Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by rtmsf on February 16th, 2010

Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

So I finally found my way out of the snowy winter doldrums (unlike the Tar Heels) – and the 67 feet of snow around here – in time to give you the latest ACC update. We’ll try to keep the same categories for the teams as last time, based on their postseason prospects: Definite Dancers, Probably Safe, Bubbly, NIT-picking, and CBI-Dreaming.

ACC POWER RANKINGS (record after games of Sunday, Feb. 14)


1. Duke (21-4, 9-2)

RESUME: The Blue Devils only served to enhance their resume over the last two weeks, going 4-0, with three of those coming in impressive fashion. Oddly, the one close game wasn’t at UNC or vs. Georgia Tech, but at Boston College. I know BC is struggling this year, but I’ll give the Devils a pass on that one. The trip to Boston is a tough one, and it became the biggest game of the year on a campus that doesn’t really care about much (sorry for my anti-BC biterness this week – reasoning later on).

FUTURE: Last time out, I said Duke was looking like a #4 or #5 seed. But barring a few bad losses, or an early exit from the conference tourney, Duke should get a #2 or maybe #3 seed. As for the rest of the slate, I only see one real challenging game: March 3 at Maryland. Duke should finish with 27 wins and a 13-3 league mark – not too shabby.

2. Wake Forest (18-5, 8-3)

RESUME: Welcome to the upper tier, for now. Wake posted four wins over the last two weeks, including a testing road win at surging Virginia and convincing home wins over Boston College and (now struggling) Georgia Tech. The Deacons are playing well – thanks largely to guard Ishmael Smith — but they still could defend a little better. Wake is second-to-last in the ACC in points allowed per game at 67.6, and dead last in assist/turnover ratio – meaning their guards need to take better care of the ball, and the defense could stand to put on some more pressure.

FUTURE: A few more wins could get Wake into a top-4 seed, and all five contests left on the slate are very winnable. Watch out for a hot Deacons team as March rolls around…

3. Georgia Tech (17-8, 5-6)

RESUME: The Jackets are really struggling to score of late, failing to break 70 in three of their last four – all losses. The game at Duke was never close, and the game at Miami is not a game a top-tier team should lose. I’ll forgive the loss at Wake Forest, but even Tech’s most-recent win – a 2-point home win over N.C. State – was too close for comfort. Derrick Favors seems to be struggling to find his shot of late, and is being replaced by another freshman whose dad was really good at NBA Jam: Glen Rice Jr.

FUTURE: Last time out, I said Tech’s trip to Duke would tell us a lot, and it told us this team’s not ready. What will Saturday’s trip to Maryland tell us about the Jackets?


4. Maryland (17-7, 7-3)

RESUME: The Terps move up from No. 5 to No. 4, and are a near-lock for the dance, but I’m hesitant to boost them into the “Definitely Dancing” category. When you’re a presumptive #8 or #9 seed, a mini-skid could put you back on the bubble again. I’d still like to see Maryland win a truly tough road game, considering the Terps struggled mightily at Clemson and Duke in the last few weeks.

FUTURE: After an easy win Monday night against Virginia, Maryland really doesn’t face a tough road test until the season finale in Charlottesville. But, they still have to face Duke, Clemson and Georgia Tech at home. I’m guessing an optimistic 5-2 finish for Maryland, which would make them a safe bet for a top-8 seed in the Big Dance.

5. Clemson (18-7, 6-5)

RESUME: Yes, I know the Tigers beat Maryland, so how do they fall behind the Terps? Four losses out of five didn’t help, including one at Boston College, and home wins over Florida State and Miami don’t exactly send my heart a-flutter. They’ll be in the dance, but for some reason, I see the Tigers as the most vulnerable ACC team in the first round of the tourney.

FUTURE: After hosting Virginia Saturday, Clemson still has to go to Maryland, Florida State and Wake Forest, and they host Georgia Tech. I see 2, maybe 3 losses in there. Does a team that goes 8-8 in a weak ACC really impress you that much when it comes time to fill out a bracket? Me neither.

6. Florida State (16-5, 4-3)

RESUME: Two wins over Georgia Tech, including one on the road, stand out as highlights of the season for the Seminoles so far. While the wins might not be the impressive, FSU’s best attribute right now is a lack of bad losses. A home loss to NC State might be the worst of the bunch, but losses at Florida, Ohio State, Maryland and Duke aren’t anything to worry about.

