From Punching Bag to Prize Fighter: Mason Plumlee’s Journey to the NBA

Posted by mpatton on April 24th, 2013

When he arrived at Duke, Mason Plumlee – despite his obvious upside — was actually ranked below teammate Ryan Kelly, according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index. Kelly was ranked #14 in the class, while Plumlee was #18. Even more fascinating to look back at are Plumlee’s Draft Express archives. Coming out of his first season at Duke, the scouting service looked for Plumlee to continue to develop as a stretch four! To be fair, he did hit 21 threes in 38 games in his prep senior season (unfortunately his shooting percentage is unavailable), but Plumlee’s transformation from a flat-shooting, athletic, potential-stretch four to one of the premier post players in college basketball is a compelling story.

Miles Plumlee (AP Photo)

Mason Plumlee underwent a compelling transformation at Duke (AP Photo).

During his freshman year Plumlee was buried behind Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas and older brother Miles Plumlee. He still contributed significant minutes to the 2010 national championship team, but he was raw in the purest sense of the word. His sophomore efficiency profile, with two glaring exceptions, actually started looking a lot like the NPOY candidate we saw this year. The two massive improvements Plumlee made since that season were in terms of volume and taking care of the basketball. But obviously, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Mason Plumlee was a very different player as a senior than he was as a sophomore.

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Rushed Reactions: #1 Louisville 85, #2 Duke 63

Posted by WCarey on March 31st, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Elite Eight NCAA Tournament game between #1 Louisville and #2 Duke in Indianapolis.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Louisville’s mental toughness was incalculable. With 6:33 remaining in the first half, Louisville reserve guard Kevin Ware ran out to defend a three-point attempt from Duke guard Tyler Thornton and what seemed like a routine play turned into a very gruesome sight at Lucas Oil Stadium. Ware’s leg snapped as he landed and he suffered a broken leg. Ware’s teammates were deeply affected by the horrible scene on the court, as both guard Russ Smith and forward Chane Behanan were in tears. As Ware was taken off on a stretcher, Smith, Behanan, and forwards Gorgui Dieng and Montrezl Harrell were locked in an embrace near midcourt. The Cardinals led 21-20 when Ware went down and it would have been completely understandable if they had been unable to overcome the emotions that came with the injury. However, the Cardinals recovered in very impressive fashion – finishing the first half with a 35-32 lead and then exploding in the second half to outscore the Blue Devils 50-31 during the second 20 minutes of the game. Louisville coach Rick Pitino, his coaching staff, and senior point guard Peyton Siva deserve a great deal of credit for guiding the team through what was undoubtedly a very tough time.
  2. The Cardinals flat out owned the second half. At the second half’s under-16 media timeout, the game was tied at 42, but from that point forward the game was completely dominated by the Cardinals. After the 42-42 tie, Louisville outscored Duke 43-21. The Cardinals’ defensive effort in the second half was so suffocating that they held a very good offense to just a 32.1% mark from the field over the final 20 minutes of the game. Duke stars Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, and Mason Plumlee were never really able to make a huge impact and its guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon were held to a combined 4-of-21 performance from the field. Siva and Smith took over for Louisville on the offensive end of the court, seemingly getting into the lane at will. After shooting a respectable 46.4% from the field in the first half, the Cardinals were even better from the field in the second half, making 59.3% of their attempts in the second frame. Louisville completely dominated the second half and when it is able to put forth a performance like that, it is an impossible team to beat.
  3. Louisville is the clear favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta. When the Cardinals became the overall number one-seed on Selection Sunday, they were viewed as a definite favorite to advance to the Final Four in Atlanta. Two weeks later, Louisville has advanced to Atlanta and is the only one-seed still alive in the field. The Cardinals are set to play nine-seed Wichita State on Saturday in a semi-final where they will have a definite talent advantage even though the Shockers were able to pull off upsets of West Region one-seed Gonzaga and two-seed Ohio State. In the other semifinal, four seeds Michigan and Syracuse will meet for a right to advance to the national title game. While there will be a lot of talent on display next weekend, no team has as much talent and experience as Louisville and this is why it should definitely be viewed as the clear favorite to cut down the nets when all is said and done.

