Old Big East Programs Make Presences Felt Early in ACC

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on December 2nd, 2013

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

Pitt and Syracuse lead the way early on for the ACC

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

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

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Morning Five: 11.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 2nd, 2011

  1. Last night was supposed to be the start of the NBA’s 2011-12 season, but because of that lockout thing, doors were shuttered and the lights were off at the nation’s largest multi-purpose arenas. You know how we could tell? In the span of 30 minutes during last night’s Sportscenter, we saw not one, not two, but THREE separate highlight packages involving Top 25 teams playing in games of exhibition nonsense.  Yes, the WWL is just as starved for live hoops as we are, and they’re willing to show it in the form of exhibition nonsense.  For those of you wondering, the three teams involved were Syracuse, Kansas, and Arizona. All three won handily.
  2. If this really had been the NBA’s debut evening, none of those games would have been on anyone’s radar in Bristol, but it begs the question whether NBA fans will make room for college basketball during their winter of discontent. In a piece assessing the possibility, Dana O’Neil argues that the impact on attendance was virtually nil when the league was last locked out in the 1998-99 season . While true, she doesn’t address the likeliest area where NBA-turned-temporary-college fans would see any increase: television ratings. Interest in a sport can take many forms, but from our view, John Q. NBA is more likely to start watching marquee college matchups in November and December than he is to travel through the cold to catch a garbage game at Local State U. Whereas in previous years he may have been busy watching the Lakers vs. the Nuggets on his flat screen the week of Thanksgiving, he might instead this year be satisfied watching Duke vs. Michigan in Maui.
  3. Grantland is back this week with what they’re calling their Preseason All-America awards (shameless plug: our preseason AAs went live yesterday). Their writer, Jay Caspian Kang, seems to have a sufficient grasp of the sport and its key players (even if he runs a little UNCentric), but we need to put in a call to Gary Parrish this morning, because Kang did the unthinkable in choosing the Carolina floor general, Kendall Marshall, for a spot on the 1st team over the more heralded star of the Tar Heels, Harrison Barnes (2d team). If you want to get technical about it, he actually chose four players — Marshall, Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut), Anthony Davis (Kentucky), and John Jenkins (Vanderbilt) — over the smooth-as-silk Barnes (Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger is the only true post on his first team). Again, it doesn’t bother us all that much — if someone had left Shaq off the 1992 or Duncan off the 1997 teams, we’d be more outraged — but it is peculiar given what he writes about Barnes as someone lacking in “elite-level skills.” Worth watching…
  4. It’s not every day that a Congressman makes news for trashing the NCAA (that’s usually left to the likes of people like us), but Illinois representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) went on record Tuesday at a congressional forum of college sports in comparing the NCAA to “Al Capone and the Mafia.” The 64-year old who represents the largest majority-minority district in the House of Representatives (the South Side of Chicago) also holds the distinction as the only elected official to have defeated Barack Obama in an election (the Democratic primary for his seat in 2000). He infamously said at the time that the now-president “went to Harvard and became an educated fool,” and it’s clear that the irascible politician has not learned to better hold his tongue from controversial statements in the intervening decade. The context of his comments related to injuries sustained by athletes while playing college sports and his anger with how the NCAA handles its medical hardship cases.
  5. He’s baaaaaack. Luke Winn‘s first edition of the Power Rankings is back, just in time for you to enjoy over your morning latte. Winn once told us that he sometimes spends upwards of 20 hours on these articles, which we all know is a complete and utter lie (he has most of it in his head already). Still, his weekly PR is something that you need to spend some time with, so put your office phone ringer on mute, close out any instant messages you have going, and get to work figuring out what he’s talking about when he refers to such elusive yet fascinating concepts as possession poundage or Marcus Camby with a unibrow. When you’re done with that, spend the next half hour trying to come up with a name for his Thomas Robinson comparison at #12 — we have one name in mind ourselves, but aren’t sure about its validity. You?
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ACC Morning Five: 10.18.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 18th, 2011

  1. ESPN – Grantland: Keep an eye on Grantland this week as the site will be putting out a series of college basketball articles focusing on five teams who could win the national title (North Carolina, Duke, Ohio State, Syracuse and Kentucky). Today they started the series focusing on the top-ranked Tar Heels with a special emphasis on Kendall Marshall. I may be alone here, but I’m not totally sold on Marshall being a savior. I think quick perimeter defenders can minimize his impact (evidence: the ACC Tournament championship game last year where Duke held him to four assists and five turnovers). I may be over-emphasizing a single game, but I think Marshall has an Achilles heel in the Roy Williams offensive scheme: he’s not that quick. It’s a good article, and it’s a sign that college basketball is upon us when national all-sports sites start producing content. [Author’s note: it may seem like I rag on Marshall a lot, but I think he’s a tremendous player. It’s just that I think he’s still a year or two away from the second or third-team All-American status a lot of people are currently projecting for this season.]
  2. Ramblin’ Wreck: The official site of Georgia Tech athletics announced yesterday that the ACC will be extending its “ACC Network” coverage beyond live games to include regularly scheduled programming and analysis. The network is currently only on a digital platform meant to be streamed from smart phones and laptops, and is based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. ACC viewers will be glad (or irked) to know the network is being created in conjunction with longtime partner Raycom Sports, so you can expect all of your favorite personalities from Mike Hogewood to Dan Bonner. It’s tough to tell what sort of revenue a network like this will have for the conference, but just venturing into a full-time entity (even online) should help with the ACC’s upcoming media contract negotiations.
  3. The Patriot-News: Wake Forest basketball got a verbal commitment from 2012 power forward Devin Thomas this week. Thomas committed immediately after his official visit to Winston-Salem, choosing the Demon Deacons over Penn State and Temple. Thomas’ sister Alyssa currently plays basketball for Maryland. Last year he averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds for his high school team, Central Dauphin (PA).
  4. CBSSports.com – Jeff Goodman: Goodman got a chance to watch Duke practice last week and his biggest takeaway is that Miles Plumlee may be the backbone of the Blue Devils this season. After Seth Curry received much of the hype over the summer, it sounds like the eldest Plumlee may have finally gained the confidence to go with his raw size and athleticism. If this turns out to be true, Duke is definitely a Top 10 team. Could Plumlee become Brian Zoubek 2.0?
  5. ESPN – Grantland and The Chronicle: We gave a recap of Midnight Madness around the ACC yesterday, but here are two closer looks at Duke’s Countdown to Craziness. The Chronicle highlights the whole team, while Tobacco Road Blues editor and Grantland blogger Shane Ryan looks at the drama exposed by a serious scrimmage headlined by Seth Curry and Austin Rivers. Rivers’ attitude will certainly be something to watch this season, as it will drive him to his personal limits when working in his favor and probably lead to some 18-points-on-25-shots days when working against him. Like any good Duke fan, Ryan also took the time to poke fun at “Late Night with Roy” and its choreographed dances (see video below; h/t to the Daily Tar Heel).

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