2011-2012 ACC Preview: #1 North Carolina

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected ACC regular season champions, the North Carolina Tar Heels.
2011-2012 Record: 13-2

Key Wins:
November 11- North Carolina 67, Michigan State 55
November 30- North Carolina 60, Wisconsin 57

Tough Losses:
November 26- UNLV 90, North Carolina 80
December 3- Kentucky 73, North Carolina 72

Starting Lineup:[table id=28 /]Last Year Against Duke:
February 9, 2011 at Duke- Duke 79, North Carolina 73
March 5, 2011 in Chapel Hill- North Carolina 81, Duke 67
March 13, 2011 at ACC Tournament in Greensboro, NC- Duke 75, North Carolina 58

This Year Against Duke:
February 8, 2012 in Chapel Hill
March 3, 2012 at Duke

The Good: There’s no two ways about it. Whether you’re a North Carolina fan or a Duke fan or an anybody else fan, you must admit that North Carolina is an offensive juggernaut this season. The numbers don’t lie- first in the country in scoring at 88.1 points per game, first in the country in rebounding at 47.1 per game, second in assists with 19.7 per game. These numbers are absolutely absurd. The Tar Heels have scored less than 80 points in a game on just three occasions this season. They outrebound their opponents by 11.8 boards per game. North Carolina has gone at least nine deep in every game this season, and 15 players on their roster have played at least 11 games. This team has dominated the paint this year thanks to the play of John Henson and Tyler Zeller. Kendall Marshall is very difficult to stop in transition, dishing out 10 assists per game. Love them or hate them (and believe me, I hate them with a burning passion) this team is pretty damn talented.

The Bad: You can put this team on the line as much as you want and have little consequence. North Carolina is shooting a lackluster 64.0% from the foul line this season. In fact, only four players on the entire North Carolina roster are shooting above 70% from the free throw line on the year. This is a glaring weakness for a team with such an efficient offense. In the Tar Heels’ loss to UNLV, they shot just 20-for-33 from the line. Their woes from the line could certainly come back to haunt them if they get caught up in some tight games during their conference schedule. The question is, on how many occasions is their poor free throw shooting really going to matter? If they continue to build up 20 or 30 point leads on teams, not too much.

The Crazie: This team is almost perfectly put together, with five seniors, three juniors, three sophomores, and five freshmen on North Carolina’s roster. This provides them with the perfect blend of experience and youth. Their tournament experience is fairly extensive as well. North Carolina’s seniors were a part of their last national championship team during their freshman year, and all players excluding the freshman made a run to the Elite 8 last season. It’s hard to think that just two years ago the Tar Heels went 20-17 on the year, finishing 10th in the ACC with a 5-11 conference record, and missed the NCAA tournament for the first time under Roy Williams.

Player We Love To Hate: Well considering they play basketball for Roy Williams, wear that ugly shade of blue, and call Chapel Hill, North Carolina their home, we love to hate every single player on that team. But if I had to pick, I couldn’t narrow it down to fewer than three players we love to hate the most. You have to start with sophomore Harrison Barnes. Not only is he the most talented player on the team and therefore the biggest target (see Redick, J.J.), but he also chose North Carolina over Duke after the consensus was that Duke had Barnes all but wrapped up. If going to the University of North Carolina doesn’t make you a big enough villan at Duke, that’s a good way to up your street cred. We also love to hate John Henson, who averages 15 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks per game and is one of the most efficient big men in the country. He’s given us fits on defense in the past, and is one of those “you hate him because you can’t stop him” players. Luckily for us, Henson’s younger sister Amber made the right choice and is playing basketball at Duke. And we can’t talk about hating on North Carolina without mentioning Kendall Marshall. You may also know him as @KButter5, or as we like to call him, the most ridiculously obnoxious guy in the entire Twitterverse. Though his tweets do often provide a fair amount of comedy, ranging from the fairly ridiculous to the…fairly more ridiculous. Not to mention he’s also a fantastic point guard, and Duke has had some pretty big problems with North Carolina point guards in the past (see Lawson, Ty). Oh and honorable mention for Tyler Zeller, whose brother Cody at Indiana is simply better at basketball than he is. What you mean you didn’t expect the “Player We Love To Hate” section to be the longest section of the UNC post?

