TAG | basketball
Thursday night’s game between Georgia Tech and Miami is exactly why the ACC is behind the SEC. If I had actually watched this game, I would instantly start writing letters to both schools demanding that their science departments stop everything they are doing and focus on sending messages back in time. That way they could tell everyone not to watch the display from this game. If they don’t have a science department, create one. At the 9:33 mark of the second half Miami led 50-32. From that point on the ‘Canes went 2-12 shooting (after shooting lights out all game), had nine total points, and committed 12 turnovers. Georgia Tech still found a way to lose on the road per usual (0-7 this year and 0-13 in all) 59-57. I could see Auburn and LSU having a game like that, but that’s the problem, those are the two worst teams in the SEC. NC St. and Wake Forest are below Georgia Tech in the standings.
Best Team (yawn): Duke (20-2, 7-1)
I’ll give it up to Nolen Smith he is having one hell of a season. The senior has stepped up in the absence of Kyle Irving to average 21 PPG, 5 RPG, 5.5 APG, and 1.5 SPG, can you say POY? Irving will get an MRI on his big toe that has kept him out for so long on Friday, so we’ll get a better idea if Mr. Smith needs to continue his torrid pace for the remainder of the year. I give them a pass on the St. John’s loss, what did they really have to play for there? They came back smashed the Terps in College Park when it was counting for the ACC again and their next real threat of a loss isn’t until going to Virginia Tech at the end of the month.
Next in line: North Carolina (16-5, 6-1)
The Heels have been turning it around thanks to the meagerness that is the ACC. Their only loss was at (gulp) Georgia Tech (huh?). There is reason for optimism for UNC though, they’ve got one good (could be great by season’s end) non-conference win over Kentucky, Harrison Barnes seems to be coming around (right about the time we should expect most freshman to), and in the last two games they rolled teams that they should if they are indeed back to being UNC. The schedule stiffens up fast though, as they still play Duke and Florida St. twice, starting this week.
*Note: this could all change by Sunday when UNC host Florida St. but I didn’t feel right about putting a team that lost to Auburn at second best team.
Biggest Disappointment: North Carolina St. (12-10, 2-6)
Well, Sidney Lowe is just digging his own grave. This team was picked to finish in the top-5 of the ACC because it returned three starters and added three highly regarded freshman. This season has been a non-stop struggle as they lost every meaningful non-conference game, sometimes in embarrassing fashion and since blowing out Wake at home they’ve lost 6 of seven ACC games. Oh, and by the way, they get to play at Duke on Saturday as the prep game for ESPN’s prime time game, awesome. Any coach looking for a new job next year should salivate over this one if Lowe is gone, boatloads of talent will return.
Next in line: Miami (13-9, 2-6): The U has had a rough go of it losing four straight conference games, before the win Thursday, by a combined 11 points.
Biggest Surprise: Virginia (12-10, 3-5)
Tony Bennett has this team believing they can compete and they’ve already won as many games in the ACC as many thought they may all year. Some of those wins were nice (@MN, @VT, vs. Clem) and the freshman guard duo of Harris and Harrell has developed nicely as the year has gone on. The schedule gets tougher for the Cavaliers too, but six ACC wins would be a successful season.
Next in line: Boston College (14-8, 4-4)
They’ve gotten blown out in their last three games by the top three teams of the ACC, but this veteran team had been playing stronger prior to that ugly week and a half. They do have a nice win over Texas A&M and a couple other over BCS schools, but the vets will have to step up real big down the stretch if they want to play in the post season.
12:00 Virginia Tech (15-6, 5-3) @ Boston College (14-8, 4-4): Hey, with this conference you’ve got to reach a little bit. This will free up a little of the logjam in the middle and really neither team can afford this loss in the eyes of the tournament committee.
1:00 Florida St. (16-6, 6-2) @ North Carolina (16-5, 6-1): Really a game to decide who will have the inside track on the #2 seed for the ACC tournament. As far as tournament seeding is concerned this game, even with the win over Duke, is probably more important for Florida St. The Seminoles don’t have a true road win over anyone worth mentioning, they have an awful loss at Auburn, and this is their last chance for a road win over a team with an RPI in the top 70. The Heels want to show that they are indeed a team to be reckoned with again and they have sort of a tough game after this one. If your watching Super Bowl preview shit while this is going on your either a Steeler or Packer fan, you are in fact an idiot, or you really take the no basketball until football is over rule to heart
This conference has scene quite a shakeup from what the preseason prognosticators had thought. Texas came out of nowhere to be a national title contender; Kansas St. has taken a dump right in the middle of the court, and Kansas’ home winning streak is finally over. I gave the Big Ten and Big East the titles of frontcourt and backcourt of America so that doesn’t leave me with a whole lot more to anoint upon any of the other conferences (that’s ok, the disparity from those two conferences and the rest is significant). Although, the Big 12 could hold the most “confusing conference” title, that is if this were some sort of fucking yearbook voting.
