ACC Preseason Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 14th, 2014

Over the last two weeks, we have previewed each team individually to go with several more articles to get you ready for ACC basketball (first tip: 6:00 PM ET in Durham). Links to the previews can be found in each of the preseason power rankings listed below. Also look for our preseason conference awards which will publish later today.

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (58): Everyone knows about the freshmen, and they are sensational. But are Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon ready to put together a consistent season from start to finish? That answer may determine whether the Blue Devils are Final Four-bound or facing another early departure from the Tourney.
Virginia Cavaliers T2. Virginia (53): Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell didn’t light up the scoreboard in Charlottesville, but their leadership and savvy was key in Virginia’s magical run last year. Can Anthony Gill and Justin Anderson assume larger roles and keep Tony Bennett‘s team in the national limelight?
North Carolina Tar Heels T2. North Carolina (53): Everyone knows about Marcus Paige, and the Tar Heels should be better at the line and from three with the addition of some talented freshmen in the backcourt and on the wing. Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks have to bring it every night in the paint for this team to reach its potential.
LouisvilleLogo 4. Louisville (52): The Cardinals probably have as good a shot as any of the top four. While they will have to learn how to play a new set of conference opponents in unfamiliar arenas, the ACC will have to adjust to Rick Pitino’s style of pressure defense with multiple schemes. Most of the key contributors are now gone from the 2012-13 National Championship squad, but the program brings a culture used to winning at the highest level.
Syracuse Orange 5. Syracuse (42): There are a lot of questions about the Orange after Tyler Ennis’ and Jerami Grant’s early departures. Jim Boeheim has a talented team that won’t be an easy out, but there are a lot of questions about how the offense will run with another freshman, Kaleb Joseph, at the helm.
Florida State Seminoles 6. Florida State (38): The Seminoles haven’t been their usual defensive selves the past two seasons, but this year Leonard Hamilton has three experienced big men along with a cadre of long perimeter players. Aaron Thomas may be the most underrated player in the ACC, which bodes well for things in Tallahassee this year.
Pittsburgh Panthers 7. Pittsburgh (37)Jamie Dixon has a tradition of replacing departed stars with veterans. For Pitt to win games against the ACC’s elite, Cameron Wright and James Robinson must continue that trend and get some help, maybe a year earlier than the norm, from the talented sophomore class. One would think they are due for a healthier year than last, when midseason injuries really set the team back.
NC State Wolfpack 8. NC State (34): T.J. Warren is gone, so this team has to find its offense by committee. Tyler Lewis is too, so Cat Barber will have to be efficient and also seek his own shot. The maturation of a young frontcourt will be key. Mark Gottfried has historically impressed with low expectations.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 9. Notre Dame (32): It won’t be a surprise if Zach Auguste makes a big jump in production as a junior, but beyond that is nothing but unproven post players. With the perimeter filled with talent and experience, keeping Auguste healthy and out of foul trouble may be the key as the Irish try to make a dramatic jump in the standings. Jerian Grant is a contender for ACC Player of the Year.
Miami Hurricanes 10. Miami (25): Arguably the best coaching job in the country last year happened in Coral Gables. If Jim Larranaga gets this team to improve, the Hurricanes will be significantly better than many expect. Manu Lacomte needs to make the leap and lead a young team in a very tough conference.
Clemson Tigers 11. Clemson (18): Brad Brownell showed that even without a ton of obvious roster talent, the Tigers will be competitive — especially on defense. This season he has to prove that again without K.J. McDaniels. It’s unclear who the go-to player will be, so Clemson’s offense could hold this team back.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 12. Wake Forest (17): Wake may be ready for a solid rise in the ACC standings as early as next year. This year will be a challenge, but momentum could be built towards a good 2015-16 season. Juniors Devin Thomas on the inside and Cody Miller-McIntyre in the backcourt will dictate how good this team is.
Boston College 13. Boston College (12): A year and coach removed from last year’s disappointing effort leave a lot of questions in Chestnut Hill. Olivier Hanlan will always be worth the price of admission, but he may not have enough supporting cast to escape the dregs of the ACC unless Dennis Clifford can finally stay healthy.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 14. Georgia Tech (10): It’s really hard to see Brian Gregory surviving as coach here if the Yellow Jackets don’t make the postseason this season. It’s also hard to see this Georgia Tech team finishing in the top half of the ACC, which is what it would probably take to get that NCAA bid — or even a trip to the NIT. The odds of Gregory being in Atlanta after March 2015 are not very good.
Virginia Tech Hokies 15. Virginia Tech (6): Virginia Tech will again be among the cellar-dwellers in the ACC, but at least it has come cachet with the hiring of Buzz Williams. They’ll be serviceable in the backcourt with Devin Wilson returning, but it will be a year or two before we can evaluate the viability of the Hokies as competitive in the conference.

