ACC Weekend Preview #10

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 7th, 2014

It’s the final weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. All statistics used are for results in ACC conference games only along with team rankings (#1-#15) in each category. 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 March 5, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST). This weekend features some important matchups that will determine seeding in next week’s ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

Saturday - North Carolina (23-7, 13-4 ACC) @ Duke (23-7, 12-5 ACC) – ESPN (9:00 PM)

Marcus Paige Clutch Play Has Been Key To North Carolina's Winning Streak. (Photo: Robert Willett/newsobserver.com)

Marcus Paige’s Clutch Play Has Been Key To North Carolina’s Winning Streak.
(Photo: Robert Willett/newsobserver.com)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#8) Duke 80-72 (#23) North Carolina

nc-duke

While neither of these teams have played their best basketball lately, North Carolina has managed to keep winning (12 straight) while Duke took a bad loss on Wednesday at Wake Forest. In that one Duke collapsed down the stretch, much like they did in earlier ACC road losses at Clemson and North Carolina. On the other hand, the Tar Heels have made enough plays to win three straight close games against teams with losing conference records. North Carolina’s improved offense has dipped lately, having its two worst offensive efficiency games during the winning streak in the last two contests. But the Tar Heel defense has remained solid, holding four of their last five opponents under 1.00 points per possession. Duke is mired in a team wide shooting slump which continued with a miserable 6-of-27 effort from three on Wednesday night. And unlike many Blue Devil teams of the past, the defense is not elite enough to overcome such shooting woes. Duke has been unbeaten at home since losing at the end of the 2012 season to North Carolina. If they want to stay unbeaten at home this year, the Blue Devils probably need to have a comfortable lead late. If it comes down to team toughness and resiliency, the Tar Heels may have the edge.

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ACC Weekend Preview #8

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 21st, 2014

It’s another weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. All statistics used are for results in ACC conference games only along with team rankings (#1-#15) in each category. 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 February 19, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST).

Saturday - Syracuse (25-1, 12-1 ACC) @ Duke (21-6, 10-4 ACC) – ESPN (7:00 PM)

Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski's Teams Played a Classic Three Weeks Ago. (Photo: Raleigh News & Observer / Getty Images)

Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski’s Teams Played a Classic Three Weeks Ago.
(Photo: Raleigh News & Observer / Getty Images)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#5) Duke 70-65 (#9) Syracuse

Syr-Du

A little of the shine came off this weekend’s national spotlight game, when Syracuse suffered its first defeat of the season Wednesday night, and then Duke stumbled Thursday night in Chapel Hill. It wasn’t surprising that the Orange finally lost one, given all the narrow victories they’ve had lately, but it is shocking that the culprit was Boston College, and also that the loss happened in the Carrier Dome. The fact that average teams keep taking Syracuse to the wire is probably of bigger concern right now. It’s quite possible that this depth-shy Syracuse team is starting to wear down a bit. Even though they play a zone defense which uses less energy than man-to-man, the heavy minutes played may be affecting the Orange’s starters. In ACC play, Syracuse has four players logging over 35 minutes per game. Duke also looked like a tired team Thursday. The Blue Devils’ normally high powered offense had no juice in the second half of that game, going a stretch of almost nine minutes without a field goal. Much of the credit should go to North Carolina’s defense and the outstanding Smith Center crowd, but when Duke did get an open look, they usually came up short -probably due to tired legs. So, we should not expect either team to repeat the offensive display from the first meeting, when each scored at an astounding rate – both over 1.30 points per possession. With their fourth game in eight days, the Blue Devils may have to depend on the Cameron Crazies and a bunch of minutes from the bench, to get over the energy hump.

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ACC Weekend Preview #7

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 14th, 2014

It’s another weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. All statistics used are for results in ACC conference games only along with team rankings (#1-#15) in each category. 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 February 12, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST). This weekend features four games that involve the top eight teams in the standings.

