Checking In On… the ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 2nd, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

Reader’s Take


Top Storylines

  • ACC/Big 10 Challenge: I’m not sure we can call it a challenge this year, as the ACC was dismantled 8-4 (with two of those wins being upsets). I don’t put much stock in the Challenge results although I do think it’s the best of the conference duels. I also think the Big 10 is a much better basketball conference than the ACC. The lone conference highlights came from Wake Forest and Virginia. The Demon Deacons got their second straight BCS-conference victory over Nebraska (on the road no less). To put the milestone in perspective, last season, Wake Forest didn’t win any road games against BCS competition and only won two home games against major conference schools. Meanwhile the Cavaliers rebuffed their critics (read: me) by beating a talented, well-coached Michigan squad.
  • Tar Heel Questions: North Carolina may be the best team in the country, but  any aura of invincibility was shattered by UNLV bum rushing the Tar Heels out in Las Vegas. UNLV played extraordinarily well: it exploited mismatches, slammed North Carolina inside and knocked down open shots. The Tar Heels left with major questions about who will take over games in tough spots, and whether John Henson and Tyler Zeller could step up inside in big moments. The big men reverted back to earlier seasons’ form, Henson settling for ill-advised jumpers and Zeller settling for no shots at all.
  • Austin Rivers Criticism: High profile recruits going to high profile schools generate high profile expectations. But less than ten games into the season, in my opinion, is a little early to say that Austin Rivers cannot fit into Duke’s system. The statements are coming from Duke fans, Duke haters, and journalists alike. It’s true that Rivers hasn’t seamlessly moved to the college game, but he’s been Duke’s best offensive threat so far this season. Watch the Duke – Ohio State game: the only two offensive factors for Duke were Rivers and Mason Plumlee. Rivers has a well-documented crossover that allows him to get to the rim at will. With a little better shot selection and the occasional pass to open teammates, he’ll be near the top of college basketball’s offensive players relatively soon.
  • Pre-Season Tournaments: We know Duke won the Maui Invitational for the fifth time, but how did other ACC schools fare in tournament play? Boston College took sixth at the 76 Classic (which, for the record has been a “Classic” since 2007) thanks to an overtime win over UC Riverside. Clemson has yet to take place in the Diamond Head Classic (est. 2009), but will take to Hawaii in late December with the possibility of playing a very talented Xavier squad. Florida State struggled at the Battle 4 Atlantis, getting beat by Harvard in the second round before losing a very close game against defending national champion Connecticut in the third place game. Georgia Tech had a mixed trip to the Charleston Classic (est. 2008), losing to St. Joseph’s and LSU with a win against VCU thrown in. Maryland struggled in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, getting blown out by likely NCAA Tournament teams Alabama and Iona. Miami will join Florida, Texas A&M, and FAU at the Orange Bowl Classic in mid-December. North Carolina came away with its first loss from the Las Vegas Invitational. NC State got some very valuable experience from the Ticketcity Legends Classic (est. 2007) losing to Vanderbilt in a close game but coming from behind to beat Texas. Virginia took fourth at Paradise Jam highlighted by a close (but bad) loss to TCU in the first round. Virginia Tech was competitive at the NIT Season Tip-Off, winning the third-place game over Oklahoma State after playing well in a loss to Syracuse. Finally, Wake Forest lost a very close game to Dayton, was blown out by Arizona State, and bounced back with a win over Texas Tech to take seventh at the Old Spice Classic (est. 2006).
  • Boston College’s Identity: Boston College isn’t good, but the Eagles might be better off if Matt Humphrey passed the torch to Patrick Heckmann. Regardless, the Eagles will probably struggle a lot this season, but Heckmann has proven to be very efficient offensively so far.

Seth Curry And Duke Got Undressed By The Buckeyes On Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Power Rankings

  1. North Carolina (6-1): The Tar Heels may have suffered their first loss, but they’re still the best team in the ACC. They got a very good win at home against Wisconsin on Wednesday night, and did it playing Wisconsin’s style. That’s good and bad as it means they succeeded playing a very uncomfortable game thanks to very good defense, especially from Dexter Strickland. However, it also means Wisconsin controlled the tempo. The good news is Kentucky is a very young team that likes to run. This plays right into North Carolina’s hands as it has much more experience running fast, but staying in control.
  2. Duke (7-1): The Blue Devils got absolutely handled at Ohio State on Tuesday, but they still have the best wins in the conference (at least number of quality wins). The worst news in the loss was Ryan Kelly’s disappearance on offense. He and Seth Curry absolutely have to have a positive impact on that end of the floor for Duke to live up to expectations this season. On a more positive note, Mason Plumlee looks like he’s made at least part of the leap people have been expecting since he arrived (still too many turnovers, but very solid otherwise). Read the rest of this entry »
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Boom Goes The Dynamite: 01.20.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on January 20th, 2010

