ACC Preseason Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 6th, 2012

With all of the ACC previews behind us, it’s time to put everything together in our first ACC Power Rankings of the season.

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke has all of the pieces to be a much better team than last year’s team. While the recruiting class is small, don’t forget redshirt freshmen Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee. Mason Plumlee may be the focal point of the Blue Devil offense. But the big question is how improved will Quinn Cook be?
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State has the most complete team on paper. Add three top-shelf recruits to a talented returning group that includes two potential conference players of the year, and there’s bound to be plenty of hype. But will the Wolfpack be able to overcome their defensive woes (and the historical defensive woes of Mark Gottfried) and play like the end of last season, or will they play like the rest of the year?
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (tied) lost a lot from last year’s team with the four leading contributors with Reggie Bullock as the sole returning starter. But Roy Williams reloads instead of rebuilds. James Michael McAdoo may be the best player in the league, and Bullock looks ready to step up production. Freshman point Marcus Paige has big shoes (or at least a lot of shoes) to fill, but he’ll have help from backcourt veterans Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald.
Florida State Seminoles 3. Florida State (tied) may fall on its face, but Leonard Hamilton and Michael Snaer have earned the right to be taken seriously after knocking Duke and North Carolina off en route to the conference championship. Keep an eye on Okaro White and Terrance Shannon this season. You can trust Hamilton’s team to bring it defensively, but can they stop turning the ball over?
Miami Hurricanes 3. Miami (tied) looked rough in its exhibition loss, but there’s no denying the talent on this roster. The Hurricane frontcourt of Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji is the best in the league; Durand Scott and Shane Larkin make an exciting backcourt duo; and there’s no shortage of athletic wings to help fill out the lineup. But can Jim Larranaga realize his team’s talent?
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland also has a lot of talent on its roster, but the Terrapins were abysmal offensively last season. To make matters worse (though potentially better in the long run), Terrell Stoglin is no longer with the team. Nick Faust and Alex Len need to make big improvements for Maryland to finish in the top half of the conference. Keep an eye on Maryland’s freshmen.
Virginia Cavaliers 7. Virginia has some interesting pieces, and Tony Bennett‘s system appears very effective. But the Cavaliers don’t have Mike Scott and his mid-range game to bail mediocre offensive possessions out anymore. This team will rely on its tenacious defense because it’s hard to see the offense being consistently effective.
Virginia Tech Hokies 8. Virginia Tech hired James Johnson to replace Seth Greenberg, and Greenberg left Johnson with some real talent. The Hokies are a sleeper to finish in the top half of the conference if Erick Green, Jarell Eddie and Cadarian Raines mesh well. Depth will be an issue, but those three are very good players. Johnson also has established relationships with the players, which should make his transition smoother.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest is really young. But a strong freshman class joining two of the best scorers in the league should make the team marginally more competitive than the last two years. Don’t sleep on Travis McKie. McKie is a match-up nightmare for every team, and shouldn’t surprise anyone when he averages close to 20 points a night.
Clemson Tigers 10. Clemson probably should be ranked higher than this. Certainly based on roster talent and previous results, the Tigers look better than tenth in the league. That said, Milton Jennings and Devin Booker haven’t shown the consistency to take over primary roles. If Jennings lives up to his McDonald’s All-American billing and Booker gets more aggressive, this team could finish much closer to the middle of the pack.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 11. Georgia Tech (tied) looks OK on paper, but didn’t add anything significant from last season’s 4-12 campaign. This points to another rough season in Atlanta, though Glen Rice Jr.’s sudden departure may prove more of a blessing than a curse.
Boston College 11. Boston College (tied) will be a significantly more watchable team this season. The team is still young, and still low on ACC-caliber talent. But the sophomore trio of Ryan Anderson, Patrick Heckmann and Dennis Clifford are the real deal. They also all improved a lot just over the course of last season (except Heckmann, who went down with mono).
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ACC M5: 10.25.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 25th, 2012

