We're a little less than halfway through the ACC schedule, and one thing is clear. Duke and UNC are at the top of the conference, and everyone else is fighting for third place. This is how it was when we grew up watching the ACC. This year, there are no Cinderellas. There are about eight teams behind Duke and UNC with a legit shot to finish third. It's going to be a battle down to the final weekend.
|Current ACC Standings|
RPI Data from RealTimeRPI.com,
as of 1/28/08, noon
|Recent Games (click score for recap)|
|01/22/08||Clemson 80, Wake Forest 75||Clemson, S.C.|
|01/23/08||Georgia Tech 77, NC State 74||Raleigh, N.C.|
|01/23/08||FSU 69, Virginia 67||Tallahassee, Fla.|
|01/23/08||UNC 98, Miami 82||Coral Gables, Fla.|
|01/24/08||Duke 81, VT 64||Blacksburg, Va.|
|01/26/08||NC State 69, FSU 66||Tallahassee, Fla.|
|01/26/08||VT 81, BC 73||Chestnut Hill, Mass.|
|01/27/08||Miami 75, Clemson 72||Coral Gables, Fla.|
|01/27/08||Georgia Tech 92, Virginia 82||Charlottesville, Va.|
|01/27/08||Duke 93, Maryland 84||College Park, Md.|
|01/29/08||Miami @ Wake Forest||Winston-Salem, N.C.||RSN||
|FSU @ VT||Blacksburg, Va.||RSN||
|01/30/08||Virginia @ Maryland||College Park, Md.||ESPN||
|01/31/08||BC @ UNC||Chapel Hill, N.C.||ESPN/ESPN2||
|NC State @ Duke||Durham, N.C.||RAYCOM/ESPN2||
|02/02/08||Maryland @ GT||Atlanta, Ga.||ESPN2||
|Virginia @ VT||Blacksburg, Va.||RAYCOM||
|Miami @ Duke||Durham, N.C.||ABC||
|BC @ Clemson||Clemson, S.C.||none||
|02/03/08||Wake Forest @ NC St.||Raleigh, N.C.||RAYCOM||
|UNC @ FSU||Tallahassee, Fla.||FSN||
CSN = Comcast SportsNet;
CSS = Comcast Sports Southeast; FSN = Fox SportsNet;
FSNS = Fox SportsNet South; NESN = New England Sports Network;
RSN = Regional Cable Partners (check listings)
A Look Around the League...
Duke (17-1, 5-0)
The Blue Devils came away with two solid road victories this past week. First they defeated Virginia Tech 81-64 on Thursday night, then they knocked off Maryland 93-84. Duke is the only team with an undefeated ACC record, and they look like the best team in the conference at this point.
Duke showed their muscle in the second half of both games. Virginia Tech trailed just 42-41 early in the second half, but then the Blue Devils pulled away. Duke trailed 51-42 to Maryland at halftime, but dominated the final 20 minutes. They've been clutch, and they've been dominant.
Duke should be able to win their next two. They are both in Durham. They host NC State on Thursday, and then Miami on Saturday.
North Carolina (19-1, 4-1)
After Duke, there is North Carolina. After the Tar Heels, there are a bunch of other teams playing for third place in the conference. ACC basketball is back to normal this year. Duke and Carolina at the top, and everybody else trying to catch up.
The Tar Heels had just one game last week, blowing out the Miami Hurricanes 98-82 in Coral Gables. UNC is an offensive juggernaut that is difficult for anyone to slow down, though Heel fans are concerned about their defense (11th in the ACC at 71.8 ppg). This week the Tar Heels get Boston College at home, then travel to Florida State. UNC should win those two games.
UNC plays Duke on February 6 in Chapel Hill. That will be the first of their two meetings this season.
Boston College (12-6, 3-2)
Boston College got the entire week off, and apparently didn't use it like they should have. Instead of coming out strong against Virginia Tech, the Eagles lost a home game in overtime to the underdog Hokies. It was BC's second straight loss, and one they could ill afford to lose.
The Eagles are third in the ACC right now, but that's not going to last. They have a difficult stretch coming up. It's clear that they have serious question marks on their team. Three of their four guards are freshmen, and their frontcourt didn't match up well athletically with Virginia Tech.
Three of BC's next four games are on the road. This week, they travel to UNC on Thursday and Clemson on Saturday. That's quite a week.
Clemson (15-5, 3-3)
Clemson had a chance to continue their winning ways, but instead they lost on the road to Miami 75-72 and fell back into the middle of the pack with all the rest of the three-loss teams. The Tigers lost forward Trevor Booker to injury against the Hurricanes, and that certainly had an affect on the outcome of the game.
Booker's injury is being described as a high ankle sprain right now, and his loss is significant. He averages 12 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He is easily the Tigers' top inside player.
Fortunately for Clemson, they don't have a week night game. They don't play again until Saturday night, when they host Boston College.
Virginia Tech (12-8, 3-3)
We still haven't reached the halfway mark of the season, but Virginia Tech is .500 in the conference and in the top half of the ACC. At this point you can make an argument for pretty much any ACC team to finish at #3 behind Duke and Carolina, and the Hokies are no exception. They are keeping themselves in the race.
