Duke and North Carolina Never Disappoint: Four Takeaways From Wednesday Night

Posted by EMann on February 15th, 2013

Ethan Mann is a writer for the ACC Microsite. He is a senior at Duke University who just attended his last home game as an undergraduate against North Carolina and re-watched the game on TV for further analysis.

As the saying goes — throw all the numbers out for Duke/North Carolina. Rankings, records and all the rest are immaterial. UNC had rarely been competitive against good competition this season until Wednesday night, and the last time an unranked North Carolina team came into Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Tar Heels were thrashed 82-50. This game was much different, as evidenced by the final score of 73-68.

Rasheed Sulaimon was a second-half catalyst in Duke's victory against North Carolina. (AP)

Rasheed Sulaimon was a second-half catalyst in Duke’s victory against North Carolina. (AP)

Here are four takeaways from the game:

  1. Why did North Carolina not use this lineup much earlier in the season? Roy Williams finally decided to start PJ Hairston (second on the team in offensive efficiency) alongside Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo, and Hairston rewarded this choice by scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds (seven of which were on the offensive end). Instead of starting offensive black hole Desmond Hubert, the head coach finally turned to a lineup with more offensive firepower so that his team did not fall into a massive early deficit like they did against Virginia Tech, NC State, and Miami, to name just a few. If North Carolina is going to make the NCAA Tournament and maximize its chances of winning there, Hairston must play starter’s minutes.
  2. James Michael McAdoo might be the most frustrating player in college basketball. McAdoo was preseason first-team all-ACC and some people might still vote him there because of his stats (he is averaging 14.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game). However, this is a case where the stats do not match reality. McAdoo is an incredibly talented and athletic basketball player, but in reality he was mostly ineffective Wednesday night. He had a couple of highlight plays (including a nasty reverse dunk that gave UNC a 38-31 lead early in the second half), but following that play, he increasingly settled for mid-range jumpers, which he did not convert. And worse, the 57% FT shooter went just 1-of-5 from the line, including several crucial misses in crunch time. Why McAdoo settled for jump shots instead of going aggressively at the foul-prone Mason Plumlee was a bit of an enigma. He finished with nine points and eight rebounds on only 4-of-12 shooting, which is unacceptable for a player with his talents. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Who Won The Week? TCU, Nate Wolters, and San Diego…

Posted by CNguon on February 8th, 2013

wonweekWho Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: TCU

The Horned Frogs started out their Big 12 tenure on a bad note, going 0-8 in conference and losing only one of those games by fewer than 10 points. And then #2 Kansas came to town. Recipe for disaster, right? It was, just not for the team you would expect. The Horned Frogs pounced on the Jayhawks early, holding them to two points in the first 13:39 of the game. But TCU was able to hold up for the rest of the game, never letting Kansas lead and nabbing a 62-55 victory. Never mind that TCU lost by 17 against a Texas team with two conference wins on Saturday; the Horned Frogs nabbed one of the biggest regular-season upsets ever.

TCU's upset over Kansas was one of the biggest shockers in recent memory (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

TCU’s upset over Kansas was one of the biggest shockers in recent memory (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

(Related winners: Other teams bidding for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament; Kansas fans who are wary of being a No. 1 seed. Related losers: Kansas – see below.)

LOSER: Kansas

Thanks to getting shelled by a team Ken Pomeroy said had a 3 percent chance of winning a few days after losing a fast-paced shootout against Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks have their first losing streak since January 2006. Kansas got torn up by the perimeter scoring of the Cowboys, whose guards Markel Brown and Marcus Smart had 28 and 25 points respectively. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks shot a tick above 40 percent from the field, eventually falling 85-80 at home. But Kansas doubled down on its offensive woes in Fort Worth, shooting under 30 percent against TCU. Primary ballhandlers Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe combined to go 5-of-27 from the floor Wednesday with three assists and five turnovers. (Against the Cowboys, the pair combined to go 6 of 21 from the field with 10 assists and five turnovers.) It looks like the Jayhawks need to find someone capable of playing consistently at point guard, lest their otherwise-championship-caliber team go to waste in a year with no dominant team.  Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 02.06.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 6th, 2013

