Well, now that the dust has settled from my highly provocative “rumor” publication ( of what was essentially already known, barring several specific medical details), and I find that none of the irate Duke fringe that took umbrage with my phraseology have dragged me off to the Star Chamber to force me to reveal my source to the High Council or hauled me down to their dungeons to make me watch them play with themselves while they watch Laettner’s Shot over and over, I figured I would take advantage of my mystifying internet reputation as a God-like font of indelible information while it lasts and take a look at the ACC’s performance so far.
( Oh, and just as a disclaimer so no one’s confused and gets their panties in a bunch, a majority of what follows will fall under the rubric of OPINION, not fact. Capiche ?? )
1. Boston College(9-2): Hopes were far from high for the Eagles to start the season, despite the fact that they returned 4 starters from last year’s ( awful) team. No one was encouraged to raise them when they dropped an early season contest to Yale ( an ironic loss for former Cornell coach Steve Donahue who went undeafeated in the Ivy League last year.) But since then, the Eagles have won 7 of 8 including victories over such non - tomato cans as Cal, Indiana, Providence and, most recently, Maryland (at Maryland , no less!) They are being led by Mr.October himself, Reggie Jackson, who had himself quite a November. The man is averaging 19ppg, 4.5 apg and 4.5 rpg while shooting almost 50% from three. (Here, I would like to personally take a moment for a self-congratulatory pat on the back, as I predicted Mr. Jackson’s breakout season in my ACC preview article.) Their 4 returning starters are all averaging double figures in ppg and they are getting good production from the bench. The Eagles are the unquestioned ( positive) surprise of the year so far.
2.Clemson ( 5-4) : On the plus side they beat a very mediocre Seton Hall squad in overtime, beat up on a bunch of crappy teams, and were tied with FSU with 3 minutes left to play. Yup, that’s the plus side. On the negative, they dropped an early game to Old Dominion at home and have lost every game they’ve played against decent competition. Outside of the solid backcourt scoring of Stitt and Young, the Tigers don’t have much to hang their hat on and look like a bottom third of the conference team so far.
3. Duke ( 10- 0) : This just in : Duke is good. Duke should easily win the conference even without Kyrie at the helm. ‘nuff said.
4. Florida State ( 7-2) : The ‘Noles are 7-2, with 6 creampuff wins and a home victory over Clemson, who is really more of an eclair. They played then #14 Florida to the wire in a loss and were never in the game against #7 OSU. FSU is playing their usual brand of hard-nosed defense and they rebound the hell out of the ball, but scoring is really an issue. Chris Singleton leads them at 13.6 points per, but it’s slim pickings after that.
5. Georgia Tech ( 5-4) : Ugh. We knew things were going to be rough for the Jackets this year, but no one thought they’d be lose-to- Kennesaw-State awful. The most impressive thing they’ve done this year is lose to Syracuse by 4. They are loaded with capable guards and wing players ( Iman Shumpert, Brain Oliver at al) but have zipp-o on the interior. It’s going to be a very long year. Oh, and I’m pretty sure Maurice Miller is entering in to his 12th season as the Jackets backup point guard.
6. Maryland ( 7-4) : In short, Maryland has beaten all the sub-par competition they’ve faced ( though they barely escaped Charleston by a point) and lost to all the decent teams they’ve faced ( though they’ve been in every one of those contests to the end). Emblematic of the uniform mediocrity of the ACC this year, the Terps just dropped a home game to BC. Jordan Willliams is a beast, averaging 18.5 ppg and 12 rpg, but the upper class leadership just hasn’t been there. Freshman Terrell Stoglin has played really well, averaging 11 ppg.
7.Miami ( 7-2) : Miami looks like they could be pretty competitive this year. They have a fantastic backcourt combo in Scott and Grant and a legit big man in Reggie Johnson. The rest of the team is pretty darn athletic. They have a quality win against WVU in addition to their cupcake victories, though a drubbing at the hands of Rutgers would seem to indicate a degree of erraticness. Erraticity? Erraticism?
8.UNC ( 7-3) : Well, when the Heels have lost ( Vandy, Minn, Ill) they’ve looked like a team that might be merely NIT bound. When they’ve won ( Kentucky and a bunch of garbage), they’ve looked like a team that might actually win the NIT. To the wine-and-cheese crowd’s credit, they really helped out the Heels against the Wildcats and if their guards can a) remember to pass the ball to Zeller b) actually, physically pass the ball to Zeller, they might even do better than that. Harrison Barnes, despite all the criticism, IS averaging 12 points and 6 boards a game. It’s just not 100 and 50 like some folks were expecting.
9. N.C. State ( 5-3) : The Pack started the year with the usual ho-hum victories over squads from smaller schools before getting their clocks cleaned by Georgetown and then straight-up clowned against Wisconsin. To their credit, they gave Syracuse a tough game, and were down only 2 with 2 mintues left. NC State, like UMD, has suffered from the lack of uppper class contributions, with pre-season All ACC player Tracy Smith dealing with injuries and Javier Gonzalez just going m.i.a. . Freshmen Ryan Harrow ( and C.J. Leslie have picked up a lot of slack, but the real surprise has been newcomer Lorenzo Brown, who is averaging 11 points, 4 boards, and 4 assists per game. Looks like the Pack has a bright future. We’ll see if Sidney is around to enjoy it.
10. UVA ( 6-3) : It’s absurdly early to say something like this, but I’ll say it anyway : Tony Bennett has got to be the leading candidate for coach of the year in the conference. This team should be awful with all that they lost last year, and especially after loosing Sammy Z in the pre-season, but they aren’t. They’ve notched wins against Minn,OK, and Va. Tech at Va. Tech. Mike scott has become a big-time player, averaging 16 and 10, and the Hoos talented freshman class has really stepped up, led by 6-6 guard Joe Harris ( 11 and 3). Mustapha Farakhan has been a revelation as well, averaging almost 11 points a game. It may not last, but color me shocked so far.
11. Va Tech ( 5-4) : This is not what Hokie fans were expecting. Other than UNC, this is the most underachieving squad in the conference. Seth Greenberg’s team beat up on Flotsam St. and Jetsam Tech early and can claim one decent victory over OK. St. . Other than that they’ve dropped every game against decent competition, including a bad loss to UVA ( though hey did take Purdue to OT). Delaney and Jeff Allen have been as productive as expected , but VT has gotten little out of the rest of the cast. To their credit they have played a tougher schedule this year than years past.
12.Wake Forest ( 5-4) : Appropriately, we end things the Deacs. WFU will have another week or two to enjoy being above .500 and then the sun will set. quickly. Thus far they have losses to : Stetson, VCU, Winthrop, and, most recently, UNC-W ( by an average of 12 points , BTW). I’ll tell you who you have to feel really sorry for in this whole thing and that’s Iowa. How bad must they be to lose to these guys? Travis McKee has been great, onthe bright side. The 6-7 frosh is averaging 13 and 7 on the year thus far.
The conclusion here is a not a pretty one. If you take Duke out of the equation, The ACC has just 2 wins over ranked opponents thus far ( UVA over Minn. and UNC over UK). Add to that that the bottom teams in the conference would probably struggle even if they were playing in the Atlantic Sun or the Big South and you have what can officially be tabbed a down year.