Around the ACC: January 25, 2010

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Virginia finally dropped an ACC game over the weekend, and now there are no
more undefeated teams in the conference. In fact, there are just two teams with
one loss. The other 10 teams have between two and four losses, creating a mire
of teams in the middle. At this point, no one can accurately predict exactly how
the ACC will shake out this year.

ACC Standings
School Conf. Overall
Maryland 3-1 13-5
Virginia 3-1 12-5
Duke 4-2 16-3
Wake Forest 4-2 14-4
Florida State 3-2 15-4
Clemson 3-3 15-5
Georgia Tech 3-3 14-5
Virginia Tech 2-2 15-3
NC State 2-4 13-7
Boston College 2-4 11-9
North Carolina 1-3 12-7
Miami 1-4 15-4

Upcoming Games
Date Matchup TV Time
1/26/10 Clemson at Boston College 7pm ESPN2
Miami at Maryland 7pm ESPNU
UNC at NC State 9pm Raycom
1/27/10 Florida State at Duke 9pm ESPN
1/28/10 Virginia Tech at Virginia 7pm CSN
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech 7pm RSN
1/30/10 Duke at Georgetown 1pm CBS
Kentucky State at Georgia Tech 1pm None
NC Central at NC State 2pm None
Florida State at Boston College 3pm Raycom
1/31/10 Virginia Tech at Miami 1pm Raycom
Maryland at Clemson 5:30pm FSN
Virginia at UNC 7:30pm FSN

The Mass in the Middle

At this point, we can say that there are three teams in the ACC whose chances
of an NCAA tournament berth aren’t particularly good at this point. NC State,
Boston College and Miami are all definitely on the outside looking in. If North
Carolina loses at NC State this week, they’ll join that group as well. A loss to
the Pack would leave UNC (current RPI rank #72) at 12-8 overall, 1-4 in the ACC.

Even Duke is 4-2 and not currently in first place in the conference. Assuming
the Blue Devils eventually reach the top spot, that leaves Maryland, Virginia,
Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Clemson and North
Carolina battling it out for the eight spots between Duke and the three teams at
the bottom.

Trying to sort that out will give even the greatest basketball junkie a
headache. It’s much more fun, and relaxing, to just take the games one at a
time. The middle of the standings could be even messier next week than it is
this week. Things won’t really be settled until the last half of February and
early March.

Who’s Hot?

Putting together winning streaks is difficult, particularly after conference
play begins. Maryland is probably the hottest team in the league at this point. The Terps have won three games in a row, including blowout wins over Boston
College and NC State. They are now tied for first in the ACC standings.

Maryland has also played two home games in a row, and they’ll get one more at
home (this week against Miami) before playing Clemson and Florida State on the
road. We’ll know a lot more about the Terps after that road trip.

If Virginia can knock off Virginia Tech this week, the Cavaliers will still
qualify as a “hot” team. The Hoos had won eight games in a row until
Saturday’s 69-57 loss at Wake Forest. UVA has not played well in their last two
games, narrowly beating UNC-Wilmington 69-67 at home before losing at Wake.
However, a win over Virginia Tech on Thursday would give the Hoos nine wins in
their last 10 games. That’s as good as any Cavalier could reasonably hope for
under a first-year head coach.

We’ll include Georgia Tech here as well, despite their hard luck 68-66 loss
to Florida State on Sunday. Before that loss, the Yellow Jackets had a pair of
two-point wins against UNC (73-71) and Clemson (66-64). This team is starting to
play pretty good basketball, and they’ve been much improved defensively in
recent games.

Finally, Wake Forest had two big wins in the last week against UNC (82-69)
and Virginia (69-57). Wake normally isn’t a good defensive team, but if they can
keep up that kind of effort defensively they will be a tough team to beat.

Who’s Not?

North Carolina has lost four of their last five basketball games. That’s
obviously not normal for the proud Tar Heels, who are coming off a National
Championship season. UNC was missing Tyler Zeller and Ed Davis in their latest
loss, a 82-69 setback at the hands of Wake Forest in Chapel Hill.

Carolina has now lost two consecutive games in the Dean Dome. They are
dangerously close to not making the NCAA tournament, and their injury situation
isn’t helping them. Will Graves is back, and he’s had some good games, but the
Heels aren’t getting much out of Marcus Ginyard.

Miami looks like the ACC’s worst team right now. At one point, the Canes were
15-1 and ranked #23 in the country. Now they’ve lost three in a row. They were
blown out by Virginia Tech and Virginia on the road, and then blew a 17-point
second half lead at home against Boston College. Miami has some quality talent,
but they aren’t playing well as a team right now.

Boston College has also lost five of their last seven games, with their only
wins coming against NJIT and Miami. In fact, BC’s only two ACC wins this season
have come against the Canes. The Eagles looked better against Virginia Tech,
with Rakim Sanders seeming to get back on his offensive game to a certain
extent, but 20 turnovers doomed them to the road loss.

Game of the Past Week

Georgia Tech beat Clemson 66-64 on Tuesday night in Atlanta. It was a game
that could have seeding implications in the ACC Tournament this March. Zach
Peacock hit two free throws with 3.2 seconds left to give the Yellow Jackets the
lead, and Clemson could not manage to score on their final possession. GT has
defeated Duke, North Carolina and Clemson in ACC play.

The game was the start of a bad week for Clemson. ESPN Gameday was in town
for Saturday’s game against Duke. It was a big day for the Clemson program, but
the Tigers were pounded by Duke 60-47.

Game of the Upcoming Week

These are hard to pick, because they could all be great games. Wake Forest
plays at Georgia Tech on Thursday night in what should be a great battle between
two teams who want to challenge for the upper tier of the ACC standings. This is
a good overall matchup, and there are a number of talented players on both
squads.

Unfortunately for Hokie fans, they won’t be able to see that game. Tech and
Virginia also play on Thursday night at 7pm, the exact same time as the
Wake-Georgia Tech game.

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