ACC Team Previews: North Carolina State

Posted by KCarpenter on October 20th, 2011

Looking at the North Carolina State roster from last year, it’s hard to see how this team was so bad. The pieces all seemed to be there, but the last year of Sidney Lowe‘s tenure was undoubtedly a disappointing season for the Wolfpack. The team won only fifteen total games last season and five in the conference. That said, N.C. State won all the games it was supposed to win and didn’t allow any serious upsets. The closest thing NCSU has to a bad loss was a defeats to Boston College and Virginia. That’s really not all that bad. The Wolfpack had a tough draw in the conference, playing the top three teams — Duke, North Carolina, and Florida State — twice. It doesn’t explain some of the other conference losses, nor does it explain the first round ACC Tournament flame-out against Maryland either. Sidney Lowe didn’t do a terrible job last year: he just did a mediocre job under tough circumstances and it finally cost him his job.

Mark Gottfried is The Ultimate X-Factor For North Carolina State

Enter Mark Gottfried. The new coach in charge, as many in Raleigh are quick to point out, is not Shaka Smart or Sean Miller. Gottfried is a proven leader of successful programs. Though his last few years at Alabama are cause for reasonable doubt, Gottfried should receive equal credit for the outstanding Alabama teams that he led in the early 2000s. The Sidney Lowe years weren’t terrible, but they were thoroughly mediocre. No matter what other roster changes have happened between last season and this one, no change is more important than Mark Gottfried taking the helm.

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RTC Summer Updates: Atlantic Coast Conference

Posted by jstevrtc on July 21st, 2011

With the the NBA Draft concluded and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. The latest update comes courtesy of our ACC correspondent, Matt Patton.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • New Faces: That’s right, the ACC will be totally different conference this season. Only five of the fifteen players selected as to the all-conference teams will be running the floor this season, namely four of North Carolina’s five starters (with Miami’s Malcolm Grant keeping the group from being only Tar Heels). Somewhat surprisingly, all of the ACC all-freshman squad will be back in action. Duke’s Kyrie Irving was a prominent frosh, but he didn’t play a single conference game before leaving school and UNC’s Harrison Barnes opted to return for his sophomore campaign. Keep an eye on Wake Forest’s Travis McKie and Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin especially. Both should be the stars on their respective teams.
  • However, the strength of the conference will rely heavily on the incoming players and coaches. Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Florida State all bring in consensus top 25 classes according to ESPN, Rivals and Scout. To make a long story short, the rich get richer. Duke’s Austin Rivers (ranked 1st by Rivals, 2nd by Scout and ESPNU) will be expected to contribute immediately, while North Carolina’s James McAdoo (8th by Rivals, 4th by Scout and 5th by ESPNU) and PJ Hairston (13th by Rivals, 20th by Scout and 12th by ESPNU) should be given ample time to find roles on an already stacked team.
  • Arguably more important, at least in the long term, are the new coaches: NC State welcomes Mark Gottfried, Miami welcomes Jim Larranaga, Maryland welcomes Mark Turgeon, and Georgia Tech welcomes Brian Gregory to the conference. The only coach I think is a surefire “upgrade” is Larranaga, who comes with some disadvantages (namely, age). While Gottfried experienced some success at Alabama, the Crimson Tide isn’t known as a basketball powerhouse and he didn’t leave the school on great terms. I also don’t think it’s a great sign that Ryan Harrow left for the bluer pastures of Kentucky. Gregory, though, sticks out as the strangest hire of the four. He had a fairly nondescript tenure at Dayton with many Flyer fans happy to see him leave. I know a tight budget hamstrung by Paul Hewitt’s hefty buyout deal probably kept the Yellow Jackets from going after the sexiest candidates, but the choice still surprised me. Gregory’s biggest disadvantage is his ugly, grind-it-out style of play that will eventually make it difficult to attract top recruits and could possibly alienate the entire GT fanbase (see: Herb Sendek).
  • North Carolina Navigates Investigation Waters: Finally, it may not be basketball-related, but it’s impossible to mention this offseason without discussing North Carolina’s impending date with the NCAA Committee of Infractions. The story has dominated ACC sports news. To briefly sum things up, the Tar Heels had an assistant coach, John Blake, on the payroll of an agent. If that wasn’t enough, the NCAA investigation unveiled thousands (I’m not kidding) of dollars in unpaid parking tickets and even several cases of academic fraud. The university has come out very firmly saying these infractions only involved the football team** but the scandal has gained national notoriety. (**Author’s note: the one connection with the basketball team is that Greg Little was one of UNC’s ineligible football players. Little was also a walk-on for the basketball team during the 2007-08 season, playing in ten games. North Carolina has said that his infractions occurred after his year with the basketball team, so no win vacations are in the basketball team’s future.)
  • Somehow, despite academic fraud, ineligible benefits and an agent runner on staff, the Tar Heels failed to get the NCAA’s most serious “lack of institutional control” violation for what appeared to be nothing less thana lack of institutional control. Again, this scandal is confined to football, but it’s one of the many recent scandals that have come to light in big time college athletics in the last couple of years (Connecticut, USC, Ohio State, Oregon, etc). These scandals could force the NCAA to augment its rules somewhat, and even though they may not directly relate to basketball, they may have a very real impact of college sports as we know it over the next few years.

    Freshman phenom Austin Rivers is ready for Duke, but how quickly will 2011's top high school point guard perform on the big stage? (Orlando Sentinel)

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Conference Report Card: ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 28th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

Conference Recap

The ACC had a down year though North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall-led resurgence and Florida State’s Sweet Sixteen appearance helped a little bit. Before and during the season, Duke was the runaway favorite in the conference: Kyrie Irving’s toe injury obviously was the pivotal point that brought Duke back down to earth. Equally pivotal (in the reverse direction) was Marshall’s move to starting point guard for North Carolina. With Larry Drew II at the helm, there is no way the Tar Heels could have come close to surpassing Duke for the regular season title. The down year did not really surprise most people, and despite lofty preseason expectations (read: people forgot how highly rated North Carolina was to start the season) I think the perception is that the league at least lived up to preseason expectations with a couple of notable exceptions: NC State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. NC State had NCAA Tournament talent, but did not come anywhere close to sniffing the Big Dance; Wake was arguably the worst major conference team in the country; and Virginia Tech once again found itself very highly seeded in the NIT. On the flip side, Clemson and Florida State both exceeded expectations.

