Skip to content

Conference Catchup: Duke leads a top-heavy ACC

Jan 3, 2013, 11:59 AM EDT

Duke Blue Devils forward Mason Plumlee (5) shoots against the Davidson Wildcats during the first half of their NCAA basketball game in Charlotte Reuters

Conference play is right around the corner, so to help you get out of that post-holiday haze, we’ll be catching you up on all the happenings in the country’s top 12 conferences. Here’s our ACC Conference Catchup:

Favorite: Duke

This team looked good in the preseason, but we all had some questions about how the pieces would fit together. Those questions have been answered in spades, as Quinn Cook has settled into the distributor’s role with ease, allowing Seth Curry to be the gunner he wants to be. Mason Plumlee is the steady scorer and rebounder we all expected, and Ryan Kelly is the super-effective sidekick who can do what’s needed on any given night. With freshman Rasheed Sulaimon rounding into a reliable starter as well, the Blue Devils look unstoppable.

Contenders: NC State isn’t as dominant as we all thought they would be, in light of the talent available in Raleigh, but it’s hard to really quibble with losses to quality teams like Oklahoma State and Michigan. The Wolfpack have taken care of business in every other respect, and seem ready to roll in conference play.

Maryland lost a close game to Kentucky to start the season, and have reeled off twelve straight since. They’re still under the radar because they’ve beaten twelve so-so teams, and because they haven’t had the same leading scorer on consecutive nights all season long. Having options is a good thing, but it’s also nice to know there are two or three guys who will always carry the load.

North Carolina… I seriously feel like I’m mentioning them out of habit on one hand. But there’s no doubt that there’s top talent in Chapel Hill, and a hall-of-fame coach, so I’m not marking them out of the race until we’ve seen how they react to conference play.

Biggest Surprise: Maryland

The Terps looked like a collection of decent parts in the early going, but credit Mark Turgeon for getting them to play like a team. Pe’Shon Howard is playing like a pass-first point guard, dishing nearly six assists per game, Dez Wells is fitting in well for a new guy, and Alex Len is living up to his vast potential on the blocks. A whole cadre of additional options are developing into reliable role players as well.

Biggest Disappointment: Florida State

FSU was obviously going to be hard-pressed to hold serve after the departure of Bernard James, but preseason All-American Michael Snaer and Ian Miller as returnees seemed like a solid base for the Seminoles to work from. The team that prided itself on defense has been distinctly sub-par, by their own exacting standards. Losing to rival Florida by 25 points was a bitter experience, and losing home games to South Alabama and Mercer almost defies comprehension.

Player of the Year: Mason Plumlee, Duke

Virginia Tech’s Erick Green was a tempting choice, due to his flashy scoring numbers, but it has to be Plumlee. He’s averaging a double-double for the nation’s number one team, and he just doesn’t miss around the basket. That might sound simple, but look around at the big men in DI and you’ll see that Plumlee’s 63.8% shooting is truly remarkable. When he’s not scoring, he’s setting up teammates by drawing defenders and passing out of the post. The 6’10″ senior is a luxury most programs just don’t have any more.

Best Freshman: T.J. Warren, NC State

Warren’s a crazy-good shooter and a big guy to boot. He’s shooting 69.4% from the floor, and even nails the occasional three-pointer to keep defenses honest. It was a fair bet that Warren would be a huge part of State’s future plans, but how great for Mark Gottfried that the frosh is paying dividends right here and now.

Three Predictions

  • Duke will sweep the season series with UNC. The Tar Heels probably have more raw talent to call on, but Coach K has a rock-solid team that has played in sync since day one of the season. After a very rugged non-con season, the Devils should be ready for anything.
  • The ACC will get four teams in the NCAA tourney. The league is very top-heavy this season. With very patchy non-conference records at UNC and Miami, and a big drop-off in talent below them, it’s a shaky year for the league that will be bolstered by Pitt and Syracuse next season.
  • Georgia Tech will surprise somebody. There are no superstars on this team, but the ‘Jackets have size and experience, as well as rapidly improving freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt. Brian Gregory will find a way to snatch a win or two away from somebody he has no business beating before the league slate is through.

Power Rankings (* = tourney team):

1. Duke*
2. NC State*
3. Maryland*
4. UNC*
5. Miami
6. Florida State
7. Virginia
8. Georgia Tech
9. Virginia Tech
10. Clemson
11. Boston College
12. Wake Forest

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: UTEP head coach Tim Floyd emerges as a candidate for Missouri job

    Apr 22, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The UTEP coach is now a candidate to replace Frank Haith at Missouri.

  2. Former Marquette commit Marial Shayok picks Virginia

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Virginia got its fourth commit on Tuesday night.

  3. UConn’s journey to the 2014 National Title (VIDEO)

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT

    UConn AP

    A look back on UConn’s second title in four years.

  4. Southern and head coach Roman Banks agree to new deal

    Apr 22, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Southern coach is receiving a contract extension.

  5. Oregon point guard Johnathan Loyd practices with football team

    Apr 22, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Loyd is converting from point guard to wide receiver.

  6. John Egbunu becomes fifth player to transfer from South Florida

    Apr 22, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Bulls announced the fifth departure this spring.

  7. Andrew Wiggins is the most searched athlete in Kansas … and Kentucky

    Apr 22, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Andrew Wiggins is the most searched athlete in two states, according to a recent study.

  8. Auburn will not appeal Bruce Pearl’s show-cause penalty

    Apr 22, 2014, 2:43 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Auburn will accept the punishment that has been given to Pearl by the NCAA.

  9. Kentucky freshman Julius Randle entering NBA Draft

    Apr 22, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Kentucky is still waiting for a decision from four players.

  10. Report: Illinois forward Darius Paul arrested

    Apr 22, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT

    ILLINOIS_WALLMARX_LOGO-220x300

    Darius is the younger brother of former Illini guard Brandon Paul.

  11. ACC’s league schedule highlights the flaws of massive power conferences

    Apr 22, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    spt-110919-acc-logo

    The ACC schedule is what happens when leagues get too big.

  12. Mixtape for Ivan Rabb, the No. 2 recruit in the country (VIDEO)

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT

    Ivan Rabb is the best big man in a loaded class of bigs, according to Rivals.

  13. Report: Clemson’s K.J McDaniels to enter the 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT

    K.J. McDaniels AP

    K.J. McDaniels might win an NBA dunk contest one day.

  14. Willie Cauley-Stein has surgery, gets a new on-campus vehicle?

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

    Cauley-Stein will be out for a couple of months.

  15. Report: Indiana assistant coach Kenny Johnson moves on to Louisville

    Apr 21, 2014, 11:54 PM EDT

    Indianapolis Star Indianapolis Star

    Indiana assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Kenny Johnson is moving on to Louisville.

  16. Report: Tennessee hires Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall

    Apr 21, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT

    Donnie Tyndall AP

    Tennessee found its man on Monday night as the Vols hired Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'