Around the ACC: Week 2

ACC action is now in full swing, and we just capped off the first full week of exciting games. We’ll be examining Duke’s victory over Clemson later today, but for now let’s look into the best games in the past week of ACC action.

January 10- Florida State @ Virginia Tech
Florida State 63, Virginia Tech 59
The Hokies dropped their second straight conference game with a 63-59 loss at home against Florida State. Bernard James led the way for the Seminoles with 18 points and 15 rebounds while Ian Miller added 15 points of his own off the bench. Erick Green carried the load for Virginia Tech, scoring a game-high 21 points but shooting just 5-of-14 from the floor. The Hokies were able to rally from a nine-point halftime deficit, but were ultimately doomed by their poor shooting. Virginia Tech shot just 30.5% from the field on the game. With the score at 61-59 with 17.8 seconds to play, the Hokies had a chance to tie the game, but Green was unable to convert. Two Florida State free throws sealed the victory, rebounding from a crushing 79-59 loss on the road to Clemson to open their ACC schedule.

January 11- Wake Forest @ Maryland
Maryland 70, Wake Forest 64
The Terrapins jumped out to an early lead, going into the half up 40-24, but Wake Forest was able to make a game of it in the second half. Guard Terrell Stoglin, who is the ACC’s leading scorer, came off the bench for just the second time this year and led Maryland with 20 points. However, these points came at a cost, as he shot just 6-of-18 from the field on the night. Travis McKie led the way for the Demon Deacons, tying a career-high 25 points. Wake Forest was able to pull within six at 60-54 with 5:35 remaining in the game, but could not get the deficit to any less than four in the game’s final moments as the Terps escaped with a win.

Mason Plumlee added this electrifying jam to this season's highlight reel against Virginia (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

January 12- Virginia @ Duke
Duke 61, Virginia 58
Despite a slow start and a late Virginia surge, Duke utilized a balanced scoring effort to knock of the 16th-ranked Cavaliers by a score of 61-58. Mason Plumlee was the Blue Devils’ top scorer with just 12 points, as Duke had four players in double figures on the game. After falling behind early, Duke was able to rally back and take a four-point lead into the half. Virginia controlled the pace throughout the game, employing its typical slow and steady half-court sets. The Blue Devils came out firing in the second half, expanding their lead to 53-42 with just under 10 minutes to play. Virginia hung around, as Mike Scott led all scorers with 23 points and added nine rebounds. Scott was significantly less effective in the second half than he was in the game’s opening minutes, scoring just seven points after halftime. Duke shot 52.2% from the floor on the game against the toughest defense in the ACC. Meanwhile they held Virginia to just 39.3% shooting from the field. Although Duke led throughout the second half, the Cavaliers were able to pull within three in the game’s waning moments and actually had multiple chances to tie the game, but could not convert on their long-range shots. The loss snapped Virginia’s previous 12-game winning streak.

January 12- Clemson @ Boston College
Boston College 59, Clemson 57
Many thought that Boston College wouldn’t win a game in ACC play this season. They proved the critics wrong in just their second ACC contest, winning a hard-fought home game 59-57 over Clemson. The Eagles were able to pull off the upset despite turning the ball over 15 times and getting out-rebounded by the Tigers 32-21 for the game. Dennis Clifford scored a game-high 15 points for Boston College. Guard Lonnie Jackson added 14 points of his own for the Eagles while Andre Young led Clemson with 12. The game was tight throughout, with both sides jockeying for position through the second half. Clifford broke the 56-56 tie when he nailed a jumper with 42 seconds remaining. Milton Jennings had a chance to tie the game from the free throw line for Clemson with just 8.7 seconds remaining, but he missed one of his two free throws and the Tigers did not earn another chance.

January 14- North Carolina @ Florida State
Florida State 90, North Carolina 57
We wrote a little bit on this game here immediately following its conclusion, but it was so nice we just had to write it twice. Florida State absolutely manhandled North Carolina in Tallahassee en route to a 90-57 win. The Seminoles had the upper hand from the opening tip as the Tar Heels shot just 37.3% for the game. Deividas Dulkys, who was averaging just 6.2 points per game for Florida State, ripped off a career-high 32 on 12-of-14 from the field, including 8-for-10 from beyond the arc. With the Seminoles holding a 30-point lead for most of the second half, this game was no contest to say the least.