The Bottom Line: This is a very complete basketball team with only one glaring weakness. It shouldn’t lose more than a couple games in the ACC regular season, and will more than likely split its matchups with Duke like it has in years past. They more than likely won’t win the ACC tournament, because typically Roy Williams doesn’t seem to care too much about that. Though I don’t think they’ll win it all, this very easily could be a Final Four year for these guys. Biased or not, anyone that says North Carolina isn’t the best team in the ACC is kidding themselves.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-2012 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina

The Truth About ACC Schedules

Here we sit, just days away from the beginning of the ACC’s regular season schedule. At Crazie-Talk we’ve done quite a bit of pondering about the ACC over the course of the last three weeks, going team by team around the conference and projecting the regular season standings come March. During this process something intriguing has jumped out at me, something I haven’t given much thought to until now- just because everyone is playing their ACC conference schedule doesn’t mean their schedules are all the same.

Allow me to elaborate. Unfortunately, not all ACC schedules are created equal. There once was a time when this was a case. The ACC expanded to nine teams in 1991. With the addition of Florid astate, the ACC was comprised of Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, and Wake Forest. These teams still played a 16 game regular season, a grueling round-robin that would pit every team against one another on two occasions, once at home and once on the road. These days are long gone. They ended in 2004, when Miami and Virginia Tech joined the conference from the Big East. The following year Boston College made the same jump.

There are currently 12 teams in the ACC, and the ACC conference schedule is still 16 games. Now I’m no math major, but there is no way to have 12 teams play a 16 game schedule where every team plays every other team in the conference the same amount of times. The way it is divided up, out of the 11 possible opponents in the conference (last time I checked a team cannot play itself), an ACC team will play five of them twice in a home and home format and six of them just once during the year (the ability to play a basketball game in two places at once has not been figured out yet, either). This will all change with the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse into the ACC in either 2013 or 2014, depending on the negotiation of their buyouts with the Big East. Following their entrance into the conference, the 14 teams in the ACC will all play 18 regular season games, further diluting the scheduling scenarios within the conference.

Some of these mascots will have a much harder time than others when conference schedules begin. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Now if each team plays roughly half of its opponents just once and the other half twice, wouldn’t that make some teams’ schedules harder than others? The answer is yes, but it’s something that often gets overlooked when breaking down the conference. Using our ACC preview as a roadmap, we were able to break down every team in the conference’s schedule and figure out who has the toughest test this year, and we thought we’d share the results with you. By taking the rankings we assessed to the 12 ACC schools and giving additional weight to the schools a team plays twice, we were able to figure out the difficulty of each team’s schedule. For good measure, because a team cannot play itself, we weighed it against a team’s toughest possible schedule (lowly Boston College would theoretically be at a disadvantage because it cannot play itself twice like other schools can). Each team is linked to its respective preview, so feel free to take a look at those if you haven’t already (spoiler alert: we’ve already done 11 previews so by process of elimination and common sense, North Carolina, whose preview will be published tomorrow, is our projected #1 team). The teams are listed in reverse order, from least difficult schedule to most difficult schedule.

12. Georgia Tech
Projected ACC finish: 8th
Who they play once: Duke, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Who they play twice: Boston College, Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina State, Wake Forest

11. Boston College
Projected ACC finish: 12th
Who they play once: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia
Who they play twice: Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

10. Wake Forest
Projected ACC finish: 10th
Who they play once: Florida State, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Who they play twice: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State

9. North Carolina State
Projected ACC finish: 6th
Who they play once: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Who they play twice: Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Wake Forest

8. Clemson
Projected ACC finish: 10th
Who they play once: Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State
Who they play twice: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

7. Miami
Projected ACC finish: 9th
Who they play once: Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Who they play twice: Boston College, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State

6. Virginia Tech
Projected ACC finish: 5th
Who they play once: Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest
Who they play twice: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Virginia

5. Florida State
Projected ACC finish: 4th
Who they play once: Boston College, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest
Who they play twice: Clemson, Duke, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech

4. Duke
Projected ACC finish: 2nd
Who they play once: Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina State, Virginia
Who they play twice: Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

3. North Carolina
Projected ACC finish: 1st
Who they play once: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Who they play twice: Duke, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina State, Virginia

2. Virginia
Projected ACC finish: 3rd
Who they play once: Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina State, Wake Forest
Who they play twice: Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia Tech

1. Maryland
Projected ACC finish: 7th
Who they play once: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Who they play twice: Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia

Disagree with the order? Don’t think it’s a big deal? Have a better idea for a way to set up conference schedules? Let us know. Stay Crazie, my friends.