Saturday - Pittsburgh (20-5, 8-4 ACC) @ North Carolina (16-7, 6-4 ACC) – CBS (1:00 PM)

Roy Williams Has The Tar Heels Pointed In The Right Direction. (Photo: USAToday.com)

Roy Williams Has The Tar Heels Pointed In The Right Direction.
(Photo: USAToday.com)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#27) North Carolina 69-68 (#15) Pittsburgh

Pit-NC

Pittsburgh is coming off that emotionally crushing last second loss to Syracuse on Tyler Ennis’s 35 footer Wednesday night, making the Panthers o-for-4 in games against the top three teams in the league. With no more opportunities for a huge signature win, this game on the road against the red-hot Tar Heels looks like Pittsburgh’s last chance for a regular season win that may impress the NCAA Selection Committee. The Syracuse game was the second time the Panthers lost at home on a last second three pointer, with the other delivered by Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon. But don’t feel too sorry for Pittsburgh – they also have two overtime wins over ACC bottom dwellers Miami and Virginia Tech. Not only has North Caroliona won five straight conference games, but they have been impressive doing so, winning all by double digits. The Tar Heels have even begun to show improvement from the free throw line. They have only bested the 73 percent mark in four games all season, but three of those have been in their last four outings. With Wednesday’s weather related cancellation of the Duke game, North Carolina should be the fresher team physically for sure. But the current mental state of the Pittsburgh team is what may swing the game in the direction of the Tar Heels. After Wednesday’s major disappointment, the toughness and resiliency of the Panthers will be tested.

Stat Watch. Tempo will be very important in this one, with Pittsburgh (61 possessions per game) preferring a slower pace and North Carolina (67 PPG) wanting to speed things up. North Carolina hopes that being the fresher team shows up on the boards, where both teams normally excel. If Pittsburgh loses that battle, it will be awfully hard to see them winning, unless they have an unusually good shooting performance against the stout Tar Heel defense.

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ACC Weekend Preview #6

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 7th, 2014

It’s another weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. All statistics used are for results in ACC conference games only along with team rankings (#1-#15) in each category. 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 February 5, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST).

Sunday - Clemson (15-6, 6-3 ACC) @ Syracuse (22-0, 9-0 ACC) – ESPNU (6:00 PM)

Freshman Point Guard Tyler Ennis Leads Top Ranked Syracuse. (Photo: Mark Konezny - USA TODAY)

Freshman Point Guard Tyler Ennis Leads Top Ranked Syracuse.
(Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#4) Syracuse 59-49 (#47) Clemson

Clem-SyrSyracuse continues to win in different ways which is really the mark of a true winner. The Orange win on off-shooting nights, when they fall behind like they did against Miami, or when they blow a late leads like they did last Saturday versus Duke. Trevor Cooney carried them on Monday night against Notre Dame, which is a good sign, as Cooney is the only scary three-point shooter on the roster. With Tyler Ennis running the show, and the front line featuring C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant playing well on both ends of the court, the Orange are still undefeated and now ranked #1 in the country. If Cooney has regained his touch, this becomes a team that is really tough to guard. On the other hand, Clemson is a team of extremes when the Tigers take to the road in the ACC. They have won three of their five conference road contests but lost the other two in non-competitive blowout losses to Pittsburgh and North Carolina. This looks like another tough road trip for Clemson where its offensive struggles will be magnified against Syracuse. To beat the Orange, you need some shooters to come through and the Tigers are only making 31.2 percent of their threes. Even worse for Clemson may be the disparity in turnovers in this game, as the Tigers are (statistically) the worst ball-handling team in the ACC.

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North Carolina Trending Upward With Three Wins in a Row

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 2nd, 2014

North Carolina continued its home dominance over N.C. State with an 84-70 win Saturday in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have now won 11 consecutive meetings with the Wolfpack in the Smith Center, coinciding with Roy Williams’ tenure as UNC’s head coach. The last win for the Wolfpack in Chapel Hill was back in 2003, which was Matt Doherty’s last season at the helm. More importantly, the Tar Heels’ victory was their third straight ACC win, raising them to 4-4 in league play. For N.C. State, this loss ended a three-game winning streak, albeit with all the wins in Raleigh, and drops the Wolfpack to 4-5 in the ACC standings.