FUTURE: Three home games out of the next four set up well for FSU, including Maryland on Thursday and Miami on Saturday. FSU needs to stand tall in Tallahassee to stay in this semi-safe tier.


7. Virginia Tech (20-4, 7-3)

RESUME: Virginia Tech took advantage of a home-heavy slate the last few weeks to nearly lock up a dance card. I’m leaving the Hokies in the “Bubbly” level for now though, because they have been too moody to trust this season. The loss at Miami isn’t a great one, but they bounced back with four average to above-average wins: UNC, Clemson, Virginia and at N.C. State. While I may not really be feeling Clemson come tourney time, I could see a surprise Sweet 16 for the Hokies with the right matchups…

FUTURE: Tech has three home games (Wake Forest, Maryland, N.C. State) and three on the road (Duke, BC, Georgia Tech). They really need to win two of three at home and could use the same on the road. I’m seeing a home loss to Maryland and road loss at Duke. The season finale at Georgia Tech could be a toss-up depending on where the teams are in the standings.

8. Virginia (14-9, 5-5)

RESUME: As of my last report, I was high on the Cavaliers, and assumed they’d climb up a tier this time around. But two losses to Virginia Tech and a loss to Wake Forest and Maryland each were not balanced out by wins over the lackluster N.C. schools.

FUTURE: Right now, Lunardi has Virginia among his first eight out, while our resident bracketologist doesn’t even mention the Cavs. A surprise win over Clemson (2/20), Duke (2/28), or Maryland (3/6) in the next few weeks would help. I still think the ACC could get eight teams, but the Cavs are one team who will likely be rooting for the favorites to win all the smaller conference tourneys.


9. Miami (17-8, 3-8)

RESUME: This is where it starts to pain me to even mention teams as playing postseason games. The fact that Miami will play in the NIT is another reason to HATE the idea of a 96-team Big Dance. Yes, the Canes beat Wake, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, but they won all three of those at home. Miami has TWO road wins this year: Stetson and Pepperdine. Wake me when it’s over, please.

FUTURE: Looking at what’s left, it’s possible Miami could finish the regular season with as many as 21 wins, possibly finishing off the most unimpressive 20-win season in history.


10. North Carolina (14-11, 3-7)

RESUME: Barring a miracle run in Greensboro, the NCAA Tourney is going to be missing a familiar shade of blue this season, and I’m here to tell you that the world will go on. If they play an NIT game in Chapel Hill, and no one is there to care, did it really happen?

FUTURE: UNC should beat Miami at home, and might win at Boston College on Saturday, but that’s all I’m seeing. They might make the NIT as a good story and extra TV ratings, but that’s about it.

11. N.C. State (14-12, 2-9)

RESUME: Does a resume even matter in this case? Sure, they had a few heartbreakers earlier in the year, but the Wolf Pack need a makeover on both ends of the floor.

FUTURE: One win, maybe two left on the schedule (BC at home, maybe at Miami).

12. Boston College (12-13, 3-8)

RESUME: The Eagles put in a valiant effort against Duke last weekend, but failed to make me look like a genius in my picks.

FUTURE: A home win over North Carolina would be nice, but it’s just playing out the string now.


So my perfect record in Upset Specials fell by the wayside, as did my hopes of a Beanpot Hockey championship for my alma mater. But BC’s gotta win something this year, right?




  • My Prediction: Duke by 4
  • Actual Result: Duke by 19


  • My Prediction: Maryland by 2
  • Actual Result: Maryland by 4


  • My Prediction: Maryland by 6
  • Actual Result: Maryland by 21



  • My Prediction: UNC by 3
  • Actual Result: Virginia Tech by 4


  • My Prediction: Boston College by 2
  • Actual Result: Duke by 3


  • My Prediction: BU 4, BC 2
  • Actual Result: BC 4, BU 3 (can’t win ’em all)

THIS WEEK’S PICKS (Upset special in italics)