Roy Williams and Kendall Marshall led a mid-season resurgence that resulted in a trip the Elite Eight. (News Observer/Robert Willitt)

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ACC Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 10th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC. With conference tournament action set to tip from Greensboro on Thursday, get set for March Madness with RTC’s regular season wrap-up and postseason outlook.

Postseason Preview

North Carolina is hot.  It took almost all of the regular season, but the Tar Heels are finally living up to preseason hype.  UNC  should definitely be favored to win the ACC Tournament, but I wouldn’t bet on them.  I think the Heels are due for one more hiccup before the Big Dance.  They’ve flirted with disaster a couple of times and are coming off a huge win against Duke.  It’s tough to keep a young team focused, and this team starts two freshmen and two sophomores.  I also expect Duke to be playing with real purpose after the beatdown in Chapel Hill as it fights for a top seed.

As far as the bubble is concerned, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Boston College all need wins.  I don’t think any of them are safe at this point (which is the unfortunate part of Clemson clinching the bye).  Unfortunately, Clemson and Boston College will probably meet in the second round in a de facto “win and in” game.

Besides interesting bubble match-ups, look out for Duke and Maryland in the second round.  Maryland has been down this year, but the Terps never back down from a fight (especially one with Duke).  Also keep an eye on the semifinals when Boston College or Clemson will probably meet North Carolina.  The Tigers and Eagles both played North Carolina incredibly close in Chapel Hill, and both would really benefit from the resume boost.

The most exciting conference tourney prospect is a rubber match between Duke and North Carolina in the tournament finals.  These two teams are far and away the best teams in the conference, and both are in the conversation for a number one seed.  Oh yeah, and who wouldn’t want a third game of one of the best rivalries in sports.

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Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 1st, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

A Look Back

Hold onto your seats, Hokie fans, you’re on the right side of the bubble after a statement win against Duke this week.  Virginia Tech’s win was just what the doctor ordered, but the Hokies are far from a lock (for everyone but Dickie V).  The Hokies won despite a very poor night from star Malcolm Delaney, who did hit a huge three late but was otherwise ineffective.  Jeff Allen picked up any slack Delaney left, finishing with 18 points and 15 boards.  But the real credit goes to Virginia Tech’s defense, which held Duke to under 40% from the field.  Kyle Singler helped those numbers a lot with one of the worst 22 and 12 lines you’ll ever see.  Singler has been in a real shooting slump (he’s 8-36 from beyond the arc in his last nine games).  He got plenty of open looks against the Hokies but just couldn’t convert anything from outside 15 feet.  Singler played very well when he was taking shorter jump shots and getting into the lane and drawing contact, but the set jumper just isn’t there.  Duke fans need to hope this is part of his yearly slump because this team is much less dangerous without Singler as an outside threat.  Virginia Tech also stymied Seth Curry, who only played 15 minutes because of foul trouble, but managed to finish with no points and a crucial turnover on Duke’s last possession (where he tried to do too much).  I think Curry was just a little too emotionally wound up before the game: in case you don’t know the back story, Curry’s father, Dell Curry, was one of the best players in Virginia Tech history (the first Hokie to have his jersey retired).  Regardless of shooting slumps and emotional windings, this was a huge win for Virginia Tech, which was starting to drift towards the wrong side of the bubble.

Major indirect benefactor of the upset in Blacksburg: North Carolina.  Now if the Tar Heels can beat Duke in Chapel Hill this weekend, they share the regular season ACC title and grab the top seed in the conference tournament.  Ironically second-seed could be the desired seed depending on how the rest of the field works out because I think any sane coach would rather face Florida State (set to be the three seed currently) without Chris Singleton than Virginia Tech (lined up to be the fourth seed right now).

Team of the Week: Virginia Tech in a runaway.  Not too much more to be said, but the Hokies would probably be looking at an 11-seed if Selection Sunday was today (at least if Andy Glockner or Bracketology101 was seeding the bracket**).  That’s obviously better than not being in the field, but far from “lock” status.  To ensure a bid, I still think Virginia Tech needs to win out the regular season or win one game in the conference tournament (against a decent team).  Still that’s totally doable.  Between a couple of solid wins and a tough nonconference schedule, things should be looking up in Blacksburg.

**By the way, if you don’t follow Andy Glockner (@aglock) on Twitter, you should.  He’s one of the most responsive sports writers in the business and does a tremendous job with Bubble Watch at SI.com.  In addition to responsive, thoughtful analysis, you should expect a wealth of tweets on Team Bubble Watch (Marquette), Fulham, the Knicks and the New York Giants.  Most of you probably already knew this, but just in case anyone is new to Twitter, I thought I’d pass along the tip.  [ed note. - agreed]

Bizarro Team of the Week: Georgia Tech has lost its last eight conference games.  Next up: Wake Forest.  Looks like the ultimate place for the Demon Deacons to pick up a second conference win to me.  The frustrating thing about the Yellow Jackets is their talent to performance ratio.  Really Iman Shumpert, Glen Rice and Brian Oliver should make a much better team.  Truthfully, Mfon Udofia isn’t bad either, and Daniel Miller is developing.  The team needs a point guard and more consistency in the post.

Player of the Week: John Henson.  He’s been in double digit rebounding eight of his last nine games and double digit scoring in seven of his last nine.  Oh yeah, and he averaged six and a half blocks this week.  Most importantly, Henson hasn’t missed a free throw in three games (six for six).  The free throw stat is probably a mirage, but the rebounding and blocks are very real.  Henson is a huge defensive presence on North Carolina’s front line.  With Chris Singleton injured, I think he’s close to a lock for ACC defensive player of the year (at least he should be).  North Carolina has the second-ranked defense according to Ken Pomeroy, and Henson’s length deserves a lot of credit.

