We’ve reached the point in the season when you can start ruling teams out of NCAA play.
Barring incredible turnarounds or a stunning ACC Tournament run, at this point you can safely rule out Boston College, Pitt and NC State.
Here’s what the RPI is for ACC teams:
- Louisville 4
- UNC 5
- Florida State 7
- Virginia 11
- Duke 18
- Notre Dame 29
- Wake Forest 32
- Clemson 39
- Virginia Tech 42
- Pitt 55
- Georgia Tech 69
- Miami 73
- NC State 83
- Syracuse 84
- Boston College 195
Our best guess is that if the field was picked today, the ACC would put UNC, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech in the field.
The limitations of RPI show up with Pitt. Despite an eight-game losing streak, if RPI were the only factor, Pitt would make the field.
That leaves some time and hope for Miami, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Clemson and Syracuse.
Syracuse was miserable last month, falling to 11-9 with a loss to Notre Dame.
Since then though, the ‘Cuse has been one of the hotter teams in the ACC, winning four straight.
The fourth came on Saturday with a close win over Virginia, giving Jim Boeheim - depending on how you count - either his 900th win or his 1,000th (the NCAA docked him 100, so officially 900).
We thought that Virginia would show more spine than they did last spring, when the Cavaliers let Syracuse come back and steal a Final Four spot, but the game followed a similar script. Even the score was close. In the spring, Syracuse won 66-62 and this time, 68-62.
One thing that’s interesting about Syracuse is that you might see Tyler Lydon or John Gillon go off one game and then next time it’s Tyler Battler and Andrew White or whoever.
Against NC State, Gillon had 43; against Virginia, six.
But it’s working.
Upsetting UVA will help Syracuse’s case and the stretch run could be worse: Syracuse plays Clemson and Pitt on the road, hosts Louisville, then a road trip to Georgia Tech, then Duke at home before finishing up at Louisville and hosting the Yellow Jackets.
A solid finish and a good ACC Tournament run might secure a bid for the Orange. One of the bracketology gurus - we think it was Jerry Palm - said there’s no way Syracuse makes it, but they are improving rapidly.
Wake’s RPI surprised us a bit but it gives the Deacs hope. So does Saturday’s win over Tech.
If Wake were a stock, we’d definitely hold. The Deacs are young, talented and should keep getting better for a while.
John Collins is the centerpiece, no pun intended, and he gave Tech’s Ben Lammers all he wanted Saturday.
Collins, who has struggled with fouls all season, is getting better at that. He only had three vs. Tech and got Lammers in trouble instead.
Lammers had four and was limited to seven points (his season low) and seven rebounds in 26 minutes (he also had three blocks).
Josh Okogie had 23 and Quentin Stephens had 14 but Tech’s offense was anemic. The Yellow Jackets were held to just 35.7% and nearly half their shots were threes.
Tech played without Justin Moore (abdominal injury) and Abdoulaye Gueye, Lammer’s backup (wrist injury).
The Deacons have had trouble with closing games out but not Saturday. Tech cut the lead in half from 14 to seven with less than three minutes but this time the team pushed it back to 14.
And now the Deacs are starting to get it. Mitchell Wilbekin: “Earlier in the season we may have folded or may have freaked out a little bit, but we’ve been there before. At Boston College (this past Tuesday) we went down in the second half, so we feel like if we just do what we do and don’t get too crazy and listen to coach then we’ll be all right.”
That’s not happening at NC State.
The Pack has a ton of talent but it hasn’t managed to harness it consistently. Since New Year’s, State is 3-7 and hasn’t won since the memorable performance at Duke.
Look at the points allowed in November:
UNC scored 107, BC 74, Georgia Tech 86, Pitt 74, Wake 93, Duke 82, Louisville 85, Syracuse 100 and now Miami 84.
State’s problems basically come down to rebounding and defense: smallish Miami actually had more offensive rebounds than State had defensive.
As Charles Barkley said, correctly, rebounding is just desire. Abdul-Malik Abu had five boards and Omer Yurtseven had four.
The season, which had such promise, is slipping away. Last season it was understandable but this year was supposed to be different.
Louisville didn’t have any trouble with BC, winning by 23.
The Cards hit 57.6% with Donovan Mitchell and Deng Adel both hitting 7-10.
Jerome Robinson hit 4-14 for 13 and Ky Bowman finished with 18 on 8-15. Jerome Chatman was held to 10.
The game went about as you might expect, which is very unusual this season.
On Sunday, Clemson plays at FSU with a big chance to make a statement, not that it’ll be easy, and Notre Dame and UNC play in Greensboro.
The game was scheduled for Chapel Hill but Chapel Hill had a water crisis Friday and the prudent thing was to move the game to Greensboro on Sunday.
UNC has been a bit up and down but still a much better team than Notre Dame, which will have trouble with UNC’s size.
On the other hand, if UNC doesn’t defend the three, Notre Dame could change the equation.
- Until the end, Charles Shackleford strived to get his life together
- UNC has a defensive problem that Roy Williams is trying to fix
- Miami rallies to beat Wolfpack 84-79
- Kevin Knox’s official visit to UNC postponed to later in the month
- Collins leads Wake Forest past Georgia Tech
- Sammy Batten: A fine line between winning and losing for N.C. State
- UPDATE: Syracuse eerily duplicates 2nd-half rally to sink No. 9 Virginia
- Virginia basketball’s loss at Syracuse echoes NCAA tournament collapse
- Virginia's loss to Syracuse has a familiar feel
- Shorthanded Jackets fall to Wake Forest
- How Josh Heath is thriving in his role for Yellow Jackets
- Reed scores 26, leads Miami past NC State 84-79
- Unique road situation awaits No. 20 Notre Dame men in Greensboro