morning5

  1. When it was announced that Old Dominion had fired Blaine Taylor yesterday many people immediately wondered whether the team’s 2-20 record this season was bad enough to lead to an in-season firing especially given Taylor’s overall exceptional record at the school. However as David Teel points out the suspicion that Taylor’s history of alcohol abuse and his recent strange behavior makes the firing “equal parts sad, awkward and unusual”. Given his history and the suspicions around it we doubt that you will see many angry columnists firing off their usual columns questioning the goals of college athletics when they fire a coach mid-season. Normally we are indifferent if a fired coach winds up getting another head coaching job and that is true in Taylor’s case too, but if the speculation is true we hope that he is able to get his life back together.
  2. If you have been waiting to hear Dick Vitale to call a Final Four game, it will finally happen this April. For international viewers. Vitale may be a polarizing figures to some, but it has always seemed strange that the face of college basketball to many casual fans has never worked courtside because NBC and CBS have owned the rights to the NCAA Tournament and presumably Vitale has a pretty strong non-compete clause in his contract that other ESPN talents such as Jay Bilas were able to get around. While people have mentioned the possibility of Vitale calling games during the NCAA Tournament for years, this situation probably works out best for all parties: US viewers are given more nuanced commentary while international viewers will be given the most recognizable voice in American sports.
  3. This is probably a case of reading too much into a statement, but Mason Plumlee has (sort of) come out and said that he expects Ryan Kelly to return this season. Actually if you read the statement it sounds more hopeful than anybody, but the fact that this is even news is reflective of how little information Duke has released about Kelly’s injury or how well his rehab is going. While we can understand the lack of desire Duke must have to share any information about Kelly’s condition with fans and the media we have to wonder what effect it is having on Kelly’s potential Draft status. We never consider Kelly to be a potential first round pick even on his best day, but you would think that a fairly athletic 6’11” forward who can hit shots from the perimeter would be someone that NBA teams would be interested in looking at. With the way that Duke is handling Kelly’s medical information we wonder how concerned NBA teams are of the long-term health of his feet. Obviously NBA teams will have their physicians examine Kelly before and after the NBA Draft, but we are guessing that the lack of information is not helping Kelly’s cause.
  4. Two things from Andy Glockner’s Bracket Watch caught our eyes this week: the number of teams that have had bad losses with injuries and the lack of locks. While we tend to think that Glockner might be the East German judge of the bracketologists he certainly has a point about the effect of serious injuries on team’s that have some ugly losses. Although there is no team that fits the 2000 Cincinnati profile there are several prominent teams like Duke and Miami that have had some pretty ugly losses that occurred when they were not at full strength. Assuming the teams are at full strength the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will have quite a bit of work to sort out all of the “bad” losses that occurred while teams were missing significant pieces.
  5. Arkansas’ blowout victory over Florida last night may have been a shock to the tempo-free fans, but while some unsavory characters were busy blaming others for their own ridiculous statements it is worth noting that Ken Pomeroy even suggested the possibility that some like last night could happen even if he didn’t necessarily see it happening for last night’s game. What the game really underscores is the lack of a dominant team this year. This isn’t necessarily a phenomenon limited to this season, but it seems like people forgot about that after how good Kentucky was a last year. When you combine that with some of the other excellent basketball around the country (particularly in the Big Ten) the last two months of the college basketball season promises to be an exciting one.
Share this story