2011-2012 ACC Preview: #2 Duke

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected ACC runner-up, the Duke Blue Devils.

The high-flying Blue Devils are greatly improved from the beginning of the season, and look to silence their critics. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2011-2012 Record: 12-2

Key Wins:
November 22- Duke 82, Michigan 75
November 23- Duke 68, Kansas 61

Tough Losses:
November 29- Ohio State 85, Duke 63
January 4- Temple 78, Duke 73

Starting Lineup:[table id=27 /]The Good: This team is full of offensive weapons. Duke boasts the seventh-best scoring offense in the country at 82.8 points per game. They can hit shots from all over the floor and are shooting 50.5% from the floor on the year, good for fifth in the nation. The Blue Devils have arguably the best backcourt in the country, and their guards account for one of the best shooting trios in recent Duke history. Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, and Andre Dawkins are shooting a combined 42.3% from beyond the arc this year. Their frontcourt is also significantly improved and has been dominant in recent games, headlined by junior Mason Plumlee, who has averaged 11.5 points and 9.7 rebounds on the year thanks to a new array of post moves. The Blue Devils have also played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. They’ve faced three opponents that are ranked in the top 16 of the AP Top 25, defeating two of them. This was a great test for this young team, and will serve them well as they head into conference play.

The Bad: Though they are much improved on the offensive end, Duke has struggled at times with interior defense this season. This was most evident against Kansas and Ohio State, when they allowed Kansas’s Thomas Robinson to go for 16 points and 15 rebounds and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger went for 21 and eight boards. To make matters worse, the Blue Devils have had lapses inside against some of their weaker opponents. Even when the game is out of reach, this is not something you like to see a talented team make a habit. The Blue Devils have also struggled from the free throw line this season, something they cannot afford to continue as they enter their ACC schedule. Duke has shot 67.9% from the foul line this season, which is significantly below their typical standards. The Blue Devils have been one of the better free throw shooting teams in the country in years past, and haven’t shot below 68% from the line on a season since 1997-1998. Duke’s woes from the lines this year have been headlined by Mason Plumlee, who despite making significant improvements in the post this season, is shooting an abysmal 38.5%. Austin Rivers didn’t seem to get the memo that Duke guards don’t miss free throws, shooting just 69.6% from the stripe. He has vowed that he will be shooting 80% from the line by the end of the year.

The Crazie: The craziest thing about this year’s Duke team is that it is continuing to come together before our very eyes. The Blue Devils lost three huge pieces of last year’s team, and has had to rebuild on the go thus far. This team was able to win at the beginning of the year based on talent alone, but in the last few games you’ve been able to see them really getting into a rhythm. It appears this team is not done making adjustments, either. When they were struggling earlier in the season, they opted for Tyler Thornton to start over sharp shooter Andre Dawkins, and now it appears that relatively soon freshman Quinn Cook will take over for Thornton as the team’s starting point guard. This is a team that is still building its image and getting comfortable playing together, but it’s remarkable how quickly they’ve gotten to this point.

Player We Love To Hate: This is a Duke blog…we’re going to skip this one.

The Bottom Line: Everyone knew the ACC was going to come down to Duke and North Carolina this year. Overall, the Tar Heels are a more experienced team and will ultimately take the regular season crown, but it should be much closer than many people expect. Duke will give North Carolina a significant challenge, and they should split their games this year, with each team winning on its home floor. The Blue Devils shouldn’t have much trouble handling the rest of the ACC competition, though they might drop a tough road game or two. They drew one of the more difficult road schedules in the conference this year, playing away at Florida State, Maryland, and Virginia Tech, which are likely the three toughest road games in the ACC outside the state of North Carolina. Although they seem to be written off by many of the “experts” for this year, this young and inexperienced team should surprise some people and contend as with Cook at point guard they continue to gel.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-2012 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina

2011-2012 ACC Preview: #3 Virginia

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected 3rd-place finishers, the Virginia Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers are off to a hot start this year, but will their success carry into ACC season? (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2011-2012 Record: 13-1