Miscellaneous Power Rankings Notes:

  • Coach K reloadsDuke was the top choice again this year with another one-and-done big man, but the Blue Devils weren’t the unanimous pick. Virginia and Louisville both got a first place vote.
  • Clear Contenders: North Carolina, Louisville and Virginia (in some order) rounded out everyone’s top four, marking a distinct upper tier in the conference.
  • Media/Microsite solidarity: For the second season in a row, no teams differed from the preseason media poll by more than two spots.
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ACC Preview: Boston College’s Burning Question

Posted by Matt Patton on October 24th, 2014

Last place or not last place?

It’s not easy taking over a slumping program in a conference that just added three perennial Top 25 programs. It’s even harder when you can’t start until April and you lose your two of your three best players before you even take the job. That’s where Jim Christian stands a little over six months after replacing Steve Donahue. Perhaps his most important battle, though, was won when Olivier Hanlan decided to stay in Chestnut Hill. Hanlan’s presence — along with a graduate transfer and a healthy center — are the only reason this is a burning question at all.

Jim Christian needs to change the culture in Chestnut Hill (photo credit: Ted Fitzgerald/Boston Herald)

Jim Christian needs to change the culture in Chestnut Hill (photo credit: Ted Fitzgerald/Boston Herald)

Any look at Boston College this season has to start with Christian, a former coach at Kent State, TCU and then Ohio before coming to Chestnut Hill. He built a solid MAC program at Kent State, improving nearly every year while he was there. During his last year at TCU, he turned one of the worst programs in the country into a middling Mountain West team with a few solid wins (including one over Virginia). But there’s not much data from which to judge his time at Ohio, and he’s never coached in a major conference.

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ACC M5: 12.17.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 17th, 2013

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  1. Testudo Times: Here’s a great film review of Roddy Peters in his recent game against Boston College. The in-depth look certainly supports my hypothesis that Peters has loads of potential on the offensive end. The play I found most interesting was the one where he picked apart the Eagles’ defense. It’s also rather alarming how easily the Eagles were picked apart by a freshman point guard, but that’s a post for another time. While he’s still not a shooter, Peters’ ability to get in the lane and find the open man is one that’s tough to teach. When he and Jake Layman develop more chemistry over time, they will be nearly impossible to stop.
  2. Syracuse Post-Standard: One big advantage Syracuse has over most opponents is on its front line, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice it from the stat sheet. Jim Boeheim wants to change that perception, though, by forcing the ball inside more. And he’s right if you look at Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman‘s numbers. The duo are hitting 72 and 68 percent of their field goals, respectively. Both are mostly scoring in the paint (through dunks and layups), but even if those numbers drop with increased possessions, that’s still a great pair of offensive options for the Orange.
  3. Boston Herald: Dennis Clifford received yet another setback in his potential return, which may end up forcing him to redshirt. He was originally scheduled to be back in action by now, but a source told Tom Layman that Steve Donahue is hoping to have Clifford back when conference play resumes the first week of January. Clifford has been dealing with nagging knee injuries since coming to Chestnut Hill, most recently trying to reduce the pain from arthritis in both knees. If he comes back the Eagles will be a much better team, as his shot-blocking will help to shore up the team’s interior defense. But at this point (and with this record), Donahue may be thinking about redshirting Clifford anyway and giving him the whole season to get back to 100 percent.
  4. Cardiac Hill: Stephen Gertz asks if Pittsburgh is better off without Steven Adams in the lineup. I’ll go ahead and posit no. Adams was the team’s most efficient rebounder (though Talib Zanna has stepped up significantly in defensive rebounding in his absence), most efficient shooter (albeit from close range), and an elite shot-blocker (an area Pittsburgh could decidedly use improvement). Also based on the success Adams has had in the NBA, I think he’s a much better basketball player this year than he was last season.
  5. WTVD: This story is head-scratching, but Will Graves – who was allegedly kicked off the 2011 North Carolina team for drugs — was recently cited for marijuana possession after consenting to let police search the house he rented from Roy Williams to finish his degree. First things first, major props to Williams for following through with Graves (who also worked part time for the Tar Heels as a video coordinator) and helping him finish his degree. But it’s not a good look for Graves.
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ACC M5: 11.12.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 12th, 2013

