Night Line, Saturday Edition: Don’t Look Now, But Terps Quietly Taking Care Of Business

Posted by BHayes on January 5th, 2013

nightline2

Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

It’s January 5 and there is an ACC team boasting a 13-1 record, a deep, talented roster, and a likely top five pick in next June’s draft (should he elect to leave early). No, we aren’t talking about Mason Plumlee and Duke’s sizzling start. Nor are we discussing their Tobacco Road compatriots UNC and NC State – two teams that, despite uneven beginnings, have still found their share of national attention. Instead, we shift our eyes further north, to College Park, Maryland, where at the beginning of 2013 Mark Turgeon has the Terps buzzing along – and ever so quietly.

Alex Len Has Been The Man At The Center Of Maryland's 13-Game Win Streak

Alex Len Has Been The Man At The Center Of Maryland’s 13-Game Win Streak

Maryland kept things rolling today with a 94-71 victory over Virginia Tech, posting its 13th consecutive victory in the process. College basketball fans likely haven’t heard a whole lot about the Maryland surge, as their opening loss to then-#3 Kentucky seemed to have removed the little buzz that surrounded the program in the preseason. But whether it’s being discussed nationally or not, make no mistake about it – behind Duke, Maryland is as likely an ACC runner-up as any team. The 13-game winning streak has not come at the expense of any sort of murderer’s row, but it includes a solid 20-point thrashing of Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan arena (I know, Trey Burke and company might tell you this is no great feat). But still, Maryland has been efficient in ripping through the fluff of their schedule, defeating opponents by an average of 19 points per game during the streak. Let’s also not forget they only fell to Kentucky in that opener by three, and I’m not so sure Kentucky would be a favorite if the two teams played again tomorrow on a neutral court.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 12.28.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 28th, 2012

morning5_ACC

  1. Keeping it Heel: Matt Hamm thinks that UNC, now unranked and at 9-3 with no victories against notable opponents, needs to tighten its rotation with time lacking for further “experimentation.” He advocates solutions that enhance the offense, including giving freshman Brice Johnson the lion’s share of the minutes at center. He also insists that UNC must play PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald more to maximize UNC’s perimeter effectiveness. All of these moves have offense in mind, although the defense, which gave up 85 points to a struggling Texas team and 61 in the second half to East Carolina, has not always been a strong suit. Regardless, UNC needs to get things figured out as conference play is around the corner. One area that UNC could definitely improve in is getting to the free throw line — this season, the Tar Heels rank 335th in FTA/FGA, with Brice Johnson interestingly enough among the worst at getting to the free throw line.
  2. Virginia has been one of the most enigmatic teams in the ACC this season — the Cavaliers soundly defeated Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, but are also 0-3 against the CAA, its only three losses of the season. Its latest loss, to previously 1-10 Old Dominion, has raised many of the lingering questions that Virginia has had all season. Tony Bennett’s normally stout defense was poor against ODU, surrendering 63 points, one shy of its maximum all season, in a game with few possessions. The absence and/or limited effectiveness of Jontel Evans has really plagued the Cavaliers, and their undersized front line came back to haunt them against the Monarchs, as UVA posted one of its worst rebounding efforts of the season. Virginia must avoid losses like these if it wants to be considered a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender.
  3. Miami’s Reggie Johnson is an essential cog for the Hurricanes. Without Johnson in the lineup, Miami dropped two games in this week’s Diamond Head Classic. While he has not been particularly efficient this season — shooting only around 43% from the floor, a stark decline from previous seasons — he is the best on the team at getting to the free throw line, and is a good foul shooter for a big man (just over 70%). The effects of Johnson’s absence were most notably seen at the other positions where teams could focus more of their defensive attention as Miami lacked its skilled big man. Kenny Kadji bore the brunt of this attention, as he was just 5-of-16 in the Indiana State game. Miami needs Johnson to get back to action, not only because he is likely to improve to a performance in line with seasons past, but also because his presence opens up opportunities for Miami’s potentially lethal perimeter attack.
  4. With Dez Wells and Alex Len getting a majority of the ink for 10-1 Maryland, an under-appreciated part of the Terrapins’ attack has been junior point guard PeShon Howard. Howard has quite a bipolar season stat line — he is 38th in the country in assist rate , but his turnover rate is nearly as high and is the worst on the team. Howard has also been an anemic shooter this season (just 8-of-31 overall), but adding to his strange profile, he is an incredibly good free thrower, albeit in a low sample size as well (15-of-17). Howard, in order to improve his overall profile, must keep teams a bit more honest when calling his own number, but Mark Turgeon has generally been pleased with his improved shot selection, as he has been known as a bit of a chucker in previous seasons. Regardless of his odd statistical profile, Howard will play a very important role in Maryland’s overall success this season, and he was nominated for the Bob Cousy Award, which honors the top point guard in the country..
  5. State of the U: This article presents a detailed if slightly off-color look at some interesting statistics in the ACC this season. Some highlights include: Mason Plumlee is second in the ACC in scoring and first in rebounding, averaging over a double-double per game. NC State has three of the top four players in the conference in offensive efficiency. North Carolina, while ranked third in the country in scoring, has largely done it against poor competition — their upcoming game with UNLV will likely be the most accurate litmus test for the Tar Heels this season. Boston College’s woes can be at least partially explained by the fact that their second and third leading scorers are both shooting under 40% from the floor. There’s more than this in the article – make sure to check it out.
Share this story