Best Team: Texas (19-3, 7-0)
I have to adhere to the rule of winning on the road to put the Longhorns over the Jayhawks at this point. There is still something about this team that rubs me the wrong way, but they have been spectacular recently.
The Horns have won three of four on the road in convincing fashion within the league, including the now infamous win in Fog Allen and an ass blasting of arch rival A&M. Their schedule in the non-conference was much tougher than the Jayhawks and they had some nice wins (Illinois, UNC, Sparty), tough losses (Pitt, UConn), and one baffler (@USC). They should coast to the regular season title, the toughest game left on the schedule is probably @ Nebraska, then most likely get a rematch with KU in the Big 12 title game. So, what’s to question?
First off, a couple of aberrations are acceptable (especially early in the year), but any loss to a Pac 10 team has to be pondered, especially when that team isn’t spelled Washington Huskies. Second, I’m not completely sold on Jordan Hamilton. He forces a lot of shots and that caused chemistry issues last year, so it could happen again. Finally, Rick Barnes. This guy has never struck me as more as than a great recruiter without the X’s and O’s mentality (look at some of the players this guy has had), but maybe this year he recruited so well that he doesn’t have to coach them very much.
Next in line (you’ll be shocked!): Kansas (21-1, 6-1)
It is possible that the loss to Texas was one of the Jayhawks’ aberrations for the year. Close home games against UCLA, Nebraska, USC (again, how?), and road wins over Michigan (OT) and Iowa St, say that they may have had more than just that one even though the record doesn’t show it. They seem to have put the loss behind them, winning three straight, but the schedule gets considerably tougher down the stretch, which means it will be difficult to actually catch UT.
Biggest Disappointment (duh): Kansas St. (14-8, 2-5)
Another preseason top-five team (are you starting to understand how stupid those rankings are yet!?) that has not lived up to any of the expectations. They lost Denis Clemente and now Jacob Pullen is lost between playing the point and being the primary scoring threat. Curtis Kelly hasn’t stepped up like the team had hoped, former McDonald’s AA Wally Judge quit the team, and the chemistry is bad all the way across the board (92nd in the nation in assists). This all rests on the head coach. Maybe crazy eyes killer Frank Martin isn’t as good of a coach as everyone thought he was when he had Bobby Huggins’ recruits (which the best players on the team still are).
*Special note: They were the other team in the running with Michigan St. for most disappointing in the country. Things were pretty much settled in that category tonight as K St. dominated Nebraska at home and the Spartans were embarrassed @Iowa. So congrats to the Wildcats for avoiding such an astronomical embarrassment.
Next in line: Baylor (14-7, 4-4)
Started out 7-0 and the main complaint was that they hadn’t played anyone yet. Turns out those arguments were very valid. This team’s best win is probably…….Colorado, at home, really? This team had LaceDarius Dunn and Quincy Acy returning to combine with Percy Jones, a super frosh, who was supposed to be as good as Ekpe Udoh, and were supposed to at least make it to where they were a year ago. This team doesn’t look close to that team.
Biggest Surprise (not named Texas): Nebraska (15-6, 3-4)
They get a nod over Oklahoma because the Huskers didn’t lose to a Division 3 school (see Chaminade 68 OK 64). A desperate Kansas St team hammered them tonight, but Nebraska has played tough in every other game this year and can still move up in the standings. The toughest games they have left are at home so a run could be possible (of course the obvious argument is that there are no easy games on the road). The Huskers play fierce D (best in the B12) and have a solid shooting percentage (48%). We’ll see in that translates into enough wins to be NCAA tourney bound.
Next in line: Oklahoma (12-9, 4-3)
The coaches, media, really even fans didn’t think much of the Sooner basketball season before and soon after it started. Let’s go back just two weeks to Jan 18th. Before that date, they were swept in the Maui Invite (including that D3 loss), got blown out by every BCS conference team they played, and were 0-3 in the B12. Since that day they’ve won four straight (including decent wins over Colorado and Baylor at home and @Iowa St.). All of a sudden the Okie’s are tied for third! Doubt it will last, but at least Jeff Capel has temporarily gotten himself back into the good graces with the Sooner faithful.
Saturday’s Big Games
1:00 Baylor (14-7, 4-4) @ Texas A&M (17-4, 4-3): The Aggies are struggling, losing three of their last four (to be fair two of them were to Texas), but the schedule favors a strong finish down the stretch and a win at home is a good way to start that. Meanwhile, the Bears need to bounce back from their extended trip to Norman (which considering the talent disparity, should be a humiliating loss) because their schedule does not favor a strong second half surge.
3:oo Kansas (21-1, 6-1) @ Nebraska (15-6, 3-4): This was only a three point contest in Lawrence so the Huskers should have that confidence going for them, they also know they need more signature wins. The Jayhawks need to avoid looking ahead to the Big Monday match-up with rival Missouri and if they drop another game any hope of catching Texas is officially toast.