We’re about one quarter of the way through the ACC conference schedule, and
as usual, the conference is wide open. North Carolina appears to be the best
team, but it looks like there are as many as eight legitimate NCAA tournament
contenders, and that includes Virginia Tech. Let’s take a short look at each
team in the conference in this week’s “Around the ACC,” a new weekly
feature here at TSL.
|Georgia Tech 74, Duke 63||Atlanta, GA|
|Virginia Tech 74, UNC Greensboro 51||Greensboro, NC|
|Miami 63, Maryland 58||College Park, MD|
|North Carolina 79, Virginia 69||Chapel Hill, NC|
|NC State 88, Wake Forest 74||Winston-Salem, NC|
|Boston College 78, Virginia 73||Chestnut Hill, MA|
|Maryland 92, Clemson 87||College Park, MD|
|Virginia Tech 94, North Carolina 88||Blacksburg, VA|
|Georgia Tech 88, Florida State 80||Atlanta, GA|
|Duke 85, Miami 63||Coral Gables, FL|
|Boston College 82, Miami 63||Chestnut Hill, MA|
|Virginia 103, Maryland 91||Charlottesville, VA|
|Florida State 82, Virginia Tech 73||Tallahassee, FL|
|North Carolina 77, Clemson 55||Clemson, SC|
|Thurs, 01/18/07||Wake Forest @ Duke||Durham,
|Sat, 01/20/07||Boston College @ Clemson||Clemson,
|12:00 p.m.||RLF Affiliates|
|Miami @ Florida State||Tallahassee,
|2:00 p.m.||RLF Affiliates|
|Duke @ NC State||Raleigh,
|Georgia Tech @ UNC||Chapel
|Sun, 01/21/07||Wake Forest @ Virginia||Charlottesville,
|1:00 p.m.||RLF Affiliates|
|Maryland @ Virginia Tech||Blacksburg,
|Tues, 01/23/07||Florida State @
|Virginia Tech @ Miami||Coral
|Wed, 01/24/07||UNC @ Wake Forest||Winston-Salem,
|Georgia Tech @ Maryland||College
|Virginia @ NC State||Raleigh,
RLF = Raycom Lincoln Financial; 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…
Boston College is off to an impressive start, much better than their
inaugural season in the ACC. Last year the Eagles started 0-3 in league play but
finished strong and nearly won the ACC Tournament. Of course, they haven’t
played the toughest of ACC schedules. The Eagles have had home games against
Maryland, UVA and Miami. Their only two road games have been against NC State
and Wake, both of which will finish at or near the bottom of the league.
Things will get a little tougher soon for the Eagles, who face Clemson,
Florida State, Duke and Virginia Tech in their next four games. Clemson and Duke
will be on the road. Unfortunately, they must do so without Sean Williams, their
top inside player, who was kicked off the team on Wednesday.
Williams is a 6-10, 235 forward/center who was playing great for BC this
season. He was averaging 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and had 75 blocks on the
year. The Eagles will lose a good scorer, a good rebounder, and a great
defensive player. Akida McLain was also kicked off the team, but he received
little playing time this year.
Despite Wednesday night’s loss, the Hokies are still in very good shape.
They are still in second place in the ACC, with a home game coming up against
Maryland, and then a trip to 9-10 and struggling Miami.
There have been a couple of reasons the Hokies have gotten off to a good
start in ACC play. Number one, Zabian Dowdell is averaging 21 points over his
last five games. Only once, against UNC Greensboro, has he failed to score 20
points. (He had 17 against the Spartans.) Dowdell is averaging 20 points per
game in ACC contests, which is third in the conference.
Coleman Collins is starting to come around. After struggling early in the
season, he has scored in double figures five straight games, averaging 11.8
points during that stretch.
The Hokies have Maryland at home on Sunday night and then travel to Miami on
Tuesday. If the Hokies split the next two, they are still in pretty good shape.
If they win both, they’ll be sitting pretty.
North Carolina came back from their loss at Virginia Tech to blowout Clemson
77-55 on the road on Wednesday night. The Tar Heels, as expected, appear to be
the best team in the ACC.
Upcoming ACC games for UNC include road contests against Wake Forest and NC
State, and home games against Georgia Tech and Miami. They also have an exciting
out-of-conference matchup at Arizona. The Tar Heels are young, but they’re
going to improve a lot over the next couple of weeks.
After starting the season 17-0, the Clemson Tigers have lost two in a row.
They lost a tough road game at Maryland 92-87 over the weekend and then got
trounced at home by UNC, as mentioned above. It doesn’t get much easier for
the Tigers, who host Boston College and travel to Duke in their next two games.
Clemson is currently sitting at 3-2 in the ACC. But two of their wins,
against Florida State and Georgia Tech, came by a combined three points. The
good thing for Clemson is that they got themselves off to a great start. If they
can hold serve at home the rest of the way, they should be able to make the NCAA
Clemson’s stat of the year is their free throw percentage. They are
shooting just 48.7% from the free throw line in their five ACC games, and 58.5%
for the entire season, by far the worst free throw shooting team in the ACC.
