ACC Morning Five: 03.06.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 6th, 2012

  1. You probably already knew this, but the ACC released its All-ACC teams yesterday headlined by Tyler Zeller (unanimous) and Mike Scott (nearly unanimous). Tomorrow the league will announce its individual awards and we’ll release our own conference awards. The biggest snubs were Kendall Marshall (Harrison Barnes edged him out by two points to make the first team) and Bernard James (who somehow lost to Mason Plumlee).
  2. Streaking the Lawn: Well, he wasn’t snubbed but Mike Scott definitely wasn’t given his due by one or two voters. He finished two points (probably two second-team selections) from being a unanimous first-team selection. Props to Tim Mulholland for taking the only known offender, Caulton Tudor, to task for the omission. You’re welcome to choose Tyler Zeller as your Player of the Year. I waffled between him and Scott more times than I can count. But you can’t leave Scott off the first team. That’s just ridiculous. It’s almost as ridiculous as this headline: “Great Scott Sinks Terps in OT.”
  3. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Tim Tucker sat down with John Swofford for a pretty interesting interview. For those keeping score at home, Swofford called college athletics a “business” twice during the conversation. He also reaffirmed his support for a four-team football playoff and keeping the NCAA tournament at 68 teams amidst discussion of the ACC’s new TV contract renegotiation and the recent NCAA violation issues. All in all, the interview gave a favorable impression of Swofford.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Luke DeCock looks at coaches’ “motivating moments.” Every coach has his own style: Mike Krzyzewski berates his team with a fire (and tongue) you’d never expect from his interview demeanor (or maybe it’s Krzyzewski interviews with a mild manner you’d never expect from his on-court persona); Roy Williams keeps things under control most of the time, but he loses his temper with the best of them. As NC State’s CJ Williams pointed out, “All coaches are pretty much the same […] when it comes to yelling.”
  5. Fayetteville Observer: Harrison Barnes keeps a list. It’s a list of his goals shaped like an inverted pyramid with “National Championship” sitting at the top. This sort of story is the reason I never doubt that Barnes will have a long, successful professional career. I’m still not sure whether he’s a go-to guy or “just” a 10-year starter in the League, but someone who works this hard to reach his goals will reach many of them.

EXTRA: In semi-ACC-related news, Syracuse is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. Charles Robinson and Pat Forde caught wind that the Orange have been playing team members who failed drug tests. There were at least 10 former players involved, and the NCAA is aware of the problem. I’m not sure what exactly could become of this, but certainly, it’s never good to associate your brand with drugs. Still, many of the infractions are beyond the NCAA’s statute of limitations.

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ATB: Wild Weekend Full of Tournament Tickets Punched And Regular Season Finales

Posted by EJacoby on March 5th, 2012

This Weekend’s Lede – What makes the official start of March Madness? Saturday, March 3, which included 105 total games, three conference tournament championships, and 15 ranked teams playing their regular season finales definitely felt like the appropriate start date. Sunday saw eight more ranked teams play and one more conference tournament decided. It was a wonderful start to Championship Week that included both the usual (Murray State won the OVC) and the unexpected (Wichita State, Iona, and Middle Tennessee all lost before the title game) that makes our sport so much fun to watch. All regular season games but one Ivy contest are now completed, so the power leagues start up their own conference tournaments in the next couple of days. Over the course of the next week we will find out 27 more automatic bid winners and the 37 at-large teams to fill out the NCAA Tournament bracket. Let’s start by rehashing what took place over the weekend, and who looks good to go dancing. We start in the Big Ten…

Your Watercooler Moment. Buckeyes Victory Means a Three-Way Tie for Big Ten Supremacy 

Who said that Ohio State blew its chance at a Big Ten title last week with its loss to Wisconsin? Well, we were actually guilty of thinking the same, as Michigan State had built a two-game lead with two games to play in the conference season. But after losing at Indiana, the Spartans needed to defend their home court and defeat Ohio State in Sunday’s regular season finale if they wanted the outright Big Ten championship. The Buckeyes had other ideas, as they came back from down double-digits in the second half to eventually win on a game-winner with one second remaining. William Buford’s jumper not only evened Ohio State with Michigan State at 13-5 in the conference, but it also means that Michigan’s 13-5 record holds up as a third team atop the Big Ten. These three teams all slipped up at home late in the season, but none was more costly than this Michigan State loss with the outright title and a likely NCAA Tournament #1 seed on the line. The Big Ten Tournament will be as great to watch as ever before, with so many teams jockeying for postseason inclusion or seeding position, and three teams all as co-favorites. In the tiebreaker scenarios, Michigan State comes out victorious as the regular-season champion and #1 seed, but all three split their season series and can stake a legitimate claim as league champ.

