2008-09 Around the ACC: February 23rd, 2009

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The top half of the ACC is starting to separate itself from the bottom half.
It looks like the four first round byes for the ACC Tournament are up for grabs
amongst five different teams. Meanwhile, two teams who spent the first half of
the season near the bottom of the standings are making a move up, while another
team that looked NCAA tournament bound is dropping like a rock.

ACC
Standings
Team Conf. Overall

UNC
10-3 24-3

Clemson
8-4 22-4

Duke
8-4 22-5

Florida State
8-4 21-6

Wake Forest
7-5 20-5

Boston College
7-6 19-9

Maryland
6-6 17-9

Virginia Tech
6-6 16-10

NC State
5-7 15-10

Miami
5-8 16-10

Virginia
3-9 9-14

Georgia Tech
1-12 10-16

UNC, Clemson, Duke, Florida State and Wake Forest appear to be the most
likely teams to earn a first round bye. Maryland and NC State have come up with
some huge wins recently to get themselves back into consideration for the NCAA
tournament. Virginia Tech continues to drop in the standings, and they are now a
longshot to make the Big Dance.


#5 North Carolina (24-3, 10-3, #3 RPI)

UNC defeated NC State 89-80 at home on Wednesday night, then lost an overtime
game at Maryland 88-85 on Saturday afternoon. Despite the loss to the Terps, the
Tar Heels are still at the top of the ACC standings, and still have a good shot
to earn a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Tyler Zeller returned from his injury this past week, and as he gets back
into shape his minutes should go up somewhat. That will give the Tar Heels a bit
more depth. They still miss Marcus Ginyard’s presence on defense, but even
without him this is still the best team in the ACC.

Up Next: Georgia Tech (Feb. 28)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament


#13 Clemson (22-4, 8-4, #7 RPI)

Despite their loss to UVA eight days ago, the Tigers are still in great
shape. They blew out Maryland 93-64 on Tuesday night, and then they knocked off
Georgia Tech 81-73 on Sunday. Right now the Tigers are projected as a #2 seed by
many brackets. Their overall record is excellent, and they rank very high in the
RPI.

The Tigers have home games remaining against Virginia Tech and Virginia,
while they must travel to play Florida State and Wake Forest. That’s not an easy
stretch, but Clemson is a hard team to pick against right now. They are a very
good team, and they should be able to come up with a first round bye in the ACC
tournament.

Clemson hosts Virginia Tech in a nationally televised game on Wednesday night
(7:30pm, ESPN2), and then they travel to Florida State on Saturday.

Up Next: Virginia Tech (Feb. 25), at Florida State (Feb. 28)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament


#7 Duke (22-5, 8-4, #4 RPI)

Duke didn’t play particularly well in a 76-69 win over St. John’s in Madison
Square Garden on Thursday, but they returned home to knock off Wake Forest
101-91 in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday night. It was the type of victory the
Blue Devils needed, as they had been struggling lately.

However, they are still struggling defensively. Duke’s last four opponents
have shot a combined 127-of-222. That’s 57.2% from the field. That’s a big
change from the dominating defense the Blue Devils were playing earlier in the
season. Though they did beat Wake Forest, that doesn’t change the fact that Duke
looks very beatable right now, particularly when they are on the road.

Unfortunately for Duke, three of their last four games of the regular season
are on the road. Their only home game in that stretch is against a very tough
Florida State team.

Up Next: at Maryland (Feb. 25), at Virginia Tech (Feb. 28)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament


#25 Florida State (21-6, 8-4, #17 RPI)

Florida State is developing into the road warriors of the ACC. The Seminoles
have won at NC State, Virginia, Clemson and Virginia Tech this season. As a
result they are currently in line to receive a first round bye for the ACC
Tournament, and should be a very high seed for the NCAA tournament as well.

FSU beat Miami 80-67 on Wednesday night, and then came away with a 67-65 win
in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday night. Despite being picked to finish near the
bottom of the ACC, the Seminoles are one of the best teams in the league.

They will play at Boston College on Tuesday night, and then host Clemson on
Saturday.

Up Next: at Boston College (Feb. 24), Clemson (Feb. 28)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament


#14 Wake Forest (20-5, 7-5, #18 RPI)

Wake Forest easily handled Georgia Tech 87-69 on Wednesday night, but then
fell to Duke 101-91 on the road on Sunday night. The Demon Deacons are now
sitting at #5 in the ACC standings, despite being ranked #14 in the country.

The Demon Deacons have certainly had an interesting season. They have
signature home victories over UNC and Duke, however four of their five ACC
losses have come to Virginia Tech, NC State, Miami and Georgia Tech. Those are
four of the bottom five teams in the ACC standings.

Wake still has plenty of talent, despite the five conference losses. They are
a major threat down the stretch of the season.