Power Rankings

1.  Duke (26-3, 12-2) barely edges out the Tar Heels this week.  The Blue Devils crushed Temple (a top 25 foe) at home this week before the loss to desperate Virginia Tech.  The game at North Carolina should be great.  I think Duke is marginally better, but the Dean Dome is going to be huge for North Carolina.  Mason Plumlee, especially has looked much better for Duke recently.  He’s quietly shooting almost 60% from the field (albeit on mainly dunks), and nearly averaging double digit rebounds.  He’ll be crucial in dealing with North Carolina’s length Saturday night.

2.  North Carolina (22-6, 12-2) can claim the top seed in the ACC Tournament with a win over Duke Saturday.  This team plays really well in spurts (cliche alert: it’s a game of runs), but there are still problems.  I think Roy Williams needs to trim his lineup down a little bit: the constant substitutions kill offensive flow for the Heels, especially early in a half.  Kendall Marshall still has a tendency to force things sometimes, but he makes the Tar Heels absolutely lethal in transition.  Look for Duke to try and force him to score.

3.  Virginia Tech (19-8, 9-5) isn’t out of the woods yet.  Don’t test the selection committee!

4.  Florida State (20-8, 10-4) is playing surprisingly well without Chris Singleton.  Yes, they got spanked at College Park this week, but really Leonard Hamilton has to be thrilled with the way his squad has adapted without its best defender and primary scoring option.  One possible wrench in the above plan for North Carolina stealing the top spot from under Duke is Florida State knocking off the Tar Heels in Tallahassee.  Without Singleton it will be difficult, but if North Carolina’s offense vaguely resembles what it trotted out against Boston College, Florida State is in the gold.

5.  Clemson (19-9, 8-6) needs a decent run in the ACC Tournament if it wants to make the Big Dance.  Though if Duke is willing to help another bubble team out Wednesday, that would help too.  Clemson’s other game is against Virginia Tech (bubble on bubble brawl), which is a must-win for both teams.  Regardless of what ends up happening, Brad Brownell has done a tremendous job with this team.  Give him a couple of years, and Clemson will be back on the right side of the bubble.  This is a team most people picked much lower in the preseason.

6.  Maryland (18-11, 7-7) is probably out of the bubble picture after its loss to North Carolina, which is really a shame.  The Terps are clearly good enough to be a tournament team, they just couldn’t win games (somewhat of an oxymoron, I know).  Maryland closes out the season with games at Miami and against Virginia.  But Terrell Stoglin has really improved.  He’s averaging over twenty points a game over his last six games (with three games of at least 25 points).  Between him and Jordan Williams (who should come back, as he’s a little slow and undersized for the next level), they’ll be really good.  Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if Maryland gets a decent draw and goes to the finals of the ACC Tournament this year (which would probably draw a bid to the Big Dance in the process, assuming the run included a win over North Carolina or Duke).

7.  Boston College (17-11, 7-7) lost to Miami this week.  That’s no way to sell an already lacking mediocre resume to the committee.  Reggie Jackson is a tremendous player; Joe Trapani makes a great right-hand man; and Corey Raji is one of the most undervalued offensive players in the ACC this year.  But for whatever reason, Boston College struggles to bring a consistent product to the floor.  One thing the Eagles really need to do during the offseason is try and get students excited about the team.  Boston College has good players, a good coach in Steve Donahue, and is probably just on the wrong side of the bubble: how can it not attract students to the games?

8.  Miami (17-12, 5-9) completed its season sweep of Boston College before losing to Florida State.  If Reggie Johnson can stay out of foul trouble, the Hurricanes are a very difficult team to beat.  They still need to make the transition from “tough out” to “favorite”, but I like Johnson, Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott a lot.

9.  Virginia (14-14, 5-9) picked up a win against Georgia Tech on the road before falling to a Boston College team desperate to improve its resume.  This week looks like another split week between a very winnable game against NC State and a tough one at Maryland.

10. NC State (15-13, 5-9) lost to North Carolina before beating Georgia Tech.  State fans still react negatively when Sidney Lowe chooses to play Javier Gonzalez over Ryan Harrow.  Credit the upperclassmen for a great game against Georgia Tech though: Tracy Smith and Scott Wood combined for 38 points on 20 field goals.  That’s efficiency.

11. Georgia Tech (11-17, 3-11) should just count down the days till the end of the season.

12. Wake Forest (8-21, 1-13) shoots free throws pretty well (second in the ACC at 73.6%).  Everything else?  Not so much.  Actually, the youth is promising, so there’s that, too.

A Look Ahead

  • Tuesday Bubble Struggle: Boston College at Virginia Tech (9:00PM, ESPNU) – The Hokies fight to stay on the right side of the bubble while Boston College faces a win-or-go-to-the-NIT (probably) game.  Should be fun to watch.  Keep an eye on Reggie Jackson and Malcolm Delaney.
  • Wednesday Upset Watch: North Carolina at Florida State (7:00PM, ESPN) – Can the Chris Singleton-less Seminoles knock off the streaking Tar Heels?  It’s possible, especially if the Tar Heels are missing shots from the outside.  The question is whether Florida State has any way to keep John Henson and Tyler Zeller off the boards.
  • Primetime Saturday: Virginia Tech at Clemson (12:00PM, ESPN2) – Another battle for the bubble showcasing Virginia Tech.  I’m not sure Clemson is cut out for the Big Dance this year, but a win here keeps them in the conversation.
  • Rivalry Rematch: Duke at North Carolina (Saturday, 8:00PM, CBS) – For the first time in the rivalry’s storied history, it’s coming to primetime.  This really should be a pick ‘em game.  Neither team can afford to get off to a slow start.  UNC needs to keep Duke cold from the perimeter, and Duke needs to not look soft inside.  My pick: Duke in a very close one on the back of Nolan Smith.
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Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 18th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

