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ACC Roundup

With a one-day breather Friday to mark the first half of the
final ACC round-robin, what have we learned?

A few things.

Weekend's Games
Sat UNC @ Wake Forest 1:00 PM CBS
Sat Ga.Tech @ Tennessee 3:00 PM ABC
Sat NC State @ Virginia 3:00 PM RJ
Sun FSU @ Maryland 1:00 PM RJ
Sun Clemson @ Duke 7:30 PM FSN
Standings Conf. Overall
Duke 8-0 19-1
NC State 6-2 13-5
Georgia Tech 4-4 16-5
Florida State 4-4 16-6
Wake Forest 4-4 13-5
North Carolina 3-5 13-6
Maryland 3-5 12-7
Virginia 2-6 12-7
Clemson 2-6 9-10

  • Duke has won as many road games (5) as the rest of the
    conference combined.
  • Julius Hodge has emerged as one of the two key players in
    the ACC (Duhon being the other). He has lifted his team to a higher
    level and may well end up the ACC Player Of The Year.
  • Wake has been crippled by injuries, and, to a lesser
    extent, youth. Skip Prosser is a guy who basically starts with
    rebounding, and with his frontcourt suffering from key injuries, rebounding
    is off. Don't you know he hates going with a three guard lineup?
  • Tech is a big surprise to everyone outside Atlanta.
    They still miss an inside presence, though. But they are a lot of fun
    to watch.
  • Florida State has emerged as not just one of the better
    teams in the ACC, but, suddenly, as a potential national force as
    well. Tim Pickett is a huge player for them, and they are coming
    together at the right time.
  • Youth has really hurt Maryland. We figured that the
    momentum of the last couple of years would have institutionalized itself,
    and they'd just keep it going, but not to be. Also, our comments about
    how Gary had an easy life with Juan Dixon and Steve Blake were on the
    money. The adjustment to a new point guard has been very
    difficult. Steve Blake would have found ways to win several of the
    games Maryland has lost.
  • Herb Sendek may well be Coach Of The Year, but Leonard
    Hamilton will get some votes, and we think Oliver Purnell should, too (and
    Paul Hewitt as well). True, the W/L tally will be poor, but has anyone
    improved their team more this year? Clemson is playing smart, mentally
    tough basketball, something they're not exactly famous for. He's done
    an amazing job. It hasn't shown up in the standings, but it will soon.
    Aside from being an outstanding teacher, he's really done an astonishing job
  • UNC and Maryland, if they are not on the bubble, are not
    far away from it. UNC has been pretty erratic, and prone to defensive
    breakdowns. As brilliant as Chris Duhon's drive was, had UNC been a
    bit more aware (Ol' Roy said they were inattentive for a split second), he
    might have been cut off. But Duhon realized it, ran one defender into
    another, and had a moment of absolute greatness.
  • Rashad McCants came pretty close to not just messing up his
    college career but affecting his future income as well. He's immensely
    talented, but was getting a bad rep. To an extent he has reversed
    that, but if he were more reliable at the end of games, his team might be
    5-3 in the ACC instead of 3-5.
  • McCants' suggestion that UNC was the best team in the
    country sounded ludicrous, but he has a point: when they're good, they're
    really, really good. But their defense is erratic, and Duhon obliquely
    criticized their communication, and clearly took advantage of a lack of
    communication. For Roy Williams to get back to his perch near the top
    of college hoopdom, he'll probably need to get his own players in.
  • Pete Gillen should probably update his resume. He may
    be out in a few weeks.
  • We are immensely impressed with Sean May. He's had a
    tough career with injuries, and clearly he could use to lose weight.
    Nonetheless, he is smart, highly skilled, rebounds with passion, and as far
    as we can tell, plays a clean game. Nice kid, tough breaks.
  • Nik Caner-Medley looks like a hockey player now.
    After being a skinny freshman, he has bulked up a good bit, and when we say
    he looks like a hockey player, we mean he's not hesitant to mix it up, and
    his face sometimes reflects that. He's going to become a huge pain in
    the butt.
  • Luol Deng is a revelation. At times he defers, but at
    other times, he swoops in like a bird of prey. When he is at his best, he
    reminds us of Dunleavy, affecting the game in multiple ways - heavy pressure
    on D, smart pass here, good cut there, nice screen, wise box-out for a
    rebound, knowing when to shoot a three and when not to - his kind of
    sophistication is going to be wasted on the NBA.
  • Chris Paul has the potential to be Wake's second-best
    player ever. That moves him ahead of Rod Griffin, Muggsy Bogues,
    Rodney Rogers, Randolph Childress, Len Chappell, and everyone else.
  • Chris Duhon is filling his role, on his team, as well as
    anyone has in our memory.
  • If the ACC gets less than five teams in the NCAA, someone
    should file suit.

