Breaking Down ACC Weekend #4 – Advanced Statistical Preview

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 25th, 2014

It’s another weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. All statistics used are for results in ACC conference games only along with team rankings (#1-#15) in each category. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings and the four factors, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcomes of these games. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of January 22, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings.

Saturday: Florida State (13-5, 4-2 ACC) @ Duke (15-4, 4-2 ACC) – ESPN (12:00 PM)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#11) Duke 78-72 (#21) Florida State 

Jabari Parker Has Been More Aggressive Lately For Duke. (Photo: Ethan Hyman)

Jabari Parker Has Been More Aggressive Lately For Duke.
(Photo: Ethan Hyman)

This weekend’s kick-off game should be a great match-up between surging Duke and a Florida State team that has beaten every ACC team it has played not named Virginia. And don’t discount the Seminoles’ chances just because this game is at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Florida State already has two impressive road conference wins over Clemson and Miami, each by double figures. In a bit of a surprise, the Seminoles lead the ACC in three-point shooting (43.8%), with sophomore Devon Bookert leading the way with a league-leading 12-for-19 (63.2%). The Florida State defense is tough on opposing shooters and ranks #16 nationally in adjusted efficiency, but it has not been quite as stingy in league play. They will be facing a hot Duke team that remade its lineup, is using its bench more, and has had success with it — winning three straight. The Blue Devils got their first road win of the season on Wednesday over Miami and have averaged an outstanding 121.7 points per 100 possessions over the last three outings. Jabari Parker appears to be bouncing back from his mini-slump, averaging 20 points per game in the last two outings. As an indication of Parker’s aggressiveness lately, he shot 18 free throws in those two games after only attempting a total of 12 in his first four ACC games.

FSU-Duke

Stat Watch. Florida State has two glaring weaknesses: defensive rebounding and ball-handling. Even though Duke has been weak on the offensive boards for most of the year, they grabbed 15 of them against Miami. And in their last home game, the Devils forced N.C. State into 15 first half turnovers, so the key to the game will probably be how well Florida State takes care of the ball. If they can make the game depend on who shoots better, Florida State has the edge, with their defensive field goal shooting (38.3%) much stronger than Duke’s defense (45.3%).

Saturday - Pittsburgh (17-2, 5-1 ACC) @ Maryland (11-8, 3-3 ACC) – ESPN2 (6:00 PM)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#2) Pittsburgh 73-65 (#66) Maryland

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Morning Five: 01.22.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 22nd, 2014

morning5

  1. College basketball fans (particularly the students) love to find any part of an opposing player’s past to use to get under his skin. They will not have to look very far for Cimneon Bowers, a Florida State junior college recruit and one of the top junior college players in the country, after he was arrested along with two teammates for eating marijuana after police attempted to search their car when they smelled marijuana. Bowers and his teammates were charged with tampering with evidence and have been suspended indefinitely until the legal process is sorted out. FSU also says that they will let the legal process play out before making a decision on Bowers, but we doubt that they will back away from him based solely on this.
  2. When we mentioned Notre Dame‘s Under Armour deal in this space earlier this month we wondered how much money a second-tier athletic apparel company could offer one of the most prestigious brands in college sports. It turns out that the answer is a lot of money–reportedly $90 million over 10 years. Now it is worth pointing out that this figure, which would be the biggest in college sports history, is based on the school receiving some of the company’s stock making the figure more variable than if the contract was all cash-based.
  3. George Washington suffered a major setback yesterday when they announced that Kethan Savage, their second-leading scorer, would be out 6-8 weeks with a fracture to the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Savage is averaging 13.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game so it is obviously a big loss for the Colonials who are 15-3 and looking at a potential NCAA Tournament appearance if they can keep up their current level of play in Savage’s absence. Fortunately for the Colonials they do have a fairly balanced attack with five other players averaging between 8.1 and 14.5 points per game so there is a reasonable chance that they can hold on until Savage returns.
  4. A large portion of the US population enters into pools of various sizes for the NCAA Tournament with the hopes that their bracket will bring them small fortunes and/or fleeting glory. No pool (at least that we are aware of) is offering what Quicken Loans is, which is $1 billion. Sound too good to be true? There is one catch. Your bracket needs to be perfect to collect the $1 billion. The odds of doing so are 1-in-9,223,372,036,854,775,808 based on the number of potential ways to fill out a bracket, but the number drops down to an much more manageable 1-in-128 billion (the other number is quintillion) if you eliminate some stuff that has never happened before (like a 16 beating a 1). The $1 billion is payable in 40 payments of $25 million per year or one lump sum of $500 million. If you are thinking of working on 9 quintillion brackets for this March, you are only allowed to submit one per household.
  5. Like nearly everybody else we were stunned by Creighton‘s ridiculous three-point shooting at the start of their game against Villanova on Monday although probably not as stunned as the Villanova staff who apparently was not aware that Creighton could shoot before the game. If you were wondering how rare that was, it appears that it is not as rare as you think. Ok, maybe it is fairly rare according to Ken Pomeroy’s play-by-play database that goes back to the start of the 2008-2009 season, but as you can see it has been done a couple of other times in that period just usually not on as a big of a stage with the exception of West Virginia against Kentucky in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
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Breaking Down ACC Weekend #3 – Advanced Statistical Preview

