defensive end is an easy way to be disappointed.

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Rushed Reactions: Maryland 75, Wake Forest 62

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday evening’s Maryland-Wake Forest game from the ACC Tournament.

Three Key Takeaways:

Devin Thomas and the Wake Forest frontline made Alex Len a nonfactor. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Devin Thomas and the Wake Forest frontline made Alex Len a nonfactor. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

  1. Close for 32 minutes: At the under-eight media timeout in the second half, it was all tied up 54-54. Over the course of the next six minutes Wake Forest went 4-of-10 from the charity stripe, turned the ball over twice (and would have a third time if the possession hadn’t pointed in its direction), and missed all six of its free throw attempts. Needless to say, Maryland pulled out to a double-digit lead and the game was over. Down the stretch the Demon Deacons just didn’t look invested. They had poor body language and settled for ugly jump shots. The lethargy carried over to their defense in a nasty cycle of bad play. The negative body language is troubling. Wake Forest hasn’t had any success away from home under Jeff Bzdelik (his teams have won one conference road game and no postseason games), which plays into it. But somehow the Demon Deacons have to break out of the cycle.
  2. Pe’Shon Howard saved the day: Pe’Shon Howard has had a tough year offensively — like he’s made three of 25 attempts from beyond the arc in conference play. He hit his only deep attempt today, and it turned out to be where momentum really shifted to Maryland. Right after Travis McKie and Arnaud Adala Moto combined to go 1-of-4 from the free throw line, Howard buried a three to put Maryland up four and the Terrapins never looked back. If Howard is hitting shots, Maryland is a much better basketball team.
  3. Devin Thomas will be a great ACC player: Devin Thomas is going to be a very very good ACC player. He’s a worker for Wake Forest in the paint and has the frame that should add pounds during the offseason. In 18 minutes, Thomas finished with eight points, four rebounds, two steals and a block. He’s got a long way to go in terms of developing an arsenal of moves, but right now he plays a little like James Michael McAdoo. He doesn’t have the physical gifts that McAdoo does, but he does a lot of the little things that win games.

Star of the Game: Dez Wells kept Maryland close to start the second half, scoring seven of the Terrapins’s first nine points. He finished the game with 21 points on 10 shots with four rebounds and a steal to boot. Wells also had to guard Travis McKie much of the night, and did a good job on the perimeter.

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Rushed Reactions: #23 North Carolina 79, Maryland 68

Posted by IRenko on March 6th, 2013

rushedreactions

I. Renko is an RTC correspondent based in D.C. and the author of the weekly column, The Other 26. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between North Carolina and Maryland. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three Key Takeaways:

  • One Team is Dancing, and the Other Is (Probably) Not — This was UNC’s sixth straight win and clinched a share of third place in the ACC. The Tar Heels’ recent run, which includes victories over Virginia and NC State, has solidified their hold on an at-large bid. A win over Duke on Saturday would leave no doubt, but even a loss followed by another in the first round of the ACC Tournament should not jeopardize their at-large hopes. Maryland, on the other hand, is headed in the opposite direction. The Terps badly needed this win after recent losses at Boston College and Georgia Tech. Without it, they’ll probably need to beat Virginia on Saturday and make a deep run in the ACC Tournament to have a shot.
  • McAdoo  vs. Len Disappoints — The marquee match-up coming into the game was the battle between big men James Michael McAdoo and Alex Len, but it proved to be a disappointment. Len excited the crowd with some putbacks, but both players looked tentative and ineffective trying to create offense. McAdoo finished with 10 points and two rebounds. Len added just eight points. To some extent, the letdown was a microcosm for their seasons. Both players entered the year with high expectations — perhaps unfairly high — that they haven’t quite matched. McAdoo was in early National Player of the Year conversations, but has drifted well out of the NPOY race as well as NBA Draft lottery projections. Len remains a projected lottery pick, but he has struggled down the stretch, scoring in single digits in seven of last 11 games (after scoring in double digits in 15 of his first 18 games). I don’t pretend to be a draft expert, but one has to wonder if we may see both of these guys back in college uniforms come November.
P.J. Hairston's Aggressiveness and Physicality Helped he Tarheels to the Win in a Hostile Environment (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

P.J. Hairston’s Aggressiveness and Physicality Helped he Tarheels to the Win in a Hostile Environment (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

  • Maryland’s Shooting Woes Continue – UNC offered a great chance for Maryland to break out of its outside shooting slump, as the Tar Heels’ defense is vulnerable to the three-point shot. And, sure enough, the Terps had plenty of good looks, particularly off post kickouts and ball reversals. But they couldn’t capitalize, shooting an ugly 3-of-23 from behind the arc. They are now shooting 17.9 percent from three over their last three games and 27.3 percent over their past six. The Terps tried to compensate for their woeful shooting against UNC by pounding the offensive glass and attacking the paint. They were effective, outscoring the Heels in the paint, 38-16, and on second-chance points, 20-11. But they still lost the game by 11 points, thanks to their disastrous night from outside.

