ACC M5: 01.16.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 16th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Baltimore Sun: Initially Mark Turgeon and Brenda Frese (Maryland’s women’s basketball coach) didn’t support the school’s move to the Big Ten. Turgeon went so far as to say that all the coaches he has talked to, except [football coach] Randy [Edsall], “are upset and opposed” to the move. It means Turgeon will have to redecorate his office, which currently has ACC team logos strewn about, and it will also potentially impact recruiting. Another fascinating tidbit from Jeff Barker’s piece is this excerpt from James Shea: “For some time, I have been bothered that these ‘traditional rivalries’ have provoked toxic reactions from abusive language at the games to riots and car burnings after victories.” Clearly Maryland’s ulterior motive was taking Duke off its schedule for good so the College Park fire department can get some rest.
  2. ESPN: Tyler Ennis has had a remarkable freshman season so far. Based on win shares, he’s the most valuable freshman in the country and it’s not even close. His gaudy total probably comes from his elite assist-to-turnover ratio (4.2:1) or his knack for racking up steals. Whatever the case, I’m not sure anyone predicted Ennis would immediately prove to be one of the best point guards in the ACC. But he’s only got one challenger for rookie of the year, and Jabari Parker has not had a good start to conference play.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Guess how many halves of basketball in the last four years played by an ACC team finished with the team scoring fewer than 18 points? 26! And we’ve already had five of those this season. Clemson has two of the three with two 10-point halves over that time. As you might expect this recent low-scoring trend coincided with the ACC’s new group of coaches who have successfully stolen the slowest major conference title from the Big Ten even if they can’t win the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
  4. One Foot Down: Notre Dame is reeling. The Fighting Irish have looked just awful in conference play — the win against Duke excluded. Their most recent loss came to Maryland in a game where Mike Brey’s squad led by nine before going ice cold to start the second half. The good news is that Notre Dame can try and right the ship this weekend with a home game against Virginia Tech. The bad news is that three early losses won’t help come March, in ACC Tournament seeding, or Selection Sunday.
  5. Tar Heel Blog: Good take here on the North Carolina scandal and how it’s starting to get ugly. There’s a lot of miscommunication going on right now as the university claims it hasn’t seen the data, but whistleblower Mary Willingham claims the school can get the data themselves. CNN went way above and beyond her actual findings — making claims about the athletic department in general up to the present — in its initial reports (including claiming to have the data in a second article while linking to her four-year-old thesis). We may get some sort of resolution soon, or at least a comment from the administration, as the student newspaper has reported that Willingham sat down with the Chancellor.
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ACC M5: 01.13.14 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 13th, 2014

morning5_ACC

There’s a theme to the first four stories this week. They’re local pieces on the four teams that dismantled the ACC’s Big Four this weekend. All four lost for the first time in ACC history and they all lost by double digits. Oh, and Boston College won! So it was a big weekend all around.

  1. Syracuse Post-Standard: Rumors started this weekend that Syracuse may be planning a new basketball stadium (though the rumors to just that and the plans are described as “preliminary”). For all its size, the Carrier Dome could use a major face-lift at minimum. It’s 33 years old and usually doesn’t get high marks from visitors. A new arena–designed with basketball in mind–could provide a recruiting boost. That said, when the dome is full it’s already a good attraction for recruits. I think Syracuse probably keeps the Carrier Dome until Jim Boeheim retires, but it makes sense that a new stadium is on the horizon.
  2. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Lamar Patterson is continuing his poor man’s Oscar Robertson impersonation to start conference play. Right now he’s averaging more than 20 points, six boards, four assists and a steal in conference play. Not bad, especially considering his efficiency stats are off the charts thanks to above average shooting everywhere and a 2:1 assist-turnover ratio. Jamie Dixon called Patterson the most versatile player he’s ever coached. If his final numbers resemble his current ones, he’s a lock for first team all-conference and has a great shot at conference player of the year.
  3. Shakin’ The Southland: Good look at Clemson‘s manhandling of Duke Saturday. Maybe the most interesting point Ryan Kantor makes is that Duke abandoned its 2-3 zone too quickly. The fact that Duke played the zone at all tells you all you need to know about the Blue Devils’ defense. Something hasn’t clicked with this Duke team. It’s really struggling with consistency away from Cameron Indoor. But give Clemson its due. Brad Brownell’s team is out-performing expectations by a lot. The Tigers are a very good defensive bunch, and KJ McDaniels is another all-conference contender (along with the conference’s best posterizer on both ends of the floor).
  4. Richmond Daily Progress: Virginia finishes the Big Four beatdown dealers. The Cavaliers appear to have turned around their middling nonconference performance with three straight wins to start conference play. A big part of the new look Tony Bennett team? The resurgent frontcourt. Mike Tobey finally showed some of that potential that many pointed to while he was injured last season. NC State’s bigs looked overmatched all game. Now Virginia looks to continue its hot start with a trip to Durham where a very motivated Duke team (that has a habit of leaving the lane open) will be waiting.
  5. Orlando Sentinel: Hold off on the Florida State panic buttons. After the ugly home loss to Virginia, Leonard Hamilton’s team did to Clemson what Clemson proceeded to do to Duke. In the same building. Then they took care of business at home against Maryland. This team is for real, and it’s because it plays defense. The Seminoles are very long and have the strength in the post to take risks on the perimeter. They also probably have a chip on their shoulder from last season’s skid. That should terrify the rest of the ACC.
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Breaking Down ACC Weekend #2 – Advanced Statistical Preview