  • WAKE FOREST at VIRGINIA TECH, Tuesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN2).  Wake Forest knocks the Hokies closer to the bubble. Wake Forest by 6.
  • FLORIDA STATE at VIRGINIA, Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPNU).  Virginia needs this one to stay in the discussion. Virginia by 3.
  • NORTH CAROLINA at BOSTON COLLEGE, Saturday, Noon (CBS).  I’m including this one only because it’s on national TV. Boston College by 5.
  • GEORGIA TECH at MARYLAND, Saturday, 2 p.m.  Maryland makes sure the Jackets remain in a late-season free fall. Maryland by 3.
  • VIRGINIA TECH at DUKE, Sunday, 7:45 p.m. (FSN).  I was close last week with my BC over Duke upset special. So I’m trying another one against the Devils. Virginia Tech by 2.
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Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by rtmsf on January 5th, 2010

Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

There may not have been a ton of games this week in the ACC, especially games that looked good on paper heading in. But there were more than a few interesting results and developments. So let’s get on with it. Be sure to scroll to the end and see if you can beat my predictions for this week’s biggest games.

ACC POWER RANKINGS (record as of Tuesday, Jan. 5)

1. Duke (12-1, 1-0)

PAST:  After splitting the top spot last week with rival UNC, the Blue Devils sit atop this week’s rankings all by themselves. No, it wasn’t the win over Long Beach State or the 59-point demolition of Penn. Duke pretty much dismantled highly regarded Clemson Sunday night, posting a 21-point win that was never even remotely that close. Jon Scheyer is scoring more than enough for Duke, and Kyle Singler and the Devils’ frontcourt proved it could handle a seasoned big man like Trevor Booker. An impressive win, to say the very least.

FUTURE: The Blue Devils face two interesting road tests this week — something they’re not really used to this season. They face Iowa State in Chicago on Wednesday, then head to Georgia Tech for a big date on Saturday. A win there would keep Duke on top of these rankings for another week.

2. North Carolina (11-4, 0-0)

PAST:  Well, there was that Charleston thing on Monday night, but that’s not enough for us to drop them this week. 

FUTURE:  The Heels host Virginia Tech this weekend, leading up to next week’s trip to Clemson and home game against Georgia Tech.

3. Wake Forest (11-2, 1-0)

PAST:  The Deacons take the award for most basketball played this week — and they have two impressive wins to show for it. Wake needed overtime to shake off a very, very good Richmond team on New Year’s Eve (a game I predicted to be a dogfight last week in this space), then went two overtimes to beat Xavier on Sunday in a game I am sad I couldn’t see. More on this game later.

FUTURE:  Fortunately for the tired Deacons, just one game is on the slate this week — a trip to sunny Coral Gables to face Miami on Saturday.

4. Georgia Tech (11-2, 0-1)

PAST:  I won’t waste anyone’s time with details of Tech’s rout of Winston-Salem State, but the 9-point road win at Charlotte is worth mentioning, if only because it was a near disaster. Tech held a 15-point lead in the second half, and needed some big free throws from do-everything-star Gani Lawal to ice it late. Lawal scored 29 points in the win over a good Charlotte team that entered the night with 10 wins.

FUTURE:  A short trip to rival Georgia tonight, then a huge home date with Duke on Saturday afternoon.

5. Florida State (13-2, 1-0)

PAST:  The Seminoles thumped Alabama A&M by 47 points, and followed that up with a 40-point pasting of Texas A&M – Corpus Christi.

FUTURE:   The Seminoles head to Maryland on Sunday.

6. Miami (14-1, 0-1)

PAST:  I almost bumped the Hurricanes up a spot after two more wins this week — except they were against Bethune-Cookman and Pepperdine. No matter the schedule, 14 wins is nothing to laugh at, so beware the ‘Canes as ACC play kicks into gear.

FUTURE:  Saturday’s home game with Wake Forest is one the Hurricanes have to have to be taken seriously as ACC contenders. And I’m gonna predict a win for my new ACC darkhorse (after preseason pick Maryland let me down — big time).

7. Clemson (12-3, 0-0)

PAST:  I really can’t bump Clemson down more than one spot for a loss at Cameron Indoor. But Booker and Co. better find a way to hang around with the ACC’s best if they want to be taken seriously.

FUTURE:  Clemson hosts the ACC’s trainwreck of the year — Boston College — on Saturday. Lose there, and I will find a way to bump the Tigers down more than one spot.

