2008-09 Around the ACC: January 26th, 2009

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After another week of exciting conference play, three teams with one or fewer
losses stand above the rest of the field in the ACC. Six teams are jumbled in
the middle of the pack with either two or three losses, while NC State, Virginia
and Georgia Tech are at the bottom and don’t look capable of becoming a
postseason threat.

ACC
Standings
Team Conf. Overall

Duke
5-0 18-1

Virginia Tech
4-1 14-5

Wake Forest
3-1 16-1

Clemson
3-2 17-2

UNC
3-2 17-2

Florida State
3-2 16-4

Miami
3-3 14-5

Boston College
3-3 15-6

Maryland
2-3 13-6

NC State
1-4 10-7

Virginia
1-4 7-9

Georgia Tech
0-6 9-10

The middle of the conference is a mess right now, as usual. The ACC is a highly
competitive conference, and it’s still almost impossible to make accurate
predictions, even though all of the teams have played five or six conference
games.


#1 Duke Blue Devils (18-1, 5-0)

Duke continues to look like the best team in the ACC. The Blue Devils beat NC
State 73-56 on Tuesday night, and then pummeled Maryland 85-44 on Saturday
afternoon. The Maryland game was particularly impressive. At one point, Duke led
68-24 in the second half.

As a result of their excellent play, as well as Wake Forest’s loss to
Virginia Tech, the Blue Devils are now ranked #1 in the country. However, they
must travel to Winston-Salem to face a very good Wake team on Wednesday night.
The Demon Deacons are a wounded team right now, with many people saying they
didn’t deserve their #1 ranking. Duke will get their best shot.

After playing Wake Forest, Duke will get a break when they host Virginia on
Sunday.

Up Next: at Wake Forest (Jan. 28), Virginia (Feb. 1)


Virginia Tech Hokies (14-5, 4-1)

This was a very important week for Virginia Tech. First they knocked off #1
Wake Forest in Winston-Salem 78-71, and then they picked up another huge road
win 88-83 against Miami in overtime. As usual under Seth Greenberg, the Hokies
are playing their best basketball of the season in conference play.

Last season, Tech had just one win against a Top 50 opponent. That came
against Miami in the ACC Tournament. The Hokies picked up two Top 50 wins this
past week, and they still have six games remaining against current Top 50 teams.
Tech is in better shape than they were last year at this time.

In Virginia Tech’s four ACC wins, Malcolm Delaney is averaging 23.3 points
per game. He scored a career-high 29 points in Sunday night’s victory at Miami.
The sophomore guard continues to get better and better after some early season
struggles.

Up Next: Clemson (Jan. 29), at Boston College (Jan. 31)


#4 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (16-1, 3-1)

Wake Forest’s stay at #1 in the rankings didn’t last very long. They hosted
Virginia Tech on Wednesday night, and the Hokies took it to them from the
opening tip and won the game 78-71. The Demon Deacons trailed by double digits
for much of the game, and though they managed to pull within two points in the
final minutes, they didn’t have the toughness down the stretch to come away with
the win.

Wake’s loss ruins ESPN’s upcoming #1 vs. #2 matchup. If the Deacons had
beaten the Hokies, they would have remained #1 in the polls, setting up a game
against #2 Duke this week. Wake hosts Duke on Wednesday, and a victory over the
Blue Devils would create a three-way tie at the top of the ACC standings between
Duke, Wake and Virginia Tech.

The Demon Deacons will play winless Georgia Tech on Saturday. Even if they
lose to Duke, the losing streak should come to an end against the Yellow
Jackets.

Up Next: Duke (Jan. 28), at Georgia Tech (Jan. 31)


#6 North Carolina Tar Heels (17-2, 3-2)

North Carolina got off to a rough start in conference play, but they are now
looking like the team that everyone expected them to be. The Tar Heels played
just one game this week, but it was a big one. They blew out then-#10 Clemson
94-70 in the Dean Dome on Wednesday night.

UNC’s starting lineup is perhaps the most impressive scoring lineup in the
country. All five starters average in double figures, with Tyler Hansbrough
leading the way at 22.7 points per game. Deon Thompson brings up the rear, only
averaging 12.2 points per game.

However, there is a dropoff from the starters to the reserves. Ed Davis
averages seven points per game, but after that no one averages more than 4.2.

Up Next: at Florida State (Jan. 28), at NC State (Jan. 31)


#11 Clemson Tigers (17-2, 3-2)

Clemson was ranked in the Top 10, but double digit losses to Wake Forest and
North Carolina knocked them out. The Tigers lost to UNC 94-70 on Wednesday
night, but rallied to defeat Georgia Tech 73-59 on Sunday night in Littlejohn
Coliseum.

Clemson is getting it done in the same Oliver Purnell style. They play
pressure defense and force a lot of turnovers. Opponents have turned the ball
over 343 times against the Tigers this year, and they have the best turnover
margin mark in the ACC in conference play at +5.4.