Posted by Brad Jenkins on January 11th, 2014

It’s the second weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings and the four factors, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcomes of these games. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of January 8, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST).

Saturday - North Carolina (10-5, 0-2 ACC) @ Syracuse (15-0, 2-0 ACC) – ESPN (12:00 PM)

CJ Fair and Others Returned to School and We All Will Benefit

CJ Fair and the Orange Look to Add to North Carolina’s Losing Streak

Pomeroy Prediction: (#5) Syracuse 75-64 (#34) North Carolina

UNC-Syr

There’s some chatter that it would be typical of this year’s up and down Tar Heels team to pull off another monumental upset in the Carrier Dome. But North Carolina has actually been more consistent lately, only in a bad way. The Heels do not look like a confident team right now. Still, Roy Williams has shown in the past (including this season) that he can motivate a team out of a slump. At least they appear to have one clear advantage on the offensive end they could exploit – offensive rebounding. Unfortunately for the Heels, the same is true on the other end with Syracuse hitting the offensive glass hard this season. Taking care of the ball will also be crucial against the long and active Syracuse zone. It will be interesting to see how many three-pointers each team takes. Neither likes to shoot many, but they both allow opponents to fire a bunch. Finally, a good start by the Heels (see: the Michigan State game) is important, but with the way the Orange has come back from big early deficits, even that may not be enough.

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AAC M5: 01.09.14 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on January 9th, 2014