8. Virginia Tech (12-1, 0-0)

PAST:  On the surface, Saturday’s overtime win over Seton Hall in Cancun was nothing exciting. But when you realize that ACC leading scorer Malcolm Delaney missed the game, and Dorenzo Hudson dropped in 41 points, you realize how big a win it was. So far this season, the Hokies have been a one-man show, with Delaney carrying the load. Maybe one or two games without Delaney might be just what Virginia Tech needed with ACC play coming up.

FUTURE:  ACC play couldn’t open in a much tougher fashion for the Hokies, as they head to North Carolina on Sunday. Fortunately, the week-long layoff should be enough time for Delaney’s ankle to heal.

9. N.C. State (10-4, 0-1)

PAST:  Just when you thought last week’s heartbreaker at Arizona was a punch in the gut, N.C. State falls victim to Chandler Parsons’ 75-foot 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to lose to Florida Sunday night. If you want to be optimistic in the new year, NC State fans, just think that you’ve used up all your bad breaks so far this year, and you’re still 10-4.

FUTURE: The Wolfpack host Holy Cross on Wednesday.

10. Virginia (7-4, 0-0)

PAST: Last week, I said a win for Virginia over UAB would get them out of the cellar. In fact, the 9-point win bumped them up two spots (nearly three, but I just couldn’t pile onto the poor N.C. State fans). The win was easily the biggest ever for coach Tony Bennett in his short career in Charlottesville, with Sylven Landesberg leading the way with 19 points. UAB didn’t help its own cause though, missing 10 of its 15 free throws.

FUTURE: Virginia hosts Texas-Pan American on Tuesday night.

11. Maryland (8-4, 0-0)

PAST:  Maryland, you disappoint me. I piled on the praise in my preview, and thought you were the darlings of the ACC. Then you go out and lose at home to William & Mary. Now I know the Tribe are one of the nation’s top mid-majors this season, but you can’t drop that game at home. Your other three losses (Villanova, Wisconsin, Cincinnati) are nothing to be ashamed of, but this is one the Terps needed to have. Not even a rout of ACC whipping boy UNC-Greensboro on Sunday was enough to help you.

FUTURE:  Maryland hosts Florida State on Sunday.

12. Boston College (9-5, 1-0)

PAST: Just when you thought home losses to Harvard and Rhode Island were bad, the Eagles go and lose — AT HOME — to the University of Maine. This is a team that is not even in the upper echelon of the America East, but the Black Bears still found a way to beat the Eagles at Conte Forum. It’s bad enough for BC fans that the biggest one I know (who also happens to share lots of my DNA) is calling for Al Skinner’s head. Skinner is one of those guys that everyone seems to love, and he has gotten plenty of great years out of teams that no one expected to be great. But it’s hard to ignore these three simple names: Harvard, Rhode Island, and MAINE.

FUTURE: I’ve made this joke before in this space, as BC continues to host what should be easy cupcake opponents in Chestnut Hill. But the Eagles better watch out for NJIT this week. The same NJIT that set the standard for Division I futility. Sorry Eagles fans, but I think you should get comfortable at the bottom of these here rankings.


ACC-TUAL ACC GAMES: Duke’s anticipated date with Clemson turned out to be a real dud on Sunday. The Blue Devils man-handled the Tigers, and proved that their seemingly easy early-season schedule was nothing to laugh at. The frontcourt-heavy Dookies are proving that they can change their style on the fly. Sadly for ACC fans, we have to wait another month for the first Duke-North Carolina game of the season (February 10 in Chapel Hill).

WAKE UP WAKE: The Demon Deacons might be dragging around campus a little bit this week after playing a season’s worth of overtimes in just a few days time. The win over Richmond is nothing to laugh at, especially considering the Spiders are a likely Tournament team. The double-OT shootout with Xavier would have easily been the ACC game of the week, if not for N.C. State’s stunning loss to Florida. Ishmael Smith took over for the Deacons in extra time, dropping nine of his 28 points to cap a 10-for-14 day from the floor. Not only was it a big win for Wake, but it came in the inaugural Skip Prosser Classic, as two programs with direct ties to the late coach got together for a whale of a game.

