Set Your TiVo: 03.02.12 – 03.04.12

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 2nd, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

We are going to mix it up a bit for the final three days of the season. There are so many good games on the schedule that it wouldn’t do them justice to leave them unmentioned, not to mention the games with an impact for bubble teams. Here are some quick hitters on all the games you need to be following.

Top games:

West Virginia @ South Florida – 12:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN FullCourt/ESPN3.com (****)

The Bulls notched a huge win over Louisville earlier this week, but many feel they still have to win this game to ensure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Mountaineers are hanging on by a thread but could really enhance their chances with a nice road victory in Tampa. This game has Big East Tournament implications as well, but both teams need it more for their NCAA chances. As a member of the Big East, South Florida has beaten 14 of the 15 other teams in the league. West Virginia is the only team they have yet to knock off. This would be one heck of a time to grab that win in West Virginia’s last regular season game as a member of the Big East. Pretty much everything is on the line in this game.

Can West Virginia Win A Big One On The Road?

#11 Georgetown @ #8 Marquette – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN FullCourt/ESPN3.com (****)

Both teams are obviously in the NCAA Tournament so this game is about seeding more than anything. A win over the Golden Eagles would be Georgetown’s ninth against the RPI top 50 and fifth against the top 25. Marquette has just one RPI top 25 win (Wisconsin) so adding another could really help Marquette’s seeding when the NCAA committee debates next Sunday in Indianapolis. The winner of this game will grab the #2 seed in next week’s Big East Tournament. The contrast of styles in this game will be fascinating as Marquette looks to run at home against a disciplined Georgetown defensive unit.

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The Best Scoring Wings in the ACC

Posted by KCarpenter on March 2nd, 2012

When we talk about the All-ACC First Team, conventional wisdom holds that a few things are certain. Tyler Zeller and Mike Scott are iron-clad locks. To a lesser extent, John Henson seems fairly likely to make the team as well. That leaves two guard spots. On some level, it seems insane that Kendall Marshall‘s probable third place finish in the conference books for the single-season assist record, but his lack of dominant scoring, defense, and a general unwillingness to place so many Tar Heels on the first team probably hurts Marshall’s chances. The worst thing about this is that the negatives against Marshall probably hurt most of the other point guards in the league as well. As good as Lorenzo Brown has been, if Marshall isn’t going to make the first team, Brown’s chances aren’t looking so great either. For now, let’s set aside true point guards.

How Many of This UNC Trio Will End up as ACC First Teamers? (News-Record)

So, for better or worse, the two guard spots on this team are probably going to go to a pair of dominant wing scorers. Among the candidates, listed in order by points per game, we have Terrell Stoglin, Harrison Barnes, C.J. Harris, Travis McKie, Erick Green, Austin Rivers, Michael Snaer, and Seth Curry. So how do we pick two? These are individual awards, so I don’t feel particularly obligated to award team success, though I know that typically the voters for these honors use that criterion rather heavily. For now though, let’s pretend that Stoglin, Harris, McKie, and Green all have an equal shot.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.27.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 27th, 2012

