Monday, January 4, 2010

abbreviated ACC preview, part 1

OK, so I never got around to writing any stand-alone previews of the ACC's basketball teams like I do for football. WE WERE HIRING A FOOTBALL COACH DAMMIT. I also don't plan on doing any kind of extensive game preview of tomorrow night's game against UT-Pan Am. UTPA is horrible, that's why. And they're operating under some kind of unspecified sanctions making things even worse. The Broncs (who would like to buy an O, Pat) have one 6'7" player on their roster and one 6'9" guy and that's as tall as it gets, and the 6'9" guy hardly ever plays. Mike Scott is going to tear things up and then probably not see the court much after halftime. UTPA is in the same conference as NJIT, and the same sentiment applies: win by 30 or bust.

So we will have the eight wins that I wanted going into the ACC portion of the schedule, and that's thanks mainly to a really nice little win over UAB which kind of makes you think we could make some noise in conference play. I think we just happened to match up very well against UAB, so it remains to be seen. Anyways, in lieu of the one-at-a-time team previews of the ACC, I'll just use this post to check in on all of them at once. Briefly. We'll see if they've played up to expectations and how things look for when we play them.

Boston College

Where they were picked: 9th
We play them: Once, on the road, and I have tickets :) :) :) :) :)

How they've done: Disappointingly, to say the least. They really need to stop scheduling the New England schools because they're getting killed by the locals. They have home losses to Harvard, Rhode Island (which actually is pretty good, should probably have been in the Dance last year and probably will be this year) and Maine. Maine! No, seriously. Maine. The natives are getting restless: BC Interruption took a look at that one and was ready to jump off a ledge and take Al Skinner with them.

BC does have a few decent wins, over South Carolina, Miami, and Michigan, but those teams aren't actually all that incredible. (Still, we didn't beat our not-all-that-incredible matchups.)

The Eagles, in effect, are the poster child for why I've always thought we'll improve our standing in the ACC over last year's 11th. They beat us last year, but now they don't have Tyrese Rice. They actually do have four double-digit scorers, but they're shooting the rock pretty poorly and as a result are horribly inefficient: Leading scorer Joe Trapani has 1.16 points per shot, whereas Rice was at 1.42 last year. We're getting better and they've gotten worse, and this game is the second-to-last of the regular season; at this point, it's silly to call it a win because it's way early, but you can call it winnable.


Where they were picked: 3rd
We play them: Once, on the road

How they've done: Pretty much your usual Clemson team. Get picked real high, get ranked real high, go on an early season tear, piss it away. They had a really nice come-from-behind win against Butler, which is no joke of a team, but man did they choke against Illinois. If you want to know why the Big Ten finally got off the schneid in the Challenge, blame Clemson.

They're still plenty talented and will pose as significant a challenge as ever, but Oliver Purnell is still Oliver Purnell and we did beat 'em last year, you might recall. We don't have the benefit of home court this time. We do have Tony Bennett coaching against Oliver Purnell, which to borrow a phrase from Al Groh is like us playing chess while they're playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. I don't think you can look forward to this game the way you can look forward to Boston College, but these guys ain't Duke, either. Speaking of which...


Where they were picked: 1st (tie)
We play them: Once (thank God) at home

How they've done: Yeah, they're still Duke. Inexplicably, they have a loss to Wisconsin on their record, but the tournament committee will overlook that thanks to their rude beatdown of Gonzaga. No sense overanalyzing this. Odds are, we get killed. Fortunately, it's only once this year.

Florida State

Where they were picked: 7th (tie)
We play them: Once, at home

How they've done: Well enough to be ranked. They got murdered by Florida which, on the whole, is a pretty good team but the Florida of a few years ago. But their ACC win is over also-ranked Georgia Tech. Both teams have piled up the wins, but I'd say it remains to be seen if they can hang on to their rankings through the ACC schedule.

The Seminoles spread the scoring around pretty well and don't have one dominant scorer (though they might if they'd feed inside to Solomon Alabi a little more.) This is a far cry from last year when it was the Toney Douglas show. I've kind of got a bad feeling this team is going to get better as the year goes on, because they seem to be gelling pretty well. And Alabi is massive. I don't kind of have a bad feeling about what's going to happen when Alabi takes a look at our frontcourt, I most definitely have a really bad feeling about it. Fortunately, again, it's only one game, because if we haven't figured out a way to defend really good big men, Alabi's going to eat our lunch.

Georgia Tech

Where they were picked: 4th
We play them: Once, at home

How they've done: They've basically beaten everyone they were supposed to, which is more than a few of our ACC brethren can say. It's a testament to Paul Hewitt's recruiting chops that the media thinks GT has the talent to finish fourth this year after a 2-14 season last year, and a testament to his perceived complete inability to draw X's and O's on a whiteboard that GT fans are in believe-it-when-we-see-it mode. They've already matched last year's regular-season win total, which is definitely a step in the right direction, and there's no doubt in my mind they'll improve quite a bit over that awful two-win campaign. How much, I can't say, and I kind of have a tough time believing they'll rise to those lofty expectations.

The good news for us is they're a little bit light on legitimate three-point threats. But their two biggest scorers are inside guys, and Sene and Scott will absolutely have their hands full with Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors. This is a team I want to see more of before I handicap our game with them, but I think at the very least we'll have to be at our best for it.


Where they were picked: 5th
We play them: Twice

How they've done: Lost to William & Mary HA HA HA. Well, it's not as funny in basketball. Other than that, they've basically lost to the teams they're supposed to and beat the teams they're supposed to.

We play them, as usual, the last game of the season, at home again, and game at Maryland isn't for another month-plus. This might work in our favor, because they lean really heavily on the starting five. Four of their players are averaging 30+ minutes a game - the only team in the ACC like that. I'm not sure this isn't exactly what helped us beat them last year - you might remember that the first half was really sluggish and then we went on a scoring tear in the second.

Greivis Vasquez remains a giant douche, but he also remains a pretty prolific scorer and an all-around threat to do just about everything really well. Obnoxious. But a bit prone to bad shooting nights, and the key to beating them probably involves making his over-emotional ass go on tilt a little bit and causing his shots to brick out. These are rivalry games, so you can usually forget about the record when it's game time with these guys.

Getting late, so what I'm gonna do here is go ahead and push the other half of this to tomorrow. One of these days the recruiting board is gonna get an updating, too. It's already updated in my head. It's conceptual art. Just, you can't see it yet.

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