HOKIE, HOKIE, HIGH: Sadly, because of my paying job (blogging just isn’t profitable), I was only able to watch pieces of a few ACC games this week. One that I did catch most of happened to be Virginia Tech-Seton Hall. At first, I was disappointed not to get a chance to watch Malcolm Delaney play, but Dorenzo Hudson made me forget about that in a heartbeat. Hudson made shots from all over the floor, and literally strapped the Hokies to his back in the second half and overtime. His 41 points was the best scoring effort at Virginia Tech since Bimbo Coles in 1990 – now there’s a name from my childhood. This kid could be a true ACC star in the coming years, and if he can find a way to be a complement to a healthy Delaney, the Hokies could be trouble for the rest of the league.


With conference play really getting under way, we’ll highlight a few (hopefully five each week) specific games in this space (in chronological order), and have a little fun with predictions. Predicting final scores is crazy, but I’ll try to give you the winner and a margin of victory. Each week we’ll keep track of my overall record, and the +/- on my scoring margins. Feel free to play along in the comments and pick the same games as I do. The winner will get the greatest prize in the world: my undying respect

VIRGINIA at N.C. STATE – Saturday, Noon (RAYCOM): Lady Luck has gotta side with the Wolfpack at some point, right? Unfortunately, they get to open up the year of conference play with a tough game against a surprising Virginia team that just posted a top-25 win over UAB. I see the Pack rising to the challenge, and posting an important home win over the Cavaliers.

PREDICTION: N.C. State by 4

DUKE at GEORGIA TECH — Saturday, 2 p.m. (ESPN): After Sunday’s Duke/Clemson showdown turned into a rout, here’s hoping the Yellow Jackets can put up a fight. The frontcourt matchup should be fun to watch, as Singler, Scheyer and the big men try to figure out Lawal, Derrick Favors and Georgia Tech. I’m going with the Yellow Jackets in a semi-surprise.

PREDICTION: Georgia Tech by 2

WAKE FOREST at MIAMI – Saturday, 6 p.m. (ESPNU): The Hurricanes will finally get to see what a real opponent looks like, but they get to do it at home. Unlike some, I won’t completely disregard the Hurricanes’ 14-1 record on account of their joke schedule, but I don’t expect the Deacons to play their third-straight close game. Wake wins this one relatively easily.

PREDICTION: Wake Forest by 8

FLORIDA STATE at MARYLAND – Sunday, 5:30 p.m. (FSN): The Terrapins’ pre-conference slate has been one to forget, and they need this win much more than the Seminoles. I expect Maryland to find its stride and pick up a critical victory.

PREDICTION: Maryland by 5

VIRGINIA TECH at NORTH CAROLINA – Sunday, 7:45 p.m. (FSN): If Delaney’s ankle heals, and Hudson continues his strong play, the Hokies could make this interesting. But I see the Heels running away with it at the end.

PREDICTION: North Carolina by 10

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Statistical Proof Iman Shumpert is a Gunner

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2009

What really gets us all juiced and lathered up are statistics that appear self-evident only after someone shows you how to figure them.  You know, the kind of thing where we say, “wow, that makes a lot of sense,” and yet, we never thought of it ourselves.  Forest for the trees and all that.

So it was with particular interest that we were alerted to a post made earlier this week by our friends at the Virginia athletics blog, Dear Old UVa.  This post attempted to get to the bottom of the question about whether UVa coach Dave Leitao was properly utilizing his players on the offensive end of the court.  So how would you measure such a thing?  With the help of KenPom’s statistical treasure trove, they were able to cross-tab players’ offensive efficiencies with their percentage of team’s possessions used.  This produced a relatively simple graphical representation of every player in the ACC which quickly shows which players are being utilized properly or improperly (see below).


On the above graph, you can easily see that Jeff Teague and Ish Smith, for example, are being properly used by Wake Forest head coach Dino Gaudio.  Teague has a very high percentage of possessions used and his offensive efficiency is relatively high.  Smith has a low efficiency and therefore is being used more sparingly on the offensive end.  The graph can also tell you when a player might be over- or under-used.  As an example, Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert has an efficiency in the same ballpark as Ish Smith, yet he uses significantly more possessions for the Jackets – an example of a player who is overused given his skill set at this time.  The converse of course is true for players with high efficiencies but low possession utilization.

We love this stuff, so we’ll try to find some more of this kind of thing as we get closer and closer to the NCAA Tournament.  The data is as rich as it will get this season, so hopefully we’ll be able to do so.

