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ACC Roundup!

Are we the only ones who have noticed that State is starting to heat up?  Consider: in the last three games, State has had major leads.  They lost it against Virginia Tech but held on against Wake and now Saturday at Georgia Tech.  In the last six games, their scoring average has gone up about 20 points.

ACC Sunday Night Action!
Teams Times TV
Clemson @ Virginia 1:00 PM Raycom
North Carolina @ Miami 7:45 PM FSN
ACC Standings
North Carolina 8-2 .800 22-2 .917
Duke 7-3 .700 20-4 .833
Clemson 6-3 .667 20-3 .870
Wake Forest 6-4 .600 19-4 .826
Florida State 6-4 .600 19-6 .760
Virginia Tech 6-4 .600 16-8 .667
Boston College 6-5 .545 18-8 .692
Maryland 5-5 .500 16-8 .667
Miami 4-6 .400 15-8 .652
NC State 4-6 .400 14-9 .609
Virginia 1-8 .111 7-13 .350
Georgia Tech 1-10 .091 10-14 .417

In the last three games, while they have had leads they either mostly or entirely lost, they also had  22, 17, and 21 turnovers.  The 21 against Tech Saturday included some that were almost comically inept, particularly at the end of the first half.  But there's more to this team than meets the eye, because if you can, in the same game, build nearly a20 points lead and toss the ball away around 20 times too, and still win, well, it's a roller coaster, but it's working.

We'd have to give El Sid a great deal of credit for pulling this off.  His primary move has been to put Tracy Smith in the starting lineup, which has paid off nicely.  He gets to concentrate on the post which lets Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner concentrate on their strengths.  State whipped the Yellow Jackets, mind you, despite only getting four points from McCauley and only three boards from Costner (and keep in mind that Courtney Fells is still getting over an injured ankle.

Also please note that State won 86-65 despite only getting three offensive rebounds, although it's important to note that when you shoot 61.4% from the field, offensive rebounds are a lot less available.

All things considered, lately Sidney Lowe is doing an absolutely remarkable job with a team that most people figured was dead (you may remember that we said after the Duke game that they really weren't that far away). The rest of their schedule is very difficult, but it's no longer inconceivable to think that they could sneak their way into the tournament. Unlikely? Yes.  Impossible? No.  This team is playing more like Lowe's first team, which got so hot at the end of the regular season, than last year's toxic waste embarrassment.

Speaking of embarrassment, Maryland is off their collective knees.  They beat a Virginia Tech team whose commitment was questioned by their coach.

"They took us out of what we wanted to do," Seth Greenberg said in his post-game comments. "We were reacting to them the whole game. I was real disappointed in our team. I thought we had no sense of urgency whatsoever at the defensive end.  We had two absolutely horrendous days of practice, and that's what you get when you have two bad days of practice. The game was a reflection of that. We were prepared, we knew what we wanted to do. But we had no flow offensively, we had no commitment to getting stops."It was a good day for Gary Williams in more ways than one.  First, this was the best his team has played all season.  The win keeps his NCAA hopes alive, and in the pressure cooker that Maryland basketball has become, many fans wore shirts supporting Williams.  And in light of the Post's series on his program this week, it was significant that Post writer Sally Jenkins came out in support of the beleaguered coach.

In the other Saturday game, Wake took Florida State to the woodshed, winning 86-63. They scored 32 points from the line and dominated even though Jeff Teague was held to 3-13.  Florida State's Top 25 turn, therefore, is limited to one week.

On Sunday, Clemson goes to Virginia, and we don't see anyway Virginia wins this one.  UNC travels to Miami, and that's a much more interesting game.  UNC is playing as well as anyone anywhere, but Miami is still a challenge.  They are pretty athletic, they've had a week off, and they really, really, need this one. A close game would be extremely interesting because both teams have big-game players: UNC's Tyler Hansbrough is usually good for a rebound or a trip to the foul line or a basket in a close game, and Ty Lawson showed what he can do in the Duke game.  And for Miami, Jack McClinton has been really solid in late-game situations. He's a load.  UNC is obviously favored, but Miami has some advantages: rest, an improving defense, and some serious athleticism.  UNC can counter a lot of it, but Miami has a shot.  They also have something UNC can't match:  a win over the Heels would be huge when it comes to getting them back into tournament conversation.  It's not liek they're out of it, but they're heading that way. Desperation can never be underestimated as a key competitive factor in ACC basketball.