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 17th, 2014

It’s the third weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. With every team except North Carolina having played at least four ACC games, we will now be using conference games only statistics along with team rankings in each category. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings and the four factors, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcomes of these games. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of January 15, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST).

Saturday - Pittsburgh (16-1, 4-0 ACC) @ Syracuse (17-0, 4-0 ACC) – ESPN (4:00 PM)

Syracuse's C.J. Fair and Pittsburgh's James Robinson Renew Their Rivalry in a New Conference. (Photo: bigstory.ap.org)

Syracuse’s C.J. Fair and Pittsburgh’s James Robinson Renew Their Rivalry in a New Conference.
(Photo: bigstory.ap.org)

Pomeroy Prediction: (#2) Syracuse 66-61 (#8) Pittsburgh

Pitt-Syr2The best match-up of the weekend is ironically between these two ACC newcomers. Something has to give as Pittsburgh is leading the conference with 78.5 points per game in ACC play, while the Orange have the stingiest defense, allowing only 50.0 points per game. As he has all season, senior Lamar Patterson leads the way for the Panthers, averaging 20.0 PPG in ACC games. He will probably match up frequently with Syracuse’s All-America candidate C.J. Fair (17.1 PPG) in Pitt’s man-to-man defense. The battle at point guard may decide the game as Syracuse’s freshman sensation Tyler Ennis faces off with Pitt sophomore James Robinson. In conference games only, Ennis leads the league in assists (6.5 APG) and steals (3.0 SPG), while Robinson has the ACC’s best assist/turnover ratio (16/2).

Stat Watch. Pittsburgh leads the ACC by a huge margin in field goal percentage in conference games at 51.6 percent, while Syracuse is 10th at 40.9. Ball-handling will be important as these are the top two teams in the ACC in steals. It will also be interesting to see how many three-point shots Pittsburgh tries against the Orange zone, as they are last in the league in attempts, while Syracuse allows more than any other team.

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ACC Teams Struggling to Adapt to Styles of New Programs

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on January 16th, 2014

Much was made of the three former Big East teams entering the league this season and having to adapt to the ACC’s style of play. This notion was supported by the simple fact of sheer numbers; the returning ACC teams would number 12 teams while the Big East was sending over only three units. What did not get enough preseason attention was how the ACC as a whole would adapt to the very different styles of play of the three incoming teams, all quite successful programs in their own rights. Notre Dame under head coach Mike Brey is known for its selfless team basketball, execution, cutting and the extra pass, while developing a litany of elite low post big men like Luke Harangody, Jack Cooley, and now Garrick Sherman. While the Irish lost its best player in Jerian Grant for the year, their style of play was on display and ultimately decided the outcome in a statement win against Duke.

Pitt's James Robinson is a large reason they are 16-1 (Photo: pittsburghpanthers.com)

Pitt’s James Robinson is a large reason the Panthers are 16-1 (Photo: pittsburghpanthers.com)

Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone has helped in establishing itself as one of the best teams in the nation and has put the Orange among a group of three unbeaten teams remaining. Their defense has flummoxed ACC opponents to the tune of allowing only 50.0 PPG to ACC foes through their first four games. They clearly have taken charge and dominated the tempo in their outings, most recently holding UNC a full 30 points below its season average of 75.6 PPG. While it remains early in the ACC race, so far it seems obvious that both Syracuse and Pittsburgh have been forcing their own tempo and style of play on their opponents and not vice versa. Jamie Dixon’s Panthers are known for their toughness and gritty play, both of which were evident in their recent 12-point road victory over N.C. State. Famed ESPN analyst Dick Vitale confirmed this theory and perception when he noted: “There are certain programs that get certain labels that help them big-time psychologically… the mindset is where you’re at a negative before you ever start playing, and I think Pittsburgh has that, that label of being tough.”