  1. Streaking The Lawn: Virginia lost a brutal game to North Carolina on Saturday. Mike Scott played poorly, going 3-of-13 from the field, but he never got into the flow of the game because of foul trouble. What didn’t impress Brian Schwartz (or most Cavalier fans) was the acting from John Henson on two of the calls against Scott. I fall somewhere in between Schwartz and Roy Williams’ opinion: I think Scott got hosed by the officials, but that’s not what cost them the game. You could just as easily argue that not having Assane Sene because of injury cost them the game. The deciding factor was Virginia missing shots down the stretch. Calls would’ve helped, but it’s all for naught if you don’t knock down those shots.
  2. Baltimore Sun: James Padgett is too nice. He’s developing into one of Maryland’s better players, but he just isn’t aggressive enough to become the Terrapins’ second option this season. There’s also the question of why his defensive rebounding lags so far behind his offensive rebounding. The obvious reason is that Alex Len and Ashton Pankey clean up the glass for the Terps, but with Len often going for blocks you’d assume Padgett would have plenty of defensive rebounding opportunities.
  3. Charleston Post and Courier: Milton Jennings woke up after Brad Brownell suspended him for a couple of games in early February. The former McDonald’s All-American is proving to be a (somewhat inconsistent) creator, averaging just under 12 points a game in the Tigers’ last five contests. But Brownell wanted to be clear that the Tigers’ recent success wouldn’t affect Jennings’ off the court struggles: “He knows he’s walking on thin ice with me.” At least for now the suspension seems to be effective. Obviously, we can’t see Jennings life outside of games, but his improved production is certainly a good sign.
  4. Fayetteville Observer: NC State‘s bubble burst after falling to Clemson over the weekend. The Wolfpack are heading back to the NIT barring a very strong run to the ACC Tournament finals (beating Duke or North Carolina on the way). The team showed spurts of promise, playing with the best teams in the conference, but even a 20-point second half lead against Duke resulted in the loss column. More than anything, Mark Gottfried’s talented recruiting class should give his team critical depth for competing against top schools in conference play.
  5. ACC Sports Journal: I found this breakdown of the DukeFlorida State game very interesting, mainly because it points to why Duke was so effective shooting threes, even against elite defenses like Florida State. The Seminoles smothered Duke inside, but the Blue Devils knocked down perimeter jumpers to answer every Florida State run. Denny Kuiper points to help defense leaving Duke shooters wide open, which certainly created plenty of open looks for Andre Dawkins against Florida State. But Austin Rivers and (to a lesser extent) Seth Curry have both shown the ability to score at the rim this year. Not helping to stop Rivers seems like a recipe for disaster, though I can almost guarantee you that would be the strategy that Mike Krzyzewski would employ if he had to craft a game plan to guard his uber-freshman.
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ACC Game On: 2.16.12

Posted by KCarpenter on February 16th, 2012

Miami blew a chance to cement their place in the tournament when it lost at home to North Carolina. The Tar Heels managed to put together another win on a mediocre shooting night (and an awful shooting first-half). Dominance on the boards continues to keep North Carolina winning and improved and more frequent three-point shooting have to be heartening signs for Tar Heel fans.

In the other game, Wake Forest beat Georgia Tech while shooting 32.7%. Yikes.

Get Off The Edge

  • North Carolina State at #8 Duke at 9:00 PM on ACC Network or ESPN3.com

While Miami failed to solidify their tournament standing, NC State will take a shot at it tonight when the team goes to Cameron Indoor to take on the Duke Blue Devils. The Wolfpack has a good record, but few good wins outside of beating Texas. Is NC State good enough to hang with Duke? They can be. Solid offense and a defense that has only improved through conference play make the Wolfpack a fairly tough team. With a big and versatile frontcourt and effective guards, there aren’t any glaring mismatches, though NC State’s short rotation could encounter some difficulties if a key player gets injured or in foul trouble early. The Blue Devils, for their part can build on their win against Maryland and build some confidence by handling this game with poise. Barring a bad shooting night by Austin Rivers, Duke should be able to handle this. If the shots don’t fall, NC State is more than capable of stealing this one.

Bad Teams on the Road

  • Virginia Tech at #17 Florida State at 7:00 PM on ESPN2
  • Boston College at Maryland at 9:00 PM on ACC Network or ESPN3.com

Boston College beating Florida State is probably the most surprising single result of the ACC season. It’s an odd thing when a team can surpass preseason expectations with three conference wins, but that’s the situation in Chestnut Hill. Those three wins and a few more close games can be counted as nothing less than a success for a rebuilding Eagles teams. Still, when push comes to shove, Boston College has yet to win a true road game this season. The best performance by this team outside of their home court is an overtime win against UC Riverside on a neutral court early in the year. Though Maryland has lost Pe’Shon Howard and continues to struggle to find ways to win, They should be able to handle Boston College in College Park.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech goes to Tallahassee to take on a Florida State team that hasn’t lost a conference game on their home court this year.  Florida State is a legitimately good and dangerous team, but none of that can hide the fact that the Seminoles lost to Boston College. Florida State should easily be able to win this game easily, but then again they should have been able to handle Boston College easily too.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.16.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 16th, 2012

