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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ACC M5: 01.10.14 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 10th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. ESPN and One Foot Down: Major team swag news as Darren Rovell reports that Notre Dame will be moving from Adidas to Under Armour after this year. In a weird way the move shows just how self involved the Fighting Irish are when it comes to these sorts of things. There was a minor uproar when Michigan became Adidas’s “flagship” deal a few years back, so it appears Notre Dame headed towards a smaller pond. Seriously, if this deal isn’t massive, I don’t understand it. But hey, this means the ACC will maintain two Under Armour schools (Boston College is the only other once Maryland leaves) to go with two Adidas schools once Louisville joins.
  2. Blogger So Dear: A statistical breakdown of Winston-Salem’s very own Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? That’s right, Wake Forest has outscored its last ten conference opponents by 49 points at home, going 7-3 in the process. Ken Pomeroy expected that the Demon Deacons would be outscored by 40, meaning the team overachieved by a whopping 89 points (8.9 points a game). Meanwhile on the road the team is 0-10 in its last such games on the road. Opponents have outscored Jeff Bzdelik‘s squad by 161 points (16.1 a game) over the stretch which 46 points worse than Ken Pomeroy predicted. So Wake Forest’s current home-road differential is a 13.5 points a game more than what would be predicted by statistical models. That’s insane.
  3. Greensboro News-Record: Good stuff breaking down North Carolina‘s struggles to start conference play, but I can’t help but wonder whether the skid has more to do with Marcus Paige returning to earth. Paige literally carried this team through non-conference play. Every time they needed a bucket he was there. But at Wake Forest and against Miami Paige had two of his worst games of the season. Also if you’re looking for another good take on Roy Williams’ struggles this season, Brian Barbour has you covered.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: Good work by Luke DeCock who agrees that Jabari Parker‘s mini-slump is nothing to be concerned with going forward. But wait. Did he notice that Parker and Paige had their two worst games at the same points? In all seriousness, Parker will be just fine once his jump shots start falling again. One (unrelated) thing I’m interested to see is how more teams playing more zone will affect the game in the long run. I think Syracuse’s zone is partially effective because opponents don’t play it very often. But with nearly everyone playing at least a little zone this season, I wonder if that will hurt the Orange against teams like Duke and North Carolina (though the Tar Heels haven’t exactly lit up the zones they’ve played).
  5. Tomahawk Nation: With focus turned back to basketball, Florida State rebounded from its home beat down from Virginia with a win at Littlejohn Coliseum. Their defense was suffocating, exposing a Clemson offense gorged on non-conference cupcakes. Even more impressive is the Seminoles were only 1-11 from three. My only other takeaway is there’s a huge drop-off for Brad Brownell’s team after KJ McDaniels. He was the only player who had any offensive success.

EXTRA: Georgia Tech has decided to bribe students for showing up to men’s and women’s basketball games this year with a point system where students will be awarded prizes ranging from t-shirts and gift cards to the grand prize of a PlayStation 4.

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Duke’s New Starting Lineup Pays Dividends

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 8th, 2014

Tuesday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium, Mike Krzyzewski gave another chance to a starting lineup that had started four consecutive games back in November. Amile Jefferson and Rasheed Sulaimon replaced Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton, playing well enough to earn a combined 64 minutes in Duke’s 79-57 win over Georgia Tech. After an evenly played first half, Rodney Hood’s second straight 27-point game and the Blue Devils’ energy level rolled past a Yellow Jackets team trying to adjust to playing without Robert Carter, Jr., in the wake of his meniscus injury.

Rodney Hood Scores 27 Again As Duke Beats Georgia Tech (photo: www.goduke.com)

Rodney Hood Scores 27 Again As Duke Beats Georgia Tech
(photo: www.goduke.com)

The last Duke game featuring sophomores Jefferson and Sulaimon as starters turned out to be the worst defensive Duke performance in at least a dozen years, a narrow 91-90 home win over Vermont in the sixth game of the season. After that contest, in an effort to establish a tougher defensive identity, Mike Krzyzewski inserted seniors Hairston and Thornton into the starting lineup. The Blue Devils made measurable progress defensively after the change, but for Duke to reach its full potential as a team this season, the more talented sophomores will need to be on the court more than the solid but offensively limited role players.