AAC_morning5_header

  1. It wasn’t exactly an emphatic statement to the rest of the country that Connecticut hadn’t lost all of its swagger, but the Huskies’ gritty win over a good Harvard team last night was extremely important nonetheless. The Crimson were admittedly missing their best player in Wesley Saunders but they are still a clear front-runner in the Ivy League and a dangerous mid-major come Tournament time so the win will be a value-add for UConn’s resume. The Huskies turned the ball over far too much and didn’t shoot very well, which will be a recipe for disaster against conference foes, but against the undermanned Crimson, the Huskies had enough firepower to grind out a victory they desperately needed. Kevin Ollie’s squad got off to a rough start in conference play and took a deserved and precipitous fall from grace, tumbling all the way out of the Top 25 after consecutive losses to Houston and SMU, but the team is taking the recovery process one step at a time. Those who jumped off the Final Four bandwagon probably still feel vindicated, but those who expected the Huskies to collapse and finish in the middle of the pack of this mediocre conference are likely to be sorely mistaken.
  2. I’m not sure this story has a whole lot of impact on Memphis‘ performance the rest of the season, but it is so bizarre that it is worth sharing. Memphis coach Josh Pastner fired the team’s de facto strength and conditioning coach Frank Matrisciano the other day, a decision made all the more awkward by the fact that Pastner and Mastrisciano are brothers-in-law having married twin sisters. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com got the inside scoop on the matter, and the whole thing sounds pretty childish. Basically Pastner asked Mastrisciano to have the players only do upper-body workouts because he felt the players’ legs were tired after a poor shooting performance in the loss to Cincinnati, which seems pretty logical, except Mastrisciano didn’t agree and basically decided he was going to do his job the way he felt it should be done. Pastner was essentially forced to fire his brother-in-law for insubordination (I feel dumb even writing that) and now the team is moving on without the strength and conditioning coach it has had for the past two years. I don’t think anyone looks good in this situation, but the ego play from Mastriciano is especially odd considering he is not the head coach, but I guess this is what happens when you get glowing write-ups in fitness magazines and are dubbed Hell’s Trainer.
  3. We haven’t had the opportunity to watch conference heavyweights Louisville and Memphis square off yet this season, but the good news is that we won’t need to savor the match-ups quite as much now that Louisville coach Rick Pitino announced that the Cardinals and Tigers will continue to play each other until at least the 2016-17 season. The two programs will not play each other next season but the following two seasons will feature home-and-home matchups between the two former Metro/Great Midwest/Conference USA rivals. There isn’t a whole lot of “expert” analysis to offer here, but we are always proponents of two storied programs getting together to lock horns as it is good for the sport and great for the fans of college basketball, so kudos to both programs for finding a way to continue the series.
  4. It’s almost time to start feeling bad for South Florida point guard Anthony Collins if you don’t feel bad for him already. He proved as a freshman that, when healthy, he is an explosive play-maker and one of the conference’s best point guards. The problem is that he can’t seem to stay healthy and it is ruining his once-promising career, not to mention the Bulls’ season. A recurring knee issue is keeping Collins sidelined right now and it should be hard for fans of his and the Bulls not to be discouraged about Collins’ future going forward. Even when he was playing, he never looked completely healthy and certainly wasn’t the explosive rim-attacking point guard we saw glimpses of when he was younger and healthier. A healthy Collins still doesn’t mean the Bulls are poised to make an impact in the conference as they have plenty of other holes, but here’s to hoping that Collins can get fully healthy at some point again and finish out his career on a high note.
  5. It’s not much, but given the current state of Temple‘s season, news that Clemson point guard and Philly native Devin Coleman is transferring into the Owls’ program is certainly welcome. Coleman was solid for the Tigers in the games he played this season, but he is probably more of a good bench player than a true difference-maker going forward, especially considering the impending logjam in Temple’s backcourt. That said, the way the Owls have played this season, they will take all the help they can get at any position. CBSSports.com is right to point out that Temple is poised to rebound quickly given the players that will be eligible next year, and the vast amount of returning starters and role players and Coleman is just another piece to the puzzle.
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Breaking Down ACC Weekend #1 – Advanced Statistical Preview

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 3rd, 2014

It’s the first weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcome of the game. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of January 1, 2014. The games are presented in the order that they will be played this weekend (all times EST).

Saturday – Pittsburgh (12-1) @ N.C. State (10-3) – ACC Network (12:00 PM)

Jamie Dixon Has His Panthers Back to Playing Pittsburgh Basketball (US Presswire)

Jamie Dixon And Pittsburgh Kick Off the First Weekend of ACC Conference Play vs N.C. State in Raleigh (US Presswire)

  • Pittsburgh Offensive Efficiency – 114.1 (#24 in the NCAA)
  •         N.C. State Defensive Efficiency – 100.4 (#110)
  •         N.C. State Offensive Efficiency – 109.5 (#66)
  •         Pittsburgh Defensive Efficiency – 92.5 (#11)

What to Watch For: In its first ACC conference game ever, Pitt looks to have a strong edge on the offensive end of the court. In particular, look for the Panthers to try to exploit the Wolfpack on the boards. Pitt comes in 11th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, while N.C. State is 237th in defensive rebounding percentage. Another area to watch is the mismatch in free throw attempts. N.C. State ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in free throw attempts, while Pitt rarely fouls. In fact, the Panthers actually had a game earlier this year against Cal Poly in which Pitt did not commit a single first half foul.

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ACC Preview Revisited – Part Three

Posted by Chris Kehoe on January 3rd, 2014

As we continue to revisit our ‘ACC Mega-Preview’, here is the third part of our recap with the bottom five projected teams profiled below. Keep in mind that the teams are ranked here based on the RTC preseason ACC rankings. The analysis of each determines whether each team was ranked too high or low at the start of the season.

To review Part One and Part Two of this feature, click through the links.

