The last couple of weeks are a perfect example of how crazy the ACC is. Virginia Tech handed UVA their first-ever ACC loss in the John Paul Jones Arena, then lost to last place Georgia Tech. Maryland lost at Virginia Tech, then won at #1 UNC. Buckle your seatbelts, because the ACC ride is just getting started.
|Current ACC Standings|
|RPI Data from RealTimeRPI.com,
as of 1/21/08, 11:00 a.m.
|Recent Games (click score for recap)|
|01/15/08||Clemson 70, NC State 54||Clemson, S.C.|
|BC 76, Miami 66||Chestnut Hill, Mass.|
|Maryland 71, Wake Forest 64||College Park, Md.|
|01/16/08||Duke 70, FSU 57||Tallahassee, Fla.|
|VT 70, Virginia 69 (OT)||Charlottesville, Va.|
|UNC 83, Georgia Tech 82||Atlanta, Ga.|
|01/19/08||Georgia Tech 81, VT 70||Atlanta, Ga.|
|Maryland 82, UNC 80||Chapel Hill, N.C.|
|Duke 93, Clemson 80||Durham, NC|
|Virginia 84, BC 66||Charlottesville, Va.|
|NC State 79, Miami 77||Raleigh, N.C.|
|01/20/08||Wake Forest 74, FSU 57||Winston-Salem, N.C.|
|01/22/08||Wake Forest @ Clemson||Clemson, S.C.||RSN||
|01/23/08||Georgia Tech @ NC State||Raleigh, N.C.||ESPN2||
|Virginia @ FSU||Tallahassee, Fla.||none||
|UNC @ Miami||Coral Gables, Fla.||RAYCOM||
|01/24/08||Duke @ VT||Blacksburg, Va.||ESPN||
|01/26/08||NC State @ FSU||Tallahassee, Fla.||RAYCOM||
|VT @ BC||Chestnut Hill, Mass.||RAYCOM||
|01/27/08||Clemson @ Miami||Coral Gables, Fla.||RAYCOM||
|Georgia Tech @ Virginia||Charlottesville, Va.||FSN||
|Duke @ Maryland||College Park, Md.||FSN||
CSN = Comcast SportsNet;
CSS = Comcast Sports Southeast; FSN = Fox SportsNet;
FSNS = Fox SportsNet South; NESN = New England Sports Network;
RSN = Regional Cable Partners (check listings)
A Look Around the League...
Duke (15-1, 3-0)
Duke had two relatively easy victories this week. They beat Florida State 70-57 on Wednesday night on the road, then knocked off Clemson 83-70 on Saturday. No one has been within single digits of beating Duke since before Christmas. They are on a roll, and they are playing better than any team in the ACC right now. They don't have one dominant player, but they have a team full of very good players.
Duke plays tough, aggressive defense, and their ball movement on offense is outstanding. Coach K has improved his team drastically in the offseason, despite the loss of Josh McRoberts.
The Blue Devils have two road games this week. Thursday night they are at Virginia Tech, and Sunday they are at Maryland.
UNC (18-1, 3-1)
North Carolina blew everybody out before ACC play began. Since league play started, the Tar Heels have gotten lucky to get by Clemson and Georgia Tech, and this Saturday they got knocked off in Chapel Hill by a Maryland team that had lost at home to American and Ohio earlier in the season.
UNC has a dominant offense, but their defense leaves a little bit to be desired. They'll get things rolling at some point, but right now they are not playing anywhere near what they are capable of.
UNC's only game this week will be Wednesday night against a Miami team that has struggled since ACC play began.
Boston College (12-5, 3-1)
It's still not clear how good Boston College is. After good home wins against Wake Forest and Miami, they went on the road and got whipped by a struggling Virginia team 84-66. BC still looks like a team that's going to finish in the upper half of the league, but that's by default. The ACC is a bit down this year.
When you lose Jared Dudley, Sean Marshall and Sean Williams, it's hard to not slip. Those were very good players, and it's a credit to Al Skinner's coaching ability that the Eagles are 3-1 so far.
BC's only game this week is Saturday against Virginia Tech. The Ealges get the entire week off to prepare, while the Hokies will have just part of one day on Friday, as they host Duke on Thursday night.
Clemson (14-4, 2-2)
Clemson had two games this past week, easily beating NC State 70-54, and then losing at Duke 83-70. The Tigers still have a great opportunity to make the NCAA tournament this year. Six more wins would put them at 20 wins overall and at .500 in the ACC, and that should be enough to get it done.
Clemson should be able to handle that this year, with very winnable home games against Wake Forest, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia Tech left on the schedule.
The Tigers host Wake Forest on Tuesday night, and then travel to Miami over the weekend. It's a great opportunity for them to pick up two wins in one week.
Wake Forest (12-5, 2-2)
Wake lost to Maryland 71-64 at the Comcast Center last week, but returned home to defeat Florida State 74-57. The Demon Deacons did not look impressive in the first half, but they turned their game up a notch in the second half to pull away from the Seminoles.
