Around the ACC: The Opening Weekend In Review

ACC conference play is finally underway, and every single game is crucial. Every ACC team was in action over the weekend for their first conference tilt, and the games did not disappoint. Let’s take a look back at the results from the first two days of the regular season contests:

Duke @ Georgia Tech
Duke 81, Georgia Tech 74
The Blue Devils hit the road for their first game of the ACC regular season, facing a well-coached Georgia Tech squad. Duke jumped out to an early 31-14 lead but the Yellow Jackets stormed back to within five at the half. The game was tight for the entirety of the second half as momentum shifted back and forth and Georgia Tech drew to within two points with less than four minutes to play. Glen Rice Jr. was huge down the stretch for the Yellow Jackets, converting shot after shot en route to his game-high 28 points. It was the Blue Devils, however, who were able to pull away in the end. Thanks to a stellar 14-of-14 from the line from Ryan Kelly, Duke was able to escape with a seven-point victory. (Note: Further analysis of this game can be found here and statistical analysis can be found here)

Boston College @ North Carolina
North Carolina 83, Boston College 60
The Tar Heels had little trouble handling the Eagles, who dropped to a miserable 5-10 on the year with the loss. North Carolina had their way with Boston College inside, dominating the Eagles on the offensive end and controlling the glass. The Tar Heels held a 41-27 rebounding advantage over Boston College. Harrison Barnes led the way for North Carolina with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting in only 27 minutes. Tyler Zeller added 20 points and eight rebounds and Kendall Marshall distributed the ball throughout the game to open teammates for a game-high 11 assists. North Carolina was also impressive on the defensive end, forcing Boston College to turn the ball over 19 times on the evening.

Miami @ Virginia
Virginia 52, Miami 51
The Cavaliers improved to 14-1 on the season with a tight one-point victory over the Hurricanes. As always, Virginia controlled the tempo and slowed the game down, turning it into a defensive struggle. The Cavaliers took a 26-17 lead into halftime, but Miami came storming back and took back the lead with 3:57 to play. Sammy Zeglinski hit a huge 3-pointer to put Virginia up by two and they would never relinquish their lead again. Mike Scott led Virginia with 23 points and eight rebounds while the Hurricanes relied on Kenny Kadji, who put up a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Miami had a chance to win the game in the waning seconds but Virginia’s defense held tight to make the final stop.

Florida State @ Clemson
Clemson 79, Florida State 59
There is no such thing as an easy road game in the ACC, so it’s not hard to believe that Clemson was able to protect its home floor against the Seminoles, but I don’t think anyone believed they could beat Florida State in emphatic fashion. The Tigers jumped out to an early lead, using a 20-0 run to catapult them to a 32-10 advantage. The Seminoles missed 10 straight shots from the field as Clemson built its early lead, and the rest was history. Clemson took a 14-point cushion into the half and coasted the rest of the way. Clemson’s Andre Young led all scorers with 18 points, thanks to 10-of-12 from the line, but the Tigers’ catalyst on the floor was Milton Jennings. Jennings shot 7-for-10 from the floor en route to 15 points and eight rebounds on the night. Florida State’s early-season struggles continue with yet another puzzling loss against a weaker opponent.

Virginia Tech @ Wake Forest
Wake Forest 58, Virginia Tech 55
Wake Forest provided the biggest surprise of ACC play’s opening night, knocking off Virginia Tech on its home floor. With the win, the Demon Deacons matched its ACC win-total from all of last season. This game was a back-and-forth struggle from the beginning. Wake Forest took 32-24 lead into the locker room at halftime, but Virginia Tech came storming back to take its first lead of the game at 53-52 with 1:18 to play. Wake Forest would respond, as C.J. Harris hit two 3-pointers in the game’s final minute to give Wake Forest a huge conference victory. Travis McKie paced the Demon Deacons with 12 points and 15 rebounds, while Virginia Tech was led by Erick Green’s 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. This loss could prove crucial to Virginia Tech come tournament time, as they are expected to be a bubble team yet again this season.