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  1. Pitt News: Cool story from the Pittsburgh student newspaper about the Panthers changing their defense as the game changed. Jamie Dixon thinks that one reason more teams are playing zone defense is because of the deeper three-point line. Likewise, he thinks the new fouling rules incentivize zone defenses–which would mean the bizarro effect from the NCAA’s perspective (slower games). In Pittsburgh‘s opener, the Panthers used different defenses (three quarter court press, zone for out of bounds plays and selective trapping) to try and gain an upper hand. Assuming his team can master the different systems, I like this strategy a lot going forward.
  2. Syracuse Post-Gazette: Going somewhat against Dixon’s theory–though it’s still very early–is research from KPI Analytics, which says points per game are up 4.50 across the country as compared to last season. Fouls and free throw attempts are also up. Looking at Ken Pomeroy’s data from this season, the median adjusted tempo is also up almost 1.5 possessions a game (most likely thanks to fouls ending possessions). The question is once coaches and players adjust to the new rules–likely lowering free throw attempts–whether the higher scoring will continue.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: London Perrantes has earned the back-up point guard spot in Tony Bennett’s rotation. Assuming his first game was representative, Perrantes won’t light up the stat sheet. But he already plays with poise and takes care of the ball. The fact that Perrantes failed to make a field goal in 25 minutes of play is somewhat unsettling–and reminiscent of Jontel Evans–but as long as he can keep opposing teams honest, Virginia has plenty of weapons.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Maryland‘s frontcourt is loaded with potential, but Shaquille Cleare really struggled in the Terrapins’s close loss against Connecticut. His close friend and backup Charles Mitchell was much more effective offensively (Mitchell is one of the best rebounders in the country), but in the end I think the player who plays the best defense will keep the starting spot. Mitchell has the chance to develop into a truly special offensive player over the next couple of years as he develops more post moves. But currently he’s a liability on defense (who takes a hint from Charles Barkley and crashes the boards to make up for it). Cleare has a ton of potential, but hasn’t backed up his recruiting ranking just yet.
  5. Soaring to Glory: I don’t normally post angry post-loss recaps, but I’m upset with Boston College‘s bad start. Massachusetts was underrated coming in, but the Eagles are starting to look vastly overrated. It doesn’t help that Dennis Clifford is still injured, but Steve Donahue‘s team got manhandled on the interior. The Eagles gave up 21 (yes, you read that right) offensive boards. 21! The Minutemen rebounded 53.8% of their misses. That can’t happen ever and it definitely can’t happen against an A-10 team. I totally disagree that Donahue’s team needs some rougher guys to give it an edge, but it does need someone to get after a rebound.
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ACC Mega-Preview: Duke Tops Power Rankings

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

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

ACC Basketball Twitter Must-Follows (Chris): 

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

Early Season Tournaments (Brad):

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

Seven Nonconference Games to Watch (Brad)

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

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

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ACC Team Preview: Boston College Eagles

Posted by Kellen Carpenter on November 1st, 2013

This is Steve Donahue’s fourth year as coach of Boston College and the question is floating through the air: Is it the year? After an abysmal sophomore season where Donahue floundered with a nearly all-freshman class, last year was a turning point for the program. Sure, the team only went 7-11 in league play and lost in the second round of the ACC Tournament, but it was still progress and the groundwork that Donahue has laid looks strong. This year, the hard work starts to pay off. Boston College is ready to make some noise… with one big catch.

boston-college-preview-2013]

In 2011-12, the freshman pair of Ryan Anderson and Lonnie Jackson gave Boston College some hope for the future. Now, as juniors, both have clear roles in the Eagles’ team system. Anderson is capable of a double-double every night while Jackson is the team’s designated sharp-shooter on a team loaded with outside shooting. The two offer veteran leadership on a squad that basically lacked significant contributions from upperclassmen for the past two years. On top of that foundation came the dynamic freshmen duo of Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan. Though only a freshman, Rahon provided an instant steadying presence at point guard and ultimately led all freshmen in the conference in total minutes played. Hanlan, however, brought more to the team than a steady presence. The dynamic freshman guard played well all season, but he came on with a fury at the end of the year, setting the ACC Tournament record for scoring by a freshman with 41 points against Georgia Tech. He would ultimately win ACC Freshman of the Year.