A Look Back:

And then there were none.  The biggest conference news of the week was Duke losing at Florida State (as called by yours truly in last week’s Look Ahead).  All the speculation to whether Duke could finish ACC play (and the regular season) undefeated was squashed thanks to a fantastic effort from the Seminoles.  They popped Duke right in the mouth from the get-go, playing physical defense that negated any potential presence inside and forced the Blue Devils to take low percentage contested jumpers.  I would say this is the formula to beat Duke, but I’m not sure how many teams in the country are super-tall, super-athletic and defensive-minded.  The Seminoles were helped by a career effort from Derwin Kitchen (or a runner-up career effort: he had 29 in a game against Maryland last season) who led the way with 22 points on nine of 13 shooting with ten rebounds to boot.  His contributions went beyond the box score, as Kitchen took over the game when Chris Singleton was forced to leave with four fouls.  The question about Florida State this season has always been “can they score?” and they answered with a resounding yes.  Singleton also deserves much of the credit: he played lock-down defense on Kyle Singler the entire first half and seemed to come up with a basket whenever the Seminoles needed one.  Hats off to the Seminoles, who looked absolutely abysmal the past couple of weeks.  It looks like the ACC may finally have a runner-up candidate.

Film Session:

Unfortunately, the ACC Vault does have limits.  This isn’t the first time Florida State has knocked off #1 Duke in Tallahassee.  It’s the third.  Duke fans will have to forgive me for rubbing salt in the wound, but the Blue Devils won’t be short of any praise this season.  Unfortunately, the Vault doesn’t carry either of the past two big time upsets out of the panhandle, but YouTube provides a decent recount.

  • 2002: Duke had a 22-game winning streak.  They had Carlos Boozer, Jason Williams and Mike Dunleavy.  Florida State somehow forces Williams to go 0-6 from the free throw line (including two that would have put Duke up three in the final 20 seconds).  Monte Cummings then took the ball straight at Williams (I’ll let you debate whether it was a charge or a flop; I think it was a fine no-call) and over Mike Dunleavy to put the Seminoles up one.
  • 2006: Duke was led by JJ Redick and Shelden Williams.  Duke entered the game 27-1, and even with 50 points from Redick and Williams, the Blue Devils couldn’t withstand the dominant game from Al Thornton who finished with 26 (including a ludicrous 15-16 from the line).  You might remember this as the game with the “controversy” about rushing the court.  Coach Mike Krzyzewski expressed his concern that his players would get injured (largely because I think in the 2002 game Dunleavy and Williams almost got trampled as you can see they’re lying on the ground when the students come sprinting onto the court).  Rushing the court is still a huge part of college basketball upsets, but I’d stress not running over 6’4 elite athletes for your safety as well as theirs.

Bizarro Team of the WeekNorth Carolina wins the award after playing four of the ugliest halves of basketball lucky enough to be televised this season.  To be fair the Tar Heels beat Virginia Tech, but it wasn’t pretty.  As Jay Bilas put it during the broadcast: “this is the kind of game you put the film in a time capsule and lose the map.”  Little did anyone know that the Heels would come out with an even worse performance at Georgia Tech Sunday.  UNC’s starters went a smooth 9-33 from the field, while Iman Shumpert finished with 13 field goals himself.  The team did no better, finishing a nauseating 16 of 58 from the floor (good for 27.6%) in a drubbing at the hands of a mediocre Yellow Jacket team.  In addition to shooting woes, North Carolina turned the ball over 18 times.  The silver lining was John Henson went five of eight from the free throw line, his second best performance on the season (well above his season average of 36.8%).  But really Roy Williams summed it up in the post game presser (I suggest reading everything): “No. We just didn’t come in frickin’ ready to play. Overconfident? How the crap … I’m mad at the world. We stunk. My coaching stunk and we stunk. I’m tired of saying we’ve got to build confidence. It’s easy to build confidence, by God, play better, then you will get some confidence. We’re not overconfident, we just weren’t as intense as we needed to be to start the basketball game.”  Sounds like echoes from last year, which isn’t good for Carolina fans.

Team of the Week: Florida State. In addition to the huge upset over Duke, the Seminoles handily took care of NC State 84-71.  If not for the inexcusable loss at Auburn a couple weeks ago, I think the Seminoles would’ve earned a spot in the top 25.  That game just shows how inconsistent this team is from night to night.  Hopefully Leonard Hamilton has everything together now.  It would be nice to see the ACC with at least two decent seeds come March…

Player of the Week: A tie between Derwin Kitchen and Iman Shumpert, who both led their teams to home wins over Tobacco Road this week.  Both are very talented yet inconsistent upperclassmen who need to do well for their respective teams to succeed.

Power Rankings:

  1. Duke (16-1, 3-1) remains atop the power rankings despite the loss at Florida State.  Duke flirted with falling in their home win against Virginia. The Blue Devils trailed by seven at the half and looked totally out of sync.  This team is a long way from being dominant without Kyrie Irving.  Until they find a facilitator, that’s how it will stay.  I still think they’re the best team (by a long shot) in the ACC, but whether they’re a true championship contender is still up in the air.  For now, Blue Devil fans (and the Plumlees) should hope for either rapid development of Tyler Thornton or Irving’s toe, so Nolan Smith can go back to his natural two guard position.
  2. Florida State (13-5, 3-1) skyrockets after a great week.  Now if they can only show some consistency.
  3. Maryland (11-6, 1-2) still can’t close.  They had Villanova on the ropes with a lead in the second half, but a few missed shots and turnovers later and the Wildcats were back on top for good.  Jordan Williams is still a year away from being a shut the game down type of player (and he may never be one if his free throw shooting doesn’t improve).  Someone in the Terrapin backcourt needs to step up soon, or the team will find itself looking at a nasty ticket to the NIT.  The good news is that Jordan Williams hit some pretty nice 15-footers, which would make him truly impossible to guard.  Right now, he’s playing like the best big man (and probably the best player in the conference).  Now if Gary Williams can just find a suitable sidekick (my personal guess is Terrell Stoglin).
  4. Clemson (14-4, 2-1) dominated Georgia Tech at home 87-62.  Jerai Grant led the way with a career-high 20 points and eight rebounds.  Grant is one of the most overlooked players in the conference, largely because he plays at Clemson.  He’ll be the key if Clemson wants to stay out of the conference cellar this season (well, not the cellar because Wake Forest has it booked for the season, but you know what I mean).
  5. Boston College (13-5, 3-1) got a good win against NC State before losing a heartbreaker to Miami on the road.  This team is better than I expected, but that’s not a very high bar.  Reggie Jackson is quietly averaging nearly 20 points a game, but they’re racking up some losses that look bad on an at-large resume (Yale, Harvard and Miami to name three).
  6. Miami (12-5, 1-2) edged Boston College out at home.  This team feels on the brink of being decent, but they just can’t quite make the leap.  Frank Haith certainly has the personnel to field a strong team, but something seems to be missing.  This week they’ll get a shot at Florida State at home and NC State on the road for two solid wins.
  7. Virginia (10-7, 1-2) almost shocked the world by almost beating Duke in Durham.  Unfortunately the Cavaliers couldn’t sustain the defensive effort after holding Duke to only 25 points at the half.  Duke went on to put up 51 in the second half.  Losing Mike Scott really took an entire dimension out of this team, but they’ve made the best of it so far (even if they’ve come up just short).
  8. Georgia Tech (8-8, 1-2) got pummeled at Clemson before handing out a beating of their own against Carolina.  It’s pretty simple: when Iman Shumpert and Glen Rice Jr. are playing to their abilities Georgia Tech is a tough team to beat.  When they aren’t, the Yellow Jackets are subpar.  I’m not sure Shumpert is capable of going off for 30 any given night, so I feel pretty safe in saying that the Yellow Jackets are still looking at the bottom fourth of the ACC come the end of the year.
  9. Virginia Tech (11-5, 2-2) barely lost at Carolina after just dominating Wake Forest 94-65 at home.  The Wake result says far more about the Demon Deacons than it does Seth Greenberg’s squad.  They’re going to need to win close games like the one at Carolina if they want to finally have a happy Selection Sunday.  Right now they still rely far too much on Malcolm Delaney (though playing him off the ball has helped tremendously), and they’re just too shallow to perform night in and night out.  Injuries have really lowered the potential for this team.
  10. North Carolina (12-5, 2-1) fell apart this week.  See above.  This team is looking more and more similar to last year’s NIT squad.  Too soft; not enough effort; dumb turnovers; no leadership.  They show flashes of brilliance accompanied by halves of ineptitude.  It’s slowly killing Williams, who was just beginning to sound like he enjoyed coaching again until this week.  At this point (though it has always been my stance), it’s time to hand Kendall Marshall the reins.  If he loses a few along the way, so be it.  He’s the future of this program.
  11. NC State (11-6, 1-2) lost a couple of road games this week.  I think it’s safe to say the Wolfpack are a major disappointment.  Tracy Smith is still the man, but they have a similar point guard crisis to Carolina.  Sidney Lowe still insists on playing Javier Gonzalez despite Ryan Harrow’s talent.  I know Harrow is small and a little bit of a defensive liability.  But let’s face it: State’s defense isn’t that good with or without Gonzalez.  Lowe needs to make some major changes and get this program moving back in the right direction.
  12. Wake Forest (7-11, 0-3) had a rough week, losing to Maryland by 19 at home and 29 to Virginia Tech on the road.  Yikes.  Not much positive to say here.

A Look Ahead:

The ACC prognosis is very weak.  Unfortunately only Duke and Florida State (when they come to play) stand out as even consistently “good” teams.  That means spreading the conference losses around a lot (as seen by the fact that no team has played five games and no team is unbeaten).  This is going to make getting at-large bids really difficult.  Maryland is definitely good enough to deserve a ticket, but they still don’t have any marquee wins (unless they can beat Duke).  UNC has a pretty strong resume, but it won’t matter if they keep getting blown out by the likes of Georgia Tech.

This week’s important games:

  • Tuesday Tiger History (8:00 PM, ACC Network): Can Clemson get that elusive win in Chapel Hill on the 55th try?  No joke, as founding members of the ACC Clemson has never won a game in Chapel Hill.  This looks like the perfect time to give it a run, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
  • Thursday: Virginia Tech at Maryland (9:00 PM, ESPN2)
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RTC Conference Primers: #4 – Atlantic Coast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 3rd, 2010

Matt Patton is the RTC Correspondent for the ACC.


Predicted Order of Finish

  • 1. Duke (15-1)
  • 2. Virginia Tech (12-4)
  • T3. North Carolina (10-6)
  • T3. NC State (10-6)
  • 5. Florida State (9-7)
  • 6. Maryland (9-7)
  • 7. Clemson (8-8)
  • 8. Miami (7-9)
  • 9. Boston College (5-11)
  • 10. Wake Forest (4-12)
  • 11. Georgia Tech (4-12)
  • 12. Virginia (3-13)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • G: Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech (20.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.5 APG)
  • G: Nolan Smith, Duke (17.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.0 APG)
  • F: Kyle Singler (POY), Duke (17.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.4 APG)
  • F: Harrison Barnes, UNC (26.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.1 SPG for Ames High School)
  • C: Tracy Smith, NC State (16.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 APG)

6th Man

Chris Singleton (F), Florida State (10.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.2 APG)

Impact Newcomers

Harrison Barnes (F, UNC) and Kyrie Irving (G, Duke).

Here’s the catch.  Barnes might be the better player statistically, and he should have an unbelievable season, but if Duke’s repeat hopes rest on Irving’s shoulders, I’m not sure how he couldn’t be an impact newcomer. Both have NBA scouts fawning over them.