  1. NBA Draft Blog: Ed Isaacson took a look at Austin Rivers and his draft prospects. Isaacson sides with a plurality of experts who think Rivers should stick around for another year of school. He also compliments Rivers’ defense. The one thing that he (and I) think is a current issue for Rivers is his turnovers. He still doesn’t have the court vision or the handle to use a similar number of possessions in the NBA. It’s still unclear to me about Rivers’ draft prospects. He’s one of the few guys who has an NBA-ready skill, and I’m not sure he slips out of the lottery. That said, I think another year would help him move to a top-5 level pick. But I’m no draft expert.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of Rivers, he’s been named ACC freshman of the week seven times (a record). Now he’s been named one of five finalists by the USBWA for the Wayman Tisdale Award. Rivers dominates Duke’s offense and has shown the ability to take over games. In the last 10 years only Luol Deng (2004), Marvin Williams (2005) and Tyler Hansbrough (2006) have won the award from the ACC. I’d still put my money on Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: Mark Gottfried is distancing himself from the past at NC State. Not the two national championships, but the school’s recent bout with mediocrity. He rarely talks about last year’s team, opting to call his team of mostly the same players “new” and “different” instead. Gottfried’s tone is serious. He has a job to do. A year of modest improvement doesn’t say much about his future successes, but it’s certainly a start.
  4. Washington Post: Bad news from College Park. Pe’Shon Howard is done for the season. That leaves Mark Turgeon back where he was to start the year. That’s to say he has a hungry Stoglin who struggles to get teammates involved when he plays off the ball, much less on it, or Nick Faust who struggles offensively and with his decision-making. One of them has to play point guard. There aren’t many other options. You know Turgeon can’t wait to get his hands on a recruiting class to deepen that bench that was left bare after Gary Williams departed last season.
  5. Washington Post: You may remember that Jacob Pullen “won’t play basketball in the NIT” (one of the most awesome quotes and follow-throughs since Babe Ruth called his home run). Well Virginia Tech has a slightly different version: the Hokies won’t play basketball in the CBI or CIT. Yeah! Take that! “We don’t need no stinkin’ postseason!” All joking aside, the CBI actually charges teams money to play in it. If the Hokies aren’t selling tickets against conference foes, there’s not much hope for third-tier postseason tournaments. Athletic director Jim Weaver was still optimistic about the team’s chances for the NIT, though I think the Hokies still need a strong run to close out the year.
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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XI

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 15th, 2012

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED….objectively realizing that you just saw one of the more dramatic shots in college basketball over the last 10 years. Factor in everything – a freshman, playing on the road, time expiring, a three-point shot when you’re down two, UNC/Duke – and I’ll put Austin Rivers’ three up against anything I’ve seen. Cold-blooded doesn’t do it justice – that rainbow was sub-Arctic. The only mark against the buzzer-beater is that it came in the regular season, but for the silent (and I mean drop-a-pin silent) Carolina fans on Wednesday, that was little consolation as they watched Duke pile on their Baby Blue home floor in celebration.

As A College Basketball Fan, Austin Rivers' Three Was As Dramatic As They Come. As a UNC Grad...Well, You Get The Picture (AP)

I LOVED….Michigan State stoning Ohio State on the road. For me, it both validates this Spartans team as a contender and cements the Big Ten as one of the most balanced and competitive conferences this season (five teams currently in the Top 25). Last season might have been a big disappointment, but you can’t say enough about the coaching job that Tom Izzo has done this year.