ACC M5: 02.01.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 1st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Orlando Sentinel: Florida State‘s defense isn’t nearly what it has been the last few years. The biggest issues are that opponents are grabbing way too many rebounds and hitting more interior shots. A lot of this is because Kiel Turpin never really developed into a Bernard James or Solomon Alabi. The Seminoles have never been a great rebounding team — largely because the strength of Hamilton’s defensive strategy lies in locking down the paint and blocking shots — but this year’s team is exceptionally bad (apart from Terrance Shannon, who’s injured). That said, Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo are going to be players eventually. Bojanovsky is one of my favorite freshmen in the league this season. He’s got great footwork and decent touch for a seven-footer. Ojo is mammoth. If he can learn to control his body, he’ll be an unstoppable force.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Experience is a funny word. Sometimes it’s easy to spot (or not spot) like with Wake Forest this year or Boston College last year. Other times it’s harder to see. For instance, this year’s Florida State team has a number of years under its belt, but not crunch-time minutes (other than Michael Snaer, who was born for it). This year’s Miami team obviously has it. But depending on who you talk to (and the most recent results), teams like Duke have and don’t have experience. The Blue Devils have three seniors at its core, but right now the team also starts two freshmen and a sophomore. That’s one big difference between Duke with Ryan Kelly and Duke without him — his experience means a lot. Eventually Amile Jefferson will likely become a better basketball player than Kelly, but right now Jefferson commits dumb fouls and lacks much strength. Kelly’s not exactly Hercules himself, but he knows his strengths and forces opponents to play to them. That’s a huge asset.
  3. Washington Post: Here’s another important example of experience. Alex Len is much better this year than last year, but he still disappears far too much for a player of his talent (on a team that struggles just as much). He’s a bit like a smoother and more skilled version of Mason Plumlee in his sophomore season. When Plumlee was fed in a position to score, he did well; when he wasn’t, he didn’t. Plumlee compounded his disappearance with dumb fouls and turnovers (he was, and is in many ways, much more limited offensively than Len), but experience has made him a player who demands the ball. That’s what Turgeon desperately needs from his star center the rest of the way.
  4. Orange and White: KJ McDaniels looks like Brad Brownell’s player of the future. Every year Brownell relies on two very good upperclassmen as he grooms a junior for the role moving forward. First it was Demontez Stitt and Jerai Grant; last year it was Andre Young and Tanner Smith; this year it’s Devin Booker and Milton Jennings (sometimes). Unfortunately for Brownell, all six of those players were seniors. McDaniels, a sophomore, may finally give Brownell the breathing room he needs. McDaniels is good for at least one jaw-dropping dunk a game, but he’s slow in finding his place on the perimeter. If he can nail down a consistent jumper, look out.
  5. The ACC: The ACC announced the 2013 basketball ACC Legends. This year’s class was led by Gary Williams (whom the ACC honored just in time). Other administrative figures included Gene Corrigan and former Wake Forest coach Carl Tracy. Corrigan in addition to serving as ACC commissioner for a decade also served as the NCAA’s president for a couple of years. Player highlights from the class include Duke’s Trajan Langdon (the Alaskan Assassin), Georgia Tech’s Mark Price (who was Bobby Cremins’ best player when he turned the Yellow Jackets around in the early 1980s), and Derek Whittenburg (the NC State guard who missed the shot that led to the dunk to win the national championship in 1983).
Share this story

It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VII

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 31st, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. Kansas guard Ben McLemore. I’ve been captivated this guy since the first time I turned on a KU game this year – the only comparison for pure smoothness as a freshman might be Melo at ‘Cuse. I can usually judge a guy’s talent by how willing I am to prioritize his Thursday snoozer at 8:30 PM on ESPN2. Do I delay dinner? Do I push work off till tomorrow? Do I accidentally forget about Date Night just to marvel at a net-snapping three when the Jayhawks are already up 20? If the answer to any of those is yes, I’m hooked. And for me, McLemore is that year’s player. Watch out for this KU team – they might just have all the pieces.

Mancrushing on Ben McLemore

I LOVED…. trying to figure out Duke.  27 points. TWENTY-SEVEN POINTS. The Miami Hurricanes looked like a pro team taking on the high school JV squad – running, slamming, jamming… even Barry Larkin was lovin’ it. So is Ryan Kelly that important to the Blue Devils? Is he the difference between cutting down the nets and a Hurricane doormat? Is he worth all 27 of those points? I guess we’ll find out.

I LOVED…. in a way that only a true John Calipari hater could love, the following headline: “Wiltjer, Noel Help Kentucky Upset Mississippi.” How a team full of Top 10 recruits can “upset” anyone is beyond me. They must realllllly be underachievers to pull off that one…..