ACC M5: 12.21.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 21st, 2012

morning5_ACC

  1. Chicago Tribune: Apparently some marginal prospect quietly and unobtrusively decided to accept a basketball scholarship to a little known college yesterday. Just kidding. Jabari Parker is going to Duke because he liked the school and thought Michigan State wasn’t a great fit with Branden Dawson already filling the role that Parker expects to play. It’s a huge get for Duke as Parker was the clear number one prospect in the Class of 2013 before Andrew Wiggins decided to reclassify.
  2. State of the U: He’s not Jabari Parker, but Miami landed a nice verbal commitment for the season after next in four-star shooting guard Adonys Henriquez. Head coach Jim Larranaga and his staff have been busy trying to prepare the Hurricanes program for the departure of its veteran core. Since Henriquez is in the high school Class of 2014, he won’t be able to provide immediate help next season, but it is good to see that the recruiting work of Miami is bearing some fruit.
  3. Washington Post: If you are undecided in terms of a potential career, I’d like to recommend becoming an assistant coach for the Maryland Terrapins. Apparently assistant Dalonte Hill is due a $25,000 bonus if Maryland makes the NCAA Tournament, while Bino Ranson and Scott Spinelli only receive $16,667 in bonus pay if the team goes dancing. Hill makes $307,440 in guaranteed pay, while Spinelli makes only $207,440. Ranson gets $182,400 with an extra $25,000 for media work. Sure the hours are long, the travel is crazy, and there is little to any semblance of job security, but when you make that much as an assistant, it doesn’t seem like such a bad trade-off.
  4. Yahoo! Sports: North Carolina is not very good at basketball this year and people are talking about it after the Tar Heels were embarrassed against Texas on Wednesday night. The reasons why North Carolina is losing aren’t complicated: bad defense, wildly inconsistent offense, and a seeming inability to compete with the top rebounders in college basketball. If there is any solace in these problems, it’s the simple fact that these are fairly common issues for a team that is relying heavily on inexperienced big men. These things happen while power forwards and centers figure out how to be effective on the collegiate level. The good news is that most of these players will almost certainly get better with experience and time. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, with conference play mere weeks away, the team really doesn’t really have that much time to jump-start this season.
  5. Wilmington Star News: The Bob Cousy Award watch list was announced this week and it includes seven ACC players. The fairly comprehensive list has 80 names, but it will be cut down to 20 by New Year’s Day. Of the seven, Erick Green and Lorenzo Brown are probably playing at the highest level, but Quinn Cook and Pe’Shon Howard are very talented distributors on good teams (a factor that probably plays a bigger role than most would care to admit). Shane Larkin is in a similar situation to Howard, but both probably need superlative performances to make the cut.  Freshman Montay Brandon of Florida State is unlikely to make the next round since there are at least two other players on his own team who are probably better point guards than him (Devon Bookert and Ian Miller have higher assist percentages and offensive efficiency scores). Dexter Strickland is unlikely to be listed as one of the nation’s top 20 point guards, mostly because he plays at the point guard position for fewer than 10 minutes a game, spending the bulk of his time at shooting guard.
Share this story