The Yellow Jackets are starting two freshmen but have still managed to reach
a 13-4 overall record. They have won their last two ACC games at home against
Duke and Florida State. Things are about to get tougher, with trips to Maryland
and UNC, and then Virginia Tech coming to town.
Georgia Tech’s third leading scorer, Lewis Clinch, was suspended for the
rest of the season back on January 5. He was averaging 13.2 points per game. The
Yellow Jackets have gone 2-1 since his suspension, but it remains to be seen if
they can keep up that pace.
Freshmen Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young are leading the team in
scoring, averaging 14.2 and 14.1 points respectively.
The Virginia Cavaliers have a solid 2-2 mark in the ACC, but the fact that
they only won eight games out-of-conference will make their goal of an NCAA
tournament berth a very difficult one to achieve. UVA is a very good team at
home, and a very bad one outside of the John Paul Jones Arena.
The Cavs are 9-1 at home, 0-3 on the road and 1-2 on neutral site games. The
one win on a neutral court came against Division II Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.
Unlike last year, UVA isn’t getting run out of the building on the road.
They lost at Purdue by two, at UNC by 10, and at BC by five. Their only blowout
losses came in the San Juan Shootout to Appalachian State and Utah. On that
trip, there were rumors that some players were breaking curfew instead of
preparing for the upcoming games.
As long as they don’t play like they did in Puerto Rico, the Cavs will be a
very dangerous opponent for anyone who plays them.
The Hurricanes managed a home win against Georgia Tech back in December, and
a road win at Maryland. But don’t expect Miami to win too many more ACC games
this year. They are too banged up, and they still suffer from a lack of talent
after the departures of guards Guillermo Diaz and Robert Hite.
One thing that has hurt Miami is injuries to important post players. Jimmy
Graham (5.1 points, 3.8 rebounds) has been lost for the season due to a broken
hand. Anthony King, one of the best players on the team at 7.9 points and 9.3
rebounds per game, is also done for the year with a wrist injury.
The Hurricanes are so thin on the interior that they are starting walk-on
Keaton Copeland, who is averaging just three points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
Frank Haith has been so frustrated by his starters that he has changed starting
lineups on several occasions. 11 different players have started for Miami this
Three of Miami’s next four games are on the road at Florida State, UNC and
Virginia. Their lone home game in that stretch is against Virginia Tech.
After starting 0-2 in ACC play, Duke got back on track with a blowout 85-63
win over Miami. They have a chance to get right back in the thick of things.
Their next two games are against Wake Forest and NC State, who are expected to
share the basement of the ACC with Miami this year.
The Blue Devils lost two of the top players in school history in J.J. Redick
and Shelden Williams in the offseason. Without such star power, they haven’t
been able to overcome the lack of a consistent point guard against some of the
tougher opponents on their schedule. If Greg Paulus can get it going, the Blue
Devils will be fine. But if he continues to struggle, so will Duke.
Maryland is a tough team to figure out. They are athletically gifted, they
are good on the offensive glass, yet they are just 1-3 in ACC play. They still
seem to struggle on the road. They have dropped road contests to BC and UVA,
giving up 101 points in Charlottesville. They also lost to Notre Dame in
Maryland has one home loss that is inexcusable. The Terps lost to the
depleted Miami Hurricanes 63-58 in the Comcast Center. But Maryland has wins
over Michigan State in Madison Square Garden and Illinois on the road. They are
a very capable team.
Maryland is playing a pair of freshmen point guards in Greivis Vasquez and
Eric Hayes. They have a tough stretch coming up. They travel to Virginia Tech,
host Georgia Tech, then take on Florida State in Tallahassee.
Florida State is a talented team that beat #1 Florida earlier in the season.
They had to beat Virginia Tech to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive on
Wednesday night, and they did just that. Three of their next four are at home
against Miami, Wake Forest and Maryland. Their lone road trip during that
stretch is at Boston College.
The Seminoles get good guard play from their three-guard lineup, and they
have one of the best players in the country in wing/power forward Al Thornton.
They need a little better production from their bench and more effort on the
glass, but they are in a position to get a good finish in the ACC. They have a
lot of winnable games coming up.
NC State is a better team than many people believed they would be heading
into the season. They have no bad losses. Their losses have come on the road to
UVA, West Virginia, and Cincinnati, and at home to Alabama, Boston College and
Clemson. They are fresh off a win at Wake Forest, and they defeated Michigan in
the ACC/Big 10 Challenge.
Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, they have a tough four game stretch coming
up. They host Duke and Virginia, then travel to Virginia Tech. After they play
the Hokies, they host UNC.
NC State has some talent, and they are playing very hard for new coach Sidney
Lowe, but they don’t have much quality depth right now. They appear to be a
couple of recruiting classes away from being a complete team.
Simply put, Wake Forest just isn’t a good basketball team right now. They
have a lot of young players, but they still are not playing up to their level of
talent, just like last year’s team under Skip Prosser.
Wake has lost their last two home games. They lost 95-85 to Boston College
and 88-74 against NC State. They have played poor defensively for most of the
season. Their only ACC win came by one point against Miami.
Wake’s schedule gets even tougher. They travel to Duke and Virginia, then
host UNC. Then they’ll play at Florida State.