One team is beginning to establish themselves as the best team in the ACC,
while another contender for that title lost two big games this past week. After
another week of basketball, there is still a jumbled mess in the
middle of the ACC standings.
Right now it looks as if North Carolina is the team to beat in the ACC. The Tar
Heels are a full two games up in the conference standings. They’ve run off nine
straight victories since losing to Boston College and Wake Forest in their first
two ACC games.
Behind the Tar Heels, a big group of teams are playing for ACC tournament
seeding, and in some cases trying to build a resume good enough to make the NCAA
# 3 North Carolina (23-2, 9-2, #4 RPI)
It was a big week for the Tar Heels. First they knocked off arch-rival Duke
101-87 in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and they defeated Miami on the road 69-65.
Despite their lack of depth thanks to injuries and a key suspension, UNC is
rolling through conference play without much difficulty.
UNC dropped 101 points on a Duke team that is known for their defensive
tenacity, and they did it on the road. When they bring their A-game, the Tar
Heels are a juggernaut offensively.
Against Miami, Ty Lawson nailed the game-sealing three-pointer with 10.6
seconds remaining on the clock. Lawson scored 17 of his 21 points in the second
The Tar Heels host NC State on Wednesday, and then travel to College Park to
take on the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday.
Up Next: NC State (Feb. 18), at Maryland (Feb. 21)
#9 Duke (20-5, 7-4, #5 RPI)
It was a bad week for the Blue Devils. A team that prides themselves on
defense, Duke allowed 101 points on their home floor in the loss to North
Carolina, and another 80 points to Boston College in an 80-74 setback on the
road on Sunday night. The Devils have likely played their way out of a #1 seed
in the NCAA tournament.
Duke’s defense was dominating early in the season. They held six ACC
opponents under 60 points, and two of them to under 50 points. However, it their
last four games, the Blue Devils have given up at least 74 points in every
outing. As a team that relies so much on outside shooting, they can’t afford to
give up so many points.
The Blue Devils don’t have an easy schedule to close the season. After going
out-of-conference against St. John’s, Duke will play five ACC teams that are
either NCAA tournament locks or bubble teams. All of those teams will see Duke
as an opportunity to pad their NCAA tournament resume, and they’ll be gunning
for the Devils.
Up Next: at St. John’s (Feb. 19), Wake Forest (Feb. 22)
# 13 Clemson (20-4, 6-4, #10 RPI)
Clemson had an opportunity to take sole possession of second place in the
ACC, but an 85-81 overtime upset at the hands of Virginia bumped the Tigers back
to 6-4. Earlier in the week, Clemson beat Boston College 87-77 on the road. They
remain tied with three other teams with a 6-4 record in ACC play.
The Tigers have now lost two of their last three games. Normally the best
team in the ACC in turnover margin, Clemson turned the ball over 21 times
against UVA. That’s something you can’t get away with on the road in ACC play.
Clemson hosts Maryland on Tuesday, and then travels to Georgia Tech on
Sunday. If they can pick up two wins this week, they’ll still be in great shape.
Up Next: Maryland (Feb. 17), at Georgia Tech (Feb. 22)
#8 Wake Forest (19-4, 6-4, #16 RPI)
Like the rest of the teams in the middle-of-the-pack, it was an up and down
week for Wake Forest as well. The Demon Deacons were upset by NC State 82-76,
but then came back strong to blow out Florida State 86-63 on Saturday afternoon.
Wake Forest is still in great shape to get a first round bye for the ACC
tournament. The Deacons have six games remaining, and three of them come against
Georgia Tech, NC State and Virginia. A 10-6 record in conference play looks like
it will be enough for a first round bye this year, Wake certainly has the talent
to reach that goal.
Wake will host Georgia Tech on Wednesday, and then travel to Duke for a big
Sunday night game.
Up Next: Georgia Tech (Feb. 18), at Duke (Feb. 22)
Florida State (19-6, 6-4, #20 RPI)
Immediately after breaking into the rankings at #25 last week, Florida State
began to struggle. They trailed Virginia at home before rallying to win 68-57.
Then in arguably the ACC’s biggest game of the weekend, they were blown out on
the road by Wake Forest 86-63.
FSU still has some work to do to make the NCAA tournament. With such a high
RPI, an 8-8 record in conference play would probably do the trick. The ‘Noles
have a tough schedule down the stretch, with games against Miami, Virginia Tech
(twice), Boston College, Clemson and Duke. There are no sure wins in that group.
The ‘Noles play Miami on Wednesday, and then travel to Virginia Tech for a
huge game on Saturday night.
Up Next: Miami (Feb. 18), at Virginia Tech (Feb. 21)
Virginia Tech (16-8, 6-4, #49 RPI)
Virginia Tech defeated Georgia Tech 76-71 in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday
night, then fell to Maryland 83-73 on the road on Saturday. Despite going 2-1
over their last three games, and not losing a game at home, the Hokies have
slipped to 49th in the RPI. They’ll have a chance to make up ground over the
final five games of the season.