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Rushed Reactions: #2 Duke 71, #3 Michigan State 61

Posted by WCarey on March 30th, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament game between #2 Duke and #3 Michigan State in Indianapolis.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Seth Curry caught fire. The senior sharpshooter had a game to remember Friday night. He erupted for 29 points while shooting 6-of-9 from the three-point line. He had many open looks on the night, as Duke’s offense did an admirable job of getting him open. Curry has been an offensive dynamo throughout his collegiate career, but he took it to another level tonight. When you score 23 of your team’s first 41 points, you are making a huge impact on the game and that is what Curry did against Michigan State. Curry’s hot hand was never more evident than when he drained three from deep between the 19:18 and 17:12 marks of the second half. While the Duke lead was just three after that barrage from deep, it really forced the Spartans to put more pressure on Curry, which resulted in the rest of the Duke offense opening up.
  2. Duke’s defense was very impressive. Between the 12:05 and 3:32 mark of the second half, Michigan State did not make a shot from the field. Duke’s defense – anchored in the post by forwards Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly –  did an outstanding job on three of Michigan State’s top four offensive weapons. Forward Adreian Payne was limited to just a 3-of-10 performance from the field. Big man Derrick Nix matched Payne’s 3-of-10 performance. Standout freshman guard Gary Harris had a very frustrating evening, as he only managed six points on a 2-of-11 mark from the field. The Blue Devils have now played excellent defense in two straight games – they held Creighton to just 30.2% shooting in their Round of 32 victory – and if they are able to keep that going against Louisville in Sunday’s regional final, there is a strong possibility that they will be playing in Atlanta next weekend.
  3. Louisville/Duke on Sunday for the Midwest Regional title has the potential to be a classic. Louisville and Duke have already met once this season. The Blue Devils topped the Cardinals, 76-71 in the championship game of the Battle for Atlantis on November 24. The major difference between that game and Sunday’s match-up is that Louisville will have the services of forward Gorgui Dieng, who missed the first contest with a wrist injury. Louisville enters Sunday’s regional final as winners of 13 consecutive games and it has arguably played the best basketball in the country over that period. The Cardinals have a dynamic lineup that is very strong in the backcourt and the frontcourt. It has been evident that Louisville has been much more talented than its first three NCAA Tournament opponents – North Carolina A&T, Colorado State, and Oregon – but the Cardinals will be tested by a similarly talented Duke squad when the two meet for a trip to the Final Four. Considering the plethora of talent on both sides, it is very difficult to make a prediction on what may happen on Sunday afternoon, but it is fair to say that it has all the makings of a classic basketball game.

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NCAA Regional Reset: Midwest Region

Posted by BHayes on March 25th, 2013

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Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler) is the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Region correspondent.

The Midwest Regional begins Friday night in Indianapolis with Louisville vs. Oregon followed by Duke vs. Michigan State. The East Region Reset and West Region Reset published earlier today, and be sure to look out for the South Region Reset later this afternoon. Also make sure to follow RTCMWRegion for news and analysis from Indy throughout the week.

New Favorite: #1 Louisville. When you are the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, win your first two games by a total of 57 points, and now have to travel just 115 miles to the regional site, you aren’t going to lose your pole position. The Cardinals are still the team to beat in Indianapolis.

Lucas Oil Stadium Is Where The Midwest Will Be Won

Lucas Oil Stadium Is Where The Midwest Will Be Won

Horse of Darkness: #12 Oregon. It’d be hard enough to make a case for a #1, #2, or #3 seed as a dark horse, and harder yet when the programs occupying those seed-lines are Louisville, Duke, and Michigan State. So while Oregon certainly fits the bill here, they also are winners by default. We knew the Ducks were underseeded and dangerous on that #12 line, and they went out and played like it last week. At this point, nobody would blink an eye if the seed next to the Ducks’ name was a #4 instead.  Louisville would be advised to view Dana Altman’s team through that lens, because Oregon is talented enough to knock off the Cardinals, even in their own backyard.

Biggest Surprise (1st Weekend): #4 Saint Louis. Clearly, this wasn’t the good kind of surprise. Saint Louis entered this NCAA Tournament as a legitimate Final Four sleeper. They played along with the hype in the Second Round, where they clinically dispatched New Mexico State in winning by 20. At that point, a deep run still felt very possible and at least one more win a near-certainty, which made the resounding defeat they suffered at the hands of Oregon a bit of a shock. Let’s keep in mind that this was a Saint Louis team that had lost just once in regulation since November, and the 17-point margin of defeat to the Ducks was the Billikens’ largest of the season. 2012-13 was a proud, inspiring season for SLU, but few could have predicted the abruptness with which it would end.

Completely Expected (1st Weekend): #3 Michigan State. Chalk prevailed almost across the board in this region (thank god for Oregon!), so take your pick here, but I’ll go with the Spartans. Armed with a virtual home court advantage in Auburn Hills, Tom Izzo’s crew made quick work of Valparaiso before dismantling Memphis in the Third Round. These wins were completely expected not only because it’s Sparty playing March basketball in its home state, but also because both their opponents loomed as favorable match-ups for this Michigan State team. As expected, Valpo was outmanned and Memphis not tough enough. The result, equally anticipated, is another Spartans visit to the Sweet Sixteen.

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March Madness Serves as an NBA Showcase for Big East Stars

Posted by mlemaire on March 20th, 2013

It’s hard not to feel like performances in the NCAA Tournament tend to artificially inflate players’ draft stock. It’s true that the increased weight of the games and pressure on players can help bring out the best in some prospects, but sometimes it seems like scribes and scouts tend to erroneously overdo it and conflate NCAA Tournament success with NBA success. That said, there will be plenty of NBA eyeballs on the NCAA Tournament this year, and there are a number of Big East prospects with NBA potential hoping to use the Big Dance to boost their stocks. Picking guys like Otto Porter and Michael Carter-Williams is too easy, as they have relatively assured NBA futures. We are more concerned here with the Big East players who truly have something to gain from their performances this March.

A big NCAA Tournament could have Gorgui Dieng shooting up NBA Draft boards.

A big NCAA Tournament could have Gorgui Dieng shooting up NBA Draft boards.

Gorgui Dieng (Louisville): Dieng is already a surefire pro prospect thanks to his NBA-ready defensive abilities, but those who think the junior is a defense-only big man haven’t been watching the Senegal native play this season. Dieng’s progression on offense was slowed somewhat this season by a hand injury, but he is an improved passer, a reasonable free throw shooter, and shows impressive touch from inside 15 feet. Dieng will potentially get an early chance to prove his ability against an old foe if the Cardinals advance to play Missouri and Alex Oriakhi, and there are potential match-ups looming with Mason Plumlee or Adreian Payne down the road. If Dieng helps lead Louisville to the Final Four and plays well in those marquee games, he could slip into the back end of the lottery.

Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati): Kilpatrick is another player who could leave early for the NBA Draft if he thinks he has nothing left to accomplish with the Bearcats, but he may be on the outside looking in as the NCAA Tournament gets under way. There is no doubting his scoring and shooting ability, but his size and length give scouts pause so he will need to work on his ball-handling if he wants to make it at the next level. Kilpatrick has the type of gutsy attitude and moxie that are perfect for the NCAA Tournament, and he has a chance to go toe-to-toe with another NBA prospect in the first round when the Bearcats play Creighton and Doug McDermott. If Kilpatrick can lead the Bearcats past the Bluejays and then play well when matched against another NBA hopeful guard in Duke’s Seth Curry, he may impress enough scouts to earn some looks in the second round for his scoring ability and mature game. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bracket Prep: Midwest Region Analysis

Posted by BHayes on March 18th, 2013

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Throughout Monday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (9 AM), Midwest (11 AM), South (1 PM), West (3 PM). Here, Bennet Hayes (@HoopsTraveler) breaks down the Midwest Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC Midwest Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCmidwestregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Bennet breaking down the Midwest Region, which will drop both on the site and on iTunes Tuesday.

Midwest Region

Favorite: #1 Louisville (29-5, 17-4 Big East). It stands to reason that the top overall seed in the field is also the favorite to emerge from the Midwest Region. No team enters the NCAA Tournament hotter than Louisville, winners of 10 straight games and 13 of 14. Consider the Cards’ dominant second half of the Big East Tournament championship game a final warning for this field of 68 – there is no scarier team in this tournament.

"No Sleep Until Atlanta" For Siva, Pitino And The Rest Of The Louisville Cardinals, Your #1 Overall Seed

No Sleep Until Atlanta For Siva, Pitino And The Rest Of The Louisville Cardinals, Your #1 Overall Seed

Should They Falter: #2 Duke (27-5, 14-5 ACC). It’s been a quiet few days for the Blue Devils, as the weekend’s ACC discussion largely revolved around Miami. But there they lurk at the bottom of the Midwest Region, poised as ever for a March sprint. Let’s not forget that the Devils’ ACC Tournament loss to Maryland was the first time Duke had lost with a healthy Ryan Kelly, and the senior’s clean bill of health is a far greater blessing for the Blue Devils than a #1 seed ever could have been. Duke also owns a victory over Louisville from back in November, albeit one with an asterisk attached – Cardinal big man Gorgui Dieng missed the Battle 4 Atlantis title game. For now though, Coach K and company are happy to let Louisville absorb all the buzz as the region’s favorite, while the dangerous Blue Devils attempt to navigate a manageable road to Indianapolis.

Grossly Overseeded: #6 Memphis (30-4, 19-0 Conference USA). Bracket projections had the Tigers anywhere between a #6 and a #9 seed. Josh Pastner’s team maxed out its seed line by receiving the #6, but now comes the hard part – beating an NCAA Tournament team. Memphis did that just once in the regular season (a win over #14 seed Harvard), a rare gap in the resume for any team in the field, much less a team so highly seeded. Let’s put it this way — Middle Tennessee, the most controversial at-large selection in this field and a potential Third Round opponent of the Tigers, had two more victories over NCAA teams, and just one more loss than Memphis. That’s not to say that the Blue Raiders are a better team than Memphis (although perhaps we will get to find that out), but you get the point.   

Grossly Underseeded: #12 Oregon (26-8, 15-6 Pac-12). Likely the most underseeded team in the entire field. Sure, the Ducks slogged their way to the finish line of the regular season, but the return of Dominic Artis and an impressive three-game run to win the Pac-12 Tournament had most bracketologists predicting a spot in an #8/#9 game for Oregon. Committee chair Mike Bobinski admitted that the Ducks were actually on the #11 seed line and had to be moved down as a result of logistical issues elsewhere in the bracket, but either way, this team is better than their double-digit seed would indicate.

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ACC Tournament: Previewing the Quarterfinals

Posted by KCarpenter on March 15th, 2013

If you love everything going totally to plan, then you loved the first day of the ACC Tournament. Will chalk continue to reign as the conference’s top teams join the fray? Well, it’s at least possible. Let’s go over the match-ups:

Miami vs. Boston College at 12:00 PM

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

What Does Hanlan Have in Store For Today? (Photo via Boston Globe)

Remember that time that an early season Miami team came within one point to losing to Boston College? I’m sure the Hurricanes have tried to forget it too, but it did happen. When the Eagles went to Coral Gables, Miami totally destroyed its overmatched foe, dominating nearly every aspect of the game. That’s what happened to nearly everyone who went down to Coral Gables this season, though. Yet, Boston College comes into this game hotter than a two-dollar pistol, having swept its last three regular season games (including a win over Virginia) and then dominating Georgia Tech in the first round on the wings of a  legendary and record-setting 41-point performance by Freshmen of the Year, Olivier Hanlan. This game may very well come down to the match-up at shooting guard with scoring sensation Hanlan trying to best the savvy veteran and newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year, Durand Scott.

Virgina vs. North Carolina State at 2:00 PM

In their first game of the tournament, North Carolina State showed something new — an ability to shut down a big time scorer. Though the Wolfpack has struggled on defense all year, the team held Virginia Tech’s Erick Green to 15 points on 19 shots and also forced him into four turnovers. NC State will need to maintain that concentration if this team is going to have any chance at stopping the equally deadly Joe Harris. The Wolfpack has the right personnel to stop the Cavaliers on the defensive end, but it will take some serious focus. Virginia won the team’s only match-up in Charlottesville by a mere 3 points, but in Greensboro, NC State will effectively hold the home court advantage. This figures to be the closest game of the day, but even so, counting on the Wolfpack to give consistent effort on the defensive end is an easy way to be disappointed.

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Award Tour: The Ballot Is In and the Best Player, Freshman and Coach are…

Posted by DCassilo on March 12th, 2013

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David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Believe it or not, when this all started guys like Mike Moser, Jamaal Franklin and Isaiah Canaan were in the top 10. But soon the top players in the country started to come into focus. Only four players (Trey Burke, Cody Zeller, Doug McDermott and Deshaun Thomas) stayed in the rankings all season, while only one freshman (Marcus Smart) could say the same. And finally, below, we have those few players that separated themselves from the pack. The best part of it all is that as fun as this regular season was, it will likely only provide a small percentage of what we remember about college basketball this year. But before we get to the best part, here’s who is taking home the hardware.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown
Regular season stats: 16.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 SPG

Otto Porter Led the Hoyas to a Special Win (TheDaily.com)

Otto Porter Jr. has a lot to be excited about. (TheDaily.com)

In times of adversity, greatness rises, and that’s the primary reason Porter is the choice for the top spot. On January 8, the Hoyas’ second leading scorer, Greg Whittington, played his final game. It was a crossroads for Georgetown, who looked like they might be headed down the Big East standings very quickly. Instead, though, the team went 14-2 and grabbed the Big East title. Over those 16 games, Porter was unstoppable. He averaged 19.9 PPG and 7.7 RPG, while shooting at least 50 percent from the field in 10 of 16 games despite facing plenty of double-teams. And the Hoyas got the most out of their best player too. He played at least 39 minutes in each of his last five games.

What Porter was able to accomplish with such a thin supporting cast was remarkable. There was no Cody Zeller down low like there was for Victor Oladipo, and the Hoyas finished first in the Big East, not fifth like Trey Burke did in the Big Ten. He was the best player on Georgetown, and everybody knew it, yet they couldn’t stop him. Now he’s the best player in the country.

First Team All-Americans

  • Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown
  • Trey Burke – Michigan
  • Victor Oladipo – Indiana
  • Mason Plumlee – Duke
  • Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga

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All-ACC Microsite Teams and Postseason Awards

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 12th, 2013

Another great season in the ACC is in the books and it’s time to recognize those who had outstanding seasons with our postseason awards. We here at Rush the Court’s ACC Microsite have decided to hand out our own awards based on what we believe is a unique set of criteria and, while it may not differ wildly from what the actual outcome of the award races is, just know we all voted prior to their release. Here are this year’s All-ACC Microsite Teams and ACC Postseason Awards.

Note: Jimmy Kelley, Ethan Mann, Kellen Carpenter and Matt Patton all voted for first-, second-, and third-teams as well as their top three for each of the individual awards. A first place/team vote was worth three points, second worth two and a third place/team vote was worth one. In the event of a tie, the tiebreaker was high-quality votes (i.e., more second-team votes).

ACC Microsite Player of the Year

Erick Green, Virginia Tech: Green nearly swept the voting, grabbing three of four first-place votes. The nation’s leading scorer, Green was the lone highlight for a Virginia Tech team that went 4-14 in ACC play, finishing dead last. Mason Plumlee and Shane Larkin garnered a co-Player of the Year vote on the other ballot.

Erick Green, Virginia Tech

Erick Green of Virginia Tech garnered the ACC Microsite’s highest honor.