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Set Your Tivos: 02.08.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 7th, 2009

Set Your Tivos

Today’s schedule is a lighter than yesterday, but there are several solid games today.

#13 Purdue at #21 Illinois at 1 PM on CBS: Both teams looking to bounce back from road losses in the Big Ten. The homecourt should be pretty big here as Illinois is 13-1 with their only loss coming by 2 points against a Clemson team that is pretty good (just ask Coach K about the Tigers). If Purdue was at full strength, they might be able to give them a challenge, but they will be without Robbie Hummel. Purdue coach Matt Painter will have to rely on E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson to have big games against Bruce Weber‘s squad. Watch the Mike Davis-Johnson match-up because Johnson will have to dominate Davis in order for the Boilermakers to win.

Creighton at Northern Iowa at 2:05 PM on CBS Affiliates (in Iowa), ESPN Full Court, and Yes. Sometimes we think it’s worth watching the “little guys”. This match-up, which features the top 2 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference (Creighton is tied in 2nd with Illinois State), might end up being the most compelling match-up of the day. The Panthers don’t have any player who puts up huge numbers, but they have 5 players averaging between 9.5 and 11.5 PPG with Adam Koch leading the way (11.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG) and Kwadzo Ahelegbe (11.1 PPG and 3.3 APG) close behind. The Bluejays have a legitimate go-to-guy in Booker Woodfox (16.3 PPG).   The last time these two teams met Northern Iowa escaped with a 3-point win. Johnny Moran had a big day for the Panthers scoring a season-high 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. I doubt Moran will be able to duplicate the effort, but it should be a close game as the Panthers have a tendency to play close games (only have a +/- of  4.7 PPG despite their 17-6 record).

Boston College at #6 Wake Forest at 4 PM on Raycom, ESPN Full Court, and Will Wake come out as flat as Duke did after their 27-point loss? I’m sure that Dino Gaudio will mention that sometime before the start of this game. The last time these teams played, RTC was there and the Demon Deacons dominated the Eagles. The match-up at guard featuring Tyrese Rice and Jeff Teague could be interesting, but I would expect to see Ishmael Smith on Rice. If Wake has shaken off the shock from their blowout loss at Miami, they should be able to win this game relatively easily utilizing Al-Farouq Aminu, Chas McFarland, and James Johnson on the inside.

#25 Washington at Stanford at 5:30 PM on Fox Sports: Despite their nearly identical overall records (16-6 versus 14-6), the Huskies are well ahead of the Cardinal in their quest to land a NCAA tournament bid as they sit 7-3 in the Pac-10 compared to 4-6 for the Cardinal. Lorenzo Romar will be looking to get his Huskies out of their recent skid (losing 2 of 3) when they travel to The Farm. This game will likely come down to which team’s trio of stars plays better. The Huskies are led by Isaiah Thomas, Justin Dentmon, and Jon Brockman while the Cardinals are led by Anthony Goods, Lawrence Hill, and Mitch Johnson. The PG match-up of the freshman Thomas against the senior Johnson should be particularly entertaining as the winner of that duel will probably end up winning the game. I’d look for the Huskies to ride Thomas and Brockman, who comes in averaging a double-double and doesn’t really have anybody on Stanford who can slow him down, to a road victory.

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Set Your Tivos: 01.28.09

Posted by nvr1983 on January 28th, 2009

Set Your Tivos

Tonight features the biggest game of the week (possibly the biggest game of the season so far.) No, I’m not talking about the Allen at Savannah State game. Instead, I’ll be focusing on a small game in North Carolina that you may have seen advertised a time or two on ESPN.

Game of the Night

  • #1 Duke at #4 Wake Forest at 7 PM on ESPN and It will be interesting to see how the young Demon Deacons respond in their first game since their surprising loss at home against Virginia Tech. The Winston-Salem crowd will definitely be amped up for a visit from Duke (ranked #1 for the first time in 2 years). This game provides interesting match-ups all over the floor, but the two to watch are Nolan Smith versus Jeff Teague and Kyle Singler versus Al-Farouq Aminu. Teague will likely have a big advantage unless Coach K puts Smith on Ishmael Smith and puts Gerald Henderson on Teague. Singler versus Aminu will come down to a battle of Singler’s versatility and toughness going against Aminu’s athleticism and raw talent. I have a feeling that Singler will get the better of Aminu this time, but that could change when they meet later this year. I’m assuming that Smith/Singler and Teague/Aminu will basically neutralize each other so they can will probably be decided by whether or not Dino Gaudio can find a way to slow Henderson, who has been making a case for All-ACC honors with his play the last two weeks. In the end, I don’t think Gaudio will find an answer for Henderson and Duke will survive to stay at #1. Well at least until February 11th when Tyler Hansbrough and UNC come into Cameron (aka “The Most Important Game Ever” -ESPN).