HOLY GUS JOHNSON, there’s a lot of college basketball on tonight.  We usually do our hoops-watchin’ live blog on Saturdays and the occasional Sunday, but we got such a nice response from last week’s special Wednesday edition that we’re going to fire it up again tonight.  We’ll start off focusing on Wake Forest vs UNC and Georgetown vs Pittsburgh.  We’ve got RTC Live going on at Michigan at Wisconsin.  So join us, send us some comments, tell us what’s on your TV, and enjoy the hoops with us.  Because it starts in, like, ninety seconds…

7:02 pm ET: JStev here at RTC’s Southern Compound, and we’re starting off with Wake at UNC, but we’ve got quite a selection already.  So I guess this game is one of those announcer-trade things.  ESPN’s NBA announcers are calling this one.  I don’t know if I’m liking this.  We might get to Pitt/G’town earlier than expected…

7:16: …AND, we’re there.  Faster pace, two ranked teams, and fewer people get the U so this will actually help more folks tuning in.  See?  We’re all about helping people at RTC.  Boy, Georgetown looks comfortable early.  That last move by Greg Monroe was quite tasty.  NBA quality drop step and lay-in, wow.  Up six early.

7:24: Just flashed over to Wake/UNC and L.D. Williams just THREW DOWN an alley-oop, following a three and a previous dunk by Al-Farouq Aminu.  I know it’s mid-first half, but has UNC lost their mystique?  Teams just look more confident against them this year, steadier.  Back on G’town/Pitt, Gilbert Brown was going out of bounds and threw the ball off of Jerelle Benimon, and hit him right in the misters.  Looks OK, though.

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Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 21st, 2009

Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

ACC teams lost just three times in the last week – and all were interesting/entertaining games in their own right. Two losses were inevitable, thanks to a pair of conference games.  The other was Texas-sized, in more ways than one.

ACC POWER RANKINGS (record as of Sunday, Dec. 20)

1. Duke (9-1, 0-0)

PAST:  Let’s skip right over the gimme win over Gardner-Webb and move on to Saturday’s game with Gonzaga.  The Zags were bad, that much is true.  But some of Gonzaga’s 23.8% shooting percentage needs to be credited to a stifling Duke defense.  Gonzaga came in averaging almost 80 points, and were held to half that.  The win was enough to put Duke atop our rankings, but the Devils still need to show a little more – because Gonzaga was just that bad.

FUTURE: No games this week.

2. North Carolina (8-3, 0-0)

PAST:  The Tar Heels have been getting plenty of credit here for playing some real pre-conference foes, and that didn’t change on Saturday, when UNC faced No. 2 Texas in the monstrosity that is Cowboys Stadium.  There was also more than enough up-and-down, fast-paced hoops to keep any hoops fan happy, just not the “W” to keep Heels fans happy. More on this game later.

FUTURE:  UNC hosts Marshall on Tuesday.

3. Wake Forest (8-2, 1-0)

PAST:  The Deacons survived a classic trap trip to UNC Wilmington, then took care of North Carolina State at home on Sunday.  Wake freshman C.J. Harris continues to chip in for the Deacons, earning his third ACC Rookie of the Week honors with 10 points and four boards against N.C. State, and 11 points against UNC Wilmington.

FUTURE:  The Deacons complete their “N.C.” trifecta this week when they travel to Greensboro to face UNC-Greensboro.

4. Georgia Tech (8-2, 0-1)

PAST:  Tech dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Florida State, 66-59, that could come back to bite them come seeding time. Sure, the Seminoles are a solid team, but you can’t lose home conference games like that. Especially in your ACC opener.

FUTURE:  Tech hosts always-tough Kennesaw State on Tuesday.

5. Florida State (10-2, 1-0)

PAST:  The Seminoles jump up two spots this week after going 3-0 with wins over Georgia State, Auburn, and the most impressive of all:  AT Georgia Tech.  No, FSU doesn’t leap past the Yellow Jackets just yet (I still think Tech is the better overall team), but the Seminoles sure improved their tourney resume in a week that saw most everyone else take a cupcake break.

FUTURE:  The Cupcakes come now, however, for FSU, which faces Tennessee-Martin, Alabama A&M and Texas A&M-Corpus Christie in its next three games.