Roy Williams' Still Perfect Against N.C. State in Chapel Hill. (Photo: Robert Willett / newsobserver.com)

Roy Williams’ Still Perfect Against N.C. State in Chapel Hill.
(Photo: Robert Willett / newsobserver.com)

The story of the first half was the dominant performance of the North Carolina defense versus the N.C. State offense. The Tar Heels held the Wolfpack to 25 percent shooting on its way to a 40-23 halftime lead. N.C. State struggled to get open shots and failed to convert from anywhere on the court. At the rim, North Carolina blocked six first half shots, and the Wolfpack made only 1-of-7 from three. Even the foul line was a source of misery for N.C. State in the opening stanza, shooting a dismal 2-of-7.

In the second half, N.C. State played much better offensively, more than doubling its first half point total by outscoring North Carolina 47-44 after the break. Mark Gottfried switched to a smaller lineup, using point guards Anthony Barber and Tyler Lewis together, and went with a spread offense. The move enabled the Wolfpack to attack the Tar Heels off the dribble and get much easier shots, making an impressive 65.4 percent of their second half field goals. JuCo transfer Desmond Lee was particularly effective, repeatedly beating a bigger Tar Heel defender off the bounce on the way to 18 second half points. But while the small lineup ignited the Wolfpack, the Tar Heels took advantage of their size advantage on the other end. In the second half, North Carolina grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and converted those into 13 points. In a game in which overall shooting and turnovers were virtually even, the difference in the outcome can be traced to the Tar Heels’ 52-36 overall rebounding advantage. Here are some key takeaways for each team after Saturday’s game.

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Breaking Down ACC Weekend #5 – Advanced Statistical Preview

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 1st, 2014

It’s another weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. All statistics used are for results in ACC conference games only along with team rankings (#1-#15) in each category. 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 29, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST). This weekend features two heavyweight matchups featuring the four teams that are clearly the class of the conference thus far.

Saturday - Duke (17-4, 6-2 ACC) @ Syracuse (20-0, 7-0 ACC) – ESPN (6:30 PM)

Record Carrier Dome Crowd Awaits Duke. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Record Carrier Dome Crowd Awaits Duke.
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#2) Syracuse 72-68 (#3) Duke
Duke-Syr

A record Carrier Dome crowd is expected for Duke’s much-anticipated first trip to Syracuse. ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be there as well, adding to the hoopla. Duke hopes it can continue to play as well as it has in the last five games. During that stretch, the Blue Devils’ much maligned defense has held opponents to an excellent 93 points per 100 possessions. Their most impressive win came Monday night on the road over Pittsburgh, whose only other conference loss came at the Carrier Dome in a close game. An unsung hero lately has been Duke’s Amile Jefferson, who is the only player in the ACC’s top three in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Syracuse just keeps rolling along, rarely blowing teams out but always executing extremely well down the stretch of games. Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis has been amazing all season, but has even been more impressive in ACC play. Despite playing so many minutes, including going the full 40 in three of the last four games, Ennis seems to be at his best in the last five minutes of games. He does whatever the Orange needs him to do, and has become a more consistent scorer with double figure points in all seven ACC games. There will be a lot of talent on the floor, particularly at the forward spot, with each team having two versatile 6’8″ frontcourt players, C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant for Syracuse and Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood for Duke. Another key could be if either team’s sharp shooter, Trevor Cooney of the Orange or Andre Dawkins for the Blue Devils, gets free and knocks down multiple threes. Naturally, whenever a team plays Syracuse we have to look at how they will try and deal with that famously active zone defense. Duke has done pretty well against other zones but nobody plays it quite like the Orange. The Blue Devils will probably try and slide their forwards in and around the lane to use their quickness, but they will have to adjust to how well Syracuse reacts to the ball. Tempo will also play a big role, with Duke wanting to force the pace defensively, hoping to wear down the Orange and make them use their weaker bench. But other teams have tried to do that and found out that Ennis is hard to speed up.

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Breaking Down ACC Weekend #4 – Advanced Statistical Preview

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 25th, 2014

It’s another weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. All statistics used are for results in ACC conference games only along with team rankings (#1-#15) in each category. 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 22, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings.