  1. ESPN:  North Carolina will be allowed to leave for its game at Long Beach State (en route to the Maui Invitational) more than 48 hours before tipoff. NCAA rules typically do not allow teams to leave for away games more than 48 hours before its tipoff, but North Carolina was able to lobby to successfully get a waiver (after it had been previously denied) to bypass this rule. This will reportedly save the school up to $120,000, as the team can now fly commercially instead of needing a charter flight.  It is definitely a change to see an off-the-court (or gridiron) headline that does not detail more doom and gloom for the athletics programs over at North Carolina. It is also good to see the NCAA exercising some common sense in this situation.
  2. Richmond Times-Dispatch:  Travis McKie is just one of two upperclassmen remaining on Wake Forest’s team, and he is the only one left from his 2010 recruiting class of five. Michael Phillips interviewed McKie recently, finding that his college experience has not been quite what he expected, as he has only won five conference games in his time at Wake Forest. But McKie has definitely learned through the adversity, saying, “I think now I appreciate things more.” The junior and coach Jeff Bzdelik are certainly confident that McKie’s leadership which has developed during his time at Wake Forest (including spending this summer mentoring all of Wake Forest’s freshmen) will get through to his extremely young teammates, and that the team can finally escape the ACC basement as a result.
  3. Washington Post:  Freshman Marshall Wood has been a pleasant surprise in practice for Virginia Tech. On a team with just eight scholarship players, coach James Johnson already envisions Wood playing many minutes at the power forward slot, and he was particularly impressed with Wood’s rebounding and outside shooting prowess. This is significant news for the Hokies because Wood, who put up great numbers in high school, was very lightly recruited and his high school competition in rural Virginia was not particularly strong.
  4. USA Today:  Andrew Wiggins is the most highly-touted high school player in the class of 2014 (although he is considering reclassifying and graduating this year), and possibly the best in high school regardless of class. Eric Prisbell’s detailed piece covers Wiggins’ growth in maturity since he moved to the United States from his native Canada to play for Huntington (WV) Prep,  previously home to OJ Mayo and Patrick Patterson. Wiggins has long thought to be favoring Kentucky and Florida State (his parents’ alma mater), although North Carolina, along with Kansas and Ohio State, has come into the running recently. Refreshingly, Wiggins is extremely humble and hates all the hoopla (inspired by his idol, Kevin Durant) so much that his coach believes that when Wiggins decides on his college, he will just text him the choice rather than announce it in an ESPNU televised special.  If Florida State could land Wiggins, it would undoubtedly be the biggest recruiting coup in the program’s history.
  5. CBS Sports:  Going along with Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson vowing to push the tempo this year, Sean Bielawski decided to take a closer look at the overall tempo stats in the ACC.  The ACC has historically been thought of as one of the higher-scoring, more up-tempo of the major conferences (at least in contrast to the Big Ten, for example), but last year, only one ACC squad, North Carolina, was in the top 75 in the Pomeroy adjusted tempo rankings. Overall, the ACC was ranked fourth out of the six major conferences in terms of average tempo, and 20th out of the 33 Division I conferences (weighed down by Miami, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Virginia, who were all outside the top 250).  If Johnson is true to its word, that could be enough to shift the ACC into the upper half of college basketball in terms of its pace.
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ACC Team Previews: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by ARowe on October 22nd, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest basketball took a step back last season under third-year coach Jeff Bzdelik. While Wake was on top of the basketball world in January 2009 (undefeated and ranked #1), the Demon Deacons’ program has fallen on hard times ever since. From October 2010 to April 2012, Tony Woods, J.T. Terrell, Ty Walker, Ari Stewart, Carson Desrosiers, Anthony Fields, Tony Chennault and Melvin Tabb all left the school, either by choice or by force. As a result, the Deacs have won only five ACC games since March 7, 2010. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is a phrase that comes to mind.

This is Very Much a Make or Break Season For Jeff Bzdelik (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Bzdelik certainly has his detractors. And his record since arriving in Winston-Salem speaks for itself. When a program has as rich of a basketball history (at least over the last three decades) as Wake Forest does, losing records and mass exoduses of players over a two-year period will not be tolerated very long at all. Although athletic director Ron Wellman has put his support thoroughly behind Bzdelik at some point he has to look out for his own job. Fortunately for both of them, help is on the way.


“Baby Deacs” is the name of the freshman class entering Winston-Salem this year to try and turn this program around. Madison Jones, Tyler Cavanaugh, Aaron Rountree, Codi Miller-McIntyre, Arnaud William Adala Moto, Devin Thomas and Andre Washington make up the seven freshmen expected to get Wake Forest basketball back to their winning ways. The class was ranked #21 in the country by ESPN and #23 by

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ACC M5: 10.22.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 22nd, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Veterans Ian Miller and Michael Snaer are really excited about the freshmen joining the team this season. Snaer specifically lauded Aaron Thomas, Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon as potential stars on this year’s team. Thomas has Snaer’s “can’t stop me” attitude which should make him an elite scorer, but Bookert may hold the key for Florida State making the next step with his ball-handling skills. The biggest issue with the last few Seminole teams has been offense, and most of the team’s offensive woes come from turning the ball over too frequently. If Bookert can run the offense and reduce the team’s turnover rate, look out.
  2. Associated Press (via Winston-Salem Journal): Apparently Reggie Johnson‘s dieting has started to work. The Miami big man started the season two years ago at a whopping 330 pounds and reportedly is now down to 290. He’s still got a ways to go, but believes his diet is helping. If he can play superstar minutes and can run the floor better, Johnson will make a run at becoming the ACC’s best big man. He’s already probably the league’s most polished returning half-court post player, but his weight keeps him from being elite. That said, take Johnson’s words with a grain of salt. It’s a little weird he pointed to his weight two years ago instead of last year (albeit when he was rehabbing a knee injury).
  3. Greensboro News-Record: David Morrison went to Duke’s Operation Basketball and got some interesting notes. First, Coach K is looking for major increases in offensive production from Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry this year. Krzyzewski wants this team’s offense to be less balanced, though Rasheed Sulaimon will definitely be an offensive factor if he lives up to his hype. Morrison also talked with Plumlee about Krzyzewski’s reaction to the Blue Devils’ less-that-stellar finish last season.
  4. Blogger So Dear: Most schools taking international trips already finished them, but Jeff Bzdelik and his young Demon Deacon team headed to Canada and won two exhibition games against Brock University and Ryerson University, 84-79 and 88-80, respectively. CJ Harris and Tyler Cavanaugh led the way for Wake Forest against Brock, scoring 16 points apiece in the win (Harris also added five assists and Cavanaugh grabbed nine rebounds). Saturday Travis McKie starred, finishing with 26 points. Freshmen Cody Miller-McIntyre and Cavanaugh also scored in double figures.
  5. Snaer isn’t the only one talking some trash this offseason. Dexter Strickland isn’t too worried about NC State being picked first in the ACC.

    “They talk those guys up every single year and we beat them every single year […] They are the least of our worries. Beat us one year and then they can talk smack. Until then, you can’t put them in the mix.”

    He also felt pretty strongly about the NCAA Tournament outcome if North Carolina hadn’t been hampered by injuries.

    “I’ll be honest. If nobody got hurt, you might as well have given us the trophy. Nobody had the ability to stop us.”

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ACC Summer Recess: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by KCarpenter on July 18th, 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: Wake Forest.

Where They Stand Now

Bzdelik Enters Year Three of a Rebuild at Wake

It’s a rare thing when you can be tied for last place in the conference and still be hailed for taking a big step forward. Wake Forest went 4-12 in in league play, part of the four-way tie at the bottom, yet last season can’t be rated all that poorly. When you go from 1-15 to 4-12, it’s certainly a nice step forward, but it’s also a clear sign that you are being graded on a curve. Wake Forest hoops got a lot better last season, but make no mistake: This team is still far from good.

What’s the best way to describe the state of this program? The highlight of the Demon Deacons’ last season is debatable: It’s either a three-point home win over Virginia Tech (a team that finished below WFU in the conference standings) or a one-point home win over Yale (who had a great year… for Yale). There wasn’t a lot to cheer about this season, but the step away from the soul-crushing precipice of the 2011-12 season is enough to chalk up last year as an incredibly mild success.

Outside of team highlights, the past season was also a remarkable showcase for C.J. Harris, who had a terrific year shooting the ball from distance. Harris combined with Travis McKie formed one of the deadliest scoring tandems in the conference.  Of course, it ended up not mattering too much, but it was one sign of genuine hope for a program that has fallen on lean times.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.23.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 23rd, 2012

  1. Tampa Bay Times: It looks like Leonard Hamilton‘s reported “lobbying” has stirred up the Florida State athletic department’s checkbook. Currently Hamilton makes $1.5 million a year plus incentives (for instance this year he earned an extra $175,000 for winning the ACC Tournament and being named ACC Coach of the Year). He definitely deserves the raise. Since he arrived in Tallahassee, Hamilton has made a Seminole program with very few historical highs relevant. While Florida State’s early NCAA tournament departure was unfortunate, the team’s continued success will only enhance his ability to recruit.
  2. Blogger So Dear: It sounds like major unrest is brewing over at Wake Forest. Days after Tony Chennault announced his transfer, rumors are swirling that Carson Desrosiers (which sources confirmed to Blogger So Dear) and Anthony Fields (unconfirmed, along with an even more distressing rumor that Travis McKie may be asking to transfer too) want out of Winston-Salem too. We will definitely keep everything updated, but suffice to say the Demon Deacons’ roster would be decimated if those three leave. If you’re keeping score at home, these three potential transfers would make nine players to transfer or depart (for reasons other than graduation) under Jeff Bzdelik’s tenure.
  3. ESPN Chicago: This probably isn’t super surprising, but longtime Duke assistant Chris Collins is interested in a head coaching gig, and Illinois would be on “the right fit” list. Because of Collins’ ties with Chicago–his dad coached the Bulls, he grew up there, and he currently recruits there for Duke–rumors about the vacancy have swirled since Bruce Weber left. Obviously, if Collins is offered the job (he reportedly hasn’t been contacted yet, but I would be surprised if the Illini hadn’t at least put out feelers to his agent), I think he will take it. That’s a tough first head coaching job though, with some serious expectations.
  4. Durham Herald-Sun: Speaking of Duke and not surprises, Mason Plumlee is looking into possibly entering this year’s NBA Draft. Currently he’s gathering information to get an idea on where he would go, and how much an extra year could help or hurt him. Jonathan Givony of Draft Express seems optimistic about Plumlee’s NBA future, though noted that coming back for his senior season wouldn’t hurt either.
  5. Hampton Roads Daily-Press: One big knock on Virginia this year was the team’s dearth of quality wins. Obviously, the Cavaliers couldn’t control their conference draw, but a team’s nonconference schedule is one that comes up on Selection Sunday (just ask Seth Greenberg). Tony Bennett pointed out that the nonconference strength of schedule wasn’t helped by losing to TCU (which kept Virginia from playing Marquette). But Bennett is looking at adding some meat to next year’s schedule, starting with a home-and-home series with Tennessee.

EXTRA: If you’re not watching Bomani & Jones it’s easily worth the ten minutes a week. Where else are you going to get interviews with Julius Hodge and Joe in Raleigh (an avid Duke fan and notorious sports talk show caller)?

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ACC Tournament: Three Thoughts from Wake Forest – Maryland

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2012

In the end it was a dominant win by Maryland. Jeff Bzdelik pulled his starters at the under-four media timeout (to be fair, Nikita Mescheriakov and Tony Chennault had already fouled out by that point).

  • Starting with Wake Forest, this game didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. The Demon Deacons played Maryland tough the first 15 minutes and fell apart. After leading 26-21, Maryland went on a 35-9 run including the beginning of the second half. The biggest issue all afternoon for Jeff Bzdelik’s squad was production from players not named Mescheriakov, CJ Harris and Travis McKie. Those three scored 52 of Wake Forest’s 60 points (it would’ve been more had Bzdelik left them in to the bitter end). Chennault and Carson Desrosiers combined to go 1-13 from the field. That won’t cut it coming from starters. Period.
  • On Maryland’s end, it’s really tough to judge how impressive the Terrapins were against Wake Forest. There’s no argument that they didn’t dominate the game, but Wake Forest also lost all of its will to win after giving up its five-point lead in dramatic fashion down the stretch in the first half. The best news from Mark Turgeon’s standpoint is that he got to rest his thin line-up for much of the second half, which will keep the teams’ collective legs fresh for a game tomorrow against North Carolina.
  • In contrast to Wake Forest’s starters, Maryland’s combined to go 25-43 from the field (58%) thanks to one of Nick Faust‘s best games of the year (19 points on ten shots) and a very strong game from James Padgett (5-6 from the field). This Maryland team could make North Carolina work tomorrow if Faust and Padgett can combine for more points than Terrell Stoglin.
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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.
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The Best Scoring Wings in the ACC

Posted by KCarpenter on March 2nd, 2012

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

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

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

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ACC Game On: 02.28.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on February 28th, 2012

We are in the home stretch of the regular season. It would be sad if that didn’t mean that tournament play is in the air. After a high stakes weekend where Miami made its case for the big tournament while Virginia and North Carolina State faltered at a critical moment, this week kicks off with a fairly lopsided matchup.

The Infernal Showdown

  • #7 Duke at Wake Forest at 9:00 PM on ESPNU

The last true road game of the season for Duke, the Blue Devils need to win this game to contend for a #1 seed. Duke should be more than up for the task, but they come into Winston Salem playing a Wake Forest team that has nothing to lose. After last year’s miserable season, the Demon Deacon’s forward progress is admirable, but when push comes to shove, this is a team that has only won four conference games. After a red hot start, Travis McKie has cooled down. Actually, outside of the still-incandescent C. J. Harris, the whole team has cooled off. With their season heading nowhere fast, Wake Forest doesn’t have much to do outside of ruin Duke’s day and make Nikita Mescheriakov and Ty Walker‘s Senior Night memorable. With the worst defense in the league and one of the worst offenses, Wake Forest would need an exceptional game (marked by frequent trips to the line, effective perimeter defense, and a lot of luck) to surprise the Devils. Still, it’s the last week of the regular season and strange things happen when teams play for pride.

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