Key Wins:
November 29- Virginia 70, Michigan 58
December 18- Virginia 67, Oregon 54

Tough Losses:
November 18- TCU 57, Virginia 55

Starting Lineup:[table id=26 /]Last Year Against Duke:
January 15, 2011 at Duke- Duke 76, Virginia 60
February 16, 2011 in Charlottesville- Duke 56, Virginia 41

This Year Against Duke:
January 12, 2012 at Duke

The Good: The Cavaliers are the toughest defensive team in the ACC. Opponents are scoring just 50.3 points per game against them this season. They have allowed more than 58 points on just one occasion, and have held opponents to less than 50 points six times this year. Virginia is also one of the better free throw shooting teams in the conference, converting on 73.3% of its opportunities from the charity stripe. They are not afraid to grind out games and win ugly, but have not played many particularly close games this year. Virginia’s smallest margin of victory this season is six points, and the Cavaliers are winning by an average of 17.1 points per game.

The Bad: This team is not very tested, facing just one ranked opponent thus far. Although they are off to a 12-1 start, the Cavaliers’ record is a bit deceiving on the surface, considering some of their wins have come against teams like South Carolina State, Green Bay, Longwood, Seattle, and Maryland-Eastern Shore. This is also not a team built to play in a shootout. They convert efficiently from the inside, but are not an outside shooting team by any means- senior guard Sammy Zeglinski is the only threat on the entire roster to hit from deep. This could become an issue when playing against the top teams in the conference.

The Crazie: Virginia has one of the tougher ACC schedules. They only play Boston College, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Miami, four of the bottom five teams in our ACC preview, one time each. Meanwhile, they’re faced with two matchups against Maryland, Virginia Tech, Florida State, and North Carolina teams placed 7th, 5th, 4th, and 1st in our preview. This should provide for some difficult road tests for the Cavaliers while other teams will get the luxury of playing an extra game against conference bottom-feeders. Luckily for the Cavaliers, they have a fairly experienced team. Only one freshman plays in the top eight of Virginia’s rotation. This experience should mean plenty during ACC season but won’t mean much come tournament time. The Cavaliers haven’t made any sort of postseason appearance since 2007-2008.

Player We Love To Hate: Mike Scott. The Blue Devils did not see Scott in either matchup with Virginia last year as he battled injuries, but he has reasserted himself as one of the top big men in the ACC this season. Scott currently ranks fifth in the conference in scoring with 16.3 points per game and fourth in rebounding with 9.0 per game. He leads the conference in field goal shooting, shooting 62.4% from the floor. Scott is also no liability from the foul line, shooting an 80% clip on the season. Although he is only 6-foot-8, Scott plays a bigger game than his actual size, so he can cause trouble for opposing big men with his ability to get up and down the floor.

The Bottom Line: A team that plays defense this well shouldn’t have much trouble putting away most of the weaker competition in the ACC this year. They’re a threat to win just about any game, but could suffer from a fairly difficult conference schedule. Their toughness should prevail, and as long as they play their brand of basketball the Cavaliers should see a successful season. There’s very little doubt that this year’s Virginia team will be the first to receive a bid to the NCAA tournament since 2006-2007, and with the Cavs already breaking into the top-25 at this point in the year, there’s a good chance their seed won’t be too shabby either.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-2012 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina

2011-2012 ACC Preview: #4 Florida State

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected 4th-place finishers, the Florida State Seminoles.

This picture of Florida State's team last season should look awfully similar to this year's squad. Why? Because they're all back. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2011-2012 Record: 9-5

Key Wins:
November 24- Florida State 73, UMass 53
December 11- Florida State 75, UNC-Greensboro 60

Tough Losses:
November 25- Harvard 46, Florida State 41
November 26- Connecticut 78, Florida State 76 (OT)
December 30- Princeton 75, Florida State 73 (3OT)

Starting Lineup:[table id=25 /]Last Year Against Duke:
January 12, 2011 in Tallahassee- Florida State 66, Duke 61

This Year Against Duke:
January 21, 2012 at Duke
February 23, 2012 in Tallahassee

The Good: This is a big and physical team, and they will punish you on the glass and wreak havoc on opposing offenses. The Seminoles are tops in the ACC in defensive field goal percentage, as opponents are shooting just 35.4% from the floor against them. Florida State also allows only 26.7% shooting from beyond the arc. They also lead the ACC in both blocked shots and steals. Senior Bernard James ranks third in the conference averaging 2.5 blocks per game. On the glass, the Seminoles pull down 40.2 rebounds per game, good for 12th in the nation.