I LOVED…. how the real point of this season seems to be how many teams can claim and then quickly relinquish the coveted (or maybe at this point, despised) Number One ranking. Indiana, Duke, Louisville, Duke, and now Michigan. It’s a tribute both to the difficulty of winning on the road with today’s insane fans, but also to the parity of this year’s college crop. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting money (sorry NCAA, I mean “friendly non-financially based wager”) behind any of these teams. But it should all add up to one crazy March.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 01.30.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 30th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Basketball Prospectus: So how good has Miami been? So far this season, the Hurricanes are an average 0.21 points per possession (PPP) better than their conference opponents (the Duke game helped a lot on this front). For those of you not mathematically inclined, that’s equivalent to a point lead in every five possessions.  That’s the third best mark for a power-conference team behind Florida’s gaudy 0.43 (which will come down) and Michigan’s 0.24 PPP. Miami has the best defense in the league by a decent margin to go with a serviceable offense. The Hurricanes’ secret? Insanely good field goal percentage numbers and good rebounding.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: It’s pretty obvious Duke is a different team without Ryan Kelly, but his injury may have some positive side effects. For one, Amile Jefferson is really starting to develop, which probably wouldn’t have happened until next season without the recent extra playing time. Also Duke is changing its offense, namely running more set plays to get people open. Both should prove very useful when Kelly returns. Duke would be able to throw very different offensive looks at opponents and won’t have to settle for Josh Hairston’s limited offensive repertoire (though don’t look for his minutes to disappear completely).
  3. Fayetteville Observer: For pretty much everyone but Miami, the road has been tough on ACC teams. Take out the Hurricanes and the league is 8-30 in road games (with Duke still searching for its first win). Duke‘s biggest issue is that it played its hardest two road games first. I don’t agree that it’s an experience thing, unless Coach K means experience playing without Ryan Kelly. The Blue Devils don’t have Miami’s aggregate age across the lineup, but they do start two seniors and this mostly shows that the ACC is very competitive. There’s just not a lot separating the teams in the middle of the pack or even at the top of the league right now (discounting the Hurricanes, of course).
  4. NBC Sports: Virginia Tech’s Erick Green is shining this season, but unfortunately his teammates in Blacksburg aren’t. He’s leading the country in scoring right now, but Green isn’t a new Terrell Stoglin. He’s surrounded by competent but passive players who can’t seem to find the bottom of the net. Cadarian Raines and Jarrell Eddie, especially Eddie, should make a decent scoring backcourt. But Raines has only added half a point to his average from last season in a much bigger role, and Eddie can only do so much. Add in zero depth, and there’s good reason for Green to take as many shots as he does. For Virginia Tech to win, he needs his teammates to join the offensive cause. Green knows it and wants to win more than anything, but if his supporting cast keeps up its current pace, he’ll have to settle for scoring.
  5. Maryland Diamondback: It’s too bad Charles Mitchell will be leaving the ACC with the Terrapins because he’s incredible to watch. He’s a more in-shape Reggie Johnson with plenty of opportunity to condition himself next offseason. If there’s a shot missed, it’s a good bet Mitchell will come down with it. He combines a massive frame, good instincts and superb hustle to rack up boards like no one’s business. He also showed some pretty strong post moves against Duke. Assuming Mark Turgeon can convince him to stay around College Park for four years, Maryland has a real asset for the future in the post.
Share this story

Make No Mistake, Miami is The Best Team in the ACC

Posted by KCarpenter on January 24th, 2013

It may be tempting to add caveats, but make no mistake: The Miami Hurricanes really are the best team in the ACC. Sure, they haven’t played North Carolina State yet and, yes, Ryan Kelly makes Duke a significantly better team. There is a strong chance that both of these teams could beat the Hurricanes when they face them on their home courts later this season. On the other hand, Miami took the number one team in the country and administered the third biggest thrashing that the highest-ranked team in the country has suffered in the history of college basketball. Kelly and home court are important factors, but does anyone think that those two things are honestly worth 27 points?  If so, I’d like to present you with this honorary plaque commemorating your dedication to the Ryan Kelly Fan Club.