of the great themes this year in the ACC is parity,
at least from 2-9.
That'll be reinforced this weekend with some tough games, and in a couple of
instances, some desperate teams.

First, the UNC-Wake game is going to be incredibly intense. UNC will
have to bounce back from a late-night overtime thriller and then learn how to
win on the road. Fail, and they fall to 3-6 in the conference, and the
bubble grows ever tauter beneath them.

Alternate Reality
Conf. Overall
Duke 8-0 19-1
NC State 7-2 14-5
Wake Forest 5-4 13-5
Florida State 5-4 17-6
Georgia Tech 4-4 16-5
North Carolina 3-6 13-7
Maryland 3-6 12-8
Virginia 2-7 12-8
Clemson 2-7 9-11

Wake Forest, by contrast, had lost four straight before beating Maryland and
UVa, and then losing a heartbreaker to State. A win here would be a big
boost for their tourney hopes. A loss wouldn't be devastating, but with a
trip to Clemson, followed by Cincinnatti, Duke, Tech, Florida State and then
Maryland - that's a brutal stretch. Clemson is a game they should win, but
to us, a UNC win, particularly if they are tired, may be the most likely of the

We haven't really followed Tennessee that much, so we don't know what Tech is
getting into.

State goes to Charlottesville with a long losing streak there, just like they
had at College Park. It's hard to bet against State now, and harder still to bet
on UVa. But for the 'Hoos, everything is key now. It wouldn't be
impossible for them to dig out of the cellar, just damn hard.

The Florida State-Maryland game should also be pretty keen. They beat
Maryland at home the first time around, and it seemed like a bit of an upset.
Since then, they've knocked off Wake, UNC, almost got Duke, and beat Tech as
well. They are playing defense at a truly elite level. This should be a
really intense game, since Maryland is scrambling to avoid the NIT now. If they
fall to 12-8 and 3-6, things get a lot more dicey for the Terps.

Come to think of it, assume (see chart at right) that Maryland, UNC, UVa, and
Clemson all lose this weekend. Look what that does to the standings and
overall records.

Then next week, Florida State goes to Raleigh for another critical matchup,
and UNC, after getting worn out by Duke and likely pounded by Wake, goes to
Atlanta. Just for fun, let's look at another scenario, accepting for the
moment the records as they are in the chart above to your right:

Alternate Reality
Conf. Overall
Duke 8-0 19-1
NC State 7-3 14-6
Florida State 6-4 18-6
Wake Forest 5-4 13-5
Georgia Tech 5-4 17-5
Maryland 3-6 12-8
North Carolina 3-7 13-8
Virginia 2-7 12-8
Clemson 2-7 9-11

This is, first of all, pointless, we realize. But hey, it's late, the
beer is cold, so what the heck. Under this scenario, FSU beats State and
Tech beats UNC in Atlanta. Florida State would go to third, Tech would tie
for fourth, UNC would fall to sixth. At 18-6, Florida State would be
assured of a bid to the tournament already, given their recent great play.
Duke, State, Wake, and Tech would all be in. Maryland and UNC would have
to play the strength of their noncon schedule to make it, but could still do it.

Of course, this is all just ridiculous. Very little will go by a
scenario, and as usual, chaos will ensue. We can't wait.

Oh, by the way: Hermann Wendorff points out that
seems to have disappeared.