Alex Len’s Coming Out Party Nearly Spoils Kentucky’s Title Defense Debut

Posted by EJacoby on November 9th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. He filed this report from the Kentucky-Maryland game tonight in Brooklyn. You can find him @EJacobyRTC on Twitter. 

We assumed it was nearly impossible for Kentucky to repeat the kind of immediate, dominant success it had last season with a brand new crop of young players this year. For the first half of their season-opening game against Maryland on Friday night, though, the Wildcats came out on fire and efficient on both ends en route to opening a 15-point lead just minutes into the second half in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But it didn’t take long for the inconsistency, poor decision-making, and defensive mistakes that are typical of freshmen players to crop up for John Calipari’s team, which opened the door for Maryland to make a run in front of a very pro-Terrapin crowd. Led by emerging sophomore center Alex Len, the Terps went on a 15-0 second half run and eventually took the lead before seesawing to a tough, 72-69 loss. Len was the catalyst on both ends for Maryland’s near-upset, as the sophomore seven-footer finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks — all game-highs. He shot 10-18 from the field and committed zero turnovers. Despite failing to capitalize with a monster non-conference victory, Maryland and its fans must feel confident about this season’s outlook on the heels of Len’s dominant opening performance.

Alex Len nearly led his Maryland team to a big-time upset win over Kentucky on Friday night (Maryland 247 Sports photo)

The big sophomore showed flashes of greatness last season for Maryland, but he did not put together any dominant performances that could propel Mark Turgeon’s team to big wins. The center from the Ukraine recorded six total games in double-figure scoring last year, and none after February 4. He averaged 4.1 points per game in his final 10 games and amassed just one double-double all season. Tonight was a completely different story, as Len looked much more polished in the paint with offensive moves, finishes at the rim, rebounding prowess, and strong defensive positioning. Len turned national consensus #1 recruit Nerlens Noel of Kentucky into an afterthought, dominating the freshman in the paint as well as beating him down the floor in transition on multiple occasions. Noel had just four points on 2-6 shooting to match his nine rebounds and three blocks. If not for the unlikely late-game heroics of former Kentucky walk-on Jarrod Polson, who scored 10 points tonight after recording a total of seven previous points in his career, the Terps could have left Barclays Center with a defining victory.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC Team Previews: Maryland Terrapins

Posted by KCarpenter on October 23rd, 2012

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

Mark Turgeon had a rough first year in College Park, but no one said that following Gary Williams was going to be easy. Maryland technically scraped by with a 16-14 winning season but went only 6-10 in conference play. While the team notched some early non-conference victories against Colorado and Notre Dame,  they wilted in ACC play, with their best win a home victory against Miami. This inability to win on the road haunted the Terrapins all season, with the team walking away with a true road victory only once, at Clemson. A single road win, the loss of the starting backcourt (and the conference’s leading scorer in Terrell Stoglin), and a not-so-graceful exit from the second round of the ACC Tournament make this year seem potentially bleak. Yet, there is reason for a measured amount of excitement in College Park if you look in the right places.

Mark Turgeon Enters Year Two at Maryland With Promise

Newcomers

Turgeon has brought in a whole unit for his freshman class and reinforced his other positions with transfers. Connor Lipinski and Seth Allen will most likely be counted on to play some key minutes off the bench, depending on how the starting guard situation plays out, but won’t be counted on to contribute immediately. Some of the other freshmen, however, may be thrown into the fire right away. Gifted swingman Jake Layman and the twin towers of Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell all stand a good chance of playing heavy minutes for the Terrapins this year, and it wouldn’t be too terribly surprising to see one or two of the three as starters by the end of the year.