Kyrie Irving (left) and Harrison Barnes have sky-high potential, but how will they do in their respective coaches' systems? (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

What You Need To Know

People will probably say the ACC is having a down year again, but statistically, in the ACC’s “down season” last year, it finished as the highest ranked conference by Ken Pomeroy (just above the Big 12).  Even though the conference has won five of the last ten NCAA championships, people will argue it’s in decline after perennial contender UNC had a devastating season and Duke caught a few breaks on the road to the National Championship. That said, the ACC will not be the country’s deepest conference this season, but that doesn’t mean it will be irrelevant beyond the Blue Devils and Tar Heels.  The ACC has five recruiting classes in ESPN’s top 25, which should ease the loss of important conference players like Greivis Vasquez, Jon Scheyer, Sylven Landesberg, Trevor Booker and Al-Farouq Aminu.

Predicted Champion

Duke (NCAA #1 Seed) – Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad should not only be favored to win the conference, they should be favored to win the NCAA Tournament.  Duke returns two Preseason All-Americans in Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith from last year’s championship team.  Kyrie Irving is the highest-touted Duke recruit since Jason Williams, who led the Blue Devils to the 2001 title. Irving is also considered by scouts as the best true point guard of this class.  Additionally, the Blue Devils picked up four-star power forward Joshua Hairston and Seth Curry (who averaged 20.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 2.3 APG in his freshman season at Liberty), both of whom should see lots of playing time. Duke loses three starters from last year’s team: Jon Scheyer (18.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.9 APG), Lance Thomas (4.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.9 APG), and Brian Zoubek (5.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.0 APG).  Losing three starters would normally lower expectations for a team.  But, if anything, this Duke team should be more talented than last year’s squad.  According to Evan Daniels of Scout.com: three people who have watched Duke recently “are raving about their overall talent and Kyrie Irving.”  If you’re looking for more praise (not likely), Dan Wetzel tweeted: “Keep hearing from NBA scouts who’ve seen Duke practice describe Devils as ‘scary’ ‘complete’ ‘even better.’”  He followed that up rebutting the pro-Coach K media saying “These are NBA scouts raving about Duke, not supposedly pro-Coach K media.”  And last but not least, Luke Winn ranked the Blue Devil backcourt first in the nation and the frontcourt second (after Purdue, whose loss of Robbie Hummel almost certainly drops them a couple of spots). Long story short, Duke is going to be very, very good this year, especially if Mason Plumlee has the breakout season people are expecting. Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC Tourney Daily Diary: 1st Round

Posted by nvr1983 on March 12th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the ACC Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the 1st round games.

Virginia 68, Boston College 62

  • Virginia was playing without second team all-ACC Sylven Landesberg, who was suspended by head coach Tony Bennett for the remainder of the season due to academic issues.
  • Virginia opened a 34-27 halftime lead mostly in part to 6-11 (55%) 3-point shooting, compared to only 3-8 (38%) for BC.
  • This was a clean, well-played game with both teams combining for only 12 turnovers (UVa – 5, BC-7), but not a thrilling game by anybody’s definition.
  • Virginia held BC’s leading scorer, Joe Trapani, to 2 points on 0-7 shooting. Maybe he should consider transferring back to Vermont.
  • BC’s Corey Raji injured his shoulder during the game. “We’ll let the doctors look at it, and hopefully rest will do it.”

Miami 83, Wake Forest 62

  • Miami starting PF Dwayne Collins was not available for today’s game due to a “stress condition” of his left leg. Redshirt freshman big man Reggie Johnson, from Wake’s backyard in Winston-Salem, got the start in his place, scoring a career-high 22 points. Even without Collins, Miami still outrebounded the taller Deacons 39-34 for the game.
  • Wake’s 2nd team all-ACC forward Al-Farouq Aminu again pulled a disappearing act, as he has been oft to do. He managed only 11 points on 3-10 shooting and 7 rebounds, a less than stellar performance for a supposed lottery pick. This kid pulls more disappearing acts than Lance Burton. If he’s ready for the NBA, then so am I. Maybe he should spend less time tweeting and more time finding out why he’s slumping. He needs another year of college ball, because he doesn’t have the body or the handle to be effective in the NBA next year.
  • #12 Miami led 41-27 over #5 Wake Forest at the half. Miami opened the second half on an 8-0 run, extending their lead to 22. Their lead never dropped below 16 points in the second half. Miami was unconscious from the floor, shooting 52% for the game versus Wake’s 35%.
  • Wake Forest never displayed the ability to keep Miami’s guards, particularly freshman Malcolm Grant, out of the lane. Wake’s usually stingy 3-point defense, which held teams to 32% during the regular season, was torched by Miami for 47% (8-17).
  • Wake Forest is in their annual end of the year slump, which coach Dino Gaudio can’t explain. “I thought we were tired down the stretch last year, so we changed things this year, going with more time off.” Guess what coach, that hasn’t worked either. Maybe he’ll be able to explain why he doesn’t have a job this time next year.

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RTC Live: Florida @ NC State

Posted by rtmsf on January 3rd, 2010

When the Gators and Wolfpack got together last season, it was the third day in January and Nick Calathes scored 32 points to help Florida pull out a 68-66 win in Gainesville. Exactly one year later, the faces have changed, but many expect the 2010 version of Florida (10-3) v. North Carolina State (10-3) to be just as exciting: Ken Pomeroy predicts a 66-65 win for Billy Donovan’s team. For NC State to come out on top, star big man Tracy Smith (17.2 ppg & 9.1 rpg) needs to be a factor—his foul trouble relegated him to the bench in State’s loss to Wake Forest and his comments on said foul trouble garnered Smith a one-game suspension in the Wolfpack’s 2-point loss to Arizona in the following game. This being the Gators’ final game before SEC play begins, expect them to look to their standout freshman, Kenny Boynton (14.2 ppg) to step up and dominate the speedy yet mistake-prone Javier Gonzalez. This game should be a good one, so please stop by and join the chat!