11). Florida State Seminoles (9-3)

FSU's defense has given Leonard Hamilton reason to smile again

FSU’s defense has given Leonard Hamilton reason to smile again

  • Signature wins: #10 VCU, #22 UMass
  • Signature losses: #14 Michigan, #15 Florida
  • Reasons for optimism: Florida State has tangled with a very difficult schedule thus far and responded well above its preseason perception. Thanks to their talented trio of Ian Miller, Aaron Thomas and Okaro White, Florida State has outdone expectations through a return to their days of defensive dominance under defensive whiz and head coach Leonard Hamilton. The emergence of massive center Boris Bojanovsky as a formidable interior presence has helped anchor the frontline, and by playing hard-nosed basketball against a very competitive early slate of opponents before conference play begins, FSU has set itself up well to overachieve and claw its way into the crowded ACC picture.
  • Reasons for pessimism: It will be tough for Florida State to keep up its scorching shooting percentages through conference play, and the rhythm it has built may break down over the wear and tear of consistently equivalent and superior teams in the ACC. While the Seminoles rank highly in field goal percentage, they don’t have a long-range threat on the roster who can consistently knock down threes when they are zoned. If one of their big three gets into foul trouble, which has happened to White already this season (he is averaging 3.2 personal fouls per contest), they will struggle to replace a player of his offensive importance.
  • Forecast: Florida State has a bright season ahead, likely beating some solid opponents and losing a few very close games to stronger foes. Without star recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes and missing out on the Andrew Wiggins sweepstake, most folks thought Hamilton’s team would struggle to keep its head above water this season. It has proved many people wrong with its tenacious defensive principles intact and a solid well-rounded scoring attack. Florida State has firmly leapfrogged several teams projected in front of it and can be expected to challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid by continuing on this trajectory. 

12). Miami Hurricanes (8-5)

  • Signature wins: Arizona State
  • Signature losses: George Washington
  • Reasons for optimism: Not much was expected of this Miami team after losing almost all of its squad from an historic 2012-13 season. Losing the likes of ACC POY Shane Larkin, Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson, and Durand Scott would weigh on any team, but Jim Larranaga’s group has looked more formidable than expected. Behind the strong play of Rion Brown, Garrius Adams and Donnavan Kirk, Miami won’t set the world on fire this season but has a good team that could upset some more talented squads in conference play. They are certainly athletic, physical, and well-coached and will not back down from any challenge. Read the rest of this entry »
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Playing Secret Santa With All 15 ACC Teams

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on December 24th, 2013

Let’s have some fun with a traditional office activity going into the Christmas Holiday. We’ll pretend each of this season’s ACC teams are in the drawing hat, and give our best advice to anyone picking out gifts for each, based on current needs. So here goes the list for each ACC team in alphabetical order.

presents

  • Boston College (4-8) – Probably the easiest team to shop for because they need so much. In fact anything defensively would be much appreciated. There isn’t one thing that the Eagles do well on the defensive end of the court, as proven by their current rank of #340 out of 351 teams in raw defensive efficiency. So they won’t be picky – they could use somebody to force turnovers, someone to grab a defensive rebound, or anyone who can make somebody on the other team miss a shot more than just occasionally.
  • Clemson (8-3) – The Tigers are all set on the defensive end but could use some help on offense. While better shooters are the obvious gift, a more meaningful option may be to find a way to get Clemson to the free throw line more often. They are wasting their 77 percent foul shooting average by ranking only #285 in the nation in free throw rate. Read the rest of this entry »
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Comparing ACC Team Computer Rankings With the Preseason: Pitt Up, BC Down…

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on December 12th, 2013

With approximately 30 percent of the regular season already played, it’s a good time to check out how ACC teams are currently rated by some of the most highly regarded computer rating systems. It’s also a good time to compare that with each team’s preseason expectations, where we find that there are definitely some surprises.

The chart below lists the 15 ACC schools according to their current computer rankings. This ranking is based on an average of three of the most respected basketball computer gurus – Ken Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin, and Kenneth Massey. Keep in mind that these ratings are updated daily and this table represents data from Monday, December 9. The first column is the average national ranking for ACC teams in these computer systems. The next two columns compare the conference ranking for each team using the computers versus the official ACC Media Preseason Poll.

acc preseason computer

With the unpredictability of college basketball it’s not surprising that several teams are quite a bit above or below expectations so far this year. The first team on the list has the third biggest variance between current computer ranking and ACC Preseason Media ranking (five spots). The computers love Pittsburgh this year. Pomeroy has the Panthers fourth in the nation despite a less than challenging schedule. Basically it means that Pitt has been beating bad teams convincingly. It is still reasonable to project Jamie Dixon’s team higher now than at least two of the teams that were ranked ahead of them in the preseason poll — namely Virginia and Notre Dame. It’s worth noting that the Panthers were also something of a computer darling last season. At a similar point in the 2012-13 schedule, Pitt was seventh in Pomeroy’s ratings and eventually ended the season at #11, despite entering the NCAA Tournament as a #8 seed and losing to Wichita State badly in its opening round game.

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Missed Chances Leave AAC With Precious Few Quality Wins

Posted by CD Bradley on December 10th, 2013

The AAC has missed several opportunities for quality wins early in the season, which will increase the difficulty of getting four or five teams safely into the NCAA Tournament come March. As it is finals week for many schools, we get a bit of a breather at the one month mark before wrapping up most of the non-conference slate and opening league play over Christmas break. There are enough games left that team RPIs are still of little use as a comparison metric, but there is RPI value in examining where the conference stands relative to other leagues. After Monday’s lone AAC game, the league currently ranks ninth in conference RPI, with just the barest of leads over the West Coast Conference one spot behind.

Shabazz Napier's game winner over Florida gave the AAC one of its best wins in the season's first month. (AP)

Shabazz Napier’s game winner over Florida gave the AAC one of its best wins in the season’s first month. (AP)

“[T]here’s no question in my mind that six teams will come out of this league to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said at AAC Media Day in October – and he’s hardly the only coach who has overstated his conference’s prowess – but history suggests otherwise. Only once since 2000 has a conference ranked as low as ninth in the RPI sent even four teams to the tournament, but here’s the interesting part: Those four teams included Louisville and Cincinnati (along with UAB and Charlotte) from Conference USA in 2005, and Louisville made it to the Final Four that season.

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Old Big East Programs Make Presences Felt Early in ACC

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on December 2nd, 2013

Both Pittsburgh and Syracuse have began the 2013-14 season red-hot, with neither a loss between the two of them. Syracuse’s frontcourt depth and one-two punch of freshman point guard Tyler Ennis and forward C.J. Fair gifted the Orange a Maui Invitational title this week as Jim Boeheim’s team find itself ranked seventh in the national polls. With solid wins over Minnesota, Cal, and Baylor, Syracuse is heading into its first ACC/Big Ten Challenge (versus Indiana) with a heightened sense of confidence. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, hasn’t faced as many quality opponents as Syracuse, but has a decisive and resounding victory over Stanford on its resumé. The Panthers have also won over the advanced analytics crowd, coming in at #3 on KenPom’s early rankings. Pittsburgh lucks out with a cellar-dwelling in-state rival in Penn State in the Challenge, and only has to worry about its match-up versus old Big East foe Cincinnati for the remainder of the December schedule.

Pitt and Syracuse lead the way early on for the ACC

Pitt and Syracuse lead the early returns for the ACC this season

Credit Pittsburgh’s vaunted defensive prowess for its hot start. The Panthers have not missed a beat with the new defensive rules like many teams have to this date. While much of their success likely comes from an incredibly weak scheduling job by Jamie Dixon (currently 307th, according to KenPom), their undefeated record cannot be discredited on that basis alone. Pittsburgh has put together a roster built on experience and upperclassman leadership and is led by one of the more reliable point guards in all of the nation, James Robinson. While off to a scorching start and representing the ACC incredibly well, look for the Panthers to fall back to earth come January and February.

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Reviewing the Performance of ACC Teams in Feast Week: Part I

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 27th, 2013

After a lackluster start in non-conference play, the ACC has somewhat rebounded with some impressive showings in the early season tournaments so far. In the seven events that have already completed, the ACC has a record of 12-5 (not counting designated home games related to the events, only the neutral court games). That record includes three championships, one runner-up, and two third place finishes. That’s a big improvement over recent years, considering that ACC schools have only won five such titles in the previous three seasons combined.