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ACC M5: 01.16.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 16th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Baltimore Sun: Initially Mark Turgeon and Brenda Frese (Maryland’s women’s basketball coach) didn’t support the school’s move to the Big Ten. Turgeon went so far as to say that all the coaches he has talked to, except [football coach] Randy [Edsall], “are upset and opposed” to the move. It means Turgeon will have to redecorate his office, which currently has ACC team logos strewn about, and it will also potentially impact recruiting. Another fascinating tidbit from Jeff Barker’s piece is this excerpt from James Shea: “For some time, I have been bothered that these ‘traditional rivalries’ have provoked toxic reactions from abusive language at the games to riots and car burnings after victories.” Clearly Maryland’s ulterior motive was taking Duke off its schedule for good so the College Park fire department can get some rest.
  2. ESPN: Tyler Ennis has had a remarkable freshman season so far. Based on win shares, he’s the most valuable freshman in the country and it’s not even close. His gaudy total probably comes from his elite assist-to-turnover ratio (4.2:1) or his knack for racking up steals. Whatever the case, I’m not sure anyone predicted Ennis would immediately prove to be one of the best point guards in the ACC. But he’s only got one challenger for rookie of the year, and Jabari Parker has not had a good start to conference play.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Guess how many halves of basketball in the last four years played by an ACC team finished with the team scoring fewer than 18 points? 26! And we’ve already had five of those this season. Clemson has two of the three with two 10-point halves over that time. As you might expect this recent low-scoring trend coincided with the ACC’s new group of coaches who have successfully stolen the slowest major conference title from the Big Ten even if they can’t win the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
  4. One Foot Down: Notre Dame is reeling. The Fighting Irish have looked just awful in conference play — the win against Duke excluded. Their most recent loss came to Maryland in a game where Mike Brey’s squad led by nine before going ice cold to start the second half. The good news is that Notre Dame can try and right the ship this weekend with a home game against Virginia Tech. The bad news is that three early losses won’t help come March, in ACC Tournament seeding, or Selection Sunday.
  5. Tar Heel Blog: Good take here on the North Carolina scandal and how it’s starting to get ugly. There’s a lot of miscommunication going on right now as the university claims it hasn’t seen the data, but whistleblower Mary Willingham claims the school can get the data themselves. CNN went way above and beyond her actual findings — making claims about the athletic department in general up to the present — in its initial reports (including claiming to have the data in a second article while linking to her four-year-old thesis). We may get some sort of resolution soon, or at least a comment from the administration, as the student newspaper has reported that Willingham sat down with the Chancellor.
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Georgia Tech and Notre Dame Exhibit Holes in Saturday Match-up

Posted by CD Bradley on January 12th, 2014

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When the schedules initially came out, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech expected to look very different in their third ACC game than they did on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta. For the Irish, things started to devolve in the preseason with the redshirt of Cameron Biedscheid, who then announced his transfer to Missouri after Christmas. Then Jerian Grant, a preseason All-ACC selection who led the Irish in points, assists, and steals, was lost for the season due to an academic issue. Then on Saturday, frontcourt reserve Tom Knight didn’t make the trip to Atlanta due to a sprained ankle.

Georgia Tech's defense on Eric Atkins and his Notre Dame teammates (Getty)

Georgia Tech’s defense on Eric Atkins and his Notre Dame teammates were crucial in Saturday’s win. (Getty)

Georgia Tech has health issues of its own. First freshman point guard Travis Jorgenson tore his ACL in the Yellow Jackets’ fourth game. Then sophomore Robert Carter, who was averaging 10.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game (with a 29.8 defensive rebounding percentage, sixth best in the country), suffered a torn meniscus. Sophomore point guard Solomon Poole, the team’s top backcourt reserve, missed the game on Saturday with a migraine. As Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory put it, “It was two teams who were trying to re-discover themselves with guys out.”