I LOVED….Michigan State’s Draymond Green getting some love and validation this season. Not to make this a Spartan-happy column, but Green has really stepped up as a senior after maybe getting overshadowed a bit by the talent around him in previous years. He’s one of the most well-rounded players in the nation (15 PPG/10.5 RPG/3.5 APG/1.0 BPG/36% 3FG), and he kept this group focused after a bit of a rough start. Now MSU is looking more legit with each passing week.

I LOVED….Gonzaga reminding Saint Mary’s exactly which program has dominated the West Coast Conference for the last decade-plus. It’s easy to take the Zags for granted or root for more parity in the conference (I often do both), but don’t forget that Mark Few’s Bulldogs thrashed Notre Dame, Butler and Arizona, lost a close game to Michigan State and beat Xavier on the road. Don’t sleep on ‘em.

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Be My Valentine – 14 Iconic Moments We’ve Loved This Season

Posted by EJacoby on February 14th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

Are you riding solo this Valentine’s Day? If you can’t have a significant other, you can always love sports. What is more beautiful to watch than a buzzer-beating shot, an unlikely upset win, or a swarm of students rushing the court? Here to cheer you up, we present a reminder of 14 lovely moments in college basketball this season, in honor of the 14th:

Be Our Hoops Valentine...

1. Racers’ Pursuit of Perfection (December 11) – Murray State beat then-ranked Memphis on the road to improve their record to 10-0, and fans and analysts immediately began to take notice of this OVC school. This win set off the idea that the Racers could perhaps run the table this season, and while it did not happen, it would be two full months before they lost a game.

2. Teach Us How to Dougie (January 7) – Creighton has now lost three straight games to drop out of the Top 25 rankings for the first time in weeks, but they’d been providing a great story all season in the form of Doug McDermott. The sophomore forward, son of Creighton head coach Greg McDermott, and former teammate of Harrison Barnes in high school, went for 44 points and eight rebounds in a road win over Bradley that kickstarted his campaign for National Player of the Year. His candidacy for the award has since died down, but he’s still third in the nation in points per game (22.9).

3. Watford’s Buzzer-Beater (December 10) – Indiana got off to a fast start this season, but the Hoosiers took it to another level when they knocked off #1 Kentucky at home to improve to 9-0 back in December. Down by two, it took this shot by Christian Watford to beat the buzzer and provide us with one of the most memorable highlights of the year. The shot signified that IU basketball is officially back. See it below.

4. Rivers’ Buzzer-Beater (February 8) – Perhaps the only more recognizable moment of this season than Watford’s shot was a similar one from Duke’s Austin Rivers. Down by two at Chapel Hill on the final possession, the freshman provided this season’s iconic moment thus far by nailing a game-winner at the buzzer to beat North Carolina. The main difference between the two shots? Rivers’ came on the road, silencing the UNC crowd and sending them into shock.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.09.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 9th, 2012

