Introducing the ACC’s Preseason Awards

Posted by mpatton on November 8th, 2012

With play starting around the nation tomorrow, it’s time for the ACC microsite’s 2012-13 preseason awards.

Player of the Year

The player of the year vote was split between Michael Snaer and Lorenzo Brown. Both guys need their respective teams to do very well to be in the running for the award. Brown probably needs success a little more, as the NC State roster has a lot of talent already on it. If the team does poorly, it will reflect on its floor general. His numbers probably won’t be that flashy, but if he improves even half of what he did from his freshman season to last season, he’ll be one of the most well-rounded players in the league. One struggle Brown may have is in terms of the “most talented” versus “most important” argument that plagued Kendall Marshall at North Carolina last season. Marshall didn’t have the best numbers, but he was more critical to his team’s success than any of his teammates. Brown could face similar questions (or just a split of the vote) if CJ Leslie has a monster year. But Brown has the advantage over Marshall in that he’s much more complete as a basketball player.

Snaer edged out Lorenzo Brown for Preseason ACC Player of the Year. (Grant Halverson / Getty Images)

Snaer is a known quantity: he’s a supremely talented two-guard with a competitiveness and motor unrivaled around the conference. He’s so competitive that Leonard Hamilton has to pull him out a few minutes into important games to make sure he doesn’t go over the top. He’s one of the best defensive players in the country, but he doesn’t get many steals. He just shuts down passing lanes and makes every shot difficult. Watching some of the ACC Tournament last year, he looked like he was running circles around very good opponents. It’s not like he was putting up ludicrous numbers, but there was no question who the best player on both ends of the floor was for much of his games against North Carolina and Duke. Unlike Brown, Snaer may be able to still win if Florida State falters a little. The key for him (and Hamilton) is keeping his drive to a usable level and not letting it suffocate him.

In the end Snaer is more of a proven commodity. He’s also the reason we ranked the Seminoles so high despite losing major pieces from last year’s team. So our preseason ACC Player of the Year award goes to Michael Snaer.

Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year after the jump.

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2012-13 RTC Preseason All-American Teams

Posted by KDoyle on November 8th, 2012

With the season tipping off tomorrow, there’s no better time to roll out our preseason superlatives and All-America teams: National Player of the Year, National Freshman of the Year, and First, Second, and Third All-America teams. More than anything, our preseason All-America teams are here to foster discussion. Our crack panel of 10 national columnists provided ballots over the last week or so, and this is where we ended up.

  • Preseason National Player of the Year—Cody Zeller, Indiana
  • Preseason National Freshman of the Year—Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

First Team All-America

Cody Zeller, Indiana (unanimous)—The day Cody Zeller committed to play basketball for Tom Crean at Indiana was the day Hoosier basketball would officially begin its climb back to national relevancy and prominence. The first three years weren’t easy for Crean, who compiled a dismal 28-66 combined record during those seasons, but Zeller was his key recruit that led Indiana to a 27-9 record last year and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Named Mr. Basketball for the state of Indiana as a senior at Washington High School, Zeller was destined for big things right from the get-go. His ability to run the floor like a 6’5″ athletic forward—despite standing at 7’0″ — and sound post-game with a smooth jumper — is a joy for purists of the game to watch. Now, in his sophomore year, he has the Hoosiers eyeing a National Championship.

Zeller is Everyone’s Cover Boy, and With Good Reason… IU is Back

Factoid: Sophomore Cody Zeller may be bigger than life on the basketball court, but his talents are multi-faceted. Off the court, he goes by the moniker The Big Handsome around the Indiana campus.

Twitter: @czeller40

Doug McDermott, Creighton (unanimous)—The ability to score from virtually anywhere on the court—whether it is from in the post of either shoulder, or beyond the three-point line—McDermott is perhaps the most talented and feared offensive player in the country. Shooting better than 60% from the field and a ridiculous 48.6% from three, McDermott is poised to put up video game offensive numbers in the Missouri Valley. There may not be a more efficient offensive player in the game—averaging nearly 23 PPG on fewer than 15 shots is impressive.