Miami Fans RTC'd the Blue Devils After Last Night's Destruction (credit: WaPo)

Miami Fans RTC’d the Blue Devils After Last Night’s Destruction (credit: WaPo)

The caveats don’t stand up against scrutiny. Miami sits at the top of the standings without a single conference loss because of the Hurricanes’ incredible commitment to defense under Jim Larranaga. Outside of Rasheed Sulaimon, the entire complement of Duke’s normally excellent guard corps combined to shoot 1-of-29 from the field. This wasn’t just luck on Miami’s part (though it helped).  Before last night, Miami had the eighth best defensive efficiency mark in the country, achieved by consistently excellent interior defense, limiting three-point attempts, contesting the ones that were put up, and a deliberate and marked effort to avoid putting their opponents at the line. With this team, Larranaga has opted for a cautious and conservative style of play: Miami mostly eschews the offensive glass in order to set its defense and limit transition buckets. They don’t try to force turnovers by risking fouling. The defense gets set, chases shooters off the three-point line, and funnels the offense to shot blockers who force opponents to attempt contested mid-range buckets (the worst shot in basketball). The defensive concept is simple: Make your opponent take difficult shots and then focus (as a team) on securing the defensive rebound. It’s how the San Antonio Spurs won four NBA championships and Larranaga has demonstrated that these concepts work well in college basketball as well. The Miami Hurricanes simply play phenomenal team defense and that goes a long way towards winning games.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Rushed Reactions: Miami 90, #2 Duke 63

Posted by nvr1983 on January 23rd, 2013

rushedreactions

RTC’s East Coast Boss was courtside for Miami’s dominating 90-63 win over #2 Duke on Wednesday night.

Five Key Takeaways.

  1. Before the season all of the talk in the ACC was about North Carolina State, but that quickly evaporated as we saw that their run last March was nothing more than a hot streak. Duke stepped in to fill the void as the dominant team in the ACC and appeared for a while to be the best team in the country, but with Ryan Kelly’s injury which we will get to in a bit, the door to win the ACC is wide open and Miami has stepped in. After tonight the Hurricanes are two games up in the ACC with only three truly challenging games remaining — at home against North Carolina and on the road at North Carolina and Duke. While they can certainly slip up in conference road games, they are successfully positioning themselves to be in contention for the ACC regular season title. I’m still not sure how good this Hurricane team is, but they have wins over a Duke and Michigan State at home and North Carolina on the road. All of those teams have their weaknesses, but Miami is looking like it could be a very dangerous team in March.

    Miami Fans Might Be Rushing The Court A Lot This Year

    Miami Fans Might Be Rushing The Court A Lot This Year

  2. Duke really needs Ryan Kelly to come back. I am not sure I can emphasize that enough. Kelly won’t win any Player of the Year awards and he might not even be First Team All-ACC, but the way this Duke team is constructed they might need his presence more than any other player on the team. Mason Plumlee is by far the best all-around player on the squad, but he lacks Kelly’s versatility, which is key when your bench is as short as Duke’s. Having said all of that, Duke needs to weather this stretch without Kelly which should theoretically be close to ending based on earlier reports from the school. Of course, that says nothing of how Kelly is actually healing. If he returns at 100% Duke should be fine, but their performances thus far following his injury demonstrates just how fragile this team is.
  3. Reggie Johnson could be an asset to Miami down the line, but he isn’t there yet. Before the game there had been rumors that Johnson might play tonight, but it wasn’t until just before tipoff that it was apparent that he would play (he was in the lay-up line without any protection on his broken left thumb). Johnson contributed in spots primarily with his girth filling space against a small Duke front line, but his impact was largely minimal (fill in your ground-shaking jokes). Johnson was only out of the lineup for about a month, but his conditioning looks horrible. He will never run up and down the court with the Cody Zellers of the college basketball world, but Jim Larranaga should have put Johnson on the treadmill for the past month. If Johnson can regain his previous form in the next few weeks, he could insert another dimension to this team although his return could affect the obvious chemistry the Hurricanes developed without him. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