Maryland @ North Carolina State
North Carolina State 79, Maryland 74
In yet another tight contest, NC State knocked off Maryland by five points in Raleigh. The Wolfpack were led by C.J. Leslie’s 20 points and 11 rebounds. Leslie received ample support from guard Lorenzo Brown, who added 11 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists. NC State held a narrow three-point lead over Maryland with 8:09 to play, but an 11-0 run by the Wolfpack gave the Terrapins an uphill battle in the game’s final five minutes. Maryland was able to claw back into the contest thanks to the scoring ability of Terrell Stoglin, the leading scorer in the ACC. Stoglin’s 25 points led all scorers on the evening as the Terps were able to pull within four points with 26 seconds to play. It would be too little too late for Maryland, as NC State emerged triumphant.

[table id=29 /]

ACC play takes the day off on Monday and resumes tomorrow night when Miami travels to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina and Florida State and Virginia Tech both look to rebound from tough losses in Blacksburg.

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: #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.

* * *

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

Section 17: Whomping the Wolfpack

That was real talk.

Duke took to the floor at Cameron Saturday evening full of confidence coming off a fantastic performance at Maryland on Wednesday. Our guys were out for blood in the final game before the Tar Heels come to town, destroying the hapless NC State Wolfpack, 76-52. State’s embattled coach Sidney Lowe—who normally dresses up as the Kool-Aid Man for big games—was absolutely helpless to stop the Blue Devils, as our offense put up 54 points in the first half. Even if Duke sputtered a little bit in the second, State never got closer than 21 all game. SMH, ACC.

Here are some cogent observations from the night to accompany the delightful highlights above, shot from Section 17 by C-T’s Scott and Arun.

  • Mason Plumlee has come alive. He had 16 points on a Boozer-esque 7-8 shooting, and added his standard 12 boards as well. It seems as if Wojo has finally hammered Mason’s brain enough for him to learn how to finish correctly around the basket: no longer is he trying to dunk when a layup is more efficient. Mason also demonstrated an excellent jump hook tonight, connecting on two Kareemers that looked completely natural. After his excellent game against the Terps, it’s great to see Mason gaining confidence as ACC play heats up.
  • This whole Nolan Smith thing is getting ridiculous. NdotSmitty turned on the cheat codes several times throughout the game—appropriately, since DukeBluePlanet put up a “Nolan’s Trick Dribbles” video yesterday. The ACC’s scoring and assists leader just about hit his averages tonight, dropping 20 points and 7 dimes. And he was the only player who shot well from the line, hitting all six of his freebies. Overall, Duke shot 53% from the line. That has to change.
  • Kyle continues to put in a solid day’s work every game, adding a cool 14 points and 9 boards. The world’s best bucket-getter passed Danny Ferry for fifth place on Duke’s all-time scoring list against Maryland. Singler will go down as one of Duke’s all-time greats—the dude just wants to win so badly. Hell, he’s already got his national title and Final Four M.O.P. Ironically, Kyle was picked as preseason National Player of the Year by most publications, and Nolan is a much surer bet for that award at this point. I don’t care what Jimmer says (well, I do).
  • Sidney Lowe is on his way out. Any thoughts on his replacement? It’d be so badass if the NC State brass tried to re-hire Herb Sendek and he was like, “No, bro. I’m cool out here in Arizona. The Pac-10 is really on the rise.” Then what? Lowe can recruit, but his “surefire guy,” CJ Leslie, was suspended for this game, and his team is now 12-11. Superfrosh PG Ryan Harrow had some kind of sickness, and Tracy Smith is basically content to shake his head morosely and call it a night. Man, the ACC misses guys like Jimmy V…
  • Kyrie looked fresh on the bench in the post-cast boot. ESPN commentator Len Elmore loves calling him the “Duke’s best cheerleader.” Man, if Kyrie could walk properly, he would go up to the bird’s nest and smack Len in the head for that kind of talk.
  • I like K’s new strategy of starting Tyler Thornton. Along with his stalwart defense, it’s nice to be able to look toward the bench and remind yourself, “oh yeah, we have two of the ACC’s best shooters over there.” And then Seth and Dre come in and light up the place.

Well, that was fun. Next week is Heel Week, and we’ll be throwing up posts like Blake Griffin throws down on the world. Get thrilled.

We’re going to miss you, Larry! We’ve had some great times together.

GTHC.

ACC Hoops Schedule Released…Go Get 'Em

Thank you sir, may I have another? (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

The Atlantic Coast Conference finally released the 2010-11 men’s basketball schedule today on their official website. And for those of you bored by our conference’s football offerings before the season has even begun, this is big news.