If Zeller Falters, McDermott Could Take the NPOY Crown

Factoid: Similar to fellow preseason First Team All-American C.J. McCollum who is notorious for being lightly recruited out of high school, McDermott didn’t exactly have a laundry list of schools knocking on the basketball office door at Ames High School. In fact, his own father wouldn’t even offer him a scholarship to play at Iowa State. And now, well, he just may be the best player in college basketball.

Twitter: @dougmcd3

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ACC Team Previews: NC State Wolfpack

Posted by ARowe on October 29th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the NC State Wolfpack.

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. To say that Mark Gottfried’s arrival as the NC State head basketball coach was enough to disrupt the forces behind the program’s motion is an understatement. From the time his tenure began, the attitude and aura surrounding the Wolfpack did a complete 180-degree turn. Gone was the subdued and listless Herb Sendek era, where the team flirted with success but could never conjure up the fire needed to overtake their blue blood neighbors. Also gone were the Sidney Lowe years, where excitement and potential reigned over actual results on the court.

Gottfried and his staff converted that potential into sheer kinetic energy by the end of the 2012 season. It might not have been an immediate shift, as NC State finished just above .500 in conference play and ended the regular season with 22 wins and 11 losses. They were one of the last teams selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament, celebrating like they’d never tasted success before in one of the greatest images in college basketball last year.

Just making the Tournament wasn’t enough for these newfound media darlings. They went on one of the more improbable runs in the postseason, toppling 6-seed San Diego State, 3-seed Georgetown and nearly taking out eventual national runner-up Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen. The momentum generated by that three-game run has carried over into this year, with the ACC coaches and media voting NC State as the favorite to win the league. Gottfried’s second Wolfpack team blends talented veterans led by Lorenzo Brown, CJ Leslie and Richard Howell with heralded freshmen Rodney Purvis and TJ Warren.

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ACC M5: 10.26.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 26th, 2012

  1. Atlantic Coast Conference:  During the most recent wave of conference realignment, the academic caliber of the ACC has been stressed as a reason for why (or why not) certain schools were given invitations. Now, the ACC is not just known for its academics, but also the impressive performance of its student-athletes.  Overall, the ACC had a graduation rate for its athletes in all sports of over 87%, whereas the NCAA-wide average is 80%.  More specifically, in men’s basketball, the ACC was the only power conference with four schools topping the APR mark of 90, those being Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech.    This is a great bargaining chip for the conference and definitely bodes well for the future.  A more detailed summary for all sports can be found here.
  2. Washington Post:  After losing first-team all-ACC forward Mike Scott, Virginia is searching for answers in its quest to make consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 1995 (and their fourth of the  new millenium). Tony Bennett expects  junior Joe Harris, the team’s second leading scorer, to shoulder more of the offense. However, the team is not worried about replacing Scott, as forward Akil Mitchell said: “We don’t go into a season thinking, ‘Oh man, we gotta replace Mike.’ We go into a season looking at who we have and what we can do.” Bennett expects to have several players averaging between 8-12 points per game, which would definitely be a stark change from last season, where Scott took over 31% of the team’s shots while he was on the court.
  3. CBS Sports:  When thinking of elite point guards in the country this year, Jeff Goodman does not want you to forget about NC State’s Lorenzo Brown. Goodman believes that Brown is in a class with and even possibly above Missouri’s Phil Pressey, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, and Michigan’s Trey Burke. Like a lot of the love for NC State as a team, it is largely based on his Sweet Sixteen run last season where Brown really excelled. If Brown is as good as Goodman thinks, then NC State should have a great chance to win its first ACC Championship since 1987 and possibly its first national title since the miracle win over Houston in 1983.
  4. CBS Sports:  Going along with the M5 entry from yesterday, highly touted forward Andrew Wiggins has officially reclassified back into the class of 2013. His father, Mitchell, a former Florida State player, confirmed the news. Wiggins, who will likely be the top-rated recruit even despite his reclassification, is strongly linked to either Kentucky or Florida State. While it would be difficult to bet against John Calipari at this point, Florida State is definitely still a strong contender for Wiggins’ services. If the precocious player wants to be the undisputed star on his team (which he might not, owing to his humble nature), Florida State would provide him that chance. Of course, Kentucky would provide the brightest lights in college basketball, and he would join at least three of the top 10 recruits in the class of 2013 if he commits there.
  5. Keeping it Heel:  North Carolina’s starting lineup appears to have three certainties going into its first exhibition game against Shaw this weekend:  freshman point guard Marcus Paige, sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, and junior guard Reggie Bullock. The rest of the lineup and rotation are definitely question marks at this point, a large change from last year’s team when the starting five was extremely constant (notwithstanding injuries). It is likely (at least according to Matt Hamm), that Roy Williams will tinker with his roster a lot this season, which means that there should be considerably more different lineup combinations that we are used to seeing from the Tar Heels.
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ACC M5: 10.23.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 23rd, 2012