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ACC M5: 10.18.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 18th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Jamie Dixon doesn’t sound too worried about the new rule changes that are designed to open up the floor a little for offensive players: when asked about the new rules, Dixon retorted, “We will see if they are going to call it.” Pittsburgh‘s defense under Dixon is known for being some of the most physical in the country, although the Panthers don’t rely on hand checks nearly as much as Louisville. But Dixon hit on the most important part of the supposedly drastic changes: They don’t matter unless they’re enforced. These aren’t new rules like the unpopular elbow rule; they’re changes in emphasis. Duke’s Tyler Thornton, for one, isn’t thrilled with the stricter definition of charges.
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Brian Gregory got some big news yesterday, as Tennessee transfer Trae Golden received a hardship waiver that will allow him to suit up this season for the Yellow Jackets. Golden will give the team much-needed experience at the point guard position, where sophomore Solomon Poole struggled mightily last year. Poole had an unthinkable turnover rate of 44.5 percent — meaning he turned it over on nearly half the possessions he was involved in. Golden won’t make Georgia Tech a contender, but he should make them much tougher to beat.
  3. Boston Globe: Boston College felt much more respected this year at media day. The Eagles were picked eighth, a far cry from their last place pick a year ago. Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson are the real deal. Don’t be surprised if both end up on all-ACC teams when all is said and done. Dennis Clifford – sidelined much of last year with a nagging knee injury — may prove the difference between being a dangerous team and a team that makes then NCAA Tournament, though you don’t want to be too optimistic about a guy rehabbing two knee surgeries. Regardless, Steve Donahue’s squad should be fun to watch.
  4. Washington Post: Akil Mitchell leapt onto the ACC scene last year as an athletic double-double machine who made watching Virginia much more enjoyable. This wasn’t the first time Mitchell surprised people on the basketball court: In middle school he was cut twice (thanks to being the damning “stout and slow” according to his father), in high school he couldn’t dunk as a 6’5″ sophomore (to teammate and rare dunker Seth Curry’s chagrin), and he had his offer revoked by George Washington. It will be interesting to see how Mitchell deals with moving from the upstart underdog to a much better-known star role this year.
  5. Notre Dame: Mike Brey’s team will be without sophomore forward Zach Auguste for the next four to six weeks according to a school release. Auguste broke his hand in practice last week. This deals a blow to the team’s frontcourt, which needs to find a way to replace star Jack Cooley. While he likely won’t miss “important” games, Auguste will miss valuable time getting used to his expanded role.

EXTRA: Make sure to catch part two of Walker Carey’s chat with Len Elmore, Mike Gminski, and Bret Strelow.

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Rushed Reactions: Miami 69, Boston College 58

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the ACC quarterfinal match-up between Miami (FL) and Boston College this afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

  1. Zone Read: Around the under-eight media timeout in the first half, Steve Donahue switched to a loose zone. To that point, Miami had been clicking offensively, but the zone bothered the Hurricanes. It helped tremendously that Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and Tonye Jekiri all had two fouls, which partially neutralized the Hurricanes’ interior advantage. But Miami settled for jumpers and heavily contested shots, missing nine of its next 10 shots. The Hurricanes also turned it over three times. That allowed Boston College to finish on a 19-4 run and take a lead into halftime.
  2. Going Small: With five minutes left in the game, Jim Larranaga took Julian Gamble out, leaving Rion Brown, Trey McKinney-Jones, Shane Larkin, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji on the floor. Essentially that’s Kadji with four guards and wings (all under 6’6″). After the game Jim Larranaga talked about the switch extensively:

    “Thank goodness we were able to go small in the last five minutes. We don’t have a lot of perimeter subs so we couldn’t have done it earlier, even though we know that’s probably the best way to guard them. We were able to do that in the last five minutes and pull away and get a nice win and move on to the semifinals. […] The whole key in guarding Boston College, they do such a great job with ball screens and hitting the role man and hitting or finding another open man. When you’re bigger you’re slower in your rotation so the last five minutes we went to the small lineup and we switched most of them so there is no open man and we trapped with our big guy to be the aggressor at the end of the floor, both ends of the floor and both of those things worked at that time in the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC M5: 01.18.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 18th, 2013