  1. Florida Today: Well, you can tell this article was written early yesterday (an evening article would probably look the exact opposite of this). Overlooked largely because of Duke’s epic comeback against North Carolina was the Seminoles’ equally epic defeat to Boston College. The same Florida State that knocked off Duke on the road and North Carolina by more than 30 couldn’t handle the lowly Eagles. But the thesis from this article remains: Florida State has a very favorable schedule to take at least a share of the ACC title. It was even better before Leonard Hamilton’s team went and coughed up a free road win in Chestnut Hill. Now the questions are about the Seminoles going forward. Are they the team that lost to Boston College and Clemson, or are they the team that beat Duke and North Carolina? Was this game a product of losing focus, or was it a brutal regression to the mean?
  2. Hampton Roads Pilot: Mike Scott continued his under-the-radar quest for ACC Player of the Year with a record-tying 9-9 shooting performance over Wake Forest. Scott finished with 19 points in a rout of the Demon Deacons, and boy was it a rout. Virginia led 40-19 at the half (after shooting a ludicrous 70.8% from the field). That lead only got bigger, moving to 56-23 early in the second half before they coasted.
  3. Sports Business Daily: Well, the verdict is in. ACC schools will reportedly be making one to two million dollars more a year than currently after the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the league. The extra money will push the ACC towards being more competitive with the Pac-12, Big 10 and SEC in that regard. This should at least table the “conference expansion won’t make more money” argument for the time being.
  4. Wall Street Journal: Speaking of money, the Wall Street Journal took a look at the richest schools and conferences based on NBA earnings (for players drafted since 1985). North Carolina and Duke top the list, as the only schools whose alumni NBA salaries surpassed the $800 million dollar mark. Surprisingly, Arizona was third on the list. Even more surprisingly Georgia Tech is seventh. I would have guessed Duke and North Carolina on top, but I never would have suspected Georgia Tech cracked the top 10 (ahead of Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA).
  5. ESPN and Yahoo Sports: Speaking of the Tobacco Road rivals, Austin Rivers hit a pretty big shot last night. The ESPN story is an interview with Doc Rivers, who got to attend the game. It’s worth a watch just to see the pure excitement on the elder Rivers’ face as he jumps up and down hugging his daughter after the shot falls. For a more conventional recap, I suggest Pat Forde’s write-up from the Dean Dome. I’m not sure any story can do the last two and a half minutes justice, but his piece attempts to do so.

Video of the Week:

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Night Line: Instant Classic a Result of Duke’s Late-Game Execution, UNC’s Lack of It

Posted by EJacoby on February 9th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor to RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Austin Rivers’ three-ball went down for Duke at the buzzer, and Mike Krzyzewski’s team walked away with a stunning road victory in Chapel Hill on Wednesday night. This 85-84 Blue Devils win will always be remembered for the freshman guard’s late-game heroics, but there were plenty of other factors that played into the result. By now, I assume everyone has seen the shot, which will undoubtedly go down as one of the all-time great moments in the 92-year history of the Tobacco Road rivalry. But it cannot be forgotten that this game was actually not a back-and-forth classic between the two teams. North Carolina led the entire second half, including a nine-point advantage at the under-four minute timeout, and gave the game away by failing to make any winning plays down the stretch. Meanwhile, Duke was clinical from the outside and knocked down clutch shot after clutch shot, capped off by the game-winning shot by Rivers as time expired. All that was left from there was a completely silenced Dean Smith Center, an elated Blue Devils sideline, and a moment that will be replayed hundreds of times this season.

Austin Rivers is About to Silence a Crowd of Thousands in this Game-Winning Shot for Duke (Getty Images)

If you want to know why North Carolina blew an 11-point lead at home with 4:09 to play, the answer certainly begins with the clutch play of Duke’s Rivers. But it doesn’t end there. He had a career-high 29 points on 6-10 shooting from three, but one man cannot be solely responsible for erasing a double-figure lead in four minutes. Instead, look at the home team’s attempts to close out the game and what they did wrong, which includes three missed free throws, three offensive rebounds allowed, two turnovers, and a total of one field-goal attempted in the final four-plus minutes. Leading 79-68, UNC allowed Duke to score after a missed three with a second-chance putback. Then came the barrage of mistakes, which were incurred on offense by way of clanked free throws and lost-ball turnovers. On the other end, Duke was 6-8 from the field to close out the game with three huge three-pointers and three other deep jumpers.

