Tag:ACC basketball
Posted on: February 21, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 9:04 am

ACC's fourth place is no consolation prize

Posted by Eric Angevine

We know who the top three teams in the ACC are – the layering is obvious to see.

Duke is not only the top ACC team, but has garnered 19 first place votes to move back atop the national polls this week. North Carolina is No. 19 and managed to just hold Boston College at bay this past weekend to stay in second place in the league standings. Florida State, even without Chris Singleton, has a firm grip on third, with a 9-3 record.

Clemson and BC are battling for a crucial fourth-place slot in the ACCSo why do we care who’s fourth? As Brett Friedlander of ACC Insider reminds us, the top four teams get first-round byes in the ACC tournament, and no team has ever won the ACC auto-bid after playing all four days.

Right now, there are four legit contenders for that fourth spot, which could conceivably lead to an at-large-worthy resume for the team that earns it:

Virginia Tech 7-5

Clemson 7-6

Boston College 6-6

Maryland 6-6

Each team below Maryland is well under the .500 mark in conference play.

The schedule is beautifully stacked in terms of working this logjam out. After a visit to woeful Wake Forest on Tuesday of this week, the Hokies play Duke, BC and Clemson to finish out the season. Clemson’s next game is a home game vs. Wake, then they get Duke and Virginia Tech to finish. Maryland has the best two potential statement games, hosting Florida State on Wednesday and heading to the Dean Dome on Sunday before their season tails off with Miami and Virginia.

Clearly, the Hokies have the most control over their own fate right now. They have the better league record and two chances to play spoiler with teams right below them. On paper, that makes sense, but on hardwood, the Hokies have been anything but consistent.

According to kenpom.com’s predictive formula, however, the first shot may be fired by the Terps. He gives them a 77 percent chance to upset FSU on Wednesday. The much-improved play of Maryland guard Terrell Stoglin is giving fans of the program a great deal of hope. If Gary Williams takes a page out of Boston College’s book and throws a zone at the Tar Heels, he may very well grab a crucial W in that one as well.

Clemson has also sneaked into the national top 20 in defensive efficiency, and Friedlander says it’s too soon to count the Tigers out for the bye and for at-large NCAA consideration. Obviously, this stretch is crucial.

Given that Tech has already swept Maryland on the season, they have the most to gain by playing out the string well, but the ever-dwindling roster in Blacksburg makes that look like a near impossibility. The March 5 Virginia Tech at Clemson game is setting up for loads of drama. It could mean the difference between a four letter bid to the NCAA or a depressing three-letter consolation prize (NIT, CBI, CIT).

In the Olympics, fourth place gets you nothing. In the ACC, it could mean a great deal.

Photo: US Presswire


Posted on: February 11, 2011 4:31 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 9:06 am

Maryland is getting downright defensive

Maryland's defense couldn't stop Duke, but there's no shame in that.Posted by Eric Angevine

As a group, college basketball writers do some strange things for fun during the season. Cruising around kenpom.com to see if the advanced stats challenge our perceptions of what's going on or confirm them is one of those things. Today, I was curious about defense, so I went and quickly checked the top ten as ranked by adjusted defensive efficiency:

1. Texas: 82.5
2. Ohio State: 86.0
3. Florida State: 86.1
4. Maryland: 86.3
5. Kansas: 87.0
6. North Carolina: 87.0
7. Duke: 87.2
8. Alabama: 87.5
9. San Diego State: 87.9
10. Purdue: 88.1

Perhaps you saw what I saw: four ACC programs in the national top ten. I'm one of those people who thinks the ACC is having a down year, but anyone who watches college hoops year after year knows that surprise contenders show up in February every year. Alabama at No. 8 is a prime example. The SEC contender wasn't on anyone's radar at the beginning of the season, but Anthony Grant's team came very close to grabbing the league lead outright last night at Vanderbilt.

So, out of these ten programs, Maryland may be the biggest surprise. The ACC's sixth place program is playing very solid defense in every measurable category, so are they as mediocre as their 5-4 conference record might suggest? Seven of these top ten defensive teams are currently in the national top 25, and one -- Florida State -- has been in the very recent past. 'Bama is still in the hunt for the SEC lead. So what can we expect from Maryland?

It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the Terps make a late run at an NCAA bid, despite a near-complete lack of buzz around the program right now. Two November losses -- to Pitt and Illinois -- don't look too bad. In December, Maryland was out-defensed by Temple in a low-scoring game and lost another close one to the hyper-efficient offense of Boston College. Since then, they've lost at Villanova, been swept by Duke and dropped one at home to Virginia Tech.