The Bad: Florida State struggles to hit from deep, shooting just 31.6% from beyond the arc this season. In fact, they don’t have a single player shooting more than 35.6% on their roster. This shooting weakness allows opposing defenses to shift its attention to Florida State’s major strength, its big front line. Florida State’s strength of non-conference schedule is also a bit unsettling. Although it has played several ranked teams in close contests, it is yet to defeat a quality opponent.

The Crazie: This is also easily the most experienced team in the ACC, as Florida State has six seniors and five juniors on its roster. In closely-contested conference games, experience can be a deciding factor. Florida State has done a very nice job replacing the production of the two key contributors it lost from last year’s team. Though Chris Singleton decided to leave school a year early to be selected by the Washington Wizards in the 1st round of the NBA draft and Derwin Kitchen graduated, their front line has rotated new starters in seamlessly to pick up their lost production. The Seminoles not only have the experience of enduring the difficulties of an ACC schedule but also the intensity of NCAA Tournament basketball. The 11 players that Florida State returned from last year’s team remember what it took for a successful postseason run, as the Seminoles went to the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual Final Four team VCU.

Player We Love To Hate: Bernard James. James is one of the top rebounders in the ACC, pulling down 8.9 boards per game, and has a post game that continues to improve. James is extremely difficult to match up with and could pose issues for the Blue Devils, who have struggled with interior defense at times throughout the season. He is the type of player that can wear down a defense in the paint and makes opponents work hard on both ends of the floor.

The Bottom Line: This is a team that can compete with anyone in the ACC. They won’t finish in the top couple of spots, but they will give the elite ACC teams tough games, especially when they play in Tallahassee. Despite no real non-conference resume to speak of, this team shouldn’t have much trouble making the NCAA Tournament come March. This is by no means the most talented team Duke will see this year, but the way it rebounds and defends, Florida State can pose a difficult matchup for any team. If they can continue to could shut teams down come tournament time and their offense gets hot the Seminoles could win a game or two.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-2012 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina

2011-2012 ACC Preview: #5 Virginia Tech

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected 5th-place finishers, the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Hokie Nation should have something to cheer about this season (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2011-2012 Record: 11-3

Key Wins:
November 25- Virginia Tech 59, Oklahoma State 57

Tough losses:
November 23- Syracuse 69, Virginia Tech 58
November 30- Minnesota 58, Virginia Tech 55
December 4- Kansas State 69, Virginia Tech 61

Starting Lineup:[table id=24 /]Last Year Against Duke:
February 26, 2011 in Blacksburg- Virginia Tech 64, Duke 60
March 12, 2011 at ACC Tournament in Greensboro, NC- Duke 77, Virginia Tech 63

This Year Against Duke:
February 2, 2012 in Blacksburg
February 25, 2012 at Duke

The Good: This is one of the best defensive teams in the ACC, allowing just 59.3 points per game. They pose matchup problems with their size, especially in the backcourt. The Hokies’ entire starting lineup is between 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-8. Their length helps them to defend against teams that shoot from deep- opponents are shooting a staggering 22.8% from beyond the arc against Virginia Tech this season. This team has also endured a few tests in its non-conference schedule, playing competitively against top-ranked Syracuse while suffering close losses to power-conference teams Minnesota and Kansas State. They’ve handled the rest of their lesser competition quite easily, winning each game by an average of 12.2 points per game this year.

The Bad: Although their starters have size in the backcourt, this is not a very big team and could get hurt inside. The presence of a player who isn’t even on the Hokies roster could hurt them the most. 6-foot-9 power forward Allan Chaney had transfered from Florida and was slated to start this season for Virginia Tech, but was not cleared to play by team doctors due to a heart condition. Virginia Tech only has one player in its normal rotation larger than 6-foot-8 in 6-foot-9 sophomore Cadarian Raines, and Raines only averages 15.2 minutes per game. This could pose a problem against some of the larger teams in the ACC, who will look to dominate them inside, especially because the Hokies play tight perimeter defense.