  1.  N.C. State has drawn a lot of attention due to its preseason top 10 ranking and position as a strong conference favorite. Jeff Goodman took in a Wolfpack practice on Saturday and is very high on Mark Gottfried’s squad. A few quick takeaways from Goodman’s 10 points from Raleigh: Lorenzo Brown is N.C. State’s best player… Goodman thinks he is by far the best point guard in the ACC and possibly the best in the country (and that N.C. State ultimately benefited from Ryan Harrow’s transfer to Kentucky), Rodney Purvis is much further along than should be expected considering that he was only recently declared eligible, and this team has more talent than Raleigh has seen in a long time. With the abundance of talent suiting up in Raleigh, the question remains: Can this team shoulder the burden of such lofty expectations?  That may be the only thing that can stop the Wolfpack.
  2. BC Interruption:  Boston College has its first commitment for 2013-14: 6’5” guard Garland Owens, who chose the Eagles over Seton Hall and UTEP. Owens has the potential to be the most athletic player of the Steve Donahue era in Chestnut Hill. Owens selected Boston College in order to improve his shooting skills, calling Donahue “a great shooting teacher” and also citing the similarities of his high school’s offense to BC’s as another reason why he picked the school. Regardless of whether Owens becomes an elite shooter, he will surely provide a different wrinkle for Boston College going forward.
  3. Keeping it Heel: Matt Hamm has an interesting take on two important cogs in the North Carolina lineup this year, Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland, who both missed considerable time last season with torn ACLs (McDonald the whole season, while Strickland only appeared in 16 games). With freshman Marcus Paige seemingly given the reins at point guard to start the season, both players will likely be competing for minutes (Strickland more so at PG and McDonald more so at SG) and potentially, in McDonald’s case, a starting spot. More importantly, it is unlikely that either player will be at 100% until at least a month into the season. With so many unknown variables, whether these two players can return to the levels they showed before their injuries will play a huge role in how far the Tar Heels can go this season.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has only determined one of his starters for this season: Ukrainian center Alex Len.  The 7’1” center and Xavier transfer Dez Wells have been by far the most impressive players in Maryland’s opening practices and scrimmages. Wells’ eligibility for the season is still up in the air, as he has requested a waiver that would allow him to play; the outcome of this request should be determined in the next couple of weeks. The fact that Len has been guaranteed a starting spot must mean that the sophomore, who was ineligible until midway through last season, has improved greatly during the offseason. Len is reportedly showing off an improved mid-range jumper and may even attempt some three-pointers this season. While Maryland does have many question marks heading into Turgeon’s second season, at least one piece of the puzzle appears to have been solved.
  5. Duke Basketball Report: Al Featherston touches on many different topics in this piece, which primarily deals with a potential resurgence of the ACC and analyzes the preseason polls. One interesting finding in this article: Florida State and Boston College have been the teams must underrated by the ACC writers in the preseason polls in the past five years, whereas Georgia Tech and North Carolina have been the most overrated during this same span, with Florida State unsurprisingly following this trend and getting more respect this preseason from the national pundits rather than the ACC media. Featherston also delineates a top five and bottom seven of the ACC with the Triangle schools, Florida State, and Miami make up the top five.
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ACC Weekly Five: 08.14.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on August 14th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State finished up its preseason trip to Spain with a 15-point win over CB Gran Canaria. The win means the Wolfpack head home undefeated. While Rodney Purvis couldn’t play as the NCAA reviews his eligibility, Lorenzo Brown was back from knee surgery sooner than expected and in time for all four games. CJ Leslie led all scorers with 19 in the final game and incoming freshman point guard Tyler Lewis finished with 14 points and eight assists. Probably more in response to the high expectations for this team, Mark Gottfried noted: “There were positive things even though we know we have a long way to go.”
  2. Speaking of preseason trips to Europe, Tony Bennett‘s squad is getting a head start too. The Cavaliers lost a heartbreaker with controversy to boot. Apparently, the scorekeeper gave AMW Team France an extra basket in the middle of a run that would eventually tie the game. To put things politely, Bennett wasn’t amused by the gaffe:

    “I understand when you come here, you’re going to get some questionable officiating — I can handle that — but what I don’t appreciate is when they take two points away from us. Two points in a game like that, that changes the whole game, and that’s frustrating, because we were there for the win, and that’s just not the way you do it. I don’t care if you’re international or in the States, you gotta keep the right score. But it’s a mistake, it was done, and I just want our guys to understand what the blueprint is for us to play competitive basketball.”

    Virginia went on to lose by four after a late run by AMW Team France.

  3. Associated Press: Important news out of Clemson this week. Tigers athletic director Terry Don Phillips announced he plans to retire next summer to enjoy more time with his wife. Phillips played an integral role in upgrading Clemson’s facilities and spearheaded the hiring of Brad Brownell (along with football coach Dabo Swinney). Keep an eye on names that pop up during the search process, as athletic directors are more important than most give them credit for — especially when it comes to rebuilding (or building in this case) programs like Brownell is trying to do.
  4. CBSSports.comCBS Sports drew some heat (along with plenty of page views) for its recent series “Critical Coaches” where they polled nearly 100 coaches on topics  like “Who is the most overrated coach in the country?” The answer? Roy Williams. Yep, the guy with two national titles in the last decade, to go with more conference championships than you can count with two hands between his time at Kansas and North Carolina. Jim Young of ACC Sports Journal has a thoughtful interpretation of the argument.
  5. Surprising no one, Coach K added another gold medal to his resume as Team USA took down Spain and the Gasol brothers in the Olympics last week. Krzyzewski announced this would be his final Olympics, leaving his Team USA record an astounding 62-1. Unfortunately his dry humor didn’t translate as well to the international game as his coaching abilities, as a media member apparently thought Krzyzewski was serious when he stays out till 6 AM, “drunk as a skunk” because Team USA doesn’t really need much coaching.

EXTRA: In weirder news, North Carolina forgot to scrub former two-sport star Julius Peppers’ transcript and made it visible to the public. Needless to say NC State fans on found the transcript and went to work researching to confirm it was a real transcript. It’s hard to tell exactly what the repercussions of this will be, but suffice to say North Carolina’s academic issues may go back much further than previously thought.

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ACC Summer Recess: NC State Wolfpack

Posted by mpatton on August 7th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: NC State.

Where They Stand Now

Mark Gottfried and Lorenzo Brown Have Big Expectations (AP Photo/E. Hyman)

The Wolfpack are still riding a wave of momentum from a Sweet Sixteen performance in Mark Gottfried‘s inaugural year. After perennially underperforming with alumnus Sidney Lowe at the helm and hearing the media blast the school for running off Herb Sendek, NC State’s administration made the switch to the former Alabama coach who matched Sendek’s best postseason performance in his first season on the job. Gottfried added structure, and his talented roster improved throughout the year showing flashes of true greatness thanks in large part to the maturation of CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown. But 2012’s postseason success makes the bar much higher in Raleigh — Jay Bilas even put the Wolfpack on top of his preseason ACC power rankings. The questions now are: How will the new pieces fit with the current roster, and can Brown and Leslie make the leap to consistently dominant players?

Who’s Leaving

Guards Alex Johnson and CJ Williams both graduated. Johnson played the role of sparkplug: He was good for at least one heat check three and a lot of hustle. He also appeared to be a vocal leader on the team, both from the court and the bench. Williams was a more significant offensive contributor, averaging 10.6 points per game on 50 percent shooting. His versatility on the wing will definitely be missed on the defensive end of the floor.

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Morning Five: 07.25.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 25th, 2012

  1. Louisville has made headlines recently with their abundance of scholarship players and the need to cut down and they managed to do so yesterday for one player as incoming freshman Terry Rozier will be spending next season in prep school at Hargrave Military Academy with the apparent reason being to straighten out his academic standing. Rozier will also get to know Anton Gill, another Louisville commit, who will be spending next season at the same prep school. While this may seem like bad news for Louisville fans it is good news for the rest of us in that Peyton Siva’s backup at point guard will be Russ Smith and we all could use a little more Russ Smith in our lives.
  2. North Carolina State fans who have been waiting to see what has been expected to be a loaded Wolfpack team may have to wait until after the team’s summer trip to Europe to see their full arsenal as Mark Gottfried has indicated that injured point guard Lorenzo Brown may not play during the team’s trip to Spain as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. The decision is not surprising as Gottfried says Brown is still only “between 75 and 80 percent healthy”. Given the goals of this Wolfpack team, which is a legitimate Final Four threat, this seems entirely reasonable although we are sure that Brown would love to take the court with his new teammates.
  3. A little over a month ago we mentioned the attempt by Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis to get Mississippi State and Loyola (IL) to play a rematch of their 1963 Regional semifinals in Jenison Field House to commemorate the game, which the Bulldogs played despite a court order forbidding them from playing a team containing African-Americans. Unfortunately for Hollis, the schools were unwilling to commit to playing at an off-campus site, but they were willing to schedule a home-and-home series with the first match-up occurring on December 13 in Chicago. While the games probably won’t mean much in the context of the two seasons they could serve as an important way to educate many people about a significant event and highlight the ability of sports to stand for something more than just the outcome of a game.
  4. The first game will be without the services of Mississippi State freshman Jacoby Davis, a 6’1″, 185-lb point guard who was new head coach Rick Ray’s first signee. Davis tore his ACL on Monday during individual workouts and will most likely miss the entire 2012-13 season. Ray was already facing a precarious backcourt situation with only Davis and juco transfer Divonte Bloodman projected as point guards next season — now with Davis out of the lineup, the Bulldogs will have to depend on Bloodman and hope for the best unless Ray can find another point guard in the bushes somewhere. Mississippi State was for a while one of the most reliable SEC programs under Rick Stansbury, but it appears like it’s going to be some time before the Bulldogs get back to that level of success.
  5. SEC basketball coaches often feel like they’re the stepchildren of the conference in a region and among local cultures that value college football exponentially more than their sport on the hardwood. So imagine how they felt this week when they received an email from the league offices telling them that their conference schedules — the ones that they had all agreed to in June — were changed. According to this report from Gary Parrish, the conference’s 14 coaches weren’t even informed that changes were afoot — their first notification on the matter came in the email. So what does it mean? Last month the coaches agreed to an 18-game schedule where each school would play a permanent rival twice, four other schools in home-and-homes, and the other eight teams once. This report says that the home-and-homes have changed, meaning that some schools’ schedules have gotten considerably harder (oh, we play Kentucky twice now?), while others have gotten easier. For a league that likes to tell anyone who will listen that they have the most money, the most success, the most everything… it sounds like Mike Slive’s group might want to invest in a communications liaison. Folks aren’t happy.
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ACC Weekly Five: 07.02.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on July 2nd, 2012

  1. ESPN: Rodney Hood, the impressive freshman guard from Mississippi State, has made his decision. Hood is going to be a Blue Devil, helping to ensure that the reliably-loaded Duke backcourt remains one of the conference’s best for years to come. As a transfer, Hood will sit out the coming year, but he will have three years of eligibility after that. It’s a great pick up and the latest salvo that shows that Duke will continue to be a potential destination for discontented guards across the country (cf. Seth Curry).
  2. News & Observer: North Carolina State has named its first Hall of Fame class. While the  Hall is designed to honor collegiate athletes and coaches from many different programs at NC State, basketball is certainly given its due in this inaugural class. Legendary coaches Everett Case and Jim Valvano are to be honored along with the greatest ACC basketball player of all time, David Thompson. NC State’s women’s basketball program will also have two inductees, longtime coach Kay Yow and the program’s all-time leader in points and rebounds, Genia Beasley. It’s a good start to enshrining the traditions of one of the most storied basketball programs in college basketball.
  3. CBS Sports: The Virginia Cavaliers struck decisively to win a recruiting battle early. Devon Hall, a four-star point guard in the 2014 high school class, has not only committed to Virginia but he has also reclassified to the class of 2013. The Cavaliers could certainly use some help at this position and Hall looks like the kind of player who could potentially contribute as soon as he sets foot on campus.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Former ACC players did well in the NBA draft last Thursday, with eight players selected across the two rounds. North Carolina had four first round picks led by Harrison Barnes, while Duke’s Austin Rivers and Miles Plumlee were also selected in the first round. One of the finest moments in the draft came with the rousing applause and standing ovation when Florida State’s Bernard James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers (though a trade with Dallas actually will see James with the Mavericks in exchange for Tyler Zeller going to Cleveland). Meanwhile, Mike Scott’s selection by the Atlanta Hawks may go down as one of the savviest value picks of the draft. Of the notable ACC players who went undrafted, the conference’s leading scorer, Terrell Stoglin from Maryland, didn’t hear his name called on Thursday night. Stoglin had a number of pre-draft workouts with NBA teams and it seems likely he will get invited to one or more training camps, though that likely doesn’t lessen the sting.
  5. News & Observer: Lorenzo Brown‘s knee surgery apparently went well. His medical team repaired a partially torn right meniscus and Brown is only expected to miss between two to four weeks, though head coach Mark Gottfried stressed that they are in no hurry to get Brown back on the court before he has had a chance to fully heal. Considering how scary the phrase “knee surgery” can be in college basketball, this is nothing but good news for Brown and North Carolina State.
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ACC Weekly Five: 06.26.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on June 26th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Lorenzo Brown, arguably one of the top three point guards in the ACC last year, will be undergoing exploratory knee surgery Tuesday. Brown is one of the key cogs of a North Carolina State team that figures to be a major contender for the top spot in the conference next season. While coach Mark Gottfried’s worries are probably somewhat ameliorated by incoming freshman point guard, Tyler Lewis, losing an experienced point guard for even a few games can be fairly tough in the ACC.
  2. Durham Herald Sun: In news that is surprising no one, Mike Krzyzewski confirmed that Duke guardAndre Dawkins will be taking a redshirt in the coming season. Dawkins has been struggling with grief ever since his sister died in a tragic car accident in 2009.  I think that taking some time can only help Dawkins, and basketball can certainly wait.
  3. ZagsBlog: The Blue Devils in coming seasons certainly won’t be hurting for talent. Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood has winnowed his transfer decision to either Duke or Ohio State. Hood has great size at 6’7″ and talent in spades. In his one year as a Bulldog he made the Freshman All-SEC team. His great combination of size and skill would be very valuable to a Duke team that has been small on the wing for the past few seasons.
  4. Tetsudo Times: Listen, Maryland has a really cool flag. There’s no questioning that. It’s stylish, bold, and arresting whereas most state flags are really boring. I also understand that Under Armour wants to have the same relationship with the University of Maryland that Nike has with Oregon. I just don’t know about these uniforms though.
  5. CBS Sports: APR is going to be a hot topic in college basketball as long as postseason bans based on program academic performance are a potential punishment. If a rash of transfers and drop-outs can get a team banned from a shot at the NCAA Tournament in successive years, this odd number is one that’s worth following. The good news is that the ACC, as a conference, does really well in terms of APR.
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