January 14- Virginia Tech @ Boston College
Boston College 61, Virginia Tech 59
Did I mention that Boston College wasn’t supposed to win an ACC game this year? Well they didn’t win just one last week, they won two. The Eagles pulled off the second-biggest upset of the week in the conference, going on the road to Blacksburg, one of the toughest places to play in the ACC, and knocking off the Hokies by a score of 61-59. Virginia Tech dropped to 0-3 on the year in the ACC with the loss, and it looks as though their NCAA tournament chances are already beginning to fade. Dennis Clifford scored a game-high 15 points for the Eagles while Virginia Tech was without its leading scorer, Erick Green. Forward Victor Davila picked up some of the slack, leading the Hokies with 14 points. The game close throughout, but Boston College was able to open up a 57-47 lead with just 3:40 to play. Virginia Tech was never really able to cut back into the lead, drawing to within two on Jarell Eddie’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. With the Eagles second-straight conference victory they improved to 7-10 on the season.

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UNC-Florida State: By The Numbers

I’m not going to lie- Florida State’s drubbing of North Carolina this afternoon was one of the more joyful experiences I’ve had in recent memory. The Tar Heels looked completely lost on the floor as Florida State poured in buckets from all over the floor and North Carolina had no answer. Some fantastic statistics stood out, so let’s take a look at this game by the numbers:

99- Points scored by Seminoles guard Deividas Dulkys in Florida State’s first 15 games this season. Dulkys was averaging 6.2 points per game entering their matchup against North Carolina.

32- Points Dulkys scored against North Carolina. Dulkys had not scored more than six points in a given game since November 26 and was in danger of losing his starting spot.

2- Shot from the field Dulkys missed all game. He shot 12-of-14 from the field including 8-for-10 from beyond the arc.

22- Turnovers on the afternoon for North Carolina, the most turnovers they’ve had in a game all season.

+8- The rebounding margin on the afternoon for Florida State. North Carolina came into the game as the top rebounding team in the nation.

19- Percent shooting for North Carolina from beyond the arc. The Tar Heels made just four 3-pointers on 21 attempts.

8- Assists for the Tar Heels on the afternoon.

9.9- Assists by North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall per game this season.

3- Rebounds by John Henson on the afternoon. Henson is averaging 10.1 rebounds per game this year, which is tops in the ACC. The last time Henson recorded three rebounds in a game was during his sophomore year against Rutgers on December 28, 2010.

44.4- Shooting percentage from 3-point range for the Seminoles. Florida State is ranked dead last in the ACC in long range shooting this season, shooting just a 30.2% clip from beyond the arc before this game. They had not shot 44% from deep since they lost to UConn on November 26, 2011.

90- Points for Florida State on the game, their highest scoring output this season. The Seminoles had not scored 90 points in a game since their 97-63 victory over Stetson on December 15, 2010.

30-8- Run by the Seminoles to start the second half. Florida State only went into the locker room at halftime up eight, but exploded to go up 30 with 11:28 remaining in the game. For Tar Heel nation and apparently Tyler Zeller, it was all over but the crying from there.

42- Days since North Carolina’s last road game. After traveling to Lexington and falling to the Kentucky Wildcats 73-72, the Tar Heels enjoyed nine straight contests at home. Their lack of tests on the road certainly showed this afternoon.

14.2- Number of seconds remaining in the game when Roy Williams pulled his team off the floor. Williams left the floor as well, escaping the ensuing mob.

5- UNC walk-ons, a group that refers to themselves as “Blue Steel”, remaining on the court after the rest of their team left. After playing out the remaining seconds of the game, they had no choice but to face the ensuing stampede.

Hope you had as much fun watching this game as I did. Stay Crazie, my friends.

Deviled Eggs: 11/28/11

Ryan Kelly was named the MVP of the 2011 Maui Invitational after Duke defeated Kansas 68-61. (Photo Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

1. Duke Wins in Maui…Again

On Wednesday, Duke took on Kansas in the finals of the 2011 Maui Invitational in a high-profile matchup between two of the winningest programs in college basketball history.  Tyler Thornton’s key threes at the end of the game gave Duke its 5th Maui title in as many tries and a perfect 15-0 record.  Relive the magic in the Lahaina Civic Center Cameron West here.

2. A Detailed Look at Duke’s Guard Play

Shane Ryan discusses what has driven Duke teams throughout the years: guards.  Focusing in on this year, he breaks down the play of Seth Curry, Austin Rivers, and Andre Dawkins thus far, including a detailed look at one play during the Michigan game in Maui.  Be sure to check out this excellent piece by our good friend.