Tech lost to Duke on Thursday night, but surprised everyone by knocking off Boston College 81-73 in overtime on Saturday. J.T. Thompson got the first two starts of his college career with Jeff Allen suspended, and he averaged 13.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. He got his first double-double with a 14 point, 10 rebound performance against the Eagles.
With the emergence of Thompson, Seth Greenberg has another lineup option. The Hokies have two home games this week. They take on Florida State on Tuesday night, then host Virginia on Saturday. Both games are very winnable, and if the Hokies find themselves at 5-3 at this time next week, they could be sitting at #3 in the ACC standings.
Georgia Tech (10-9, 3-3)
Everyone wrote Georgia Tech off early, but the Yellow Jackets have ripped off three straight wins and now have a winning record again. They are sitting at .500 in the ACC, and they have the opportunity to challenge for the #3 spot. Georgia Tech had two huge road wins this week, beating NC State 77-74 and Virginia 92-82 in overtime.
Georgia Tech point guard Matt Causey has scored 66 points over the last three games. He dropped 18 points on UVA on Sunday, all of which came in the second half and overtime. He outplayed Sean Singletary, and that was the singular reason why the Jackets were able to steal a road win.
Tech gets the week off before hosting Maryland on Saturday afternoon.
Miami (15-4, 2-3)
Miami was starting to struggle a bit, losing three games in a row, but they bounced back on Sunday against Clemson, knocking off the Tigers 75-72. The victory gets the Hurricanes back into the thick of things. Instead of being 1-4 and tied for last, they are tied in the loss column with six other ACC teams.
Of course, there is a good chance Miami wouldn't have won the game if Clemson forward Trevor Booker had played more than six minutes. His loss was huge for the Tigers.
Miami will get a chance to validate the win this week, but it will be tough. They play at Wake Forest on Tuesday night, then play at Duke on Saturday.
NC State (13-6, 2-3)
NC State pulled out a huge road win on Saturday, knocking off Florida State 69-66. Before that, they lost to Georgia Tech at home 77-74. So the Wolfpack had a three point win on the road, and a three point loss at home. Generally it's the other way around in the ACC.
NC State lacks consistent point guard play. Although they have plenty of talent on the wings and in the frontcourt, this is just not a smooth team right now. However, it's a long season and there is still plenty of time for them to get it together.
The Wolfpack travel to Duke on Thursday, then host Wake Forest on Sunday. 1-1 this week looks probable.
Wake Forest (12-6, 2-3)
The Demon Deacons played just one game this past week, and it was a tough one. They led late at Clemson, but ultimately fell in overtime 80-75. Still, Wake looks a bit better than many people thought they would be this year, though there is still plenty of time for them to slip down the standings.
Wake is getting excellent play from two freshmen, forward James Johnson and guard Jeff Teague. Johnson is one of the top freshmen in the ACC, and Teague leads the conference in steals. Combined with three highly-touted freshmen that are enrolling next season, Wake appears to have a good future.
Wake hosts Miami on Thursday night, and then they travel to NC State on Sunday. 2-0, 1-1 or 0-2 are all legit possibilities. You never know with such a young team.
Maryland (12-8, 2-3)
Maryland got a week off since winning at UNC last week, and they got the ACC's other powerhouse, Duke, at home on Sunday night. This time it didn't turn out as well. Even though they led by nine at halftime, the Terps lost 93-84, not showing much poise defensively in the second half, when they surrendered 51 points.
Even with the loss, Maryland has played much better over their last three games. Now that guard Eric Hayes is healthy and back in the lineup, the Terps could be a very dangerous team the rest of the way.
Maryland hosts Virginia on Wednesday night, then plays at Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Florida State (13-8, 2-4)
How good are the 'Noles? Who knows? They beat Virginia 69-67 at home, then lost at home to NC State 69-66. There have been some injury problems, but they are getting healthier. Remember, this was a team that could never make the NCAA tournament even with Al Thornton.
Florida State starts three, sometimes four guards. Part of that is because they get good guard play, and part of it is because their frontcourt has been decimated by injuries. The 'Noles will go as far as their guards take them this year.
FSU travels to Virginia Tech on Tuesday night, then hosts North Carolina on Sunday. If they drop both of these games, their NCAA tournament hopes are probably done.
Virginia (11-7, 1-4)
The fact that Virginia is in sole possession of last place at this point in the season is a surprise. The Cavs were expected to finish in the top half of the conference this year behind senior point guard Sean Singletary. However, that hasn't come to fruition.
UVA has developed into masters of losing leads. They led by nine in the second half against Virginia Tech, but lost in overtime. They led at Florida State late, but lost. They led Georgia Tech by 10 at halftime, but ended up losing by 10 in overtime. Right now, this isn't a very good team down the stretch.
Things don't get any easier for UVA. They are on the road at two of their biggest rivals this week. They play at Maryland on Wednesday night, then at Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Hoos are staring 1-6 right in the face, and they have to respond if they want to save their season.