Other Games Worth Watching

  • #3 Pittsburgh at #21 Villanova at 7 PM on ESPNU: Jay Wright‘s team is in a similar situation to what Marquette faced on Monday night. Like the Golden Eagles on Monday, the Wildcats have a relatively high ranking, but do not have a marquee win yet. Although Villanova gets this game at home while Marquette had to travel to South  Bend to take on Notre Dame, the Wildcats’ task is significantly harder. To knock off Pittsburgh (ranked 3rd in the nation, but quite possibly only the 3rd best team in their own conference right now), Villanova will need big games out of their stars, Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds, as well as solid performances out of their “Two Coreys”, Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher, to be in a position to beat the Panthers. Even then, the Wildcats will have to find a way to limit Sam Young and DeJuan Blair on the inside and hope that Reynolds can outplay Levance Fields. Even though Villanova has the home court, I’m going with Pittsburgh here because Villanova has not proven that they can win a big game yet (and they have had plenty of opportunities).

Hopefully Jay Wright's "Two Coreys" will be more successful
Hopefully Jay Wright’s “Two Coreys” will be more successful

  • #6 UNC at FSU at 9 PM on ESPN Full Court and The Tar Heels really shouldn’t have any problem in this game, but to be honest they shouldn’t have much trouble against all but the top 5-10 teams in the country if they are playing well. This game just feels like one where UNC is ready for a letdown. After going through a rough stretch at the beginning of 2009 where they lost 2 of 3 and were temporarily in last place in the ACC, the Tar Heels have rebounded and are coming off a 24-point victory over then #9 Clemson. They’re finally starting to resemble the team that people thought they could be earlier this season. The Seminoles come in with a solid 16-4 record with all of their losses coming against respectable opposition (ok, maybe not Northwestern). The Seminoles are certainly capable of pulling off an upset in Tallahassee (see their close losses versus #1 Duke and #3 Pittsburgh this year), but to get over the hump and actually win one Leonard Hamilton will need someone other than Toney Douglas to have a big game. Douglas averages more than twice as much as any of his teammates. An unbalanced scoring attack might get FSU wins over teams like Florida and Virginia, but it won’t work against a team that has 5 players in double figures including national POY candidate Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington (finally found his stroke), and Ty Lawson (playing much better this year). UNC will win this game, but I have a feeling it will be much closer than people expect.
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11.05.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2008

 Some post-election madness in the college hoops world…

  • You’re my boy, Blue!  RTC fav Ken Mink scored two foul shots in his debut for Roane State Monday night (which makes him 71% better than Ish Smith), for his first collegiate points in fifty-two years.  Props to Deadspin for mentioning this, but we had the same thought – who fouls a 73-year old basketball player?  Seriously, dude, move your feet a little. 
  • Ohio St. forward Nicola Kecman will miss twelve games stemming from his association with a semi-pro team in his native Serbia.  His first game back will be Jan. 6 at Michigan St. 
  • The Daily Tar Heel reports that Tyler Hansbrough may only miss two weeks of practice relating to his stress reaction after all.  We’re still not sure they’re getting through November unbeaten, though.
  • Nice, Arizona.  AD Jim Livengood denied freshman center Jeff Withey’s request for release from his scholarship.  We see no possible good coming out of this.   
  • The legendary Gus Gilchrist received his waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible to play for Stan Heath’s South Florida team on Dec. 14 – set your Tivos now. 
  • Interesting thought – will Barack Obama’s presidency help Craig Robinson’s recruiting efforts in any way at all?  It’s worth tracking…
  • Ten Freshmen to Watch
  • We couldn’t agree more with the inclusion of Hasheem Thabeet on this list. 
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