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Night Line: More ACC Road Woes For Maryland: Are the Terps Down and Out?

Posted by BHayes on February 28th, 2013

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Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

The chaotic final weeks before the NCAA Tournament have everyone clamoring for clarity, and as simple and as fun as it would be to announce that yes, you did hear a giant “POP” coming from Atlanta this evening, the reality is that Maryland’s at-large hopes haven’t completely vanished. Yet. With games growing few and their ACC record worsening, a 78-68 loss to Georgia Tech tonight has slid the Terps one step closer to the bubble chopping block. Three regular season games remain for Mark Turgeon’s bunch, with two road dates involved (at Wake Forest and Virginia) and a home finale against North Carolina. If Maryland wants to hear its name called on Selection Sunday, they would be well served to snag all three — no easy feat, but when you consider that accomplishing it would triple Maryland’s ACC road win total, a hard road starts to feel nearly impossible.

Mark Turgeon Was At A Loss For Words After Another Maryland Road Loss

Mark Turgeon Was At A Loss For Words After Another Maryland Road Loss

February 7, Blacksburg, Virginia – Maryland won a game on a basketball court not inside the Comcast Center, an accomplishment that had not occurred since November, and has not happened since. A difficult fact to process considering the Terps were likely on the right side of the bubble after the seismic Duke victory on February 16, but it’s hard to make a case for your NCAA Tournament inclusion when you can’t win more than a single road game.

Give Georgia Tech credit tonight, as the Jackets made a lot of plays they don’t normally make. Brian Gregory said it was the best 40 minutes his team has played all season, and Turgeon was effusive with praise for the home team. “Tech was good tonight, they were really good” he admitted, but he couldn’t quite seem to put his finger on what ailed his team — both tonight and on the road all season. Sure, there were criticisms – poor point guard play, a lack of toughness in the paint, too much 1-on-1 offensively – but you could tell that even Turgeon felt at a loss for answers. “I did think we tried hard,” he concluded, but with a resignation in his voice that suggested a full awareness that effort alone will not get his team to the Dance.

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Rushed Reactions: Maryland 72, Clemson 59

Posted by IRenko on February 23rd, 2013

rushedreactions

I. Renko is an RTC correspondent based in D.C. and the author of the weekly column, The Other 26. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s game between Maryland and Clemson. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three key takeaways:

  • Maryland’s Tournament Hopes Are Alive — Last weekend’s win over Duke gave the Terps’ Tournament hopes a big boost, but a letdown loss at Boston College on Tuesday left them on the thinnest of ice. A loss to Clemson at home would have been a big blow, and it seemed a real possibility when the Tigers pulled to within a point just after halftime. But a 21-6 run gave the Terps a comfortable 16-point cushion with 11:20 to play, and from there, they eased to a comfortable 13-point win, keeping their Tournament hopes alive. While acknowledging his team’s somewhat slow start, head coach Mark Turgeon was quite happy with the Terps’ second-half performance, crediting their defense even more than their offense for enabling them to take control.
  • Maryland’s Freshman Frontcourt May Be Its Future — Sophomore Alex Len has been the focus of the media’s attention for most of the year, but Maryland’s freshmen frontcourt shows signs of being a real force for years to come. Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, and Shaquille Cleare were averaging just 5.2, 5.5, and 4.2 points coming into today’s game, but they scored 12, 8, and 10 respectively today. More than that, they showed a certain kind of maturity and poise that belied their status as freshmen. The 6′ 8″ Layman is a swing forward with the athleticism, quickness, and shooting touch to play on the perimeter. He has been a full-time starter since late January, and the confidence and skill he displayed against Clemson show why. Mitchell and Cleare are a pair of big bodies who are still refining their post moves, but are strong finishers and rebounders who use their bulk to great effect. They added 6 and 7 boards apiece today and were a big reason Maryland was able to dominate the paint against a typically stout Clemson defense. Their physicality will suit the Terps well when they make the transition to the Big Ten.
  • Clemson’s Offense Is In A Deep Funk – The Tigers have a strong defense, as they showed in taking Miami the distance last week in a 45-43 loss. But their offense has struggled and especially badly of late. This was the fifth straight game in which they scored less than a point per possession. For a team that is likely looking forward to next season already, the news gets worse — two of their three leading scorers, Devin Booker and Milton Jennings, graduate this year. That leaves a heavy load for K.J. McDaniels, who managed seven points against Maryland, and Jordan Roper, who scored a very inefficient 13 points on 5-of-15 FG shooting.