 

All-ACC Microsite First Team

  • Mason Plumlee, Duke
  • Erick Green, Virginia Tech
  • Joe Harris, Virginia
  • Richard Howell, NC State
  • Shane Larkin, Miami

Notes: Plumlee, Green and Harris were unanimous selections for the first team. Howell and Larkin received one second-team vote apiece.

Second Team

  • Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
  • Seth Curry, Duke
  • Michael Snaer, Florida State
  • Kenny Kadji, Miami
  • Ryan Anderson, Boston College

Notes: Bullock and Curry each received a first-team vote. Anderson holds on to final spot due to having more second-team votes than Alex Len.

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ACC M5: 03.12.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 12th, 2013

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  1. ACC: The official first teams were released yesterday. As the blogosphere has become more involved in the voting, I’m starting to think we’ve seen the last of unanimous all-conference voting. This year, Mason Plumlee came the closest, finishing on the first team on 73 of the 77 ballots. The only really egregious misplacement — apart from the media leaving Michael Snaer off the all-defensive team — was filled by James Michael McAdoo on the second team. McAdoo is a very good player, but he often hurts North Carolina as much as he helps with his poor shooting and turnover-prone nature. On the other side of the coin, Devin Booker is criminally underrated and Reggie Bullock is a few spots too low.
  2. The Business Journal: They had to log some overtime, but the first phase of renovations to the Greensboro Coliseum are on schedule for the ACC Tournament. The main upgrades (so far) are in seating, which should be significantly more comfortable (both because the seats are wider and have cushions) along with some higher-end meal options. The renovations should help Greensboro in its quest to compete with future sites (Madison Square Garden), but its ACC heyday is done.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs hints at what stat guru Ken Pomeroy alluded to last month. A conference’s strength on the road versus home has very little to do with how good the conference is. The same can be said for teams, though road wins do say something about a team’s poise. A good example of this is Duke last year compared with Duke this year. Last year the Blue Devils were perfect away from home in conference play, but they clearly weren’t as good as this year’s group, which has struggled away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  4. Sports Illustrated: The big news Monday was that Notre Dame will join the ACC next year for basketball. The Fighting Irish also managed to avoid paying an exit fee by virtue of the “Mutual Commitment Agreement” that is also getting the Catholic Seven schools out free. This either means that Notre Dame joined forces with the basketball schools or was allowed its own agreement based on its independent status in football. Regardless, the Irish are coming our way very soon.
  5. New York Times: Connecticut is one of the only Big East members left without a home. Truthfully, despite its recent success, the school may want to consider dropping football (or playing football in a different league) in order to join the Catholic Seven. Barring more conference realignment, the Huskies are probably out of the ACC. That’s thanks in large part to Boston College, who reportedly doesn’t want another school encroaching on its New England market and doesn’t want the ACC any closer to requiring its members to join the ACC for hockey (which would mean the Eagles lose their direct connection with the prestigious Hockey East).
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ACC M5: 03.11.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 11th, 2013

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  1. ACC: The ACC Tournament (#ACCTourney) bracket is set.
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    The official 2013 ACC Tournament bracket (credit: The ACC).

    Some juicy match-ups to look forward to: Erick Green’s potential last hurrah against a beatable NC State team, Maryland’s potential rubber match with Duke in the quarterfinals, Miami’s likely game against desperate (but good) bubble teams in the semis. It’s looking like a very interesting tournament from all sides. No less than three teams are desperate for marquee wins, Miami still has a very outside shot at a top seed if it beats Duke in the finals, and Duke can gun for the top overall seed.