Maryland will also benefit from a few incoming transfers. Logan Aronhalt, a senior wing from Albany, has been cleared to play immediately under the graduate student transfer rule. More interestingly is the case of Xavier transfer Dez Wells. Wells had a brilliant beginning to his career as a gifted scoring wing for the Musketeers until an accusation of sexual assault led the university to dismiss him, though the prosecutor ultimately didn’t even pursue a case against the young man.  Maryland has applied for a waiver for Wells to play immediately given the extraordinary circumstance of his wrongful dismissal, but the school is still awaiting official word. Wells has impressed in open scrimmages and his addition to this year’s roster would give the Terps a lot of extra punch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 10.11.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 11th, 2012

  1. Fredericksburg Star: Virginia didn’t wow anyone last season with its athleticism. However, incoming freshman Justin Anderson may. The 6’6″, 226 pound freshman has all of the physical tools to be a great player in the ACC. Anderson, along fellow freshmen Evan Nolte and Mike Tobey will have to master Tony Bennett’s pack-line defensive strategy if they hope to see much time on the court this season. Bennett’s strategy is good at hiding athletic disadvantages, but the more athletic lockdown defenders he puts on the wing, the more effective Virginia’s already stifling defense will be.
  2. Washington Post: Alex Prewitt jotted down some “nuggets” from Maryland‘s media day that are pretty revealing. Literally speaking Prewitt noted the offseason weight changes for most of the Terrapin roster. Notably, Nick Faust and Alex Len both added much needed bulk (30 pounds!) which should help both be more effective on the boards. James Padgett also bulked up pretty substantially. On the other side of the scale, Pe’Shon Howard, Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell all lost significant weight. More figuratively, Prewitt’s anecdotes painted a picture of a team with a lot more chemistry than Maryland seemed to have last season. Maybe Cleare and Seth Allen are just more outgoing, but it certainly sounds much more comfortable than the team did last year.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: Speaking of newcomers, Wake Forest has a boatload. There are seven self-proclaimed “Baby Deacs” joining Jeff Bzdelik in Winston-Salem this year. Bzdelik is putting some real pressure on the newcomers, saying, “I need them to perform now. I don’t want [youth] to be an excuse or a crutch for our young guys.” Part of his urgency may be a his seat heating up after two incredibly lackluster seasons (to be kind). With Travis McKie and CJ Harris back and the strong incoming class, the Demon Deacons will be much more talented across the board this season. However, despite Bzdelik’s insistence, nothing makes up for experience.
  4. Associated Press (via ACC Sports Journal): Clemson lost top scorers Andre Young and Tanner Smith to graduation. Last season the story read the same way, with Jerai Grant and Demontez Stitt leaving. This year, Brad Brownell needs Devin Booker (ACC phenom Trevor Booker’s younger brother) to increase his consistency and Milton Jennings to tap into his McDonald’s All-American potential. Both players have the talent, but neither has shown the ability to lead night in and night out. That consistency has to improve for Clemson to have a successful season.
  5. ESPN.com: Dave Telep reported that Caleb and Cody Martin, twins out of Mocksville, North Carolina, will be joining NC State in 2014. The twins are just another example of Mark Gottfried working hard to get as much in-state talent as possible. This strategy certainly has a history of success, as North Carolina is one of the richest states in terms of its homegrown basketball talent. If Gottfried’s team has a good year this year and CJ Leslie goes in the lottery, look for the Wolfpack to have continued recruiting significance. Gottfried is a very talented recruiter and success breeds more success.
Share this story

ACC Summer Recess: Maryland Terrapins

Posted by mpatton on July 19th, 2012

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

Where They Stand Now

Mark Turgeon’s Second Year Doesn’t Look Any Easier Than His First.