The Tigers will find out more about themselves over the next two weeks. They
travel to Virginia Tech for a big game on Thursday night, and then they host
Duke on February 4.

Up Next: at Virginia Tech (Jan. 29)


Florida State Seminoles (16-4, 3-2)

Florida State lost a tough 75-69 game at in-state rival Miami on Wednesday
night, but came back to beat Virginia 73-62 on the road in a game that was not
as close as the score indicated. Five games into the ACC season, the Seminoles
are in serious contention for an NCAA tournament berth.

The Seminoles put on a clinic against Virginia on Saturday in
Charlottesville. They limited the Hoos to just 16 first half points, and UVA was
just 17-of-48 from the field. FSU doesn’t have any great scoring options besides
Toney Douglas, but the ‘Noles play well as a team.

FSU will have a huge challenge on Wednesday night when they host North
Carolina.

Up Next: UNC (Jan. 28)


Miami Hurricanes (14-5, 3-3)

Miami split two home games this week, first beating Florida State 75-69 and
then dropping an 88-83 overtime game to Virginia Tech on Sunday night. The
‘Canes are still in pretty good shape, sitting in the Top 40 of the RPI.
However, they still have a lot of work to do.

In their game against Virginia Tech, Miami finally got someone to step up
besides Jack McClinton and Dwayne Collins. Brian Asbury, who normally averages
just over six points per game, dropped a season-high 21 points on the Hokies.
Collins, normally a 58% free throw shooter, was 9-of-12 from the line.

However, every shot McClinton put up was contested. He finished just 6-of-21
from the field (4-12 from three-point range).

Up Next: at NC State (Jan. 27), at Maryland (Jan. 31)


Boston College Eagles (15-6, 3-3)

After losing four straight games, Boston College’s schedule got a little bit
easier. They played two of the three worst teams in the ACC, and came away with
two wins against Georgia Tech (80-76, OT) and NC State (79-68). As a result, the
Eagles are back in the hunt for an NCAA tournament berth.

Though BC is in the hunt, they are still a team that has to get better. They
beat two bad ACC teams this week, but three of their next four games are on the
road. Their early win against UNC shows that they are capable of beating anyone,
however.

BC’s only home game in the next four games is Saturday against Virginia Tech.
The Eagles need to hold serve at home and find a way to win one of their three
road games in this critical stretch.

Up Next: at Maryland (Jan. 27), Virginia Tech (Jan. 31)


Maryland Terrapins (13-6, 2-3)

Maryland beat Virginia 84-78 at home on Tuesday night, but suffered an 85-44
mauling at the hands of Duke in Durham on Saturday. The Terps have now lost
three of their last four games, with their only win coming over a Virginia team
that is competing for last place in the ACC.

The Terps look like an NIT team right now. Their play is undisciplined, and
they have no post presence on the inside. Perhaps the most important question is
how they respond to such a crushing defeat at the hands of Duke?

The good news for Maryland is they get their next two games at home. If they
can beat BC and Miami, they can get right back in the picture.

Up Next: Boston College (Jan. 27), Miami (Jan. 31)


NC State Wolfpack (10-7, 1-4)

It was another bad week for NC State. They lost 73-56 in Cameron Indoor
Stadium, and then got beat 79-68 at Boston College on Saturday. With their two
latest losses, the Wolfpack have now lost five of their last six games. The only
win in that span was an overtime victory against Georgia Tech, who is 0-6 in the
ACC.

There’s not a lot you can say about NC State right now. Their defense is
poor, they are getting outrebounded despite the presence of Ben McCauley and
Brandon Costner, and they are turning the ball over too much. Sydney Lowe has
not been able to recruit a decent point guard, and that is costing them.

NC State is an NIT team at best.

Up Next: Miami (Jan. 27), UNC (Jan. 31)


Virginia (7-9, 1-4)

Virginia lost 84-78 at Maryland on Tuesday night, and then lost at home 73-62
to Florida State on Saturday. The Hoos were just 3-of-22 (13.6%) from the field
in the first half against the Seminoles. It was the worst offensive half of
basketball for UVA in recent memory.

UVA has a very young basketball team, and they aren’t getting much production
from their older players. It’s not even February yet, and the Hoos are already
under .500 for the season. It’s going to be a long year in Charlottesville.

Things only get worse from here. UVA will take the week off before traveling
to Duke on Sunday in a game that will likely be very ugly.

Up Next: at Duke (Feb. 1)


Georgia Tech (9-10, 0-6)

Georgia Tech dropped an overtime game to Boston College 80-76, then lost at
Clemson 73-59 on Sunday night. The Yellow Jackets have not won a game since
January 6 when they came from behind to defeat Georgia.

Tech isn’t very good, but they haven’t had a lot of luck either. Three of
their six ACC losses have come in overtime. They have been very close to winning
some games. In the end, there just isn’t enough star power on this team.

Up Next: Wake Forest (Jan. 31)

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