What’s the magic number for the Hokies to get to the NCAA tournament? It’s
impossible to say, but 20 overall wins and 10 ACC wins should do the trick. Tech
would also have a good shot at getting in by going 9-7 in the ACC, and then
winning a game in the ACC tournament.
The next two games are very winnable. The Hokies travel to Charlottesville to
take on UVA on Wednesday night, and then host Florida State in Cassell Coliseum
Up Next: at UVA (Feb. 18), FSU (Feb. 21)
Boston College (19-8, 7-5, #51 RPI)
ACC play is a series of peaks and valleys. Boston College proved that this
past week. The Eagles were in a valley after back-to-back double digit losses to
Wake Forest and Clemson. However, BC’s season was back on the upswing on Sunday
night when they beat Duke 80-74 in the Conte Forum.
Despite their overall number of wins, and two marquee victories over UNC and
Duke, the Eagles still have a low RPI. However, they are in good shape to make
the Big Dance at this point. BC has four very winnable games remaining. They
have home games against Florida State and Georgia Tech, while they face Miami
and NC State on the road.
If BC can split those last four games, they should have no trouble being
selected for the NCAA tournament.
Up Next: Feb. 21 (at Miami)
Maryland (16-8, 5-5, #61 RPI)
The Terps had the entire week off to get themselves mad over the heat Gary
Williams is taking from the media. The result was an 83-73 home win over
Virginia Tech on Saturday. With the win, the Terps are on the bubble, though
they are still on the outside looking in.
Maryland’s next three games come against Clemson, UNC and Duke. The Terps had
no choice but to beat the Hokies on Saturday, or their season would have
basically been finished. If they can somehow finish .500 in ACC play, they’ll
give themselves a chance heading into the NCAA tournament.
However, because of that upcoming schedule, Maryland is not a favorite to
make the Big Dance at this point.
Up Next: at Clemson (Feb. 17), North Carolina (Feb. 21)
NC State (14-9, 4-6, #91 RPI)
NC State came up with two big victories this week. First they downed Wake
Forest 82-76, and then they traveled to Atlanta and blew out Georgia Tech 86-65
on Saturday. The two victories got NC State back in the Top 100 in the RPI, and
it gives them something to play for down the stretch.
Though an NCAA tournament bid is extremely unlikely, the Wolfpack can still
look at their record and say they have a shot. They have plenty of incentive.
They’ll play at UNC on Wednesday night, and a big win in that game could give
them a shot in the arm just in time for the stretch run.
Up Next: at UNC (Feb. 17), Virginia (Feb. 21)
Miami (15-9, 4-7, #47 RPI)
Miami is the most hard-luck basketball team in the ACC this year. The ‘Canes
have lost five of their last six games. Three of those losses have come in
overtime, another came by four points, and another by five points. Their latest
loss was a 69-65 setback at the hands of UNC. Jack McClinton’s 35 points weren’t
enough to lead his team to victory.
Despite the recent run of bad luck, Miami’s RPI is still very high for a team
with just 15 overall wins and a 4-7 mark in conference play. The ‘Canes have
five very winnable games remaining. They host Boston College and NC State, and
travel to Florida State, Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Because of their already high RPI and the #11 strength of schedule in the
country, three more wins could be enough to get the ‘Canes in the Big Dance.
That bad luck has to start turning around at some point.
Up Next: at Florida State (Feb. 18), Boston College (Feb. 21)
Virginia (8-13, 2-8, #90 RPI)
UVA had not won a basketball game since January 6, until they welcomed the
Clemson Tigers into John Paul Jones Arena on Sunday. The Hoos walked away with
an 85-81 overtime win and a boost of confidence heading into their home game
with in-state rival Virginia Tech.
UVA isn’t going to be playing postseason basketball this year, but they have
the opportunity to embrace the spoiler’s role. They can do serious damage to
Virginia Tech’s NCAA tournament hopes with a victory on Wednesday night.
Up Next: Virginia Tech (Feb. 18), at NC State (Feb. 21)
Georgia Tech (10-14, 1-10, #167 RPI)
Georgia Tech lost to Virginia Tech 76-71 in Blacksburg on Wednesday night,
and were then blown out at home 86-65 by NC State over the weekend. The Yellow
Jackets are really struggling. They’ve won just two games in the year 2009.
It’s difficult to put a finger on why exactly Georgia Tech is so bad. They
have two McDonald’s All-Americans in their starting lineup, as well as solid ACC
players like Lewis Clinch, Alade Aminu and Zach Peacock. There is talent there,
but Paul Hewitt hasn’t been able to harness it.
Up Next: at Wake Forest (Feb. 18), Clemson (Feb. 22)