ACC Game On: 12.19.11 EditionPosted by KCarpenter on December 19th, 2011
After a week that featured only a single game, this weekend worked out pretty well for the ACC. Of the nine games played over the course of the weekend, all but one of them was a victory. The exception? North Carolina State‘s loss against top-ranked Syracuse. While Syracuse pulled away at the end of the game, the Wolfpack still managed to hang for most of the game, showing some real moxie in their biggest game to date. Now, however, most teams enter into one of the odder stages of the college basketball schedule: the soft end of the non-conference schedule. While some teams still have a few tough tune-ups leading up to conference play, this stretch of games features some of the most lopsided games these teams will see all season. Still, there’s something to be said for blowouts: most folks who make predictive basketball models find big wins against inferior opponents to be more informative in terms of a team’s future performance than a close win against a roughly equal foe. Seeing who takes care of business and who stumbles could provide some critical insight into the future fortunes of these teams.
If I Had To Pick One
- North Florida at Virginia Tech at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.com
Let me be frank, none of these matchups tonight should be very competitive, but if I had to pick one of these games to watch for an upset, it would be this one. North Florida is one of the most battle-tested teams in the country, having already played Alabama, Florida, Miami, Ohio State, and Kansas State. All of these games were losses, but North Florida managed to take Kansas State to overtime, and they are not going to be fazed or starstruck playing the Hokies. They will come in prepared and ready to challenge. Virginia Tech is dominant in every possible comparison or matchup between the two teams, but UNF’s ability to play capable defense and their experience against big-time competition gives them an outside shot at upsetting the potentially rusty Hokies, who haven’t played against a tough opponent since December 4.
An Interesting Subplot
- UNC Greensboro at Duke at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.com
UNC Greensboro has had a tough season. The team has gone 2-9, with their only wins coming against Division II UNC Pembroke and a neutral site victory against Towson, which is, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, the third worst team in Division I. The season started so poorly that long time UNCG coach Mike Dement was fired, leaving the head coaching duties to former North Carolina player Wes Miller. Miller, a tough player who went from walk-on to starter in a UNC career highlighted by helping to win the 2005 National Championship, is currently the youngest head coach in Division I, and it will be interesting to see if he can get the overmatched Spartans to rise to the occasion against Miller’s old nemesis, the Duke Blue Devils.
For Fans Only
- Alabama A&M at Georgia Tech at 7:00 PM
- Nicholls State at North Carolina at 7:00 PM on ESPNU
- Alabama State at Clemson at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.com
The slate isn’t pretty and these games should be blowouts for the home teams. Still, Clemson has already dropped a a few home games this season so it will be interesting to see if the Tigers can protect their home court. Nicholls State and Alabama A&M seem thoroughly overmatched. One potentially fun thing to watch could be John Henson against NSU. Nicholls State is currently second in the nation in terms of how many of their shots their opponents block (nearly one fifth of all of Nicholls State possessions end in a block) and John Henson’s swat-happy ways might make for a big night for the Tar Heels’ rubber band man.