3. UNC Falls in Las Vegas

Our rivals from 8 miles away fell this weekend to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational 90 to 80.  Though it was a virtual home game for UNLV, the top-ranked Tar Heels still entered the game as a 7 to 8 point favorite.  It’s hard to tell what this game will mean for UNC looking forward, but it definitely will give Ol’ Roy a few things to work on in practice.  Either way, looks like they won’t be holding onto that #1 ranking when the polls are released later today.

4. Looking Ahead to Ohio State

Duke takes on Jared Sullinger and Ohio State this Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.  This will be a meeting between two top 5 teams and another great test for the Blue Devils early on.  Be on the lookout for more from us about this game, but for now, take a look at some of what the players have to say as Tuesday nears.

5. Well, the NBA Lockout Is (Tentatively) Over. Who Are the Winners? Losers? 

On Saturday, news broke that the owners and players have tentatively agreed to end the lockout and start a 66-game season Christmas Day 2011.  Find out who benefited the most and who lost out.  If you just want help understanding what exactly the details of the agreement are, Ken Berger breaks it all down here.

6. Former Blue Devils Leading Their Teams to Impressive Starts

Tommy Amaker has his Harvard Crimson off to a 6-0 start after knocking off Utah, FSU, and UCF to win the first ever Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.  Johnny Dawkins was back in Madison Square Garden, leading Stanford into the finals of the NIT Tip-Off.  Though Stanford suffered its first loss of the year in a close game to #5 Syracuse, both Harvard and Stanford showed potential and look poised for a great year.  Best of luck to both coaches (and former Blue Devils)!

Well, that’s it for this week’s Deviled Eggs. Be on the lookout for more from Crazie-Talk as the season progresses, and good luck to the team this Tuesday against Ohio State!  Let’s Go Duke!

ACC Tournament Champs: Threepeaters

Threepeat for Duke, threepeat for Nolan and Kyle. (Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

What a special weekend. After getting waxed in Chapel Hill the night of March 5th, I know I was chomping at the bit to get a rematch with North Carolina in the conference title game. As much as the team wanted to win another conference tournament, I’m sure they also wanted to do so at the expense of our hated rivals. So I was quite pleased that the Tar Heels overcame deficits of 19 and 14 points todefeat Miami and Clemson, respectively.
Kyle Singler carried the team on Friday against Maryland with 29 points,while Nolan Smith recovered quickly from the toe knock he suffered againstMaryland to score 27 points against Virginia Tech on Saturday. On Sunday, Duke probably put together its best 40 minutes of the year, as it dominated North Carolina. Everyone contributed to the 75-58 victory that gave Duke the third chapter of the 2011 rivalry. In the final minute of the game, ESPN’s Dan Shulman cited a comforting statistic: outside of Smith and Singler, the rest of the team shot 18-for-25. I’d have never believed we could beat Carolina by 17 and yet have our two best players score 31 points on 32 shots. That shows how outstanding the supporting cast was yesterday.

Miles Plumlee was great all weekend, crashing the glass hard and grabbing offensive rebounds. In fact, he’s played well the last four games, as he was the only big to show up in Chapel Hill. Let’s not forget offensive rebounding was critical  to our success last year. Ryan Kelly definitely bounced back from his horrendous showing last week to average 9.7 points on 66.7% shooting in the Tournament. Most importantly,though, we had an Andre Dawkins sighting this weekend. Much has been made ofhis gradual decline throughout the season, but it was good seeing him get after it on defense all weekend. All these are encouraging signs. If the supporting cast plays that well in the NCAA tournament—and that’s a big if—we can all book our tickets to Houston now.

Brackets OUT
Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh and Duke are the number 1 seeds for the NCAA tournament. Duke probably has the toughest road to the Final Four among the 1 seeds. Michigan and Tennessee are no slouches as second-round opponents, but I am really intrigued by the potential Sweet 16 matchup in Anaheim. Texas,which has slumped to a 4 seed, was in the conversation for a 1 seed only two weeksago. Arizona as a 5 seed, has the best big man in the country in Derrick Williams,who will play a big role if there is going to be a 2001 national championship rematch.

On the other side of the West region, San Diego State will essentially play two home games should they reach the Sweet 16. This region is also loaded in star player Kemba Walker and the Connecticut Huskies lurk as the 3 seed. Another Duke-UConn game in the Elite Eight would be quite the treat for college basketball fans.

Other bracket impressions

Can George Mason be this year’s Northern Iowa and knock out the overall number 1 seed in the second round? They have a coach with Final Four experience but they’ll first have to get by a Villanova team that was once in the top 10 of the polls.