Unfortunately it appears to be “two steps forward, two steps back” for Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins. Last season Maryland became a darkhorse contender on the backs of a solid coach, Terrell Stoglin, Alex Len‘s improvement, and a very good recruiting class. Then Stoglin was suspended for violating team rules, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the sophomore guard who had many public confrontations with Turgeon last season went pro rather than sit out next year. Maryland also suspended Mychal Parker, who took his talents to Loyola though he probably won’t be academically eligible there. With a disappointing 17-15 season in the rearview mirror, Turgeon’s Terrapins need immediate improvement to keep the suits in College Park from getting nervous. Speaking of suits in College Park, keep an eye on athletic director Kevin Anderson, who was reportedly headed to Stanford before everyone denied the claim and leading to this tepid retraction.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Terrell Stoglin Will Actually Enter the 2012 NBA Draft

Posted by mpatton on May 1st, 2012

It was only a few weeks ago that some were (optimistically) projecting Maryland as a Top 25 sleeper out of the ACC next year. Sure the Terrapins lost Sean Mosley to graduation, but the combination of Terrell Stoglin‘s return, Nick Faust‘s development and a very promising recruiting class brought plenty of hype. But some reports suddenly connected the ACC’s top scorer with the NBA Draft again earlier this week. Since the initial release, more details have come out: Stoglin was suspended for the year for violating the University of Maryland Student-Athlete Code of Conduct. In essence, the suspension tied his hands and forced him to sit out next year or give the draft a try. Patrick Stevens’ source provided background on the suspension, saying it was connected to failed drug tests. The “code of conduct prescribes a one-year suspension for three failed drug tests.”

Terrell Stoglin Will Not Be Returning To College Park Next Season.

Stoglin’s departure is obviously a huge blow to Maryland’s prospects next year. Specifically, the Terrapins will need to replace his 20 points per game and face defenses that no longer have to focus extra energy on stopping one player. The silver lining for Maryland fans is that Stoglin had a rocky relationship with Mark Turgeon, which couldn’t have helped team chemistry. With Stoglin and Mosley now gone, I expect the torch to be passed to Faust and (possibly) Pe’Shon Howard to act as team leaders. I also expect Maryland to struggle a lot offensively, especially early in the season. But this team will be more talented than last year’s version and significantly better on defense. The question is how much Mark Turgeon can develop his young frontcourt.

It should also be noted that sophomore wing Mychal Parker was also suspended for a full season and will transfer elsewhere. Parker averaged four points and three rebounds in 18 minutes a game last season.

Share this story

ACC Weekly Five: 04.30.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on April 30th, 2012

  1. Orlando Sentinel:  Florida State, despite winning the regular season conference title, remains something of an enigma for the coming season. Last year’s run was largely the product of a veteran, senior-laden team. With the graduation of so many players, the Seminoles’ ability to defend their season title is in question. Fortunately for fans in Tallahassee, Leonard Hamilton and his assistants have been hitting the recruiting trail hard. With the recent recruiting coup of 7’3″ Boris Bojanovsky, FSU adds some much needed size to the roster.
  2. CBS Sports: Former Duke wing Michael Gbinije will land at Syracuse. In his single year at Duke, Gbinije was rarely utilized. At Syracuse, the talented but unproven player will get an odd opportunity. ACC bylaws prevent players from transferring to other in-conference schools. Yet, Gbinije will get plenty of chances to go against his former team because of the imminence of conference realignment. Though slated to eventually come to the ACC, Syracuse currently remains a Big East school, and because of the NCAA’s required one year waiting period for transfers, there’s a chance that Gbinije won’t play a game in any conference but the ACC.
  3. Washington Post: After Seth Greenberg’s surprising dismissal earlier this month, the Virginia Tech coaching search has been moving pretty quickly. Despite unrealistic targets like Shaka Smart and Jay Wright, the search now seems to be zeroing in on some more reasonable candidates, most notably North Carolina State associate head coach Bobby Lutz. Lutz has had previous success in a head coaching position, putting together twelve pretty successful seasons at UNC-Charlotte. Interestingly, North Carolina assistant Steve Robinson has also expressed strong interest in the job, though it’s unclear if Virginia Tech reciprocates the interest.
  4. Daily Press:  One serious consequence of Seth Greenberg’s firing is how understaffed it has left Virginia Tech in the interim. With the diaspora of disgruntled former assistants, last season’s video coordinator John Janovsky has been the only Hokie representative currently on the recruiting trail. With a school that has had a tough time landing top recruits in the past, this current lapse stands to set back the Hokies significantly. Virginia Tech needs a coaching staff sooner rather than later.
  5. The Diamondback: Maryland guard Pe’Shon Howard was arrested for disorderly conduct late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. There’s no indication that Howard did more than taunt and “instigate,” but we’re sure Mark Turgeon will be less than pleased to see one of his players making the papers for the wrong reasons.
Share this story