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Maryland: The Most Confusing Team in the ACC Could Still Be a Problem in March

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 20th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsInDurham

At one point during Maryland’s 83-81 win over Duke on Saturday, the Terps looked like a team that could do no wrong. Throughout their 68-59 loss to Boston College on Tuesday it looked like they could do no right. In a microcosm of Maryland’s season, the Terps followed up what should have been their signature win with what will be pointed to by the bracket experts as a signature loss. However, despite the disappointing result on Tuesday night, Maryland still has all of the tools to make life difficult for teams like Miami, NC State, and Virginia in the upcoming ACC Tournament.

Alex Len, Maryland

Alex Len (right) and Shaquille Cleare (left) are two of the reasons why Maryland could be a tough out this postseason (AP Photo)

We hear the same story every year: Guard play wins games in March. With that in mind, Maryland sounds like a team built to make life tough on a better team when the games start to count a little more. Seth Allen had one of his best games in conference play on Saturday and Dez Wells helped keep Maryland on top with his efforts in getting to the line. But despite how good the duo looked in stretches, they still managed to turn the ball over 14 times between them, with seven of those miscues coming in the final five minutes when Duke battled back to tie the game. For Maryland to make any sort of run in March their guards will need to play more like they did while building the lead than they did in the last five minutes.

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ACC M5: 02.18.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 18th, 2013

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  1. Raleigh News & Observer: When Caulton Tudor drops a story, it’s good to make a point to listen to him. His three anecdotes in this piece don’t have any special significance but are a cool look back at recent and less recent college basketball history on Tobacco Road. He marvels at Christian Laettner (and his competitiveness against Shaquille O’Neal), Jim Valvano and Roy Williams in stories dating from three different decades. Stories like this are why Tudor will be missed after his retirement.
  2. Testudo Times: Maryland got the marquee win it desperately needed, providing more evidence about Duke’s horrible interior defense without Ryan Kelly along the way. Despite 25 turnovers (!) the Terrapins were led by Alex Len‘s evisceration of Mason Plumlee to a close victory that should prove very helpful on Selection Sunday. Duke’s excuse will be that it was the team’s third game in six days, but it was a team that got smacked in the mouth by the atmosphere at College Park and could never get any offensive flow together because of its poor defense. After the game, Mark Turgeon had some very interesting comments that placed the game at incredible importance to he and his family (who apparently had to leave game last week because fans were being so crude).
  3. D1scourse: Patrick Stevens took a look at the lowest scoring ACC games in the shot clock era after Miami-Clemson set a new low over the weekend at 45-43. Between 1985-86 and 2009-10, there were three games where neither team reached 50 points (two coming thanks to a 1986 Wake Forest team that went 0-14 in conference play and didn’t top the half-century mark five times). Since 2010-11 there have been five such games. People will probably read into this (extraordinarily interesting) stat and decry the recent down years in the ACC. But this trend, if you can call it that, comes down to new coaches — specifically Brad Brownell and Tony Bennett — with a little help from two very defensive minded teams (Florida State and Virginia Tech) last year.
  4. Shakin the Southland: This is a pretty thoughtful support of Clemson head coach Brad Brownell. One interesting thing is the harshness with which the author looks at Devin Booker and Milton Jennings. Both probably deserve the frustration, as they have rarely lived up to their talent (especially Jennings), but Booker in particular has kept Clemson reasonably close on his own in many games this year. Specifically, the article parallels Clemson and Virginia, tracking Brownell and Bennett in the process. Bennett has definitely had his share of success this year but don’t discount a very generous conference schedule. If (and it’s a big if) Brownell can consistently recruit ACC-caliber players, he’s a strong enough coach to win.
  5. Wilmington Star-News: On the heels of Ken Pomeroy’s surprising find that more teams lose when committing a foul up three with between five and 12 seconds left on the game clock, NC State found itself in that exact situation over the weekend. Conventional wisdom says that the team should foul, but the opportunity for an offensive rebound on a missed free throw probably pushes the needle the other way. Virginia Tech ran arguably the coolest set play of the year (it was illegal but still…) to get a tip-in from Jarell Eddie to tie everything up before losing by four in overtime. I think Mark Gottfried made the right choice considering his team’s obvious three-point defensive struggles.
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