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ACC M5: 01.06.14 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 6th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Winston-Salem Journal and Raleigh News & Observer: In honor of Wake Forest‘s best win of the Jeff Bzdelik era, here are a couple of posts on the Demon Deacons. Dan Collins gives some context to the Wake Forest-North Carolina rivalry (and a good reminder of how awesome Randolph Childress was). Speaking of Childress, I can’t help thinking he’s played a role in Codi Miller-McIntyre‘s leap this season. He also should prove an asset recruiting, as he seems to have the charisma Bzdelik is missing.
  2. State of the U: Good catch-up with Miami assistant coach Michael Huger on where the Hurricanes are and where they need to improve in conference play. Huger pointed to the team’s need for a leader to step up, also saying “Davon Reed is trying to emerge as that guy.” The fact is this team has a ceiling because of its youth and its talent (though I–and Syracuse–underestimated them coming into conference play). But if Jim Larranaga and his staff can get this group to start gelling, this will be a strong core to build around going forward.
  3. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Bad news out of Atlanta as Robert Carter Jr. is sitting out indefinitely to undergo knee surgery. Brian Gregory noted the time table could be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the severity of the tear. The news is a particularly big blow because Carter obviously worked hard in the off-season to improve his conditioning, which will suffer with an extended time away from the team. Carter’s absence will most affect the team’s proficiency on the boards and protecting the rim as his likely replacement Kammeon Holsey is a significantly worse shot-blocker.
  4. Charlottesville Daily Progress: North Carolina isn’t the ACC’s only puzzling team: Virginia is also a total enigma. The Cavaliers don’t have any really good wins (well, at least they didn’t until dismantling Florida State in Tallahassee), but they’re statistically solid (35-point beatdown to Tennessee notwithstanding). While I had no idea what to think of the Tar Heels coming into the season (or now), I felt positive that Virginia would be a contender in the ACC. The team’s non-conference schedule all but emptied its bandwagon, but the win against the Seminoles has me with one foot back in.
  5. Durham Herald-Sun and CBS Sports: Good story from Steve Wiseman on Andre Dawkins, who’s earned his spot in Duke’s rotation not just with his lights out three-point shooting but also an improved presence on the defensive end of the floor. Dawkins still isn’t a good defender, but his effort and execution are vastly improved over previous seasons. Also while on the subject of the Blue Devils, I think Coach K made the right call benching Jabari Parker. Yes, Parker was the best player on the floor, but he had been forcing things all night, and it’s important for him to understand when to take a step back. That said, in the future (especially more important games), I think Parker should stay in because he’s the best player on the floor and opposing teams will have to guard him as such.
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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 Two

Posted by mpatton on January 2nd, 2014

As the non-conference portion of the 2013-14 college basketball season nears its conclusion and conference play looms large in the New Year, the ACC has seen its share of ups and downs along an uneven early stretch. While some of its teams (Duke, Syracuse) appear to be capable of the preseason hype bestowed upon them, others have been a mixture of confounding (North Carolina), shockingly underwhelming (Boston College, Maryland) and utterly but pleasantly surprising (Florida State). The conference some were talking about being the greatest college basketball had ever witnessed hasn’t shown the depth and consistency in non-conference play to justify that acoolade, but there is still a long way to go as this new-look league embarks into ACC play. Here’s a look back at the RTC preseason ACC rankings as voted upon by the writers and how those teams have performed thus far and look to perform as the season progresses.

To review Part One of this feature, click here.

6. Maryland (8-5)

The continued emergence of Roddy Peters bodes well for Maryland. (USA TODAY Sports)

The continued emergence of Roddy Peters bodes well for Maryland. (USA TODAY Sports)

  • Signature Wins: Providence, at Boston College
  • Signature Losses: Connecticut, Boston University
  • Reasons for Optimism: Seth Allen is back, which should take pressure off of freshman Roddy Peters. But it’s also worth noting that Peters looks like he’ll be the real deal eventually. He’s already the team’s best distributor and his ability to draw contact in the lane should make him valuable going forward. Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman make a pair of sharpshooting forwards who are a horrible match-up for anyone. Last but not least, the Terrapins already have a conference road win under their belt.
  • Reasons for Pessimism: What looked to be a great one-two punch in the frontcourt has turned into an awful start for Shaquille Cleare and nothing special from Charles Mitchell. Also, home losses to Boston University and Oregon State raise serious questions about the team’s consistency. The team often loses sight of its strengths on offense (or commits needless turnovers), which leads to scoring droughts and opponent runs.
  • Forecast: The losses essentially come down to defense: When the Terrapins hold opponents below a point per possession, they’re 6-0 (not counting Tulsa or George Washington, both of which effectively scored a point per possession). But when Maryland fails to limit its opponents on offense, the team is 1-4. This team needs to finish in the top three of the standings to sniff the NCAA Tournament, but the NIT should be in the cards with a strong conference showing.