Marcus Paige leads North Carolina to Hall of Fame Tip-off Title (Photo: Getty Images)

Marcus Paige leads North Carolina to Hall of Fame Tip-off Title
(Photo: Getty Images)

Leading the way was North Carolina, which bounced back from a home loss to Belmont the weekend before to stun #3 Louisville 93-84 in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Connecticut on Sunday. That followed a 82-72 Tar Heels win over Richmond the day before. Marcus Paige was sensational in his new role as North Carolina’s primary perimeter scorer, scoring 58 points in the two contests. He displayed a tremendous shooting touch going 9-of-14 on three-point attempts and 19-of-20 from the free throw line over the weekend.

Similarly, Maryland rebounded from a bad home loss last Sunday to Oregon State, winning the Paradise Jam Tournament title. The Terrapins got to the title game with wins over Marist, 68-43, and Northern Iowa, 80-66. They then beat Providence, 56-52, in Monday’s championship game. Dez Wells was selected as the tournament MVP while averaging 15 points and five rebounds over the three games. He was supported by transfer player Evan Smotrycz who scored 20 points against Northern Iowa and had a double-double (13/11) in the finals.

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ACC M5: 11.26.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 26th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: So remember when everyone said Duke is the clear front-runner to win the ACC? Yeah, me neither. Coach K definitely doesn’t based on his postgame quotes from its Sunday night victory over Vermont. I don’t know if Duke’s problems are fixable (without someone stepping up on the front line, this team may just be a bad defensive team). The good news is that everyone was right that the Blue Devils can score like nobody’s business. Krzyzewski mentioned effort or mindset, which certainly may have played a role, but the other questions are whether this team can either stay in front of fast perimeter players and whether they can effectively rebound out of the current defense. Krzyzewski needs this year’s Brian Zoubek to materialize (along with a lockdown on-ball defender not named Tyler Thornton) because giving up 1.41 points per possession to a bad Vermont team at home is nowhere near the sign of a contender.
  2. Rant Sports: Florida State looks like a whole new team this year, and you should pay attention to Montay Brandon. He has undergone an unbelievable sophomore leap, upping his possession percentage a full three percent while improving his offensive rating an unfathomable 42 points per 100 possessions. Now the sample size is small and has partially come against cupcakes, but that’s a dramatic improvement. He has cut his turnover percentage by more than half, and marginally increased his field goal percentage (although shooting threes is still a struggle). He has also doubled his rebounding percentage on both ends of the floor. So far this has been nothing short of an unbelievable turnaround.
  3. CBS Sports: With Duke falling precipitously through Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, Pittsburgh has assumed the top spot in the ACC (I fully admit I never saw this coming and still don’t really believe it). Jeff Borzello does a good job reporting on the team’s defense from a player perspective (which interestingly focuses on the physicality of the team’s defense). Surprisingly, Jamie Dixon’s defense is so good in part because it isn’t called for excessive numbers of fouls. The big question going forward is whether the Panthers will have the same success they’ve had in crashing the offensive boards against more talented teams. Speaking of their offensive rebounding prowess, now is probably a good time to remind you that the Panthers only play Duke once at home this season. That game could get ugly if the Blue Devils don’t figure things out some defensive tenets in short order.
  4. Beach Carolina Magazine: Clemson is a pleasant surprise this year. The Tigers aren’t world-beaters, but Brad Brownell‘s team looked very good in the Charleston Classic. Most notably, they absolutely manhandled a decent Davidson team. The team’s defense is tremendous but things look somewhat streaky on the offensive end. Clemson’s backcourt needs to work on drawing fouls when shots aren’t falling, which is likely to be regularly. There are still plenty of reasons to question whether Brownell can recruit enough talent to keep Clemson competitive in the ACC, but this start makes me think his teams will never be awful. He’s sort of the bizarro-Steve Donahue with his always elite defense and equally forgettable offense.
  5. Gobbler Country: Small sample size alert! Apparently Virginia Tech struggles in close non-conference games. And with some creative accounting, they struggle in close ACC games too! Part of this is because the better team generally wins close games (as it also wins the majority of games, but that’s beside the point), but I wouldn’t be too quick to draw inferences from small, biased data sets. One thing I do agree with is that Cadarian Raines needs more touches, but he’s part of the problem. It’s not like Raines is wide open on the block all of the time standing solo while Jarell Eddie fires off a long two. Raines needs to focus on getting position, and James Johnson needs to make him more of a focal point of the offense. The Hokies’ three-point shooting should open the paint up for him to work, but, then again, his high turnover rate is terrifying.
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