Morning Five: 04.30.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 30th, 2012

  1. Later today Southern Mississippi will introduce Morehead State‘s Donnie Tyndall as its next head coach. Tyndall, who led Morehead State to two NCAA Tournament appearances (including an upset over Louisville in 2011) in six season, is expected to sign a four-year contract at Southern Mississippi. He will be replacing Larry Eustachy, who took the school to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years this season before leaving to take over at Colorado State. Fortunately for Tyndall, Eustachy did not leave the cupboard bare as the Golden Eagles should have a very good team next season. We have not heard any word on potential replacements for Tyndall at Morehead State, but it seems like it would be a good location for a current assistant coach to step into his first head coaching spot.
  2. With all of the recent news surrounding transfers it was surprising to see that Duke transfer Michael Gbinije had decided to transfer to Syracuse. Although Gbinije, who saw little court time during his freshman year at Duke, will have to sit out a year, but the transfer is notable since he will be staying within the ACC with the Orange joining the ACC. Although we are sure that many of you out there are loath to hear the media heap any more praise on the Blue Devils we have to applaud their program for agreeing to do so or at least without all the fuss that other programs have created when a player tries to transfer.
  3. Wisconsin was one of the programs that found itself in the news over issues with a transfer (Jarrod Uthoff) recently and the person who was the symbol of the impeded transfer was Bo Ryan. While the ordeal was a bit of a public relations disaster for Ryan and Wisconsin and Uthoff will be leaving the school it seems like Ryan will be staying at the school through at least 2017 as the school gave him a five-year extension on Friday. Ryan, who has coached at Wisconsin for 12 seasons, has built the program into one of the premier programs in the Midwest and the entire country (probably a top 5 program if you ask Ken Pomeroy). We are looking forward to see what restrictions there are on Ryan if he wants to move to take another job.
  4. Renaldo Woolridge, best known for being the son of former NBA start Orlando and having produced music that pushed the boundaries of the NCAA rule book, will be transferring to Southern California and playing next season after playing three seasons at Tennessee. Woolridge has garnered quite a bit of attention for his musical exploits and his promotion of that music, but to date his production (never averaging more than 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game in any season) leaves quite a bit to be desired. Woolridge only has one season more at the collegiate level to make his mark on the court.
  5. What would a weekend be without a few idiotic run-ins with the authorities? This weekend’s “winners” are Josiah Turner and Pe’shon Howard. We will start with Turner, who decided to transfer from Arizona after a tumultuous freshman year. Turner was arrested this past week on suspicion of driving under the influence. The reports on the arrest do not provide further details including when the arrest happened, but it goes without saying that this will not help Turner in his search to find a program to transfer to although we suspect with his pedigree there will be plenty of Division I programs waiting with arms open for a player of Turner’s caliber. The details on Howard’s arrest are a little more clear as he was arrested at 2:35 AM on Sunday morning for his involvement in a fight out a restaurant in College Park, Maryland. Howard, who missed the last month of his sophomore season after tearing an ACL, was not directly involved in the physical altercation, but was involved verbally. Given the reports on the issue we doubt that Howard will get much more than a slap on the wrist from the Maryland coaching staff.
Share this story