ACC M5: 01.23.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 23rd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Tar Heel Monthly: Chad Ford wrote an article last week that included a list of the college programs that best prepare players for the NBA. He left North Carolina off the list because Roy Williams‘ “players don’t really seem to get any better the longer they stay in the program.” Adam Lucas didn’t take kindly to Ford’s admittedly tired argument and eviscerated it for all to see. This is what happens when facts are fitted to narratives instead of the other way around. Ford published what was becoming a more and more popular narrative (following Harrison Barnes’ “disappointing” career). Lucas shut him down.
  2. Orlando Sentinel: Unfortunately, this was an injury you could see coming. Terrance Shannon‘s strength opened him up to injuries like the one he sustained against Virginia on Saturday. If you’ve watched much of Florida State this year, you’ve seen Shannon’s style. He hurls himself at every rebound, every 50/50 ball; he’s not the most athletic guy on the floor, but he wants it more than anyone else. That recklessness caught up to him on a rebound where Shannon landed wrong and sprained his neck. Losing him will really hurt Florida State’s front line — for one reason, Leonard Hamilton will have to cut down his rotation (or add someone else to the mix, which appears unlikely). Additionally, Shannon provided a huge spark off the bench, which the Seminoles will need to replace.
  3. Independent Weekly: This is a terrific article that uses Iron Chef as a metaphor for coaching college basketball. Eric Martin also makes a very good point about what Duke may do without Ryan Kelly. Long story short, look for the Blue Devils to push the pace. Especially at the points without Seth Curry in the lineup (which is only 10 minutes a game, but still), look for Duke to start running. Kelly was built to thrive in the halfcourt, but Amile Jefferson, Mason Plumlee, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon are all meant for running the floor. In the second half against Georgia Tech, Martin points out that Duke cut its time per possession 25 percent from the first half. Not coincidentally, the Blue Devils pulled away.
  4. Charlottesville Daily Progress: After the Manti Teo incident, Virginia players are watching their backs on Twitter. If they’re to be believed, all reported girlfriends of the Cavaliers are real. Jontel Evans claims to believe Teo (disclaimer: I don’t), but can’t believe Teo didn’t try to Skype with his girlfriend — especially if he couldn’t meet her in person. Evans himself avoids making relationships of any type over social media, but also has a (real) girlfriend at Virginia.
  5. Fayetteville Observer: Well it’s gut-check time in Raleigh. The loss at Maryland was OK (Maryland appears to be a solid team and was desperate for a win), but the loss at Wake Forest wasn’t. Wolfpack fans can blame the officials all they want (and the officials did miss two key fouls down the stretch), but the game shouldn’t have been close enough to matter. What should have been a tune-up before NC State‘s first big showdown with North Carolina became the Wolfpack’s first bad loss. The Demon Deacons scored over 50 points in the second half, they intercepted sloppy passes, and they managed to hang on down the stretch. This game is the reason people are scared to pick NC State to improve on its Sweet Sixteen finish from last year.

EXTRA: Former Miami coach Frank Haith is in hot water with the NCAA. The water may be hot enough to get him fired at Missouri with a show-cause to boot.

Share this story

ACC M5: 01.15.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 15th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Sports Business Daily: It was only a matter of time for this, but word has leaked that the ACC is looking into a conference channel like the Big Ten Network or Pac-12 Networks. Currently, ACC ratings are actually surprisingly strong in football (although without many huge games) considering the conference’s recent play. But a network wouldn’t be easy to pull off. My guess is that any ACC network would get pushed to the back burner until after the SEC’s network gets distributed.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Not enough love for Richard Howell‘s performance was given here in the aftermath of NC State’s win over Duke. In the first half the Blue Devils kept things close (and looked like they might run away with the game for a while) thanks to strong work on the boards, but Howell grabbed almost every available board in the second half. He’s one of the strongest players in the league and he’s finally found a way to use his exceptional motor without also fouling. The Wolfpack need Howell to give them more games like that one if they want to finish on top of the league this season.
  3. CBSSports.com: Ryan Kelly‘s injury may have opened the ACC race up. The biggest related questions are: (1) Can NC State play with the intensity it played with Saturday on a regular basis; and (2) Can Miami avoid its trademarked losing streaks? Based on the Wolfpack’s first two ACC games, their prognosis is troubling, but the game against Duke was excellent all-around. Miami is a bigger question mark. Its ceiling is decidedly lower than Duke or NC State’s, but it’s also a proven commodity on the road. In the end, look for Duke and one other team to vie for the top spot if Kelly is out of the lineup for more than two weeks.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Mark Turgeon is starting to see familiar signs plaguing his point guard. The Terrapins are reeling after two straight losses and have gone from popular darkhorse contender to completely overrated in the span of a week. Now Turgeon is looking at a brutal four-game schedule that is like this: against NC State, at North Carolina, against Boston College, and at Duke. Those are three very losable games (I’d be surprised if Maryland was favored in any of them) with a classic trap game stuck in there too. Now’s not the time for dramatic changes, but Turgeon doesn’t have a lot of choice. The results of these four games will likely determine where Maryland’s postseason will be decided.
  5. Daily Tar Heel: And in the inane Letters to the Editor category (from an alumnus no less), we have a letter calling for the firing of UNC head coach Roy Williams. Now, a pessimistic case could be made for Williams’ talent-driven system being disrupted by one John Calipari’s annual raids on the five-star recruit pantry. A much more reasonable argument would see this year as Williams getting burned by Kendall Marshall departing for the NBA early (something few expected) and the Wear twins transferring back home.