The Crazie: This is a team built to play with a lead, not only thanks to their ability to play tight defense and lock down the perimeter, but due to their ability to convert from the line. Virginia Tech is shooting an ACC-best 74.0% from the line this season, so it will be difficult to claw your way back into a game late if your team is forced to foul. Their starting five is shooting 76.4% from the charity stripe on the year, or two Mason Plumlees, depending on which way you think of it.

Player We Love To Hate: Look out for Jarell Eddie this year, this guy is a walking matchup problem. He has the length at 6-foot-7 to play inside and crash the boards, averaging 5.0 rebounds for game, good for second on the team. But that will be the least of your worries- hope you keep this guy inside because he will shoot the lights out. When he steps outside, Eddie is shooting a 52.6% clip from beyond the arc on the year. He is also shooting a lights-out 90% from the line, so he is definitely not the person to foul with the game on the line. His athleticism alone makes this guy one dangerous player.

The Bottom Line: Virginia Tech will be fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament this year, so conference play is a crucial stage. Although this is a team with only a few experienced players, my guess is that they will be one of the last few teams to get a bid this year. People are talking about it being a down year in the ACC, but I don’t think five teams is too many. They will play the ACC tough this year, and playing North Carolina only once while playing Boston College and Clemson twice can’t hurt either. Plus, playing in Blacksburg in front of Hokie Nation is one of the ACC’s toughest road tests.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-2012 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina

2011-2012 ACC Preview: #6 North Carolina State

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected 6th-place finishers, the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

After a string of disappointing seasons, the Wolfpack look to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2011-2012 Record: 11-4

Key Wins:
November 16- NC State 60, Princeton 58
November 21- NC State 77, Texas 74

Tough Losses:
November 19- Vanderbilt 86, NC State 79
December 4- Stanford 76, NC State 72

Starting Lineup:[table id=23 /]Last Year Against Duke:
January 19, 2011 in Raleigh- Duke 92, NC State 78
February 5, 2011 at Duke- Duke 76, NC State 52

This Year Against Duke:
February 16, 2012 at Duke

The Good: This is one of the more experienced teams in the ACC this year, and has played very competitively against some tough non-conference competition. The Wolfpack’s only four losses this year have come at the hands of Vanderbilt, Indiana, Stanford, and top-ranked Syracuse, all four of whom will be tournament teams come March. NC State utilizes a very balanced scoring attack with five players averaging double figures on the season. Their size is also beneficial, outrebounding opponents by 6.2 rebounds per game. With all five of their starters 6-foot-5 or greater, this is a team that will definitely cause matchup problems.

The Bad: Despite the fact that the Wolfpack rank near the top of the ACC in rebounding and blocks, they still find a way to struggle on the defensive end of the floor. NC State allows an ACC-worst 71.2 points per game and have held opponents under 60 points on only two occasions this year. Against high-powered offenses like Duke and North Carolina, struggles on the defensive end will simply not cut it.

The Crazie: NC State has been a Jekyll and Hyde team all year- some games they looked like an NCAA Tournament team and others they looked like an ACC bottom-feeder. They’ve played very competitive games against strong team and have not lost to any bad teams, but they’ve come quite close, most notably two-point victories over Princeton and St. Bonaventure and a five-point win over North Carolina Central. This will make for a very interesting season for the Wolfpack, who could very easily upset an elite ACC team or lose to one of the worst teams in the conference on any given night.

Player We Love To Hate: Lorenzo Brown. This man is a pest all over the floor. He has averaged 11.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 2.3 steals per game this season and can hurt you in a multitude of ways. He does not need to score to give opponents fits, and his length at 6-foot-5 makes him extremely difficult to defend for a point guard. He will more than likely be Austin Rivers’ assignment when the Wolfpack come to Cameron in February.

The Bottom Line: This is a team with a lot of potential, and could be this season’s ACC surprise. However, until it can start playing with more consistency, this team will likely be on the outside looking in come tournament time. They will more than likely be on the fringe come March, but with a few upsets during conference play and a trip to the ACC Tournament Semifinals, this team might build the resumè to be dancing come March as a fifth or even sixth representative from the ACC.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-2012 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina