Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ACC roundtable, basketball-style

Another meeting of ACC-oholics Anonymous is upon us, hosted this time by Riddick & Reynolds, of NC State persuasion. Basketball season is underway, which means basketball questions are at hand:

1. Every football season, we bloggers and pundits preach the importance of the league to perform well out of conference to improve the league's image. Basketball certainly has a much better reputation historically, but do you think the ACC has some work to do before league play starts to get back to being viewed as the NCAA's standard-bearer for the sport? Could a dominant or lackluster performance in November and December significantly help or hurt the ACC's reputation or are most folks' opinions about ACC basketball pretty set?

"Back"? I wasn't aware anything had changed. It's going to take some pretty colossal years of failure for the ACC to relinquish its status as the dean of college hoops. At least three of our freshmen specifically cited the ACC as one of their reasons for coming to UVA. Everyone wants that ACC offer. The ACC is to college basketball as the Yankees are to baseball: they might underperform for a year or two, but they're still the standard of excellence.

2. We've all seen our teams at least once now. Have you seen anything in the limited action thus far that is cause for concern or cause for greater optimism than where your opinion stood just a couple of weeks ago?

Nah. Not being 2-0 by this point would have been cause for worry, but anyone who upgrades their expectations based on a win over USC-Upstart - uh, Upstate - is either delusional or inconceivably pessimistic.

I will say that the play from the point guards, Jontel Evans and Billy Baron, has been a pleasant surprise, and Mike Scott has shown the hoped-for willingness to take charge. Baron's shooting has provided a real spark. But the shooting looked good early last year, too, and dove off a cliff come January.

3. Give me your preseason votes for: POY, COY, ROY. Explain.

ROY: Harrison Barnes, because he'll get lots of minutes, a giant heap of NBA hype, and doesn't have the pressure of Kyrie Irving running the point at Duke. And he wears the correct uniform.

COY: Steve Donahue at BC, for outperforming the 10th-place finish his team was saddled with by the preseason media rankings. BC has a senior-laden team and some quality players. I don't know what the hell they'll do next year, but this year they should be better than 10th.

POY: Kyle Singler, for being more or less as good as any player in the conference and for wearing the correct uniform. Malcolm Delaney will get votes, but the tiebreaker goes to the Dookie.

4. Which stands the greater probability of reoccurring this season: Duke winning the national title or Carolina returning to the NIT?

No way Carolina goes to the NIT again.

5. I can't speak to the attendance figures for most of the other schools in the league, but State's opening matchup against Tennessee Tech was nowhere near a sellout. There were quite a few empty seats in the Dean Dome for the game against Lipscomb, as well. As television and internet technology continue to advance, consumers are starting to get better entertainment value for the dollar staying home rather than paying for tickets to attend the games themselves. In the coming years, how will ADs--struggling to balance very tight budgets--continue to move tickets and put butts in the seats without slashing ticket prices drastically?

Put good teams on the court. And have them play against good teams.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the teams not located in major metropolitan areas try to bring their product to the fans in the big city. Schedule a home-and-home against a West Coast team the way UVA's often done, but find an NBA arena to play in. On a Saturday night after football season ends, say. There's precedent in UVA's game against MSU in Richmond some years back, although better arena management will be obviously be required so as to avoid any further basketball-on-ice episodes. UVA could play in DC, the NC schools could play in Charlotte. Certain schools won't be able to take advantage of the gimmick, but this is now a standard football tactic; can basketball be far behind?

6. Which team will be the big surprise this season, either exceeding expectations greatly or falling well short of them?

Boston College will do a lot better than 10th, and Georgia Tech was voted 9th but they are going to suck a lot more than that. By losing to Kennesaw State(!) - no, check that: by getting blown out by Kennesaw State(!!), they've already started.

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