Poll Thoughts: There was a lot of discussion about who the new number one team should be after the last of the unbeatens, Michigan, went down over the weekend. The ACC part of the argument essentially came down to the fact that Duke is a very different team without Ryan Kelly on the floor and should be ranked as such. This (essentially a small sample size eye test), to me, is just as good an argument as basing your rankings entirely on resume. The one caveat to such a standpoint is that once Kelly returns, Duke should — assuming he’s at 100% — jump back to its previous standing. This is where the justification is flawed, as voters rarely jump teams near the top of the rankings without a loss. Luckily polls mean nothing but pride for college basketball.

EXTRA: In case missed the Miami-Maryland brick-laying contest, this GIF sums the game up remarkably well.

miami-fail

Share this story

Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on January 14th, 2013

We are now three games into conference play and after a tremendous weekend that saw some of the best teams squaring off, the number one team go down, and a session of overtime, the hierarchy of the conference is coming into focus. Or maybe it is getting more muddled. In any case, even if it is still not clear which teams (besides Duke) are actually good, we did learn some other things this weekend:

  1. Duke Isn’t Invincible. No one seriously thought this, but the occasional loose talk of the Blue Devils going undefeated turned out to be, unsurprisingly, a bit premature. Obviously, a road loss to North Carolina State with Duke’s most efficient scorer, Ryan Kelly, sitting on the bench is not bad. Still, it is hard to win games when your opponent shoots over 50% from the field, 50% from three, and makes 20 free throws. Duke’s defense has been solid this year on the whole, this was Duke’s first true road game, and the Wolfpack is one of the better offensive teams in the whole country, yet none of these excuses changes the fact that NC State handled the Blue Devils’ on the inside and Duke had no answer for Richard Howell.

    Duke Clearly Is Not The Same Team Without Ryan Kelly

  2. Miami Doesn’t Miss Reggie Johnson Yet. It seemed like the Hurricanes would miss the formidable big man after a two-game losing streak that not so coincidentally began when Johnson was injured. Since those two games, however, Miami has played very well, with veteran Julian Gamble filling Johnson’s shoes convincingly. The Hurricanes share a spot with the Wolfpack on top of the ACC standings, currently undefeated in conference play. Gamble’s production has looked great on the offensive end, and Miami’s defense has looked impressive. Still, the tempo-free percentages tell a story: Gamble just doesn’t match the rebounding prowess of Johnson. It hasn’t cost the Hurricanes yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

RTC Top 25: Week 9

Posted by KDoyle on January 14th, 2013

And then there were none. We entered last week with four undefeated teams — Duke, Michigan, Arizona, and Wyoming — but all faltered. Michigan was technically the last remaining undefeated team, but that lasted for less than 24 hours as the Wolverines lost Sunday afternoon to Ohio State in Columbus. Due to the crazy week that was, Louisville now moves into the #1 spot for the first time this season. The Cardinals’ lone loss came against Duke in the Bahamas back in November, and they hold the slimmest of edges on the Blue Devils in our poll (more on that after the Qn’D). It was also a tough week for two Big East teams while the Pac-12 is experiencing a resurgence with two teams entering the RTC25.

The Quick n’ Dirty after the jump…

Week 9

Quick n’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story