Checking In On… the ACC

Posted by mpatton on December 6th, 2011

Matt Patton is the ACC correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter @rise_and_fire.

Reader’s Take


Top Storylines

  • Kentucky and North Carolina: College basketball’s “Game of the Century” lived up to the hype coming down to the last possession (even if it ended bizarrely) and was fun from start to finish (well, almost finish for Tar Heel fans). The game was a reminder that North Carolina can be the team people thought it would be coming into this season. The Tar Heels were aggressive, knocked down perimeter shots, and controlled a little over half of the game. Harrison Barnes was outplayed by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but Kendall Marshall was passable on defense [Author’s Note: That wasn’t meant to be a bad pun. He actually played solid defense on Teague most of the game.] and his usual self on offense (though I was very surprised he saw as much time guarding Marquis Teague as he did, considering Teague’s turnover woes). I’m not sure any college basketball fan would mind seeing a rematch this spring.
  • Terrell Stoglin Can Score: Unfortunately, his teammates are struggling to keep up their end. Only three BCS-conference teams (Penn State, Washington, and Utah) have players with higher usages, and none have players more likely to take a shot (shot percentage). Stoglin is the only player on the team averaging over 20 points a game with 22.4. His field goal percentage could be a little higher, but right now he’s the best scorer in the conference. For more on Stoglin, check out our post from yesterday on his scoring ability.
  • Sportsman of the Year: Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt joined the prestigious ranks of Sports Illustrated‘s “Sportsman of the Year” winners and are only the third and fourth college basketball coaches to be chosen for the honor (Dean Smith and John Wooden are the other two). Both are worthy choices, as they both signify excellence over the course of 73 combined years of coaching.

Terrell Stoglin is Maryland's Offense.

Power Rankings

1) North Carolina (6-2) lost to the #1 team in the country on the road by one point. But it was the second straight game that the Tar Heels were unable to control the tempo. Is this a problem going forward, or is the defense good enough to win ugly?
Ken Pomeroy Fun Fact: The only player in Roy Williams’ rotation that is not averaging over a point per possession? James Michael McAdoo (fellow frosh PJ Hairston leads the team with a 129.0 offensive rating).

2) Duke (7-1) hasn’t played since last week. My guess is this means a lot of quality time watching film on Ohio State.
Ken Pomeroy Fun Fact: Duke has the third worst free throw defense in the country, as opponents are shooting a whopping 80.6% from the charity stripe against the Blue Devils this year.

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Reflections on North Carolina’s Loss to Kentucky

Posted by mpatton on December 5th, 2011

The game was terrific. I’ll admit, I didn’t think it would be close. I was sure that one team was going to win by ten, running too quickly for the other to catch up. In fact, when it was 43-35 with a couple minutes left in the first half, I expected the Tar Heels to step on the accelerator and force a couple of freshman turnovers that led to easy transition buckets and go into the half with a ten point lead. [Author’s Note: For the record, I would have expected the exact same thing coming from Kentucky if they had been up eight in the first half.] Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

North Carolina and Kentucky Lived Up to the Hype Saturday.

A few observations that have already been brought up are worth examining more closely. First and foremost, Harrison Barnes was outplayed by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist straight up. No ifs, ands, or buts. That surprised me, especially on the defensive end, where we saw Barnes excel at times last year even when his shot wasn’t falling. Gilchrist was the player of the game, and a lot of his performance won’t show up on a stat sheet. I agree that at least some of Barnes’ struggles came from early foul trouble, but as an experienced player he should have avoided dumb fouls.

One thing that went under the radar is John Calipari‘s effect on the game. Calipari rarely gets credit for outstanding coaching because of his phenomenal recruiting, but he really changed the game with just under seven minutes to play in the first half. At that point, each team had played 26 possessions in 13 minutes. That’s on pace for an 80 possession game — which is breakneck speed. The pace was creating a lot of problems for the Wildcat defense, as North Carolina already had 34 points (good for a ludicrous offensive rating of 130.8). The game ended with only 64 possessions. And it wasn’t because North Carolina wanted to slow down. Calipari and Kentucky effectively slowed the game down, which saw their offensive productivity improve dramatically.

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ACC Morning Five: 12.05.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 5th, 2011

  1. SI, ESPN, and TSN: In case you were looking for some of the major weekend recaps of college basketball’s version of the “Game of the Century” between North Carolina and Kentucky, here you go. Kentucky may have more talent, but I think North Carolina is better (by a hair) right now. Yes, they lost, but the Tar Heels were a last-second freeze and heroic shot away from beating Kentucky in one of the most hostile environments in the country. Expect to see a more detailed reaction from us later today, but it’s hard to argue that those two teams aren’t evenly matched after that game. However, I do offer these words of wisdom in passing: Don’t let this weekend’s win obscure Ohio State’s dismantling of Duke a few days earlier. The Buckeyes look every bit as good as North Carolina and Kentucky right now. But, like all college basketball fans, I was thrilled that the game at Rupp Arena lived up to all of the hype.
  2. Boston Globe: Boston College has reached a place it hasn’t been in 37 years: one that’s lower than local “rival” Boston University. The Terriers beat the Eagles for the first time in nearly four decades by 14 on Saturday. The win was also BU’s first against a major conference opponent since it beat Michigan in 2004. Steve Donahue sounds frustrated, but is sticking with his team: “I just can’t evaluate my team based on the scoreboard at this point. It’s just not fair to those kids.” For anyone keeping score at home, Boston College is now ranked #271 by Ken Pomeroy and #306 by Jeff Sagarin (in a closely contested battle with Utah for the worst power conference team).
  3. Washington Post (and the follow-up): Mark Turgeon wanted more scoring balance from his team looking forward to its weekend game against Notre Dame. What’d he get? Terrell Stoglin dropping 31 points in the team’s best win of the season. What Turgeon really wanted was for Stoglin not to force things, but it’s abundantly clear that the Terrapins don’t have any other consistent scoring threats (for instance, Notre Dame started the game on an 8-1 run before Stoglin put up 11 straight for Maryland). The good news for Turgeon is Stoglin’s shot selection improved dramatically: Instead of relying solely on jump shots, he took the ball to the rack. The bad news is there probably won’t be a lot of offensive balance until Pe’Shon Howard gets back from his injury.
  4. Burlington Times-News: In another prophetic (this time more accurately) preview, Mark Gottfried tempered fans’ expectations, summing up NC State perfectly: “I wouldn’t get real excited just yet, but I think we’ve shown at times we can be very competitive with just about anybody.” Yet again at Stanford, the Wolfpack were very competitive most of the game but couldn’t sustain the momentum during the second half. Both of the team’s other games against likely NCAA Tournament competition (Indiana and Vanderbilt) played out in similar fashion. It’s hard to tell if the team will be able to develop winning ways this season, or if it’s still a year away.
  5. The Mikan Drill: Virginia has a very mediocre offense. Luckily the Cavaliers back it up with an elite (top ten according to Ken Pomeroy) defense. Just how are they so effective? The Mikan Drill looks at Bennett’s “packline” defense that helps hide what the team lacks in athleticism by controlling dribble-penetration as a group effort (in a way, think of a very help-oriented man-to-man). As always, informative screenshots and video clips here help explain Bennett’s unique system.
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