  2. Raleigh News & Observer: This may be the most thorough argument for putting Mason Plumlee ahead of  Shane Larkin for ACC Player of the Year. Laura Keeley uses tempo free statistics to justify voting for Plumlee over Larkin, but overemphasizes team performance when brushing off Erick Green. She has a point that Green plays for the worst team in the league, but without context (and probably a lot of game tape), it’s impossible to know if Green’s numbers are from teams daring him to beat them by shutting down his teammates or whether they’re in spite of opponents looking to shut him down. Without definitive evidence for teams shutting down his teammates and letting him go off, Green has to be this year’s ACC Player of the Year. His volume and efficiency numbers bring to mind JJ Redick.
  3. Bear Down Stats: Steven Jung did some interesting research into the last 10 national champions and found some interesting tidbits. Since 2003 no champion has had a defensive efficiency of over 90 points per 100 possessions. More surprisingly, no group has managed to win everything with a tempo below 65.4 possessions a game (slightly below average). On the whole, champions have elite offenses, elite defenses and play with some pace. Only Connecticut in 2011 and Syracuse in 2003 managed to win it all with an efficiency margin of under 30 points per 100 possessions (and both of those teams had elite guys to create shots down the stretch). What does this mean? It means Duke, Indiana and Gonzaga are the only three teams to fit the profile of the last 10 champions (Louisville fits as well if you ignore offense and just look at net efficiency margin).
  4. Duke Basketball Report: Al Featherston makes a good case for the ACC Tournament (which does crown the official ACC Champion) based on lopsided scheduling. If you look at Duke and Miami‘s records against common opponents (they played 12 of their 18 games against the same teams on the same floors), Duke actually holds an 11-1 record compared to Miami’s 10-2 mark. The difference between the schools was the games that didn’t fall against the same opponents: Duke lost both its road games (at Maryland and at Virginia, who went undefeated in conference home games), while Miami won both of its road games (at Clemson and at Georgia Tech). All this does is illustrate the problem with comparing small samples of records with unbalanced schedules.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: ACC historian Samuel Walker wrote a gloom-and-doom piece for the News & Observer Friday with some interesting historical nuggets that show the esteem for academics within the ACC. The ACC led the way with minimum academic standards, which actually kept Joe Namath and Pete Maravich from playing at Maryland and NC State, respectively. At the end of the day, Walker’s bone to pick is with conference realignment. He has a very good point that the long term financial gains are still an unknown.
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Duke Reminds Everybody That It Might Be The Favorite In March

Posted by KCarpenter on March 10th, 2013

It was over at the half. Coaches sometimes hate when others say that, but in Duke’s 69-53 victory over North Carolina, both Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski largely agreed–it was over at the half. Seth Curry was unstoppable, going 8-for-10 in the first stanza. He was closely guarded by Reggie Bullock and others, but in the end, nothing seemed to matter. “He toyed with us,” said Williams, and he wasn’t wrong. Curry led the Blue Devils to a 42 point first half (on 69.2% shooting) while a miserable looking North Carolina offense only managed 24 points (on 27.3% shooting).

Coach K Is Working His Magic Again

Duke scored at will, jumping out to a 14-0 run to start the game and one that ultimately decided it. North Carolina had nice spurts as the game went on, and the margin fluctuated, but ultimately the 14 points held up all the way to the final buzzer. Curry cooled off in the second half, and North Carolina did a better job getting close shots at the basket, but ultimately, a strong game plan and Mason Plumlee did wonders for keeping the Tar Heels at a distance. Plumlee looked more comfortable than he has in a long time, racking up 23 points on 15 shots as well as 13 rebounds. Mason’s board work can stand on its own, but it was all the more impressive for the number it did against James Michael McAdoo. While McAdoo had occasional success scoring on Plumlee, he was simply dominated on the boards. Usually playing as Carolina’s only big, McAdoo managed only 3 rebounds in 34 minutes. For reference, Plumlee had three times as many boards on the offensive end as McAdoo had on the defensive end. The Duke big man’s dominance on the boards kept Carolina at bay throughout the second half.

The Tar Heels did make a second half run, technically slightly winning the half 29-27 while shooting 41.4% to the Blue Devils’ 39.1%. Still, after spotting Duke 14 points to start the game and with Plumlee controlling the boards, the greatly improved play in the second half simply didn’t matter. Krzyzewski put it very simply in his post-game comments: “Obviously, we played really well tonight.” With Miami’s recent stumbles, Duke looks like the hottest and most talented team in the conference.

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