Top Storyline – North Carolina Exacts Revenge on Duke. If it weren’t for Austin Rivers’ buzzer-beating three on February 8, then North Carolina would currently be on a 13-game winning streak in ACC play with a +13.6 average scoring margin in those games. The Tar Heels got revenge on Duke for that shot and made sure everyone remembers how great this team is as UNC throttled Duke from the outset of Saturday night’s regular season finale. The Tar Heels jumped out to an 18-5 lead in under four minutes, wound it all the way up to a 24-point advantage at halftime, and finished it off with an 88-70 blowout victory going away. Duke has struggled in Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, but nothing like this, in which the road team was superior in every facet of the game. The Tar Heels’ entire starting lineup finished with at least 12 points, Kendall Marshall dished out his usual 10 assists, and John Henson and Tyler Zeller each had 10 rebounds. Carolina is the ACC champion and peaking at the right time of year.

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The Best Scoring Wings in the ACC

Posted by KCarpenter on March 2nd, 2012

When we talk about the All-ACC First Team, conventional wisdom holds that a few things are certain. Tyler Zeller and Mike Scott are iron-clad locks. To a lesser extent, John Henson seems fairly likely to make the team as well. That leaves two guard spots. On some level, it seems insane that Kendall Marshall‘s probable third place finish in the conference books for the single-season assist record, but his lack of dominant scoring, defense, and a general unwillingness to place so many Tar Heels on the first team probably hurts Marshall’s chances. The worst thing about this is that the negatives against Marshall probably hurt most of the other point guards in the league as well. As good as Lorenzo Brown has been, if Marshall isn’t going to make the first team, Brown’s chances aren’t looking so great either. For now, let’s set aside true point guards.

How Many of This UNC Trio Will End up as ACC First Teamers? (News-Record)

So, for better or worse, the two guard spots on this team are probably going to go to a pair of dominant wing scorers. Among the candidates, listed in order by points per game, we have Terrell Stoglin, Harrison Barnes, C.J. Harris, Travis McKie, Erick Green, Austin Rivers, Michael Snaer, and Seth Curry. So how do we pick two? These are individual awards, so I don’t feel particularly obligated to award team success, though I know that typically the voters for these honors use that criterion rather heavily. For now though, let’s pretend that Stoglin, Harris, McKie, and Green all have an equal shot.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.02.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 2nd, 2012

  1. Washington Post: This isn’t related to Mark Gianatto’s article, but last night was not a good night for commonwealth basketball. The Virginia Cavaliers started the evening, opening up a solid lead in the second half over Florida State. A win over the Seminoles behind a man’s man performance out of Mike Scott would have worked wonders for a weak NCAA tournament resume and answer Tyler Zeller’s performance against Maryland in the ACC Player of the Year race. Long story short, Virginia blew the lead by allowing a 16-2 Florida State run to close the game before losing on a three from Ian Miller with 0.8 seconds left. Fast forward to Clemson, where by some anti-miracle neither team managed to score in the last 2:45. Watching their teams lose important games while announcers plugged the Duke – North Carolina game hurts. This screenshot of Seth Greenberg from @DarrylSlater  really sums things up.

    Seth Greenberg's Face Speaks for Virginia and Virginia Tech Fans Alike.

    Moving back to the article, Gianatto looks at the silver lining from Victor Davila’s enigmatic injury: more playing time for Cadarian Raines. Raines spent most of the last couple of years sidelined with foot injuries, but he’s stepped up big for Greenberg in Davila’s absence.