The ACC brass are stoked that the conference will be on television a record 182 times this upcoming year. Fans of the Big East and other power conferences complain that the ACC gets preferential treatment despite being a “weak” league. Right, a conference that has won five of the last ten natty champers is pitiful.

Here are some of the highlights of what promises to be another exciting year in ACC basketball. As the season draws closer, we will be back with full team previews. But for now, check out five of the best non-conference matchups before the New Year.

NOVEMBER 15: Miami at Memphis

Young Memphis Tigers coach Josh Pastner breathed a big sigh of relief when the best recruit of his short tenure, Will Barton, was declared eligible on August 20. I’m really impressed with what Pastner has been able to do in Calipari’s stead (how much he “learned” from the former Memphis coach remains to be seen). Miami’s sparkplug Durand Scott nearly beat Duke by himself in last year’s ACC Tournament, and young big man Reggie Johnson will fill in nicely for departing beast Dwayne Collins, who finally graduated. Look for Memphis to come out on top on sheer talent, but I’m impressed that Frank Haith has the cojones to schedule this type of game.

DECEMBER 1: Duke v. Michigan State

This game continues to lose its luster, as the Spartan guards are dropping like flies. First it was the transfer of Chris Allen to Iowa State after being kicked off the team in East Lansing. More recently, the twenty-year-old Korie Lucious, hero of the Maryland game, was caught over the legal limit while driving. Tom Izzo is probably my second favorite NCAA coach, mostly because he doesn’t put up with stuff like this. Lucious will likely be suspended for the first half of the season at the least. That leaves more of the burden on Kalin Lucas, who is rehabbing his torn ACL, and 2010 Big Dance star Durrell Summers. Yet this will be billed as the best game of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. Look for Kyrie Irving to get after it against Lucas—a player to whom he has been compared in the past. I had hoped Duke would face MSU at full strength; nonetheless, Izzo is a gamer and this could be the highlight of Duke’s early season schedule.

DECEMBER 1: Virginia Tech vs. Purdue

Perhaps this is the year that Virginia Tech lives up to expectations. Many pundits think it’s a battle for second place in the conference between the Hokies and the Heels. Much of that advance praise for VT rests on do-it-all guard Malcolm Delaney, who wisely chose to return for his final year. Meanwhile, Purdue returns everyone but hard nosed point guard Chris Kramer. Pat Forde even put them ahead of Duke in his preseason rankings (but he has a hard time with such predictions). This would be a statement game for Seth Greenberg’s program—which returns everyone—and until I see Robbie Hummel play as well as he did pre-torn ACL, I think the Hokies have a good shot. Just don’t let Jeff Allen loose on JaJuan Johnson…that won’t end well.

DECEMBER 4: North Carolina vs. Kentucky

In a battle of the teams I hate the most, UNC and UK face off yet again in this home and home series. Recently, ESPN’s sometimes knowledgeable college hoops blogger Eamon Brennan stated that UK has a slight edge in this matchup. It’s tough to say. Both teams have the same problem: a lack of proven size. Kentucky’s frontline is thin: 6’8” frosh Terrence Jones, Florida transfer Eloy Vargas, and perhaps Turkish semi-pro Enes Kanter, if he is ruled eligible. UNC has the sometimes healthy Tyler Zeller, the “wet noodle” John Henson, and Mr. Barnes, who’s supposed to be a guard anyway. I think the game hinges on Kanter’s eligibility. If he plays, he will be too much to handle down low, and combined with UK’s superior guard play led by Brandon Knight, I think Kentucky squeezes this one out. Look for UNC’s season to be a reverse of last year’s: a slow start with a more productive second half.

DECEMBER 4: N.C. State at Syracuse

The ‘Cuse shocked a lot of people last year by reaching #1, but that’s mostly because people weren’t familiar with Wes Johnson and/or didn’t have respect for the Orange’s experience. Now most of that depth is gone, and for once in his life, Sidney Lowe has something to be excited about in Raleigh. All the hype has been loaded on CJ Leslie, but we think incoming point guard Ryan Harrow will determine State’s success as much as anyone. The frontcourt favors the ‘Cuse (remember the name Fab Melo), but the Wolfpack have an early chance to prove that they belong in the same breath as Duke and UNC for the first time since, I don’t know…Julius Hodge?


Look for our ACC Rundowns as the season draws closer. And be sure to follow us on Twitter.