Saturday: Florida State (13-5, 4-2 ACC) @ Duke (15-4, 4-2 ACC) – ESPN (12:00 PM)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#11) Duke 78-72 (#21) Florida State 

Jabari Parker Has Been More Aggressive Lately For Duke. (Photo: Ethan Hyman)

Jabari Parker Has Been More Aggressive Lately For Duke.
(Photo: Ethan Hyman)

This weekend’s kick-off game should be a great match-up between surging Duke and a Florida State team that has beaten every ACC team it has played not named Virginia. And don’t discount the Seminoles’ chances just because this game is at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Florida State already has two impressive road conference wins over Clemson and Miami, each by double figures. In a bit of a surprise, the Seminoles lead the ACC in three-point shooting (43.8%), with sophomore Devon Bookert leading the way with a league-leading 12-for-19 (63.2%). The Florida State defense is tough on opposing shooters and ranks #16 nationally in adjusted efficiency, but it has not been quite as stingy in league play. They will be facing a hot Duke team that remade its lineup, is using its bench more, and has had success with it — winning three straight. The Blue Devils got their first road win of the season on Wednesday over Miami and have averaged an outstanding 121.7 points per 100 possessions over the last three outings. Jabari Parker appears to be bouncing back from his mini-slump, averaging 20 points per game in the last two outings. As an indication of Parker’s aggressiveness lately, he shot 18 free throws in those two games after only attempting a total of 12 in his first four ACC games.

FSU-Duke

Stat Watch. Florida State has two glaring weaknesses: defensive rebounding and ball-handling. Even though Duke has been weak on the offensive boards for most of the year, they grabbed 15 of them against Miami. And in their last home game, the Devils forced N.C. State into 15 first half turnovers, so the key to the game will probably be how well Florida State takes care of the ball. If they can make the game depend on who shoots better, Florida State has the edge, with their defensive field goal shooting (38.3%) much stronger than Duke’s defense (45.3%).

Saturday - Pittsburgh (17-2, 5-1 ACC) @ Maryland (11-8, 3-3 ACC) – ESPN2 (6:00 PM)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#2) Pittsburgh 73-65 (#66) Maryland

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Breaking Down ACC Weekend #3 – Advanced Statistical Preview

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 17th, 2014

It’s the third weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. With every team except North Carolina having played at least four ACC games, we will now be using conference games only statistics along with team rankings in each category. 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 15, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST).

Saturday - Pittsburgh (16-1, 4-0 ACC) @ Syracuse (17-0, 4-0 ACC) – ESPN (4:00 PM)

Syracuse's C.J. Fair and Pittsburgh's James Robinson Renew Their Rivalry in a New Conference. (Photo: bigstory.ap.org)

Syracuse’s C.J. Fair and Pittsburgh’s James Robinson Renew Their Rivalry in a New Conference.
(Photo: bigstory.ap.org)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#2) Syracuse 66-61 (#8) Pittsburgh

Pitt-Syr2The best match-up of the weekend is ironically between these two ACC newcomers. Something has to give as Pittsburgh is leading the conference with 78.5 points per game in ACC play, while the Orange have the stingiest defense, allowing only 50.0 points per game. As he has all season, senior Lamar Patterson leads the way for the Panthers, averaging 20.0 PPG in ACC games. He will probably match up frequently with Syracuse’s All-America candidate C.J. Fair (17.1 PPG) in Pitt’s man-to-man defense. The battle at point guard may decide the game as Syracuse’s freshman sensation Tyler Ennis faces off with Pitt sophomore James Robinson. In conference games only, Ennis leads the league in assists (6.5 APG) and steals (3.0 SPG), while Robinson has the ACC’s best assist/turnover ratio (16/2).

Stat Watch. Pittsburgh leads the ACC by a huge margin in field goal percentage in conference games at 51.6 percent, while Syracuse is 10th at 40.9. Ball-handling will be important as these are the top two teams in the ACC in steals. It will also be interesting to see how many three-point shots Pittsburgh tries against the Orange zone, as they are last in the league in attempts, while Syracuse allows more than any other team.

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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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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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