ACC Season Wrap-Up and Tournament Preview

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2012

First, here’s a quick preview of the ACC Tournament. You can find the rest of the power rankings after the jump.
The two Thursday games you should keep a close eye on are Clemson – Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest – Maryland. I trust Miami and NC State will have no trouble putting away their opponents, though Georgia Tech has played a couple of very good games this year.
While North Carolina is the prohibitive favorite, I think Florida State probably has the second best chance. Hear me out: Duke is playing without Ryan Kelly, which means the Plumlees and Hairston are it inside; factor in a history of ignoring the conference tournament for North Carolina combined with Kendall Marshall feeling “tired,” and I think you’ve got a recipe for a team not from North Carolina to win the ACC Tournament for the first time since Maryland in 2004.
I also expect strong runs from bubble teamers NC State and Miami, as both try to secure their at-large hopes with another marquee win.
  1. North Carolina (27-4, 14-2) - It’s funny how the difference between a successful season can come down to one game. Had North Carolina lost to Duke at Cameron, people would’ve pointed to the Tar Heels’ lofty preseason expectations and how they came up short. Instead, Roy Williams’ squad finally showed the world just why it was ranked so high early in the season. Kendall Marshall hit shots, the defense clicked and the game felt over by the first media timeout. Now the Tar Heels have the inside track for a one-seed, owning the head-to-head victory with Michigan State that will definitely come in handy. There are still legitimate questions about North Carolina’s intensity, but if that intensity is in the ballpark of Saturday night opponents should be scared. Don’t pencil the Tar Heels into the Final Four before seeing the ACC Tournament. This team’s worst enemy until the final weekend will be itself. One person in particular to keep you eye on is Marshall. He was snubbed from first-team All-ACC (he missed by two votes), so I expect him to come out aggressively Friday. He’s also shows recent offensive improvement, coming up with two of his best performances of the year in rivalry games against NC State and Duke. When he’s taking and hitting open looks, the Tar Heels are impossible to guard.
    Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

ACC Game On: 2.16.12

Posted by KCarpenter on February 16th, 2012

Miami blew a chance to cement their place in the tournament when it lost at home to North Carolina. The Tar Heels managed to put together another win on a mediocre shooting night (and an awful shooting first-half). Dominance on the boards continues to keep North Carolina winning and improved and more frequent three-point shooting have to be heartening signs for Tar Heel fans.

In the other game, Wake Forest beat Georgia Tech while shooting 32.7%. Yikes.

Get Off The Edge

  • North Carolina State at #8 Duke at 9:00 PM on ACC Network or ESPN3.com

While Miami failed to solidify their tournament standing, NC State will take a shot at it tonight when the team goes to Cameron Indoor to take on the Duke Blue Devils. The Wolfpack has a good record, but few good wins outside of beating Texas. Is NC State good enough to hang with Duke? They can be. Solid offense and a defense that has only improved through conference play make the Wolfpack a fairly tough team. With a big and versatile frontcourt and effective guards, there aren’t any glaring mismatches, though NC State’s short rotation could encounter some difficulties if a key player gets injured or in foul trouble early. The Blue Devils, for their part can build on their win against Maryland and build some confidence by handling this game with poise. Barring a bad shooting night by Austin Rivers, Duke should be able to handle this. If the shots don’t fall, NC State is more than capable of stealing this one.

Bad Teams on the Road

  • Virginia Tech at #17 Florida State at 7:00 PM on ESPN2
  • Boston College at Maryland at 9:00 PM on ACC Network or ESPN3.com

Boston College beating Florida State is probably the most surprising single result of the ACC season. It’s an odd thing when a team can surpass preseason expectations with three conference wins, but that’s the situation in Chestnut Hill. Those three wins and a few more close games can be counted as nothing less than a success for a rebuilding Eagles teams. Still, when push comes to shove, Boston College has yet to win a true road game this season. The best performance by this team outside of their home court is an overtime win against UC Riverside on a neutral court early in the year. Though Maryland has lost Pe’Shon Howard and continues to struggle to find ways to win, They should be able to handle Boston College in College Park.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech goes to Tallahassee to take on a Florida State team that hasn’t lost a conference game on their home court this year.  Florida State is a legitimately good and dangerous team, but none of that can hide the fact that the Seminoles lost to Boston College. Florida State should easily be able to win this game easily, but then again they should have been able to handle Boston College easily too.

Share this story