Now, according to our resident bracketologist Jerry Palm's Bubble Watch, which debuted today, Virginia Tech is in the tournament as of right now. The Hokies also sport an adjusted defensive efficiency number of 89.6, good for No. 16 on the kenpom.com defensive rankings. There really aren't any bad losses on the Terps' schedule right now. They have roadies at BC (Matt Norlander will be there) and Virginia Tech in their next two games, so if they are able to avenge those two shaky losses, couldn't they slip into the conversation?

Regardless, that gives the ACC five of the top 20 defensive squads in the nation. It may have taken the league some time to find its swagger this season, but it wouldn't be a shock to see a big recovery of postseason mojo come out of this late defensive surge.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 10:33 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 9:08 am

Who's the ACC's Top Frosh?

Posted by Eric Angevine

This whole ACC Newcomer of the Year thing was supposed to be easy. UNC's Harrison Barnes was a pre-season All-America; expected to dominate from day one, claim the ACC and National POY honors and go No. 1 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. Easy. Except the freshman struggled out of the gate, as freshmen so often do. It doesn't help that his entire team is failing to dominate as well.

The national spotlight jumped immediately to Duke's Kyrie Irving, and in his case, the hype was justified. Over eight games, the point guard from New Jersey made the defending national champs even more scary to contemplate, averaging 17.4 points and 5.1 assists against premium competition like Kansas State, Butler and Michigan State. Then came the toe injury that has kept him out of the Blue Devils' last three games, and could sideline him for the rest of the season.

It says a lot about the recruiting acumen of ACC coaches that they can recruit freshmen who merit national POY consideration, even in a season when the overall conference profile is less than elite. Of the remaining freshmen, who has the early edge on ACC success?

First, the stats. I'm going to sort by minutes played, and rank anyone who plays more than 20 mpg.

Travis McKie WAKE 13.0 8.5 1.3 1.0 1.1 .514 30.5
Lorenzo Brown NCST 10.5 4.0 3.7 1.5 0.5 .442 29.0
Harrison Barnes UNC 12.3 6.0 1.8 0.8 0.4 .367 28.3
Joe Harris UVA 10.0 3.4 0.9 0.7 0.3 .478 27.3
J.T. Terrell WAKE 14.0 2.0 1.6 0.8 0.1 .408 26.9
C.J. Leslie NCST 9.9 7.6 1.2 0.5 1.9 .421 24.2
Daniel Miller GTECH 5.1 5.6 0.4 1.3 1.9 .435 24.0
Danny Rubin BC 7.4 2.6 0.5 0.5 0.1 .466 23.5
K.T. Harrell UVA 9.8 2.6 0.8 0.2 0.0 .461 23.5
Ryan Harrow NCST 10.4 3.1 3.1 0.7 0.0 .369 21.7

Do you get the sense that, if Wake Forest were playing better as a team, we might be hearing a lot more about Travis McKie? His stats across the board are very impressive for a freshman big man. Jeff Bzdelik definitely has something to work with in Winston-Salem.

Looking at the ACC's official Rookie of the Week honors, Irving leads, having won the award all three weeks he was healthy. The only other player to win twice has been N.C. State's C.J. Leslie, though one week he was beat out by his own teammate, Harrow. McKie and Virginia's K.T. Harrell have each been honored once.

There are some names on this list that have had virtually zero national exposure. Daniel Miller and Danny Rubin are pretty much unknowns at this point. If BC continues to build upon a good early-season showing, Rubin may yet see some of the spotlight.

Of the remaining contenders, however, only Barnes has the national profile to turn an ACC FOY into a national FOY honor. Considering that he hasn't won even a single weekly honor, that still seems like a long shot. Still, I don't blame Barnes for that. He didn't ask to be the first freshman ever placed on the preseason All-America ballot, which was clearly a premature, hype-fueled honor.

This will all shake out more clearly when these kids go head-to-head in conference play, but for now, my front-runners for ACC Freshman of the Year would have to be C.J. Leslie and Travis McKie. Gun to my head, I'd pick Leslie right now. If either leader adds consistency to his resume, and helps his team win league games, his stock will go up. Some of these other guys are going to be great team building blocks over the next couple of seasons, but for now, they're also-rans.

Photo: AP
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