Around the ACC: February 15, 2010

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Ah, mid-February. Except for March Madness, this has got to be every college
basketball enthusiast’s favorite time of year. Teams are battling for seeding or
a spot in the NCAA tournament. Almost every team is desperate, and the
competition is taken up a notch. Nowhere are things more competitive than in the
ACC.

ACC Standings
Team Conf. Overall
Duke 9-2 21-4
Wake Forest 8-3 18-5
Virginia Tech 7-3 20-4
Maryland 6-3 16-7
Virginia 5-4 14-8
Clemson 6-5 18-7
Florida State 6-5 18-7
Georgia Tech 5-6 17-8
North Carolina 3-7 14-11
Miami 3-8 17-8
Boston College 3-8 12-13
NC State 2-9 14-12

Only Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Maryland have three or fewer losses in
ACC play. The Blue Devils sit atop the conference standings with two losses,
while the Demon Deacons, Hokies and Terps have three losses each.

Will those four be the teams that receive first round byes in the ACC
tournament? We begin to find out this week. The Hokies take on Wake Forest and
Duke, while Maryland plays Virginia (#5 in the ACC) and Georgia Tech. Barring
crazy collapses, only Duke and Wake Forest are locks for the NCAA tournament.
Everyone else still has something to prove. It should be a fun week.

Virginia at Maryland, Feb. 15, 8pm, ESPN360.com
Wake Forest at Virginia Tech, Feb. 16, ESPN2, 7pm
North Carolina at Georgia Tech, Feb. 16, Raycom, 9pm
Duke at Miami, Feb. 17, ESPN, 7pm
Florida State at Virginia, Feb. 17, ESPNU, 7pm
Maryland at NC State, Feb. 17, RSN, 9pm
UNC at Boston College, Feb. 20, CBS, Noon
Georgia Tech at Maryland, Feb. 20, Raycom, 2pm
Wake Forest at NC State, Feb. 20, Raycom, 2pm
Virginia at Clemson, Feb. 20, RSN, 4pm
Virginia Tech at Duke, Feb. 21, FSN, 7:45pm

We should witness some more entertaining battles this week, as ACC teams
battle for postseason positioning.

7 ACC Teams Still Alive

Looking at the standings, knowing what we know about the selection committee
and looking at upcoming schedules, it’s safe to conclude that there are seven
ACC teams still alive for the NCAA tournament. They are: Duke, Wake Forest,
Virginia Tech, Maryland, Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech.

Notice that Virginia is not included. Though the Hoos are 5-4 in the ACC,
they have just 14 wins overall and an RPI of #94. They also play Maryland,
Florida State and Clemson this week. That’s right, counting this past Saturday’s
game at Tech, UVA plays the Hokies, Terps, Noles and Tigers in a seven day span,
with three of those coming on the road.

The Hoos are a solid, well-coached team, but they are most likely about to be
knocked out of NCAA contention. They closely resemble Seth Greenberg’s first ACC
team, the 2004-05 Hokies. A good team, but they aren’t going to finish with
enough overall wins or high enough in the RPI to get a serious look from the
selection committee.

Let’s go ahead and say Duke and Wake Forest are already in. Looking at the
remaining five teams – VT, Maryland, Clemson, FSU and Georgia Tech – they are
all going to need anywhere from two to three more wins to get an invite to the
Big Dance. That’s going to make the next few weeks extremely competitive.

The Hot Trio

Duke, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech have combined to win 14 consecutive ACC
games. here’s a look at their recent conference play:

Duke: defeated Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Boston College, North
Carolina and Maryland. They’ll look to make it seven in a row at Miami on
Wednesday.

Wake Forest: defeated Miami, Virginia, Boston College and Georgia Tech.
Miami, BC and Georgia Tech were home games. They’ll try to extend their streak
and pick up a big road win at Virginia Tech on Tuesday night.

Virginia Tech: defeated North Carolina, Clemson, NC State and Virginia. Three
of those games were at home, and the Hokies are undefeated in Cassell Coliseum
this year. They’ll put that perfect 13-0 record on the line against Wake on
Tuesday.

Tuesday night’s Virginia Tech-Wake Forest game could be big for tiebreakers
in ACC tournament seeding. If the Hokies somehow manage to win both games this
week against Wake and Duke, they’ll be in first place in the ACC.

ACC Coach of the Year Up for Grabs

The four names being thrown around for ACC Coach of the Year honors are, in
no particular order, Maryland’s Gary Williams, Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenberg,
Virginia’s Tony Bennett and Wake Forest’s Dino Gaudio.

If Virginia has a rough week, which is very possible, Bennett could be
eliminated. Or, if the Cavs have a strong week, he could find himself back at
the top of the discussions considering the competition they face between tonight
and Saturday.

There’s still plenty of basketball to be played. As of now, you can’t go
wrong with any of the candidates listed above.

Game of the (Past) Week

Miami upset Georgia Tech 64-62 in a hard-fought game in Coral Gables this
past Wednesday. The Canes are only 3-8 in the ACC, but they are tough at home.
They’ve defeated three good teams – Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and the Yellow
Jackets – within the friendly confines of the BankUnited Center.

Miami led most of the game, but a furious Georgia Tech rally tied it at 62.
Senior guard James Dews then hit a last-second shot for the Canes to give his
team the win.

Game of the (Upcoming) Week

Tuesday night’s primetime, nationally televised game in Cassell Coliseum
between Wake Forest and Virginia Tech is this week’s game of the week. The Demon
Deacons don’t need to win it to make the tournament. They’d have to lose all of
their remaining games to get shut out.

However, it’s still a huge game from both perspectives. Wake has a very high
RPI rank (#11 as of this writing), and they are playing for seeding. A road win
would give them an extra bump. For Virginia Tech, another win over a Top 50 team
go to along with their victory over Clemson would make their tournament resume
look a lot better

Player of the Week

Virginia Tech wing Dorenzo Hudson had a great week, stepping up for the
injured and slumping Malcolm Delaney. Hudson averaged 19 points in two wins over
NC State and Virginia, and was 15-of-26 from the field during the course of the
week.

With Delaney only averaging only 14 points and going just 8-of-26 from the
field, somebody had to step up. As usual, it was Hudson, who has transformed
himself from an average player to a very good player since mid-December. It’s
one of the most remarkable mid-season turnarounds that you’ll ever see.

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