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Breaking Down ACC Weekend #2 – Advanced Statistical Preview

Posted by Brad Jenkins on January 11th, 2014

It’s the second weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings and the four factors, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcomes of these games. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of January 8, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST).

Saturday - North Carolina (10-5, 0-2 ACC) @ Syracuse (15-0, 2-0 ACC) – ESPN (12:00 PM)

CJ Fair and Others Returned to School and We All Will Benefit

CJ Fair and the Orange Look to Add to North Carolina’s Losing Streak

Pomeroy Prediction: (#5) Syracuse 75-64 (#34) North Carolina

UNC-Syr

There’s some chatter that it would be typical of this year’s up and down Tar Heels team to pull off another monumental upset in the Carrier Dome. But North Carolina has actually been more consistent lately, only in a bad way. The Heels do not look like a confident team right now. Still, Roy Williams has shown in the past (including this season) that he can motivate a team out of a slump. At least they appear to have one clear advantage on the offensive end they could exploit – offensive rebounding. Unfortunately for the Heels, the same is true on the other end with Syracuse hitting the offensive glass hard this season. Taking care of the ball will also be crucial against the long and active Syracuse zone. It will be interesting to see how many three-pointers each team takes. Neither likes to shoot many, but they both allow opponents to fire a bunch. Finally, a good start by the Heels (see: the Michigan State game) is important, but with the way the Orange has come back from big early deficits, even that may not be enough.

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ACC M5: 01.10.14 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 10th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. ESPN and One Foot Down: Major team swag news as Darren Rovell reports that Notre Dame will be moving from Adidas to Under Armour after this year. In a weird way the move shows just how self involved the Fighting Irish are when it comes to these sorts of things. There was a minor uproar when Michigan became Adidas’s “flagship” deal a few years back, so it appears Notre Dame headed towards a smaller pond. Seriously, if this deal isn’t massive, I don’t understand it. But hey, this means the ACC will maintain two Under Armour schools (Boston College is the only other once Maryland leaves) to go with two Adidas schools once Louisville joins.
  2. Blogger So Dear: A statistical breakdown of Winston-Salem’s very own Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? That’s right, Wake Forest has outscored its last ten conference opponents by 49 points at home, going 7-3 in the process. Ken Pomeroy expected that the Demon Deacons would be outscored by 40, meaning the team overachieved by a whopping 89 points (8.9 points a game). Meanwhile on the road the team is 0-10 in its last such games on the road. Opponents have outscored Jeff Bzdelik‘s squad by 161 points (16.1 a game) over the stretch which 46 points worse than Ken Pomeroy predicted. So Wake Forest’s current home-road differential is a 13.5 points a game more than what would be predicted by statistical models. That’s insane.
  3. Greensboro News-Record: Good stuff breaking down North Carolina‘s struggles to start conference play, but I can’t help but wonder whether the skid has more to do with Marcus Paige returning to earth. Paige literally carried this team through non-conference play. Every time they needed a bucket he was there. But at Wake Forest and against Miami Paige had two of his worst games of the season. Also if you’re looking for another good take on Roy Williams’ struggles this season, Brian Barbour has you covered.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: Good work by Luke DeCock who agrees that Jabari Parker‘s mini-slump is nothing to be concerned with going forward. But wait. Did he notice that Parker and Paige had their two worst games at the same points? In all seriousness, Parker will be just fine once his jump shots start falling again. One (unrelated) thing I’m interested to see is how more teams playing more zone will affect the game in the long run. I think Syracuse’s zone is partially effective because opponents don’t play it very often. But with nearly everyone playing at least a little zone this season, I wonder if that will hurt the Orange against teams like Duke and North Carolina (though the Tar Heels haven’t exactly lit up the zones they’ve played).
  5. Tomahawk Nation: With focus turned back to basketball, Florida State rebounded from its home beat down from Virginia with a win at Littlejohn Coliseum. Their defense was suffocating, exposing a Clemson offense gorged on non-conference cupcakes. Even more impressive is the Seminoles were only 1-11 from three. My only other takeaway is there’s a huge drop-off for Brad Brownell’s team after KJ McDaniels. He was the only player who had any offensive success.