Up Next: NC State (Feb. 26), at Virginia (Feb. 28)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament


Boston College (19-9, 7-6, #55 RPI)

Boston College is a strange team. They don’t look particularly good at times
when you watch them play, but they have signature wins over Duke and UNC.
However, their RPI is still fairly low at this point, and they’ll need to win
two more games to guarantee themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament.

The Eagles lost 69-58 on the road to a Miami team that had its back against
the wall on Saturday. BC will now have to rally and try to win two of their last
three. They have home games against Florida State and Georgia Tech, and they
must travel to NC State.

Whatever happens, Al Skinner has to be under consideration for ACC Coach of
the Year this season. The Eagles were picked 11th in the preseason polls.
Another very successful team, Florida State, was picked 10th.

Up Next: Florida State (Feb. 24)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament


Maryland (17-9, 6-6, #52 RPI)

The Terps were shellacked at Clemson 93-64 on Tuesday night, but fought back
to beat North Carolina 88-85 in overtime on Saturday afternoon. That’s life in
the ACC. Just five days after crawling into your lowest valley of the season,
you reach your highest peak.

Greivis Vasquez had a triple-double, finishing with 35 points, 11 rebounds
and 10 assists. It was arguably his best game as a Maryland Terrapin.

Maryland is back in the NCAA tournament hunt, but they still have a tough
schedule coming up. They have home games against Duke and Wake Forest, while
they travel to NC State and Virginia.

Up Next: Duke (Feb. 25), at NC State (March 1)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament


Virginia Tech (16-10, 6-6, #66 RPI)

The Hokies are dropping, and dropping fast. Tech lost 75-61 at UVA on
Wednesday night, and then dropped a 67-65 heartbreaker to Florida State on
Saturday night. A.D. Vassallo missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at
the buzzer that would have kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive, and put them
in the top half of the ACC standings.

It’s really a shame Virginia Tech dropped that game to Florida State, because
Malcolm Delaney rediscovered his shooting touch, and overall the Hokies had
arguably their best defensive effort of the season. However, it wasn’t meant to
be.

Tech needs to win two of their final four regular season games to give
themselves a chance heading into the ACC Tournament.

Up Next: at Clemson (Feb. 25), Duke (Feb.28)

Postseason Projection: NIT


NC State (15-10, 5-7, #90 RPI)

NC State has been playing quality basketball lately, winning three of their
last four games. Their one loss in that stretch came at the hands of North
Carolina in the Dean Dome. The Wolfpack beat Virginia 72-67 on Saturday, and if
they can somehow finish 3-1 down the stretch, they’ll give themselves a chance
heading into the NCAA tournament.

However, that won’t be easy. NC State has road games against Wake Forest and
Miami, while they host Maryland and Boston College. All four of those teams are
still fighting for an NCAA tournament spot. They should be fiercely competitive
games.

Up Next: at Wake Forest (Feb. 26), Maryland (March 1)

Postseason Projection: NIT


Miami (16-10, 5-8, #46 RPI)

Miami struggled on Wednesday night, losing 80-67 at Florida State. However,
they came back on Saturday to beat Boston College 69-58 in a game that the
Eagles were never really in. Because of their high RPI, if the ‘Canes win out,
they’ll have a good chance to go to the NCAA tournament.

Behind the play of Jack McClinton, anything is possible. McClinton can score
from anywhere on the court, and he could be the most dangerous offensive threat
in the conference.

Miami has road games at Virginia and Georgia Tech, as well as a home date
with NC State. All three are very winnable games, and after losing three ACC
overtime games earlier this year, the ‘Canes are due some luck. At the same
time, they have no margin for error, so it’s hard to put them in the Big Dance
at this point.

Up Next: at Virginia (Feb. 26)

Postseason Projection: NIT


Virginia (3-9, 9-14, #100 RPI)

Virginia has been playing much better basketball recently. They defeated
Virginia Tech 75-61 in Charlottesville on Wednesday night, and then lost a close
one to NC State 72-67. The Hoos are a dangerous team right now. They have
nothing to play for, except pride. That’s a very dangerous motivational tool.

UVA still has games remaining against Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson and
Maryland. That’s four teams who are either locks to the Big Dance or who are on
the bubble. The Hoos can do some serious damage down the stretch, as they’ve
already done to Virginia Tech.

Up Next: Miami (Feb. 26), Wake Forest (Feb. 28)

Postseason Projection: None


Georgia Tech (10-16, 1-12, #161 RPI)

Georgia Tech lost to Wake Forest 87-69 on Wednesday night, then dropped a
home game to Clemson 81-73 on Sunday. Despite two McDonald’s All-Americans being
present in their starting lineup, the Yellow Jackets have just one ACC win and
look like one of the worst ACC teams in recent memory.

Despite the terrible season, arguably the nation’s #1 recruit (Derrick
Favors) has committed to play at Georgia Tech next year. They’ll certainly have
talent, but will they be able to win?

Up Next: at UNC (Feb. 28)

Postseason Projection: None

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