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The Best Of 2013 In College Basketball

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 31st, 2013

With 2013 winding to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was in college basketball. There were too many memorable moments to recount ‘em all, but here’s our honor roll for the last calendar year — a list laced with games, plays, and performances that will long struggle to escape our memory banks.

Best Game: Michigan vs. Kansas, NCAA Tournament, Sweet Sixteen

Trey Burke's Last-Gasp Sweet-16 Heroics Will Surely Be One Of 2013's Prevailing Memories

Trey Burke’s Last-Gasp Sweet-16 Heroics Will Surely Be One Of 2013’s Prevailing Memories

Gonzaga-Butler may have given us the best final seconds of regulation (see below), and Louisville-Notre Dame definitely donated the most riveting 25 minutes of action after regulation, but when talking games of the year, Michigan vs. Kansas was simply unmatched when it came to elevated stakes and elite talent. We won’t soon forget Trey Burke’s comeback-capping, game-tying three to force overtime, but it would be a shame if that’s all that lived on from this classic. Sweet Sixteen match-ups between national title contenders don’t come around every March; would you have bet against Kansas to get to Championship Monday if Burke’s three hadn’t found the bottom of the net on that Friday night?

Honorable Mention: Gonzaga at Butler, Louisville at Notre Dame.

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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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Three Thoughts from Vanderbilt’s Win over Georgia Tech

Posted by David Changas on December 21st, 2013

David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday’s Vanderbilt-Georgia Tech game in Nashville.

Vanderbilt moved to 7-3 on Saturday with a 76-63 home win over struggling Georgia Tech. The loss dropped the Yellow Jackets to 8-4. Here are three thoughts from courtside.

Kevin Stallings Got a Solid Win over an ACC Team Today (AP/Wade Payne)

Kevin Stallings Got a Solid Win over an ACC Team Today (AP/Wade Payne)

  1. A game of runs.  Georgia Tech was clearly in control, leading 31-17 with 6:02 left in the first half. The Yellow Jackets had taken the less-than-capacity crowd out of the game and looked to be poised to run away with it. From that point, however, Vanderbilt scored 39 of the next 49 points over a span of 16:37, and it was the Commodores who won this one going away.”I thought the key to the game was the last seven minutes of the first half,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “When you get down [big] and you’re coming off two games in a row where you hadn’t played well, things can go a lot of different ways.” Given Georgia Tech’s balance and experience, and Vanderbilt’s lack thereof, it was a surprising turnaround. After November losses to Dayton, Ole Miss, and St. John’s, the Yellow Jackets had built some momentum with three straight wins, but could not build on it in their first of four straight road contests. Fifth-year senior center Daniel Miller scored 11 points in the game’s first 10 minutes and appeared to ready for a big night, but finished with only 16 points and essentially was a non-factor the rest of the way. Georgia Tech’s failure to take advantage of Vanderbilt’s relatively thin interior – the Commodores recently lost starting center Josh Henderson for the season – was surprising, especially given its early success. Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory was disappointed in Miller’s supporting cast of Robert Carter and Kammeon Holsey. “Daniel was tremendous. We need to get some other guys to step up.” Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M5: 12.04.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 4th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. John Gasaway’s Blog: Even though the Big Ten/ACC Challenge is halfway finished, this primer is worth a read (in conjunction with our previews with the Big Ten microsite, of course). The most interesting piece of data suggests why the ACC dominated the first decade of the event: At first, luck played a heavy role; but the ACC was much stronger in terms of NCAA seeding throughout the early 2000s.
  2. Tar Heel Blog: Shocking… well… no one, Roy Williams was not pleased with his team’s performance against UAB. As usual, Williams placed the brunt of the blame on himself, although he’s clearly concerned with his team’s effort:

    “I’ve always felt like I should coach execution. I shouldn’t have to coach effort. [...] It’s my fault. I’ve got to get them to play harder.”

    We’ll see if a fired-up Williams (and an unusually fired-up Hubert Davis) makes a difference going into North Carolina’s match-up tonight at Michigan State.

  3. Hampton Roads Daily Press: And now, the game everyone’s been waiting for! That’s right it will be Virginia vs. Wisconsin in the battle of Dick Bennett proteges. This is a game Tony Bennett desperately needs to win. For one, it’s in Charlottesville where the Cavaliers have been elite and unbeatable –Virginia Commonwealth, notwithstanding. But it’s also a chance for a marquee non-conference win that will look good in March. If you’re looking for an exhaustive look at the quest-for-40 game, Streaking the Lawn has you covered.
  4. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech pulled off quite the comeback to beat previously-undefeated Illinois at home last night. The Yellow Jackets closed the game on a 19-4 run that highlighted their excellent defense over the span of more than six minutes. That’s how to close out a game. Georgia Tech, like Boston College, looked better on paper than it’s played so far this season, and while Illinois may not turn out to be a world-beater this season, the game may put the Yellow Jackets back on track. Chris Bolden still needs to get out of his slump, though.
  5. Youtube: I’m not sure this needs any introduction — it’s a Jim Boeheim rap. Just watch.