  2. Oxford Public Ledger: In the March Madness spirit, here’s a Selection Sunday-style All-ACC team. Tyler Zeller, Mike Scott and John Henson own the three “automatic bids” thanks to terrific conference play. That leaves Michael Snaer, Austin Rivers and  Kendall Marshall duking it out with CJ Leslie, Terrell Stoglin, Kenny Kadji and Harrison Barnes for the other first team spots (in case you can’t tell, I favor two of the first three). That still leaves five spots on the second and third teams available, which will be earned by “bubble” players like Erick Green, Travis McKie, CJ Harris and Seth Curry to fill out the teams (for the record, I like two of those guys to make the second team).
  3. Durham Herald-Sun: He may not be an All-ACC candidate, but Justin Watts doesn’t have any regrets about his time spent in Chapel Hill. Watts sounds like a laid-back guy who is happy to make his team better without any time under the spotlight. Veteran players like Watts are crucial to a team. Bill Simmons in an article earlier this year called Watts’ role “the chemist: “He’s the last guy every starter greets during the introductions, and he’s the guy who waits at midcourt before the opening tap for one last round of “good luck” hugs and hand slaps.”
  4. If you’ve ever been curious how “Game Sim” works, John Pence wrote a mini-biography of one of the most underrated tools available (especially during the offseason: I can’t count the hours I spent matching up different teams of recent greatness and trying to make sense of the resultant box score). In addition to being a fun time-waster, Game Sim has picked an impressive 80% of ACC games this season; additionally, as more and more data is compiled, it’s getting more and more accurate against the spread. So next time you have a few minutes and want to find out how this year’s Duke team would fare against the Blue Devils’ national championship team from 2010, just hit up Game Sim.
  5. Baltimore Sun: More bad financial news out of College Park. The commission appointed to address Maryland‘s athletic department’s budgetary issues called for the university to cut six more sports (men’s tennis, men’s track and field, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s water polo and women’s acrobatics and tumbling). Kevin Anderson has some tough decisions to make. If the football team looked stronger, one might be able to make the argument that revenues should increase and temporary budget cuts would be enough. But reality sometimes hurts. Maybe in a few years things will be different.

EXTRA: Gene Wojciechowski points out that the ACC may actually be in the driver’s seat in conference realignment. Specifically, the Big Ten will not want the ACC to surround Penn State (which would happen if the conference added Rutgers and Connecticut). I’m not sure if I buy the ACC having that much influence (Jim Delaney, Mike Slive and Larry Scott seem to be running the show), but Wojciechowski definitely makes a strong case.

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ATB: Conference Tourneys Heat Up, Oregon Impresses, and Another FSU Buzzer-Beater…

Posted by EJacoby on March 2nd, 2012

Tonight’s Lede. On the first night of March, the college basketball slate did not disappoint. It was another packed night around the country, featuring some important Pac-12 action and bubble teams blowing opportunities in home games. We also have our first conference tournament final matchup set, as VMI and UNC-Asheville both completed 20-point victories to advance to the championship of the Big South Tournament. There was much quarterfinal action in other tournaments as well. But first, we highlight a crazy finish in the ACC that left the home team stunned and the visitors in a familiar place — victorious after a game-winning shot…

Your Watercooler Moment. Another Seminole Game-Winner.

The previous two times, it was Michael Snaer. On Thursday night, it was Ian Miller. For the third time this season, Florida State converted a game-winning three-point bucket to give the Seminoles a dramatic win. Virginia led 58-47 with under five minutes to play before the ‘Noles made a late surge that culminated in Miller’s buzzer-beater. This result also has major implications in the ACC, as FSU avoided a three-game losing streak to clinch the #3 seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament. Virginia, meanwhile, is in a bit of trouble after this loss. The Cavaliers now drop to 8-7 in the ACC, tied with NC State, Miami, and Clemson. Despite still being ranked in the Top 25, UVA has to start getting a bit worried about its NCAA Tournament status. The Cavaliers are 21-8 overall but don’t have a particularly strong overall profile, with just one top-40 win that came over Michigan in November. They have the #226 non-conference strength of schedule that includes a bad loss to TCU early in the year. They have an RPI of #39 that will be falling as well — not exactly lock status anymore. Virginia should be alright going forward if it can get a win at Maryland in its season finale, but a loss in that one on Terrapin Senior Night will definitely spell some worries for Tony Bennett’s team.