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Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2009

Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

First, let me apologize for the delay in this week’s ACC update. I got a concussion Christmas Eve and Mike Leach locked me in a closet because I wouldn’t go back to practice. Oh well, these things happen.

ACC POWER RANKINGS (record as of Monday, Dec. 28)

1A. Duke (9-1, 0-0)

PAST:  No games last week. (And yes, I took the easy way out and did the 1A/1B thing.)

FUTURE: The Blue Devils face Long Beach State tonight and Penn on New Year’s Eve (double-yawn) before hosting Clemson in the first real anticipated league game of the year (more on that later).

1B. North Carolina (10-3, 0-0)

PAST:  Most people expected sophomore Ed Davis to lead the young Tar Heels this year, but he has possibly exceeded expectations so far, including this week, as UNC rolled over Marshall and Rutgers. He’s shooting an absurd 66% from the field, and ranks second in the ACC with 6.7 rebounds per game.

FUTURE:  UNC wraps up its pre-conference slate with two games – home against Albany on Wednesday, and a tricky road game at the College of Charleston next Monday.

3. Wake Forest (9-2, 1-0)

PAST:  Easy win over UNC-Greensboro Monday night.

FUTURE:  The Deacons better be ready for their New Year’s Eve date with Richmond. The Spiders already scalped Florida this year, and as is often the case in these regional big fish/small fish games, Richmond will be up for this game more than any other this season. It doesn’t get easier for Wake Forest on Sunday, when Xavier comes to town. A 2-0 week will be a big victory for the Deacons heading into ACC play.

4. Georgia Tech (9-2, 0-1)

PAST:  Tech rolled over Kennesaw State.

FUTURE:  The Jackets host Winston-Salem State today and then travels to Charlotte on Saturday.

5. Florida State (11-2, 1-0)

PAST:  With an easy win over Tennessee-Martin, the Seminoles stay at No. 5 – for now.

FUTURE:  Upcoming dates with Alabama A&M and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi won’t say anything about FSU. A Jan. 10 trip to Maryland will.

6. Clemson (11-2, 0-0)

PAST:  The Tigers took care of Western Carolina last Tuesday.

FUTURE:  Clemson hosts in-state rival (tongue in cheek) South Carolina State tonight before heading to Duke on Sunday.

7. Miami (12-1, 0-1)

PAST:  Miami rolled over North Carolina A&T.

FUTURE:  After they take care of Bethune Cookman Wednesday, the Hurricanes travel to Pepperdine. Winter in Malibu. Tough life.

8. Virginia Tech (10-1)

PAST:  The Hokies flat-out embarrassed the Retrievers of UMBC last week in a 71-34 victory.

FUTURE:  Tech plays Longwood Wednesday, then travels to Cancun for an interesting game against Seton Hall Saturday.

9. Maryland (8-3, 0-0)

PAST:  The Terps recorded two cupcake wins this week, but had a relatively close call in a 13-point win over Florida Atlantic. Greivis Vasquez continues to lead Maryland, and was named ACC Player of the Week, but he was without second-leading scorer Sean Mosely, who sat out with a sprained ankle.

FUTURE:  Maryland hosts William & Mary Wednesday and travels to UNC-Greensboro on Sunday.

10. N.C. State (8-3, 0-1)

PAST:  The Wolfpack dropped a heartbreaker at Arizona on Wednesday, as the Wildcats pulled off their second-straight buzzer-beating win.

FUTURE:  N.C. State hosts Winthrop tonight then plays at UNC-Greensboro on New Year’s Eve. I swear, UNC-Greensboro should just join the ACC already.

11. Boston College (8-4, 1-0)

PAST:  Someone please explain this team to me. Home losses to Harvard and Rhode Island. Road wins at Providence and Michigan. And a convincing home win over UMass this week. You figure it out.

FUTURE:  Interesting home game with South Carolina Wednesday night.

12. Virginia (6-4, 0-0)

PAST:  Virginia routed NJIT and Hampton by a combined score of 148-91. Wake me when it’s over.

FUTURE:  The Cavs host a very good UAB team Wednesday night. A win here would definitely help Virginia get out of the ranking cellar.

WEEK THAT WAS…

  • DESERT DRAMA: There was only one game worth talking about this week, and that was N.C. State’s 76-74 loss to Arizona. The Wolfpack made a furious comeback from eight points down with 37 seconds left, but played some pretty porous defense in the final seconds as Arizona’s Nic Wise pulled a Tyus Edney for a coast-to-coast game-winning layup. Javier Gonzalez was impressive for the Wolfpack, who deserve credit for a tough trip out west while the rest of the ACC was fattening up on garbage games.
  • RAMBLING RANT OF THE WEEK:  What’s the deal with UNC-Greensboro? I understand that the poor Spartans have a short trip to almost every ACC school, and can fatten their athletic wallet with games in ACC gyms. But they’ve gotta grow tired of this, right? Greensboro plays 13 non-league games this season, and six of them come against ACC foes. The Spartans have already lost to Duke, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Wake Forest by a combined score of 319-235, and still have to face N.C. State and Maryland this week. To add to their misery, the Spartans have also been thumped by Richmond (26 points), Akron (24 points) and East Carolina (21 points). I’d love to hear that recruiting pitch…

WAITING IN THE TUNNEL…

  • REAL LEAGUE GAME ALERT!:  With Clemson heading to Duke on Sunday (7:45 pm), we can FINALLY see what these teams are made of. A Clemson win would be enormous for the Tigers, but just seeing an exciting game would be a moral victory for Clemson (and a win for hoops fans still sleeping off Duke’s snoozefest with Gonzaga). How will Trevor Booker and the Clemson frontcourt deal with Brian Zoubek, Miles Plumlee and the Duke big men? It’ll be nice to have real games to watch – finally.
  • DAUNTING FOR DEACONS: Wake Forest has a tough twinbill this week with surprising Richmond and a very good and physical Xavier squad. Two wins will be huge, especially with three of their next four league games coming on the road at Miami, Duke and North Carolina. Ouch.
  • WORTH WATCHING: Three teams from the mid- to lower-half of the league face interesting nonleague tests – Virginia Tech vs. Seton Hall (Saturday); B.C. vs. South Carolina (Wednesday); Virginia vs. UAB (Wednesday).