EXTRA: Georgia Tech has decided to bribe students for showing up to men’s and women’s basketball games this year with a point system where students will be awarded prizes ranging from t-shirts and gift cards to the grand prize of a PlayStation 4.

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Morning Five: 01.10.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 10th, 2014

morning5

  1. With the decision by Colorado and Washington to legalize the use of marijuana the debate around drug testing student-athletes particularly for non-performance-enhancing drugs has come under increasing scrutiny. Troy appears to be going in the other direction, but not as the result of legal issues. The school has announced that it plans on drug testing all of its athletes in the next 30 days following the deaths of four students during the holiday break. We do not know the full details behind the deaths of these four individuals, but based on what we have read it does not seem like drug testing is the answer to what happened at the school. It will be interesting to see how the school handles these drug tests going forward as they say that a student’s first positive test will result in notification of a parent or guardian. Since nearly all college athletes are adults in the eyes of the law we are not sure how this will go over and also do not know how the NCAA will deal with these results.
  2. With the FBI reportedly investigating three UTEP basketball players for gambling, it seems like the ideal time for an update on Varez Ward, the former Auburn player accused of point-shaving. Ward, who was accused of trying to fix a February 2012 game against Arkansas, is awaiting a decision from prosecutors about whether they will let him enter a pre-trial diversion program (basically he would have to follow some predefined rules for a period of time then the charges would be dismissed). Now he will have to wait a little longer as prosecutors have asked for more time to decide whether to let him enter such a program although a decision could come as early as next week. Ward’s trial is scheduled to begin on February 10 so he has a month to come to an agreement before this goes to trial.
  3. It appears that the college basketball version of keeping up with the Joneses is keeping up with Calipari as Kansas announced that it plans on spending $17.5 million on housing for the men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as 34 lucky non-student-athletes. That figure more than doubles the figures that we have seen thrown around for Kentucky’s famed Wildcat Coal Lodge. The 34 non-student-athletes are basically being let in to comply with NCAA rules that any type of housing can be allowed as long as it is also available to non-student-athletes as well. We would be curious as to who these 34 individuals are (probably legacies or children of big donors). For comparison, Kansas is also building two other new residence halls for other students at an expected cost of $47.8 million, but at a cost of $68,000 per student compared to $265,000 per student for the basketball housing.
  4. One of the things that we love about college sports is the atmosphere. Whether it is the students or the bands, college games have an atmosphere that few professional arenas can come close to. It is also one of the reasons why we are so opposed to neutral-site games. Schools occasionally bring along the bands and a handful of diehard fans, but in some cases they have to improve. In the case of Duke they turn to a volunteer band to fill in at times. This is hardly unique to Duke as several other schools resort to similar methods, but it is something to watch for the next time the cameras pan to the band and you see somebody who looks like he or she is too old to be in college.
  5. One of the interesting areas of college sports that generally gets overlooked is the politics of shoe contracts. One of the best examples of this is Notre Dame, which made the surprising move of switching from adidas to Under Armour at the end of this season. Whatever you think of their basketball program, the Irish are one of the biggest name brands in college sports, but it appears that adidas may have ruffled some feathers in South Bend with their decision to reportedly offer Michigan more money than Notre Dame. Regardless of the politics, it is a huge coup for Under Armour as Notre Dame is by far the biggest program that they have landed.
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“Reinvented” Notre Dame Is Not Done Yet

Posted by WCarey on January 5th, 2014

Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report following Saturday afternoon’s game in South Bend between Duke and Notre Dame.

In the preseason, expectations were fairly high for Notre Dame as it began its first campaign as a member of the ACC. While there were questions about the team’s frontcourt depth, the Irish returned three key starters in the backcourt in seniors Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant and junior Pat Connaughton. Unfortunately, the Irish quickly showed that they have some glaring weaknesses by suffering four losses in the first two months of the season. The first setback came on November 17 when Mike Brey experienced his first November defeat at the Joyce Center versus Indiana State. While Notre Dame then notched easy wins over Santa Clara, Army, and Cornell, its defensive shortcomings became more evident during its subsequent trip to Iowa City where Iowa handed them a 98-93 defeat. A week later, the Irish were stunned again on their home court in a game that North Dakota State controlled from start to finish. After regrouping to score an impressive victory over Indiana in the Crossroads Classic on December 14, the Irish then went to Madison Square Garden and choked away an eight-point lead with 51 seconds remaining in a defeat by Ohio State.