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Key Questions in the Tuesday Big Ten/ACC Challenge Early Games

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 3rd, 2013

It’s back. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge starts tonight. The ACC is currently ahead 10-3-1 in the event, but the Big Ten hasn’t lost a challenge in four years with last season giving us the lone tie. This year’s match-ups provide plenty of compelling games to consider and includes the first time that Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse will compete as well as Maryland’s last run with the ACC. With that in mind, Matt Patton and Lathan Wells from the ACC microsite and Jonathan Batuello and Brendan Brody from the B1G microsite got together on Monday to answer some key questions concerning this year’s Challenge. This post will preview the three early Tuesday night games, with a second post previewing the late games coming this afternoon. Wednesday will have a similar construct. Also be sure to check-out both microsites over the next few days for further reaction and analysis as the Challenge gets underway.

Indiana @ Syracuse, 7:15 PM, ESPN

Indiana and Syracuse Match Up Again, This Time at the Dome

Indiana and Syracuse Match Up Again, This Time at the Dome

B1G: The Challenge’s first game is a rematch of the Sweet Sixteen game last year. It ended the Hoosiers’ hopes for a national title, but this year’s game has plenty of new faces. This year’s Indiana team is extremely athletic, so how does Syracuse match up against them?

ACC: Very well. One of the things that makes Syracuse’s zone so dangerous is its length. The zone hides a lot of athletic mismatches on defense, but expect the Orange to be able to hang with most of Indiana’s roster. Offensively the most important thing is for Tyler Ennis to feel comfortable. On the other hand, Tom Crean’s history against the zone is well known. How do you think he changes his game plan to handle a talented Syracuse team and its zone?

B1G: Crean would love nothing more than to get his “zone struggles” monkey off his back heading back to Syracuse. Honestly, though, IU will have a different game plan than last year because it has a different team. Last season, IU didn’t hit from deep in the NCAA Tournament against the zone, but this season it doesn’t have the players to simply shoot Syracuse out of it. Indiana will likely struggle shooting the ball so it needs to do what a fellow B1G microsite writer talked about a few weeks ago – rebound. The Hoosiers will have to get some free points off putbacks to have a chance to win this game. On that note, Indiana is an absolute monster on the boards this season, outrebounding its opponents 50-32. Syracuse is only averaging 36 boards a game itself, so is there anyway the Orange can hang with the Hoosiers on the glass?

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

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on December 3rd, 2013

Today we will review the final six early season tournaments involving ACC teams. To see the recap we did covering the first seven such events, click here. The ACC completed a successful Feast Week with two more championships giving the conference a total of five titles in 13 tournaments. This performance should give the ACC some momentum going into this week’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge. With another good week, perhaps the conference will overcome the negative impact from some of those bad early non-conference losses.

Syracuse Wins EA Maui Invitational for the Third Time. (Photo: mauiinvitational.com)

Syracuse Wins the EA Maui Invitational for the Third Time.
(Photo: mauiinvitational.com)

Syracuse became the second ACC newcomer to win an early-season tournament by beating #18 Baylor 74-67 in the finals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Wednesday night. That followed wins over Minnesota, 75-67, and California, 92-81. Senior C.J. Fair was named the tournament MVP while averaging 18 points for the three games and tallying 24 in the finals. Also impressive was freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, who scored 28 in the semifinals over Cal, and had an outstanding 18 to two assist-to-turnover ratio for the tournament. With the Orange’s third Maui championship along with Pittsburgh’s title in the Progressive Legends Classic, the new ACC schools are serving notice that they are ready to compete at the top of their new conference.

Duke did not fare as well in the other marquee Feast Week event, the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York’s Madison Square Garden. After beating Alabama 74-64 in Wednesday’s semifinals, the Blue Devils fell to #4 Arizona, 72-66, in Friday’s championship game. Coming into the week Duke’s defense had been struggling mightily and was the focus for improvement by Mike Kzyzewski. The Devils did look much better on that end of the court against good competition, but another glaring issue has not been resolved. Duke is still searching for production from its primary big man position – Josh Hairston and Amile Jefferson combined for only two points in a total of 69 minutes over the two games.

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