We're getting to the stretch run of the ACC schedule. Two teams, Virginia Tech and Florida State, have played half of their ACC games, and the other 10 teams have played seven. Duke and Florida State sit at the top of the ACC standings, while Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia have basically played their way out of the NCAA tournament picture, with Boston College possibly joining that group soon. Everyone else is squarely in the hunt.
Duke (19-1, 7-0)
Duke had two more games this past week, and picked up two more victories. The Blue Devils beat NC State 92-72, then knocked off Miami 88-73. Both games were in Durham. With the two wins, Duke holds on to the top spot in the ACC standings, and are playing better than they have in quite sometime.
Duke is a very impressive team, especially when you consider that they have no legit inside threat. They basically start three guards and two small forwards. That could hurt them when they play someone with a lot of inside presence, but for now, they're rolling.
They'll get that inside test this Wednesday night, when they travel to Chapel Hill to take on UNC. The Tar Heels have a number of inside players than can give Duke fits, led by Tyler Hansbrough. After that, Duke hosts Boston College on Saturday.
North Carolina (21-1, 6-1)
UNC blew out Boston College 91-69 on Thursday, then slipped by Florida State 84-73 in overtime on Sunday. They are a very impressive team offensively. No one can seem to slow the Tar Heels down.
However, they now have a question mark at point guard. Ty Lawson suffered a high ankle sprain early in the FSU game, and spent the rest of the game on the bench. Backup point guard Bobby Frasor is already one for the season, which means Quentin Thomas will now be running the point. Thomas is an experienced senior and a solid player, but he was the #3 point guard for a reason.
UNC hosts Duke at home on Wednesday night in a huge ACC battle. They get Clemson at home on Sunday.
Virginia Tech (14-8, 5-3)
Virginia Tech is the ACC's most surprising team this year. The Hokies have won three in a row and six out of eight to run their ACC record to 5-3, good for third place in the conference. They beat Florida State 89-80 on Tuesday night, then completed the season sweep of in-state rival Virginia in Blacksburg on Saturday.
There are a number of reasons the Hokies are playing well, but the main reason could be the improvement of freshmen guards Hank Thorns and Malcolm Delaney. Tech was terrible in turnover margin for most of the season, but not in the last three games. They broke even at Boston College, and were +5 against Florida State and +3 against Virginia.
The Hokies need Top 50 RPI wins to build their NCAA tournament resume. They'll get that chance this week when they travel to NC State on Tuesday, and host Miami on Saturday.
Clemson (16-5, 4-3)
Clemson is one of three ACC teams that would definitely be in the NCAA tournament if the season ended today. The Tigers suffered a tough 75-72 loss to Miami on Tuesday, but rebounded to blow out Boston College 78-56 at home. The Tigers are a good team that is capable of beating anyone in the conference.
The Tigers are a banged up team right now. Inside players James Mays and Trevor Booker, as well as point guard Demontez Stitt, are all suffering from injuries.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they have a tough road down the stretch. Six of their last nine games are on the road, including two this week at UVA and UNC.
Maryland (14-8, 4-3)
Maryland is another ACC team that still has a chance to make the NCAA tournament. After an 0-2 start in ACC play, the Terps have rebounded to win four of their last five games. They beat Virginia 85-75 on Wednesday night, then knocked off Georgia Tech 88-86 in Atlanta on Saturday.
The Terps have a very strong inside game with Bombale Osby and James Gist, and they also get good guard play with Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes. The only thing they lack is a true outside shooter.
Maryland plays at Boston College on Wednesday, then gets NC State at home on Saturday. They have a chance to pick up two wins this week.
NC State (14-7, 3-4)
NC State lost to Duke 92-72 in Durham on Thursday, but rebounded to beat Wake Forest 67-65. Ben McCauley's putback dunk at the end of the game propelled them to the win over the Demon Deacons and kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
NC State is an up and down team. You never know how they are going to come out and perform. However, they've been much more consistent lately. To give you an idea of how close the ACC is, four of NC State's last five games have been decided by three points or less.
The Wolfpack host Virginia Tech on Tuesday, then play at Maryland on Saturday. If they can beat the Hokies and get to .500 at the halfway point, that would be tremendous considering how poorly they have played at times.
Wake Forest (13-7, 3-4)
Wake Forest played two games this past week, and the margin of victory in each was two points. The Demon Deacons beat Miami 70-68, then dropped a heartbreaker to UNC 67-65. Despite the loss to the Wolfpack, Wake is still in a position to finish in the top half of the ACC standings.
Wake is a very young basketball team. They have no seniors, and start two outstanding freshmen in Jeff Teague and James Johnson. Both players are future stars in the ACC.
The Demon Deacons have a great opportunity this week to get above .500 in ACC play. They host Georgia Tech on Wednesday, then get Virginia at home on Saturday. Dino Gaudio has done a great job this season following the offseason death of Skip Prosser.
Boston College (12-8, 3-4)
Boston College is a team that is going downhill quickly. They have lost four games in a row after starting out 3-0 in the ACC. Three of the four losses have been by 18 points or more. This week BC lost to UNC 91-69, then got flattened by Clemson 78-56. This could be the worst team in the ACC right now. Remember, UVA's only ACC win came by 18 points over BC.
With the way they are playing, the Eagles have little hope for an NCAA tournament bid. The loss of Jared Dudley, Sean Marshall and Sean Williams are finally catching up to them.
BC hosts Maryland on Wednesday, then plays at Duke on Saturday. They could be looking at two more losses, which would take their losing streak to six.
Georgia Tech (10-10, 3-4)
After winning three ACC games in a row, Georgia Tech lost a heartbreaker to Maryland 88-86 on Saturday afternoon. The loss pretty much ended any hope of making the NCAA tournament. They still have a chance to finish in the top half of the conference, but they aren't going to have enough wins overall.
It doesn't help Georgia Tech that they play just four of their last 10 games on the road, including the next three. They play at Wake Forest on Wednesday night, then travel to Uconn for an out-of-conference matchup on Saturday.
Miami (15-6, 2-5)
After starting the season hot, Miami has lost five of their last six basketball games. Their latest losses came at Wake Forest 70-68, and at Duke 88-73. However, don't let their record fool you. They are a good team. They have played four of their seven ACC games on the road, and one of their home games was against UNC.
The Hurricanes do have a very manageable schedule down the stretch. Starting with this Wednesday's game against Florida State, they have a chance to creep back up in the standings. But it must start on Wednesday against FSU, otherwise the ‘Canes are going to become the 2007-08 version of the 2006-07 Clemson Tigers. After the FSU game, Miami travels to Virginia Tech.
Florida State (13-10, 2-6)
Florida State was run out of the gym in an 89-80 loss to Virginia Tech on Tuesday night. However, they followed that up by playing UNC tough, losing at home to the Tar Heels 84-73 in overtime.
The UNC loss was especially difficult for FSU. They are a perimeter oriented offense and a very solid three-point shooting team. They were 8-of-11 in the second half from the outside against Virginia Tech. However, against UNC, they were just 6-of-31, including a terrible 1-of-9 performance by point guard Toney Douglas.
FSU's only game this week is at Miami on Wednesday.
Virginia (11-9, 1-6)
The Hoos dug themselves even deeper into the cellar this past week, losing 85-75 at Maryland and 72-65 in overtime at Virginia Tech. UVA is now 0-3 in ACC overtime games this year, two of the losses coming at the hands of the Hokies.
UVA is a team built around one player, All-ACC point guard Sean Singletary. No one else is helping much, or at least not consistently. Unfortunately Singletary is banged up with a hip pointer, and he doesn't appear to be getting healthier.
The Hoos could also be in the middle of a team implosion. Freshman forward Mike Scott had some comment to the Washington Post following Saturday's game that can't make UVA fans happy. Scott basically said that Dave Leitao doesn't give his players a chance to play through mistakes, whereas Seth Greenberg does, and that's why UVA isn't having any success.