ACC Week 1 Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 16th, 2012

We’ve got a full week of game action as evidence to start evaluting these teams a bit better, so here goes…

Disclaimer: Power Rankings don’t imply which teams are best. They’re all about who has momentum right now. 

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (2-0) stays on top of the rankings after taking care of business against Georgia State at home before knocking off the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats in the Georgia Dome. This team still has a long way to go, but they showed poise holding off a talented, albeit young, Kentucky team. While Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee owned the box score, Quinn Cook rose to the challenge and put in his bid for the starting spot. Minnesota is the next NCAA tournament-quality team on Thursday.
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State (2-0) absolutely blitzkrieged its first two opponents, Miami (OH) and Penn State. Putting too much stock in beating the Redhawks by 38 is unwise. But that 17-point win over the Nittany Lions–despite Lorenzo Brown finishing an icy 1-12 from the field–is worth noting. Specifically, Tyler Warren was phenomenal going for 22 points (on 12 shots) and eight rebounds. The game tonight against Massachusetts should be a fun one.
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (2-0) looked lost on offense at times against Gardner-Webb, which is just a young team trying to learn to play together. James Michael McAdoo has been phenomenal through the first two games (he’s averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds), and Reggie Bullock asserted himself against Florida Atlantic. This team should keep improving, but in time for the trip to Bloomington in a week and a half? That’s ambitious.
Maryland Terrapins 4. Maryland (1-1) looks a lot better than expected. Alex Len is going to be a top-10 pick. He absolutely ravaged Kentucky, which Maryland kept close to the bitter end before making mincemeat of Morehead State. Nick Faust still can’t shoot, but Seth Allen will be really fun to watch the next few years. The Terrapins need to work on consistent offense, but as Dez Wells gets more and more used to Mark Turgeon’s system, good things will happen.
Boston College 5. Boston College (1-1) played with a stacked Baylor team for 35 minutes after beating a bad Florida International team by double figures (still, that’s huge improvement over last year). This team will still struggle to win a ton of games, but Ryan Anderson‘s development into an All-ACC caliber player is accelerating the rebuilding process (he’s averaging 27 points and 12 boards a game). Dennis Clifford also got off to a solid start. The Eagles’ games against Dayton and Auburn should both be winnable this week.
Clemson Tigers 6. Clemson (1-0) beat down Presbyterian this week, which isn’t worth much on its own. But Devin Booker and Milton Jennings both played very well (combined to go 11-14 from the field for 26 points) and look like they’re ready to step into bigger roles for Brad Brownell this season. A near impossible test awaits this week in the form of Gonzaga.
Virginia Tech Hokies 7. Virginia Tech (3-0) scarfed three cupcakes this week, winning all three games by double figures. The “meat” of the nonconference schedule is still a ways off (and “meat” is used loosely to describe BCS-conference teams), but so far James Johnson‘s tenure is a success. He’ll need Robert Brown to continue producing offensively to relieve some of Erick Green‘s perimeter burden.
Florida State Seminoles 8. Florida State (1-1) is much better than its home loss to the South Alabama, but those are the kind of losses that will motivate this team to keep getting better. Michael Snaer is also in an early season slump, having only hit a third of the shots he’s taken. But the Seminoles’ 27-point beatdown of Buffalo (where they scored 95 points!) may right the ship. The next six games showcase three against possible NCAA tournament teams: BYU (today), Minnesota and Florida.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest (1-0) played decently against Radford. The game was never free from doubt, but the Demon Deacons didn’t let the Big South Highlanders get the best of them this year. CJ Harris got to the charity stripe like a pro, but Travis McKie‘s 11 points left a little to be desired–especially against a team of this caliber. Turnovers are going to kill Wake Forest in at least two conference games this year.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 10. Georgia Tech (2-0) has balance, but can’t shoot. The Yellow Jackets need someone to step up from the perimeter to keep other teams honest (right now they make a smooth 17.6% of their shots from downtown. Two of Mfon Udofia, Daniel Miller and Kam Holsey need to become go-to guys on offense. Miller doesn’t appear to want that role.
Miami Hurricanes 11. Miami (1-1) needs to be careful not to become a dumpster fire. The team lost its exhibition against St. Leo and now lost to Florida Gulf Coast to ice the cake. This team looks phenomenal on paper, but sometimes things just don’t translate the way we expect. The same Reggie Johnson who made Mason Plumlee look like a child at Cameron Indoor Stadium last year has only hit one third of his shots against middling competition. There’s still time for Larranaga to turn this car around, but time is running out.
Virginia Cavaliers 12. Virginia (1-2), if Miami has to be careful, Virginia fans may already smell that trash burning. So far the Cavaliers lost to George Mason and Delaware. These wins (or struggles) could be statistical aberrations (if your style keeps opponents within striking distance, you’re bound to lose some unfortunate games), and Jontel Evans is out.Things aren’t off to a great start in Charlottesville.
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ACC M5: 11.06.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 6th, 2012