Notre Dame's First ACC Game Went Swimmingly in South Bend (USAT)

Notre Dame’s First ACC Game Went Swimmingly in South Bend (USAT)

The four setbacks on the court were not the only losses Notre Dame suffered in the 2013 portion of the season. A day after the Ohio State loss, news broke that Grant – the team’s leading scorer – would not be enrolled at the university for the remainder of the season due to an academic matter. The team also lost sophomore Cameron Biedscheid – who was already redshirting this season – a few days after Christmas when he announced his intention to transfer.

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New Year’s Resolution For Power Conference Teams? No More Cupcakes – Conference Play Is Here

Posted by Bennet Hayes on January 4th, 2014

With conference play arriving almost everywhere this weekend (it’s about time!), let’s take a peek at some of the major Saturday (and a few Sunday) games and storylines in college basketball’s seven major conferences.

Say What You Want About The AAC, But The New League Will Pose A New Challenge For Memphis: Real Tests In January And February. The First Of Those Examinations Comes Today Against Cincinnati.

Say What You Want About The AAC, But The Recently-Birthed League Will Pose A New Challenge For Memphis: Real Tests In January And February. The First Of Those Examinations Comes Today Against Cincinnati.

AAC. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first-ever weekend of American Athletic Conference basketball! OK, so maybe it isn’t that exciting, but an old Conference USA matchup does offer the league a headlining game on 2014’s first Saturday. Cincinnati visits Memphis (12:00 ET, ESPN2) in an early match-up of presumed upper-echelon AAC teams, but look elsewhere if you seek a battle of stylistic comrades; the deliberate, defensively stout Bearcats (286th nationally in tempo, eighth in defensive efficiency) will look to put the clamps on an explosive Memphis squad that rarely presses the pause button (39th nationally in tempo, 19th in offensive efficiency). UConn and SMU, both 0-1 in league play, offer an alternate viewing option (2:00 ET, ESPNU), and with a visit to Louisville coming next, Larry Brown’s SMU team would be well served to get a win Saturday to avoid staring down the barrel of an 0-3 league start.

ACC. Will there be life after Jerian Grant for Notre Dame? If yes, then a visit from Duke (4:00 ET, CBS) will offer the Irish the chance to provide a more convincing affirmation than they offered in their first game without Grant – a gut-check overtime victory over Canisius. Garrick Sherman should have a chance to exploit the smallish Duke interior, no matter what Doug Gottlieb thinks about his beard. Elsewhere, Pitt and Syracuse join Notre Dame in making their ACC debuts. The Panthers visit NC State (12:00 ET, ESPN3), while the Orange play host to Miami (2:00 ET, ESPN3). And if you like defense, two of the nation’s 10 most efficient defensive units are set to meet in Tallahassee; Virginia and Florida State (5:00 ET, ESPN2) will tussle in a race to 50 between ACC sleepers.

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Breaking Down ACC Weekend #1 – Advanced Statistical Preview

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 3rd, 2014

It’s the first weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcome of the game. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of January 1, 2014. The games are presented in the order that they will be played this weekend (all times EST).

Saturday – Pittsburgh (12-1) @ N.C. State (10-3) – ACC Network (12:00 PM)

Jamie Dixon Has His Panthers Back to Playing Pittsburgh Basketball (US Presswire)

Jamie Dixon And Pittsburgh Kick Off the First Weekend of ACC Conference Play vs N.C. State in Raleigh (US Presswire)

  • Pittsburgh Offensive Efficiency – 114.1 (#24 in the NCAA)
  •         N.C. State Defensive Efficiency – 100.4 (#110)
  •         N.C. State Offensive Efficiency – 109.5 (#66)
  •         Pittsburgh Defensive Efficiency – 92.5 (#11)

What to Watch For: In its first ACC conference game ever, Pitt looks to have a strong edge on the offensive end of the court. In particular, look for the Panthers to try to exploit the Wolfpack on the boards. Pitt comes in 11th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, while N.C. State is 237th in defensive rebounding percentage. Another area to watch is the mismatch in free throw attempts. N.C. State ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in free throw attempts, while Pitt rarely fouls. In fact, the Panthers actually had a game earlier this year against Cal Poly in which Pitt did not commit a single first half foul.

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