6. Clemson (10-2, 0-0)

PAST:  The Tigers slip a spot, despite two wins this week over East Carolina and the College of Charleston.  But they will have plenty of time to rise, especially if their defense continues to force an absurd 11.7 steals per game.

FUTURE:  Clemson has two more cupcakes before a Jan. 3 date at Duke.  The Tigers host Western Carolina on Tuesday.

7. Miami (12-1, 0-1)

PAST:  Four cupcake wins, including a 20-point road romp at Stetson, likely didn’t reduce the sting of that one-point loss to Boston College earlier this month.

FUTURE:  No games this week after Monday’s date with North Carolina A&T.

8. Virginia Tech (9-1)

PAST:  Easy win over Charleston Southern doesn’t really help or hurt the Hokies this week.  But junior Malcolm Delaney certainly is.  He continues to dominate the league scoring stats, averaging 22 PPG, which ranks just outside the top 10 in the nation.

FUTURE:  The golden Retrievers of UMBC come calling Tuesday night.

9. Maryland (6-3, 0-0)

PAST:  All that Hawaiian sun must have worn the Terrapins out after the Maui Invitational, because Maryland has played just three games in all of December and hasn’t played since a win on Dec. 12.

FUTURE:  Maryland hosts two gimmes this week in Winston-Salem State and Florida Atlantic.

10. N.C. State (8-2, 0-1)

PAST:  The home loss to Wake Forest was no real crime, especially since the Wolfpack hung around most of the night. But if they want to move up in the rankings, the Pack will have to score a little more.  They are averaging a league-worst 67.3 points – and that’s against the pre-conference cupcakes.

FUTURE:  N.C. State does play the only real interesting game of the week in the ACC, as it heads to Arizona on Wednesday.

11. Virginia (5-4, 0-0)

PAST:  After a game against UNC-Wilmington was snowed out, the Cavaliers had two full weeks between games going into Monday’s date with NJIT.

FUTURE:  Wednesday against Hampton (corrected).

12. Boston College (7-3, 1-0)

PAST:  The cruising win over Bryant wasn’t enough to get the Eagles out of the cellar.  Not with home losses to Harvard and Rhode Island on the resume.  Say it again:  Harvard and Rhode Island.

FUTURE:  BC hosts UMass Wednesday night, with the Minutemen coming off a solid win over Memphis on Saturday. Watch out for another in-state defeat.



  • UNDER THE BIG TOP:  Much has already been written about the UNC-Texas shootout/circus at The-House-That-Jerry-Built.  The 103-90 Texas win proved that Roy Williams’ Tar Heels still have plenty to do on the defensive end, as UNC gave up 100 points in regulation for the first time in Williams’ tenure there.  Does this mean that UNC is not good enough to reach the Final Four?  Absolutely not.  If there’s any team that needs time to find its identity, it’s this one, considering all the new faces.  I may have bumped UNC out of the top spot this week (and I may think Roy Williams is a crybaby), but I still expect the Heels to rise back to the top of the ACC (notice how I’m already backing off my crazy Maryland prediction from earlier in the year).
  • ACC-TUAL LEAGUE GAMES!  Florida State’s dramatic overtime win over Georgia Tech was the first real key ACC game of the year, and the first real upset, as well (except for maybe BC over Miami).  Is it January yet?  I’m tired of seeing everyone beat up on UNC-Greensboro and Stetson.
  • RAMBLING RANT OF THE WEEK:  If I was a Duke fan who, you know, actually lived anywhere near Tobacco Road, I’d be growing real tired of what seems like 55 “home” games each year at Madison Square Garden.  I know what it does for exposure, and mostly I know what it does for the wallet, but this is a team with one of the best – if not the best – homecourt advantage in the nation.  Why the heck do they need to play in New York so much?
  • BONUS RAMBLING RANT OF THE WEEK (Jerry Jones Edition):  Like many college hoops fans, I am attracted to the game due to the atmosphere of a great college building. I haven’t attended a ton of raucous games, but I can tell you that the 2002 America East finaland games at the Palestra are among the top sporting events I’ve attended.  So it kills me to see so many key games in March played in sterile football stadiums with half a million seats.  I understand the money, and I know the Final Four has been in those buildings for years, but now we’re starting to see regional games, sub-regionals, and even regular season games played in huge buildings.  I’ll take a bandbox gym any day.



GET YOUR SHOPPING DONE:  There really isn’t any must-see TV this week in the ACC.  Outside of N.C. State’s trip to Arizona on Wednesday night, you should have plenty of time to bake that doorstop of a fruitcake.  And just think, waiting for you just after New Year’s?  Another great season of ACC hoops. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

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