  1. Yahoo! Sports: When Miami dropped an exhibition game against Division II St. Leo on Friday night, it was fairly surprising. The Hurricanes return a veteran cast of players and many have pegged them to compete for one of the top few spots in the conference, making a loss in one of these “gimme” games reasonably shocking. For his part, Jim Larranaga doesn’t seem too worried about the tough loss, and history seems to be on his side. Recent losses by highly rated teams in the preseason have rarely foreshadowed disappointing seasons, though Arizona’s loss to Seattle Pacific a year ago did expose a Wildcats team that easily under-performed versus preseason expectations — that situation may be the exception that proves the rule.
  2. Tallahassee Democrat: The Seminoles plan to be prepared for their opponents, and a part of Leonard Hamilton‘s success machine is teaching his players how to effectively analyze their own play in film sessions.  Florida State adds a bunch of new players this season and acclimating these players to the winning ways of Hamilton’s program is a key step to bolstering and reinforcing what has become one of the strongest team cultures in the conference. Watching footage from their first scrimmage, the Seminoles prepared for their second scrimmage against none other than the Hurricane slayers of St. Leo. The film sessions appear to have paid off as FSU was able to handily defeat the Lions on Monday night.
  3. WSPA: Clemson also squared off against an exhibition opponent last night, taking on Lander. The Tigers did so, however, without the services of senior Devin Booker, who was suspended by Brad Brownell for a violation of team rules. Freshman Josh Smith was also suspended, though both he and Booker will be able to play for the proper season opener. Still, this little cloud has a silver lining in Landry Nnoko, the freshman forward who scored  a team-high 14 points in the exhibition. If Nnoko can contribute like that in the regular season, it will make the Tigers all the more formidable.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: Seth Curry isn’t at 100% and that’s not so great news for Duke‘s perimeter offense which figured to count on the guard for some serious scoring punch. Curry, however, is dealing with a somewhat mysterious leg injury that is a source of pain and swelling and has kept him off the court for nearly two months before last Thursday’s exhibition. When Curry took the court, he didn’t look like himself, shooting a miserable 1-for-9 in 17 minutes of action. While Curry and his team are optimistic about his chances of playing at near full health this year, the availability of the perimeter sniper is still in doubt. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Curry used sparingly in the early parts of the season with Mike Krzyzewski giving him some more time to rest his leg.
  5. Memphis Commercial Appeal: In more disappointing news for Duke, Austin Nichols, a talented forward who had the Blue Devils on his list, has chosen to play for Memphis in the coming year. Nichols’ reputation has increased after a year of rapidly improving play. Though Tennessee seemed to have the inside track on his services, official visits to Duke and Virginia seemed to hint that the ACC schools had a legitimate shot at the power forward. Still, the appeal of the Tigers and the allure of a Penny Hardaway-esque place in the pantheon of city greats held too strong an allure.

BONUS: It’s Election Day and while much is uncertain, one thing remains clear: President Barack Obama will be playing basketball. It’s one election superstition that’s easy for fans to get behind. So, exercise your civic duty and go vote. Then, maybe take a cue from the President, shoot some hoops and get excited for college basketball and the exercise of your political agency!

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Miami Loses to Division II St. Leo: What Went Wrong?

Posted by KCarpenter on November 3rd, 2012

Exhibition season usually offers little insight into how a team will fare once play begins in earnest; comparing blowouts against sub-par competition usually isn’t too productive. The highly-touted Miami Hurricanes, however, gave us something to talk about. Last night Miami lost to the Division II St. Leo Lions 69-67. Expectations have been high for the Hurricanes who return a veteran cast of capable upperclassmen. In the Lions, Miami faced a tough reality check. St. Leo jumped to an early lead with the score in favor of the underdogs 37-30 at the half. While the Hurricanes made it interesting in the closing minutes, the Lions, led by Trent Thomas‘s 23 points, walked away with the victory. This leads to the simple question: what went wrong?

Miami played ineffective defense and had an even more ineffective offense. St. Leo managed to shoot 45.3% from the field, which, while not absurd, is still a strong performance against a team that should have been capable of suffocating the Lions. Meanwhile,  the Hurricane stars fell flat with the exception of Trey McKinney-Jones who shined with 19 points on 13 shots. The typically devastating inside-outside frontcourt paring of Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson played disastrously. Both players committed four turnovers each, Kadji shot 1-for-6 from the field and Johnson managed only a single rebound in 13 minutes of pure, distilled Jim Larranaga frustration. The coach had been (and remains) critical about his team’s level of energy in the past couple weeks of practice.

Miami will learn and grow from this experience, but right now this game is a warning sign that things aren’t all squared away in Coral Gables. Perhaps this team will mature and eventually come to meet expectations, but this game offers some early reason for skepticism about the Hurricanes’ coming season.

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