The new “First Four” games should be very interesting, at least on the at-large side. Clemson and UAB will square off for the chance to play West Virginia, and USC and VCU will square off for the chance to play Georgetown. I like Clemson and USC to win those games. UAB and VCU should not even be in the field (1 top-50 win combined), considering a team like Colorado, who beat Kansas State three times and Texas as well, was left out.

More bracket analysis is forthcoming from C-T. With Team Crazie-Talk now assembled, we’re stoked to start making picks based on reason, and being completely disappointed in the outcomes.

Five Questions on Duke vs. UNC

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s finally that time of the year again.  After a Super Bowl weekend full of national anthem gaffes, provocative Groupon commercials, and a whole lot of Greg Jennings puttin’ the team on his back, we can finally focus on what really matters in the world of sports (at least to us). It’s finally time for us to shift our focus back to the hardwood as we approach what arguably is the greatest rivalry in sports: Duke versus UNC.   In anticipation of tonight’s matchup, Crazie-Talk compiled our own “Top 5” questions surrounding the game:

Mason Plumlee, showing off his post game against the Wolfpack (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

1)   Will the real Mason Plumlee please stand up?

One of the keys to a Duke victory is how well Mason Plumlee plays on both sides of the ball.  In Duke’s two losses thus far, the Sophomore Forward has combined for a measly 5 points, coming off of only one made field goal.  The volatile play, coupled with his 38% free-throw rate, remain key challenges that Duke must overcome if they expect to make a deep run in the tournament.  I expect Mason to have a solid shooting performance on Wednesday, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of those baby hooks he pulled against NC State.  But if he doesn’t show improvement in his shooting by mid-March, expect the “Hack-a-Plumlee”  to become a defensive staple among opposing teams.

2)   Can Duke hit free throws?

Though problems at the line primarily involve Duke’s big men, this year’s squad has uncharacteristically underperformed from the charity stripe.   Duke shot 53% from the line while missing 15 free throws in their last game against NC State, a stark contrast from the usually reliable teams of the past.  While the team successfully masked its free-throw deficiency against State, don’t expect for that trend to continue as conference play begins to heat up.  One can simply rewind back to the Derrick Rose-led 2007-2008 Memphis Tigers (or any Clemson team of the last 10 years) to see a prime example of how a talented squad can cripple under lackluster free-throw ability.

After weeks of tenting, K-Ville residents are finally ready for the biggest game of the year (photo courtesy of DukeBlue Planet.com)

3)   Will the three ball drop?

I know, I know—this entire article seems to revolve around shooting.  But on a team without the senior leadership of Zoubek and LT, it’s time to accept the fact that this squad will ultimately rely on its perimeter play.  It’s no secret that this team, similar to previous Blue Devil squads, relies heavily on the 3-point shot.  A good shooting night can lead to a blowout, but a poor performance can plague an entire team into defeat (see: St John’s game).  If Duke wants to beat a talented Carolina team tonight, they’ll need to find a balance in their offense if the 3’s don’t start falling.

4)   Does UNC’s return to the Coaches Top 25 mean anything?

It seems that John Henson and Co. took the “making other peoples’ lives relevant” concept to a whole new level.  As UNC re-enters the top 25,  The Tar Heels coincidentally have finally made themselves relevant again.  Sarcasm aside, this team has improved tremendously from the beginning of the season. Carolina has won three straight ACC games by 20+ points, the first time that has happened since the 05-06 season.  The recent success, which occurred in the midst of Larry Drew II’s sudden departure (validating the concept of ‘addition by subtraction’), hinges on the strong play of Henson, Barnes, and Drew’s replacement, Kendall Marshall.  They are coming into the tonight’s rivalry game with a lot of momentum, so expect a strong performance from UNC.

Larry Drew II, and his turnovers, will be sorely missed on Wednesday (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

5)   Who wins the game?

Had I written this post at the beginning of the year, I would’ve easily given the nod to Duke in this matchup.  The Blue Devils simply had more experience, offensive firepower, and coaching than their counterparts at Chapel Hill.  However, after the world’s most famous toe—no, not you Mrs. Rex Ryan—took away the nation’s most dynamic point guard, the two teams should enter tonight’s game on much more equal footing.  I expect for this game to be much closer than most may predict—a Duke victory with a margin of around 3-5 points.  At the very least, UNC will play much better than they did in last year’s epic fail (see video below).  Watch for the Cameron Crazies, as usual, to push the Blue Devils past the Tar Heels in a very physical matchup between the two rivals.

Prediction: Duke wins 73-70

BONUS QUESTION:

What will Rashad Mccants’s father post on Facebook after the game?