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  1. Fox Sports Carolinas: After losing at Maryland, there was a surprising amount of this sort of chatter going on among fans in particular. “Does the Wolfpack’s loss invalidate win over Duke?” I think that’s a dumb question. The loss was on the road to a good team desperate for the win. Do NC State‘s players wish they had won? I’m sure. But that doesn’t make the loss any more damning. NC State is probably not the top five team some thought it was coming into the season. But it’s also not the team that struggled to beat Boston College. And nothing about that loss at Maryland took away from the previous win.
  2. Washington Post: Speaking of that game, Mark Turgeon was livid with his team’s execution. “There wasn’t one timeout they did what I asked. Not one.” Given Maryland’s recent play on the offensive end, it’s hard to criticize the Terrapins’ coach. My guess is we will see Turgeon settle on a point guard when either Seth Allen or Pe’Shon Howard start running the plays he asks. In the long run it has to be the more offensive-minded Allen, but that may not be for a year or more (think Quinn Cook at Duke).
  3. Tar Heel Blog: The arguments surrounding PJ Hairston starting over Dexter Strickland are pretty interesting. Most seem to think Roy Williams has settled on Hairston coming off the bench and providing a spark. This made a lot of sense when he was the guy who might hit four threes or miss a ton of shots, but this year he appears to have really improved his shot selection and in turn his consistency. But until Hairston’s defensive efficiency comes close to matching Strickland’s, don’t expect any major changes from Williams.
  4. Soaring to Glory: Boston College needs to win close games if it wants fans to believe it has improved from last season. But the fact that so many more of the Eagles’ games are close this season is a big sign of improvement. This year the Eagles aren’t playing teams close for 30-35 minutes and then getting run off the floor at the end like last season. This year they are competing throughout the game, and also Dennis Clifford is still nowhere close to 100%. No one likes excuses, but it’s hard to win close games without one of your two best players.
  5. CBSSports.com: Cool work here from Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello. The two talked with four coaches who played Duke about the best way to beat the Blue Devils. The answers are interesting. Every one of the coaches thought Mason Plumlee was the key player, since his offense in the middle opened things up for the shooters outside. Interestingly, they all cited different weaknesses related to defense. One said defensive rebounding; one said guarding ball screens, especially specific to Seth Curry; one said their limited bench; and one implied a shallow defense that you can get by if you can withstand the pressure. Overall, I would agree with all four in that order of importance.
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ACC M5: 01.16.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 16th, 2013

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  1. BC Interruption: Duke isn’t the only team dealing with an injured critical player. Because of Boston College’s struggles last year, it’s easy to overlook this team’s hardship. Dennis Clifford was the Eagles’ best player in Spain this summer. He hasn’t been 100% all year though. First it was his ankle. Now it’s his knee, and Steve Donahue doesn’t sound optimistic about the seven-footer. Clifford gives Boston College one of the more interesting frontcourts in the league when he’s healthy and allows Ryan Anderson to play the four. Here’s to hoping the Eagle’s big man can get totally healthy before next season.
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech has gotten over its roster turmoil, but the bench has been inconsistent of late. Assistant coaches Chad Dollar, Josh Postorino, and Billy Schmidt were all suspended for a game. Brian Gregory refused to comment on the matter, and the athletic department spokesman was just as vague. Smart money is on small NCAA infractions, though Postorino was arrested in early December for DUI and had to sit out five games.
  3. Greenville News: In Clemson’s win against Virginia, Milton Jennings showed glimpses of what made him a McDonalds’ All-American in high school. He put up 21 points on 13 shots with 11 rebounds to boot. Combined with Devin Booker, who has looked good all year, and the Tigers looked to be achieving their potential. Against Wake Forest Tuesday night, the Tigers still won (and by a significant margin), but Jennings disappeared again. He only took five shots. Even though the Tigers got by with KJ McDaniels stepping up, Clemson needs Booker and Jennings on their A-games this year.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Mike Krzyzewski did everything but use the phrase “freshman wall” when describing Rasheed Sulaimon‘s recent struggles. The freshman’s plight has been lost in the wake of Ryan Kelly’s injury, but Duke needs Sulaimon back to early season form on both ends of the court. The silver lining is that Sulaimon has stayed aggressive, and it feels like if he can just have a good game offensively, everything else will turn around. It’s too early for Sulaimon to be hitting the conditioning wall freshmen often get late in the season.
  5. Washington Post: Speaking of disciplinary issues, Mark Turgeon has also been dealing with “immaturity issues” amongst his players. Against Miami it was Shaquille Cleare who sat, but Turgeon made the issue sound more widespread. It’s still not clear where this Maryland team will wind up. The Terrapins dominated low and mid-majors during nonconference play–especially on the boards; and they have plenty of depth. If they can solve their leadership issues, they will be able to make a run for the Big Dance. But right now, Turgeon is on the outside looking in.

EXTRA: “Graduation gap persists between athletes and students in ACC” is a pretty strong headline. And the North Carolina study came to an even stronger conclusion: “the ACC ranks last among the NCAA’s 30 Division I men’s basketball conferences, boasting the largest gap in graduation rates between players and the general full-time student body.” Unfortunately, the article glosses over several very important points including how transfers and professional departures treated as well as how many years do athletes get to graduate. Still it is an interesting study.

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ACC M5: 12.17.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 17th, 2012

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  1. The Telegraph: Georgia Tech is about to look different. Stacey Poole, a sophomore transfer from Kentucky, is now eligible to play for the Yellow Jackets and his younger brother Solomon Poole was recently cleared by the NCAA as well. The brothers were both highly-rated guards in high school and have the potential to make a big difference for Brian Gregory’s team. While Mfon Udofia and Brandon Reed offer veteran leadership at the guard spots, the Poole brothers offer the team additional depth and some breathing room that the guard rotation has been missing.
  2. Sun Sentinel: Miami may have a team loaded with veteran talent, but sophomore Shane Larkin has become a major key to the Hurricanes’ early success. The speedy point guard has been an ironman, playing more available minutes (88.2%) than any other player in the conference. With an increased scoring responsibility, Larkin has responded by taking his shooting to a higher level. His true shooting percentage is 68.1%, as Larkin is posting truly gaudy numbers from the field. While his shooting is likely to cool off as the season wears on, the sophomore’s greatly improved play will be key to a potential match-up against Arizona in the Diamond Head Classic.
  3. Fox Sports South: Few players are as important to their team as NC State’s Lorenzo Brown. While the Wolfpack is loaded with talent, Brown is the clear catalyst that turns a group of talented players into a truly effective team. It’s no secret to the team or to their opponents that the fortunes of Mark Gottfried’s team hinge on the combo guard. When Brown plays well, the team wins; and when he doesn’t, the team struggles. With apologies to freshman Tyler Lewis, Brown is the team’s only proven distributor and playmaker. As talented as this team is, without an active playmaker, their ball movement and offense grinds to a halt. It’s just like the old proverb says: As Lorenzo Brown goes, so goes the Wolfpack.
  4. SB Nation:  Boston College center Dennis Clifford is apparently close to returning to action after a right ankle injury sidelined the sophomore. Though BC has several talented options at the forward position, Clifford is a true seven-footer who is a capable and proven running mate for Ryan Anderson. Fellow sophomore KC Caudill has been used sparingly by head coach Steve Donahue this season, while Andrew Van Nest, the 6’10” transfer from Harvard, has struggled to see consistent minutes.
  5. Tallahassee Democrat: What’s wrong with Florida State? Everyone’s favorite ACC parlor game took a turn for the intense when the Seminoles lost three in a row, and the team’s most recent landslide win against hapless Maine on December 9 did little to assure fans that the defending ACC Tournament champions were ready to repeat. So what’s wrong with Florida State? Maybe it’s the freshmen. In recent years, no one would dare call Leonard Hamilton’s teams “soft,” but that’s the very concern that the coach lays out when discussing his new post players who simply aren’t yet accustomed to the tenacious and physical play inside that has been a hallmark of the Seminoles in recent years.
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ACC Week 1 Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 16th, 2012

We’ve got a full week of game action as evidence to start evaluting these teams a bit better, so here goes…

Disclaimer: Power Rankings don’t imply which teams are best. They’re all about who has momentum right now. 

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (2-0) stays on top of the rankings after taking care of business against Georgia State at home before knocking off the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats in the Georgia Dome. This team still has a long way to go, but they showed poise holding off a talented, albeit young, Kentucky team. While Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee owned the box score, Quinn Cook rose to the challenge and put in his bid for the starting spot. Minnesota is the next NCAA tournament-quality team on Thursday.
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State (2-0) absolutely blitzkrieged its first two opponents, Miami (OH) and Penn State. Putting too much stock in beating the Redhawks by 38 is unwise. But that 17-point win over the Nittany Lions–despite Lorenzo Brown finishing an icy 1-12 from the field–is worth noting. Specifically, Tyler Warren was phenomenal going for 22 points (on 12 shots) and eight rebounds. The game tonight against Massachusetts should be a fun one.
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (2-0) looked lost on offense at times against Gardner-Webb, which is just a young team trying to learn to play together. James Michael McAdoo has been phenomenal through the first two games (he’s averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds), and Reggie Bullock asserted himself against Florida Atlantic. This team should keep improving, but in time for the trip to Bloomington in a week and a half? That’s ambitious.
Maryland Terrapins 4. Maryland (1-1) looks a lot better than expected. Alex Len is going to be a top-10 pick. He absolutely ravaged Kentucky, which Maryland kept close to the bitter end before making mincemeat of Morehead State. Nick Faust still can’t shoot, but Seth Allen will be really fun to watch the next few years. The Terrapins need to work on consistent offense, but as Dez Wells gets more and more used to Mark Turgeon’s system, good things will happen.
Boston College 5. Boston College (1-1) played with a stacked Baylor team for 35 minutes after beating a bad Florida International team by double figures (still, that’s huge improvement over last year). This team will still struggle to win a ton of games, but Ryan Anderson‘s development into an All-ACC caliber player is accelerating the rebuilding process (he’s averaging 27 points and 12 boards a game). Dennis Clifford also got off to a solid start. The Eagles’ games against Dayton and Auburn should both be winnable this week.
Clemson Tigers 6. Clemson (1-0) beat down Presbyterian this week, which isn’t worth much on its own. But Devin Booker and Milton Jennings both played very well (combined to go 11-14 from the field for 26 points) and look like they’re ready to step into bigger roles for Brad Brownell this season. A near impossible test awaits this week in the form of Gonzaga.
Virginia Tech Hokies 7. Virginia Tech (3-0) scarfed three cupcakes this week, winning all three games by double figures. The “meat” of the nonconference schedule is still a ways off (and “meat” is used loosely to describe BCS-conference teams), but so far James Johnson‘s tenure is a success. He’ll need Robert Brown to continue producing offensively to relieve some of Erick Green‘s perimeter burden.
Florida State Seminoles 8. Florida State (1-1) is much better than its home loss to the South Alabama, but those are the kind of losses that will motivate this team to keep getting better. Michael Snaer is also in an early season slump, having only hit a third of the shots he’s taken. But the Seminoles’ 27-point beatdown of Buffalo (where they scored 95 points!) may right the ship. The next six games showcase three against possible NCAA tournament teams: BYU (today), Minnesota and Florida.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest (1-0) played decently against Radford. The game was never free from doubt, but the Demon Deacons didn’t let the Big South Highlanders get the best of them this year. CJ Harris got to the charity stripe like a pro, but Travis McKie‘s 11 points left a little to be desired–especially against a team of this caliber. Turnovers are going to kill Wake Forest in at least two conference games this year.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 10. Georgia Tech (2-0) has balance, but can’t shoot. The Yellow Jackets need someone to step up from the perimeter to keep other teams honest (right now they make a smooth 17.6% of their shots from downtown. Two of Mfon Udofia, Daniel Miller and Kam Holsey need to become go-to guys on offense. Miller doesn’t appear to want that role.
Miami Hurricanes 11. Miami (1-1) needs to be careful not to become a dumpster fire. The team lost its exhibition against St. Leo and now lost to Florida Gulf Coast to ice the cake. This team looks phenomenal on paper, but sometimes things just don’t translate the way we expect. The same Reggie Johnson who made Mason Plumlee look like a child at Cameron Indoor Stadium last year has only hit one third of his shots against middling competition. There’s still time for Larranaga to turn this car around, but time is running out.
Virginia Cavaliers 12. Virginia (1-2), if Miami has to be careful, Virginia fans may already smell that trash burning. So far the Cavaliers lost to George Mason and Delaware. These wins (or struggles) could be statistical aberrations (if your style keeps opponents within striking distance, you’re bound to lose some unfortunate games), and Jontel Evans is out.Things aren’t off to a great start in Charlottesville.
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