Tonight’s Quick Hits…

  • Kentucky Won’t Let Up. Throughout the grueling conference season, nearly all teams end up slipping up at least once along the way. Trap games, long flights, three games in a week — there are plenty of excuses that teams use for poor performances. But John Calipari’s team has played at an elite level the entire season. UK, which leads the country in scoring margin, hammered Georgia from the start on Thursday night to remain undefeated in the SEC heading into its season finale in Gainesville this weekend. Don’t expect a letdown from this team in that one.
  • No Howland Hangover. Just one day removed from the Sports Illustrated article that shed light on Ben Howland’s loss of control over the UCLA program, the Bruins did not seem at all distracted on the court. UCLA dominated Washington State for a 32-point victory, led by Lazeric Jones’ and Tyler Lamb’s combined 34 points and 10 assists. How crazy would it be if this team shut everyone up and made a run in the Pac-12 Tournament to win the conference and advance to the NCAA Tournament? It’s certainly possible, given the Bruins’ talent and the overall weak state of the Pac-12.  Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Game On: 03.01.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on March 1st, 2012

March is here and the Madness isn’t far off. Last night, NC State won a close one against Miami, helping themselves in the hunt for a bid while taking a little air out of the Hurricanes’ bubble. Meanwhile, in less meaningful news, Boston College managed to win its fourth conference game defeating an increasingly confused-looking Georgia Tech team and pulling themselves into eleventh place. In Chapel Hill, Tyler Zeller closed out his Dean Smith Center career by putting up 30 points and playing some of the best basketball of his career in an ugly “platinum” uniform while Kendall Marshall handily broke the North Carolina single season assist record against a Maryland team that just couldn’t stop a relentless (though often inaccurate) Tar Heel attack.

Battle of the Second Tier

  • #19 Florida State at Virginia at 7:00 PM on ESPN2

The Seminoles are two and half games up on the Cavliers in the conference standings with only two games to go so this isn’t really a battle for third place in the conference, but it sure feels that way. The two defensive powerhouses of the ACC met once before this season in Tallahassee where the home team managed a tough one-possession win. The fact is that these tough, close losses to good teams are starting to catch up to Virginia. Outside of a win against Michigan, what else can the Cavaliers point to? Beating Miami and Drexel? Virginia is a very good team, but they don’t really have an impressive résumé. Beating ranked Florida State would help to strengthen the Wahoos position heading into the ACC tournament. Meanwhile, the Seminoles have faltered down the stretch losing their past two games, which is equal to the number of losses they had in 2012 before the skid. Barring a total collapse,  Florida State probably is already a near-lock to go dancing. It would be nice for Florida State to win this game, but the Seminoles don’t need it like the Cavaliers do. At home, I like Mike Scott to close out his time in Charlottesville with a bang.

Crouching Tigers As Hidden Dragon?

  • Virginia Tech at Clemson at 9:00 PM on ACC Network Affiliates and

Very quietly, the Clemson has reached the .500 mark in conference play. With wins against Florida State, Virginia, and Saturday’s win over NC State, the Tigers have put themselves in a very interesting position. If Clemson wins tonight against the Hokies (no guarantee since they lost their first match-up) and manages to win again against Florida State to finish out the season, Brad Brownell‘s team will be positioned to play two very winnable games in the ACC Tournament and have a shot at snagging another marquee win or two. Looking at the Clemson’s list of bad losses, the Tigers look very sketchy. Still, though it’s a long shot, I think the Tigers do have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. Or at least getting tantalizingly close just in time to get shot down on Selection Sunday. In any case, this long shot is going to make tonight’s game a little awkward. Seth Greenberg knows.

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ACC Bracketology: Virginia’s Resume

Posted by mpatton on March 1st, 2012

Over the next week we will be taking a look at the ACC teams whose names should be called on Selection Sunday. The series started with Duke (seed prediction: #1-#2), North Carolina (seed prediction: #1-#2) and Florida State (seed prediction: #5-#8).

Virginia came within a possession of knocking off Duke at Cameron, Florida State in Tallahassee, and most recently, North Carolina in Charlottesville. But the fact is that the Cavaliers came up short each time. Now Tony Bennett‘s team has a resume featuring one very good win (Michigan at home in November) and a few more decent wins (against Drexel, NC State and Miami). That’s not a lot to work with. The Cavaliers also own one horrible loss against TCU early in the year and an unfortunate loss at home against Virginia Tech.

Mike Scott and Virginia Need To Close Out Conference Play with Two Wins.