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Set Your TiVo: 02.08.12 – Rivalry Week Headline Night

Posted by EJacoby on February 8th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor to RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Here we go, folks. Get ready for one of the very best nights of the college basketball regular season, including two 5-star showdowns. The best rivalry in the sport highlights this slate. We absolutely guarantee some great basketball tonight. Let’s get into the breakdowns:

#7 Kansas at #6 Baylor – 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2 (*****)

Who's Going to Stop Thomas Robinson Tonight for Baylor? (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

  • Kansas has lost their last two road games at Iowa State and Missouri despite putting up a great fight in both efforts. Tonight is another opportunity to win a crucial conference road game against a team who they will be competing with for the Big 12 title. They will be looking for the season sweep of Baylor after already thrashing the Bears at home back on January 16. In order to do so, the play of Tyshawn Taylor might be the key. He’s been terrific recently at 18.5 points and 6.5 assists in those two road environments, but late-game turnovers continue to be his bugaboo. Eliminating a mistake or two at the end of the game can be the difference between a win and a loss, especially in this one with such physical front lines that may cancel each other out and leave the guards to decide this one. Along those lines, Thomas Robinson will be defended by any number of physical forwards, but that didn’t stop him from going for 27/14 in the first meeting. Nobody can shut him down when he is on. For Kansas to have an advantage, someone else needs to step up and make big shots, whether it is Conner Teahan, Travis Releford, or Elijah Johnson. They have lacked that unsung hero in road games thus far.
  • It doesn’t feel like Baylor is playing very well right now, yet their talent and depth has continued to carry them through the Big 12 slate with just two losses to top competition. Tonight is a must-win at home to avenge the earlier loss to Kansas and to keep themselves alive in the regular season title hunt. The Bears allow just 39.6% field-goal shooting on the season and will do everything in their power to contain Robinson from going off. Quincy Acy, a stellar defender (2.3 BPG), must have a great game in order to do that. Baylor has more overall scoring talent and will have the advantage if Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III just play to their abilities. At 1.12 points per possession during Big 12 play, Baylor leads the conference in offensive efficiency, but the Kansas defense is the best that they will face. Just like Kansas needs Taylor to step up late, pay attention to how Pierre Jackson performs in this game, the guard who has made nearly all of their big shots this season.
  • This game will be televised on the Deuce, but it’s just as spectacular of a matchup as the one being played simultaneously on ESPN. Baylor is just a two-point favorite at home, as we just don’t know exactly which Bears players will show up in big games. It seems like Kansas can be trusted to play well in this game, but do they have enough impact players to get the road win? I’m predicting a Baylor win by about four to six points as their pieces overwhelm Kansas by the end of the night.

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ACC Game On: 02.08.12

Posted by KCarpenter on February 8th, 2012

Maryland kicked off a week of excellent ACC matches by eking out a win against struggling Clemson. Terrell Stoglin‘s Superman act remains impressive as he put up 27 points on 11 shots with four steals. Maryland needed every one of those points too, as Clemson took 63 shots while the Terrapins managed only 47.  Winning a game despite such an overwhelming loss in the bottle of possessions is impressive, but I still can’t help but feel that Maryland should be able to beat Clemson without such heroic offensive and defensive efforts.