Happy New Year!

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ATB: One of the Wise Men Came Early This Year

Posted by rtmsf on December 24th, 2009

A Very Wise ManArizona 76, NC State 74. Why is this our lead game tonight?  Because it’s not often that you see two difficult length-of-the-court layups within the last ten seconds of a game, and it’s even less often that the player who hits the game-winner does so for the second game in a row.  Nic Wise must have been a very good boy this year because Santa is treating him right this holiday season.  Just two nights after making a ridiculously difficult touch/push three from about 25 feet to win a game against Lipscomb (we’ll overlook the fact that it probably shouldn’t have counted), Wise (17/3) did it again tonight.  NC State’s Javier Gonzalez (18/3/6 assts) had tied the game at 74-all with a part-the-waters layin with around seven seconds to go.  Wise immediately grabbed the inbounds pass and pushed downcourt.  After a couple of hesitation/crossovers at three-quarter speed, he found a seam to his left and beat the trailing defenders to get the shot up off the glass with the wrong hand and won the game with a mere tick left on the clock (when we get the vid, we’ll post it below).  Wise is like the anti-Jamelle Horne for Arizona.  Awesome finish, and gives Arizona two more wins that they’ll need en route to putting together a resume for inclusion to their 26th straight NCAA Tournament later this season.  UA shouldn’t have put themselves in this position, but they managed to blow a late eight-point lead by allowing NCSU to hit several threes down the stretch — the Wildcats’ Derrick Williams had 24/6 in the win.

Wise Keeping Arizona Afloat (AP/Dean Knuth)

Upset of the NightOral Roberts 75, #12 New Mexico 66. Unbeaten no more.  We’re now down to just six undefeated teams left this season, and all six of those are currently ranked as the top six teams in America after Missouri State and now New Mexico dropped games this week.  ORU has already beaten Stanford and Missouri thus far this season, so this shouldn’t be a huge shock (especially in Tulsa), but the Golden Eagles have also had some blowout losses (most notably, by 37 to Louisville, 21 to Virginia and 20 to Wake Forest).  Tonight was a different story, though, as Scott Sutton’s team built a first-half lead and was able to hold on when UNM made its expected run late in the game.  Michael Craion had a great game, going for 18/13/7 assts/2 blks, and Dominique Morrison had 17/4/4 assts/3 stls, but more importantly, the ORU defense forced the Lobo stars into tough nights — Darington Hobson shot 5-14 for 11 points and Roman Martinez was even worse at 1-9 for 4 points, and their 15 total points tonight was nineteen points off their combined average this year.

BraggadocioMissouri 81, Illinois 68. Here’s the thing about naysayers who thought that Missouri would take a hard fall after losing DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons from last year’s team.  So long as Mike Anderson has a stable of ten or so athletic players to run his modified 40MoH system, his teams will always be successful.  Now, will this year’s version be as good as last year’s E8, thirty-win team?  No way.  But they’re still pretty darn good, and we’d expect to see the Tigers back in the Dance again, especially after a performance like tonight.  For the first time in a decade, Mizzou won this rivalry game, and they did it behind their standard MO of forcing turnovers (21), hitting threes (10) and causing a faster-than-normal pace for their opponent.  Kim English led the way with 24/6, but he got help from freshman Michael Dixon, Jr., (16/5 assts/3 stls) and JT Tiller (12/5/5 assts).  As for the Illini, other than their amazing comeback win at Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, we haven’t been impressed with this team yet this year.

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09.26.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 26th, 2007

Some news flotsam and jetsam we’ve accumulated this week…

  • It was an expensive week for Ohio State paying its head coaches, as Thad Matta got a $500k raise (to $2.5M per annum) and contract extension through 2016.
  • Tennessee forward Duke Crews has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. How long is “indefintely?”
  • We mentioned it briefly above, but it deserves its own note. Former Hawg PG Corey Beck was shot Sunday morning during a robbery attempt – he is listed in good condition.
  • Free Shoes University is embroiled in another cheating scandal – the question is which sports are involved?
  • Porsches, Polo & Ponies. SMU basketball avoids NCAA sanctions – wait, SMU still has a basketball program? Oh, right. Matt Doherty. So the answer is no.
  • Plissken at the Buzzer gives a thorough and interesting breakdown of Memphis’ schedule (following up on Andy Katz’s top 10 last week) and how that will affect the Tigers’ NCAA seed next March.
  • Melo is giving back to Syracuse, as Jim Juli Boeheim convinced him to fork over $3M toward a new practice facility for the Orange.
  • Injury Report – Louisville freshman Clarence Holloway will miss the entire season after open heart surgery (!!), and NC State’s PG Javier Gonzalez will miss the next twelve weeks with a shooting thumb injury.
  • BC’s success in the ACC on the gridiron and hardwood have increased its applications from traditionally ACC country.
  • Construda still loves Luke Recker, oh these many years later…
  • We guess Shawn Stockton isn’t as good as his uncle John.
  • According to Jeff Goodman, 2008 #1 player Greg Monroe has narrowed his list to LSU, Kansas, Duke and Georgetown. Although Gary Parrish disputes this in a meandering article about Monroe’s eight finalists.
  • Speaking of Parrish and Goodman, the former riffs on Bama’s point guard situation after losing Ronald Steele, and the latter notes that Bruce Pearl is in search of outside shooters and Arizona is looking at possible successors for Lute Olson.
  • It’s NEVER too early for a projected field of 65.
  • MascotLove: College Hoops Heaven takes a look at the top 15 mascots.
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