The good news for Virginia is that its RPI profile looks slightly better, as it owns a 7-5 record against the top 100 (5-1 against #51-#100, 2-4 against the top-50). Additionally, the committee knows the Cavaliers played the ACC contenders close.

The issue for Virginia won’t be getting to the NCAA Tournament: The issue will be getting off the #8/#9 seed line. This is a team that has an elite defense. The offense has dry spells, but Bennett’s team can hang with almost anyone in the country. Still, I’m sure he’d rather avoid a top seed in the round of 32. If Virginia beats Florida State at home, I think that moves the Cavaliers to a seven. If it loses, probably a nine. The biggest issue is that nothing happens in a vacuum, especially around conference tournament time. Between now and Selection Sunday, Virginia needs to beat Duke, North Carolina or Florida State at least once to solidify a good seed.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.01.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 1st, 2012

Be warned: there will be a lot of ACC Player of the Year talk.

  1. Sports Illustrated: But before we get to ACC Player of the Year banter, it’s time to talk Kendall Marshall. Marshall is really hard to pin down. He’s the lynchpin in North Carolina’s offense, maximizing the efficiency of Roy Williams’ very talented machine, but he rarely scores himself. Luke Winn took a look at four crucial (but very different) point guards to analyze their turnovers. If you have ever watched a North Carolina game, it won’t surprise you 80% of Marshall’s turnovers come on “bad passes.” More surprising is that Marshall hasn’t traveled all season. Like always, Winn’s articles are worth a read.
  2. ESPN: Robbi Pickeral picked her ACC Player of the Year and Coach of the Year yesterday (a larger panel of experts picked without explanations too). Tyler Zeller is in a two-man race with Mike Scott, but Coach of the Year still has plenty of contenders. Pickeral chose Zeller and Leonard Hamilton; the experts overwhelmingly chose Zeller and picked Mike Krzyzewski by a 7-3 margin over Hamilton (Tony Bennett and Jim Larranga also received votes). I’m not sure why Pickeral makes multiple allusions to the fact that North Carolina is really talented and will split votes. It’s true that John Henson and Zeller will probably steal votes from one another, but saying that’s the only reason Scott would win is a huge disservice to the season Scott put together.
  3. In a related note,this article looks at Mike Scott’s case for Player of the Year. Zeller’s numbers appear better at a glance, but the Tar Heels have played 400 more possessions than Scott. This is the problem with comparing points or rebounds a game at face value. Scott’s 17 points and eight rebounds a game carry more weight in an offense that uses fewer possessions than Zeller’s 16 and nine. For effect, Will Ojanen falsely inflates Scott’s stats by adjusting for North Carolina’s tempo and deflates Zeller’s to Virginia’s tempo: Scott would “theoretically” average 21 points and ten rebounds a game; Zeller would average 12 and seven. In reality stats don’t scale like that, but you should also understand that Scott’s 17 points and Zeller’s 16 points are different too. The most understated part of this article is how much better Zeller is on defense.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Norm Wood profiles Scott, looking at the influence of his father. Growing up the son of a 20-year veteran taught Scott discipline, but also how to adapt to new environments. There’s no doubt both qualities were instrumental in making Scott the success he is, having gone through multiple coaches and a season-ending injury on the way to his hallmark season.
  5. Poynter and Awful Announcing: You might have heard about the media “controversy” where Shane Ryan (of Tobacco Road Blues and formerly Seth Curry Saves Duke fame) was denied a credential to the Duke – North Carolina game this weekend, even though he requested it through Grantland. Poynter does a phenomenal job following up on the details (how many credentials were issued, Richard Deitsch’s follow-up reporting and Duke’s response). Awful Announcing covers more background on Ryan including tying the current events back to what originally got Ryan noticed (his terrific rant, which in my opinion remains the best of his work even if he apologized for it later).

EXTRA: Suffice to say Virginia‘s student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, joined the club of Cavalier fans not happy about the officiating in the loss to North Carolina. My favorite part is the philosophical rant on flopping and excellence.