Wake Forest has one of the ACC's top freshmen in forward James Johnson, who scored a career-high 26 points against Florida State, 21 in the second half. Johnson is a very athletic player who has a bright future ahead of him.
The Deacons travel to Clemson on Tuesday. That is their only game of the week. Both teams are currently tied at 2-2, so that will shake up the standings a bit.
Maryland (12-7, 2-2)
What a difference a week makes. On January 12, the Terps missed a last second shot to lose to Virginia Tech on the road. On January 19, they went into the Dean Dome and snuck out with an 82-80 victory. Maryland has Eric Hayes back from injury, and they are playing better basketball.
Maryland is the perfect example of how the ACC works. Anybody can beat anybody. The Terps aren't likely to be an NCAA tournament team this year because of such a poor start, yet they still have the talent to beat UNC on the road.
Maryland gets the week off before hosting Duke on Sunday. Back-to-back wins over the premier programs in the ACC would be huge for the Terps.
Virginia Tech (11-7, 2-2)
On Wednesday night, the Hokies beat UVA on a last second shot by Deron Washington in overtime. It was a great night for the team and their fans. On Saturday, things weren't so good. Tech went on the road against last place Georgia Tech, showed no intensity in the first half, and eventually lost 81-70. To make matters worse, Jeff Allen brushed an official as he was walking off the court, and has been suspended by the ACC for the next two games.
As happy as everyone was last week at this time, temper your expectations this week. Tech gets Duke at home on Thursday night. Even with Allen, that's a likely loss. Without him is almost certain. Tech will BC on the road on Saturday afternoon.
BC has no game during the week, so they get plenty of time to prepare for Tech. The Hokies have Duke on Thursday night, which gives them part of the day on Friday to practice, and part of the day to travel, and then a walk-through when they get to Boston. Too little practice and prep time for Tech, while BC has more than usual.
This will be like a Thursday night college football game, where the home team had the previous weekend off and the road team is playing just five days after their previous game. In other words, it's not going to be pretty.
Miami (14-3, 1-2)
Miami rolled through the out-of-conference portion of their schedule, but now that ACC play has begun they've found life a little more difficult. They had two road games this week, losing at BC 76-66, then at NC State 79-77 in overtime. They basically gave the game away in Raleigh, turning it over under their own basket for the game-winning shot by NC State, so it could be a tough one to get over.
Miami has a lot of weapons, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the rest of their ACC games. They match up well from a talent standpoint with most teams they play, but will they be able to win the close ones? This past weekend's game with a bad NC State team indicates that they will not, but we'll see.
The Hurricanes host UNC on Wednesday, and then get Clemson at home over the weekend.
NC State (12-5, 1-2)
The Wolfpack lost to Clemson 70-54 last Tuesday, but rebounded to knock off Miami 79-77 in overtime on Saturday. NC State's Gavin Grant had a backcourt steal and layup off an inbounds pass with just 2.1 seconds remaining in the overtime period.
As bad as NC State has been this year, they still have a chance to make a run. They have some very talented players on their team -- Gavin Grant, J.J. Hickson, Ben McCauley, etc. Those guys are legit ACC players. If the Wolfpack can get better point guard play down the stretch, they can be a much improved team.
NC State gets Georgia Tech at home on Wednesday, then travels to FSU on Saturday. Both games are very winnable.
Virginia (11-5, 1-2)
Virginia lost a home heartbreaker to Virginia Tech on Wednesday night but rallied to blow out Boston College 84-66 on Saturday night. Again, this is an example of how wild the ACC is. A winless team in conference play easily beating an undefeated team. That's what makes this league fun.
UVA will go as far as their role players take them. Guys like Mamadi Diane and Adrian Joseph were terrible against Virginia Tech on Wednesday night, but they dominated the Eagles on Saturday. Sean Singletary can only do so much. He needs some help.
The Hoos have a couple of winnable games this week. They play at Florida State on Wednesday, then host Georgia Tech on Sunday. They could potentially be on a nice winning streak by this time next week.
Florida State (12-7, 1-3)
Florida State has some nice players, but you don't just lose arguably the best player in the ACC in Al Thornton to the NBA and then improve. It doesn't help when you have a bench full of walking wounded. The 'Noles played just eight guys in their 74-57 loss at Wake Forest, and two of those played nine minutes or less.
FSU simply doesn't have enough bodies right now. They are one of the bottom teams in the ACC this year, or so it seems. Even if they get better, it will be difficult to overcome such a bad start.
The 'Noles get UVA and NC State at home this week. Winning both games would be huge.
Georgia Tech (8-9, 1-3)
The Yellow Jackets lost a heartbreaker to #1 UNC on Wednesday night, falling 83-82 at home. They followed that up with an 81-70 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon.
Georgia Tech is a better team than their record indicates. They played Indiana, Kansas, UNC and Vanderbilt, and the latter three teams have combined for just two losses. Their schedule has been difficult. They aren't going to the NCAA tournament, barring something incredible, but they can still win some games.
GT will be at NC State on Wednesday, and at Virginia this weekend.