The Big Game

  • Duke at North Carolina at 9:00 PM on ESPN
Next Stop: Prime Time

It's About That Time Again

The Blue Devils come into this game after suffering the wrath of a suprisingly feisty Hurricanes team. Miami isn’t a bad squad, but Duke should have handled the game without any problem. Their offense is as good as ever, but the defense ranks as the ninth-best in the conference. Meanwhile, Duke is inhabiting a special kind of match-up hell. Robbi Pickeral talked about the defensive problem that 6’8″ Harrison Barnes creates at small forward, but a tougher challenge in my mind will be stopping Carolina’s shooting guards. Austin Rivers might claim to be up for a spell against Barnes and Tyler Thornton is at least a partial answer to Kendall Marshall, but who’s going to spend the game trying to stop the athletic Reggie Bullock? If anyone can crack this match-up puzzle, it’s Mike Krzyzewski, who may have to reach deep onto his bench for solutions (free Michael Gbinije?). Regardless, Duke’s ability to make threes will give the Devils a chance against a North Carolina team that still surrenders too many perimeter shots. Make no mistake, Duke comes into this game as the underdog against a confident Tar Heel team that expects to win this game.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.08.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 8th, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Ira Schoffel hits a home run with this profile on Leonard Hamilton. It’s lengthy, but totally worth the time it takes to read. It’s really unfortunate that it will be buried by Duke – North Carolina previews today. Schoffel spent time with many of Hamilton’s friends and family from his days in Gastonia, North Carolina. He may not look it, but Hamilton is the second oldest coach behind Mike Krzyzewski in the ACC. The FSU head coach has had a really inspirational journey from Gastonia to Tallahassee. Even above and beyond the high school story, Hamilton’s coaching resume is very impressive too. Before the year I said Bernard James might have the best story in college basketball, but I might have been wrong. His coach may have him beat.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Lame title aside, this is a terrific piece on Austin Rivers from Jack Daly. Rivers went from being a walking cliche — the talented but selfish son of an NBA coach — when he arrived at Duke to something far more compelling once he took the court. Sure, he’s made mistakes. But he’s also Duke’s best offensive weapon. His critics jumped on his early season struggles and have tended to alter the criticisms instead of the narrative as his game improves. It’s clear he has a chip on his shoulder, but I haven’t heard that chip really expressed openly until this piece. He talks about trying to succeed in the shadow of Doc Rivers and the wealth of expectations and dearth of praise (at least at the college level) for his achievements. Daly finishes the piece with a perfect quote from Rivers:

    People always ask what makes me hungry now: I haven’t done anything yet. I haven’t done anything yet. I had a great high school career, I was No. 1 – I don’t care. No one cares about that anymore. At Duke, I haven’t won a national championship, I haven’t won an ACC Tournament, I don’t play in the NBA. I haven’t done anything. I have everything that can motivate me.

  3. CBSSports.com: Continuing the DukeNorth Carolina rivalry trope, Brett Friedlander sat down with several former and current Tar Heels to talk about why they chose the school in Chapel Hill over the one eight miles south in Durham. Former Tar Heel big man Eric Montross seems to hit the nail on the head, calling the decision a “gut feeling” of one school over the other. Whether it’s North Carolina’s adjacent museum, the banners, or meeting Michael Jordan — Tar Heel players walk away from visits just knowing… On the flip side I suspect many players who choose Duke feel the same about Cameron Indoor and its many banners overhead as well. The atmospheres are undeniably different, but the two team’s histories share an excellence.
  4. Chicago Tribune: Miami is quietly building an NCAA Tournament resume now that Reggie Johnson is back in the line-up. The Hurricanes have won five of their last six games and four straight including the overtime win at Duke. That said, the “surprise” part of Miami’s bid foundation (for me) is that it’s taken this long to take hold. Certainly Johnson’s injury didn’t do Jim Larranaga any favors, but if you asked me which new coach was doing the worst job at the start of conference season, I wouldn’t have hesitated calling out the former George Mason coach. Miami still has a lot of work to do. I think it splits with Florida State and avenges a home loss to NC State. If the Hurricanes take care of that business, they’ll have 11 conference wins with the disclaimer that the ugly first half of the season was without Johnson (really 10 wins and a solid performance in the ACC Tournament could do the trick, but better safe than sorry).
  5. Fayetteville Observer: In honor of Duke and North Carolina, Stephen Schramm sat down with @thedevilwolf, one of the best trollers in the business. If you follow ACC basketball much on Twitter, you probably know his handle (but not his name). In addition to timely trolling, he’s also good for insightful comments during games and over on Duke Hoop Blog. Schramm also mentioned another mysterious Tobacco Road Twitter celebrity, @TarHeelWire, who disappeared suddenly after nearly two years of constant tweeting on North Carolina athletics when more and more people sought the identity of the man behind the handle.

EXTRA: Troy Machir over at Ballin’ Is A Habit put out his 2011-12 All-Hair-Team, and the list starts with Mike Scott and his many cornrow designs. No other ACC players make the cut (though Miles Plumlee‘s high and tight makes a defensive cameo).

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