EXTRA EXTRA: Boston College won the game for the #11 seed in the ACC Tournament against Georgia Tech 56-52 thanks to a hot start and the fortitude to just hold on as the Yellow Jackets made their run late in the second half. You can relive the game through the eyes of Eagle fans with all of its ups and downs.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.27.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 27th, 2012

  1. Streaking The Lawn: Virginia lost a brutal game to North Carolina on Saturday. Mike Scott played poorly, going 3-of-13 from the field, but he never got into the flow of the game because of foul trouble. What didn’t impress Brian Schwartz (or most Cavalier fans) was the acting from John Henson on two of the calls against Scott. I fall somewhere in between Schwartz and Roy Williams’ opinion: I think Scott got hosed by the officials, but that’s not what cost them the game. You could just as easily argue that not having Assane Sene because of injury cost them the game. The deciding factor was Virginia missing shots down the stretch. Calls would’ve helped, but it’s all for naught if you don’t knock down those shots.
  2. Baltimore Sun: James Padgett is too nice. He’s developing into one of Maryland’s better players, but he just isn’t aggressive enough to become the Terrapins’ second option this season. There’s also the question of why his defensive rebounding lags so far behind his offensive rebounding. The obvious reason is that Alex Len and Ashton Pankey clean up the glass for the Terps, but with Len often going for blocks you’d assume Padgett would have plenty of defensive rebounding opportunities.
  3. Charleston Post and Courier: Milton Jennings woke up after Brad Brownell suspended him for a couple of games in early February. The former McDonald’s All-American is proving to be a (somewhat inconsistent) creator, averaging just under 12 points a game in the Tigers’ last five contests. But Brownell wanted to be clear that the Tigers’ recent success wouldn’t affect Jennings’ off the court struggles: “He knows he’s walking on thin ice with me.” At least for now the suspension seems to be effective. Obviously, we can’t see Jennings life outside of games, but his improved production is certainly a good sign.
  4. Fayetteville Observer: NC State‘s bubble burst after falling to Clemson over the weekend. The Wolfpack are heading back to the NIT barring a very strong run to the ACC Tournament finals (beating Duke or North Carolina on the way). The team showed spurts of promise, playing with the best teams in the conference, but even a 20-point second half lead against Duke resulted in the loss column. More than anything, Mark Gottfried’s talented recruiting class should give his team critical depth for competing against top schools in conference play.
  5. ACC Sports Journal: I found this breakdown of the DukeFlorida State game very interesting, mainly because it points to why Duke was so effective shooting threes, even against elite defenses like Florida State. The Seminoles smothered Duke inside, but the Blue Devils knocked down perimeter jumpers to answer every Florida State run. Denny Kuiper points to help defense leaving Duke shooters wide open, which certainly created plenty of open looks for Andre Dawkins against Florida State. But Austin Rivers and (to a lesser extent) Seth Curry have both shown the ability to score at the rim this year. Not helping to stop Rivers seems like a recipe for disaster, though I can almost guarantee you that would be the strategy that Mike Krzyzewski would employ if he had to craft a game plan to guard his uber-freshman.
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Night Line: Virginia Falling Fast, Failing to Score

Posted by EJacoby on February 15th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Remember when Virginia played Duke to a one-possession game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in mid-January, then followed that up with a 32-point road win at Georgia Tech and was ranked No. 15 in the succeeding AP Poll? That Cavaliers team looks completely different from the one that scored just 48 points in a 12-point loss on Tuesday night at Clemson to fall to 6-5 in the ACC. What once looked like a surging team with top four NCAA seed potential has turned into a squad in a bit of a free fall. UVA has not only lost starting center Assane Sene to injury, but also three of its last four games and four of their last eight overall to drop to sixth place in the ACC. Virginia needs to turn things around if they want to make the Big Dance with a chance to win in the postseason. They’ll have that opportunity with both North Carolina and Florida State coming into John Paul Jones Arena in the next two weeks.

Virginia Has Had Trouble Making Shots Recently (AP Photo/J. Bounds)

Back on January 16, the then-No. 15 Cavaliers were not only on a nice winning streak but also had developed a strong identity as a slow-paced, defensive team that was difficult to execute against. Their average game includes 60.5 possessions, one of the 20 slowest tempos in the nation. Led by fifth-year senior Mike Scott, who has developed into one of the best all-around forwards in the country, Virginia had the goods to beat opponents in a grind-it-out style that came down to whose offense could be most efficient in the half court. At 15-2, the results showed that they were making it work. However, the downside to that style of play given the tempo is always the potential to allow teams to hang in a game. And when you’re not executing well enough on your own end of the court, then the style can turn ugly in a hurry. That is exactly what has happened to Virginia.

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