Jan 3, 2013, 11:59 AM EST
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:
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.
- 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):
2. NC State*
6. Florida State
8. Georgia Tech
9. Virginia Tech
11. Boston College
12. Wake Forest
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Dec 12, 2013, 12:55 AM EST
GAME OF THE NIGHT: North Dakota State 73, Notre Dame 69 Marshal Bjorklund went for 26 points to lead North Dakota State to an upset win over Notre Dame on the Joyce Center on Wednesday night. It’s the second time that the Irish have lost at home this season, and that fact has Raphielle Johnson…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:21 AM EST
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson threw down this nastiness on New Mexico State on Wednesday night. Hollis-Jefferson is starting to emerge as one of the best players on this Arizona team. He’s versatile, he’s aggressive, he plays hard and he defends. He’s an athletic, ego-free baller, which is exactly the kind of piece that championship team have. He’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:12 AM EST
Last season Arizona forward Brandon Ashley was part of a trio of freshmen who arrived in Tucson amidst much fanfare. Joined by Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski, the McDonald’s All-American was expected to hit the ground running in his debut campaign. While that didn’t happen Ashley was a productive member of a team that reached…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:40 PM EST
With the preseason favorites to win the Summit League visiting South Bend, tonight’s game against North Dakota State was no gimme for Notre Dame. And that’s exactly how it played out, as Marshall Bjorklund and his experienced teammates proved to be too much for the Fighting Irish to handle. Bjorklund scored 26 points on 11-for-14…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:45 PM EST
With some of the biggest names in collegiate athletics attending IMG’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York City, many of the major issues on the table were discussed. Among those issues were the possibility of giving scholarship athletes stipend to help cover the full cost of attendance, and how the NCAA members with the most…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:17 PM EST
When he committed to UNLV during the summer, forward Jamal Aytes had the look of a player capable of helping the Runnin’ Rebels account for the loss of reserve Savon Goodman, whose off-court issues resulted in his leaving the program. But that didn’t turn out to be the case, as in seven games Aytes saw…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:05 PM EST
Under first-year head coach Ray Giacoletti the Drake Bulldogs are off to a surprising 6-2 start to the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs maintaining that start became more difficult, as the school announced on Wednesday that senior guard Gary Ricks Jr. will miss the remainder of the season after fracturing a bone in his…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
Who is the best shooter in the country? It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like…
Dec 11, 2013, 3:44 PM EST
Dayton: A loss at Illinois State has taken some of the luster off of the Flyers’ start this season, but don’t overlook what this group has done this year. They won at Georgia Tech, they beat Gonzaga and Cal in Maui, and they took Baylor to the buzzer. George Washington: The Atlantic 10 looks like…
Dec 11, 2013, 2:09 PM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: New Mexico State at No. 1 Arizona, 9:00 p.m. ET Arizona deserves their No. 1 ranking. They’ve played like the best team in the country all season long. But New Mexico State is good. Let’s start with the obvious: this group is the favorite to win the WAC. Daniel Mullings is…
Dec 11, 2013, 1:04 PM EST
Utah’s non-conference schedule this season has taken plenty of heat. They kicked off their season against something called Evergreen. On Dec. 28th, they play something known as St. Katherine’s. In between those two non-conference bookends, the Utes have 10 games on their schedule. None of them are against high-major opponents. Only one of them is…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:29 PM EST
Marquette will be featured at the Sundance film festival this year, only it won’t be the way you think. Danny Pudi, a Marquette alum that earned fame as an actor on ‘Community’, has teamed up with ESPN’s 30 for 30 guys and written a short film called Untucked. And if you’re a Marquette fan, you…
Dec 11, 2013, 10:43 AM EST
The resurgence that we all expected to see out of the Providence Friars this season looks like it may, once again, have to wait until next season. Kris Dunn, the top point guard in the Class of 2012, will miss the rest of the season to undergo shoulder surgery, according to Kevin McNamara of the…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:20 AM EST
Nevada’s Deonte Burton is one of the most ferocious dunkers in the country, and he proved that again on Tuesday night at Cal’s Haas Pavilion. He beat his man off the dribble where he met David Kravish. And Kravish, who apparently doesn’t read CBT like he should, went up like he was trying to block…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:03 AM EST
Tom Maayan’s career at Seton Hall is over. The Pirate’s sophomore point guard played his final collegiate game on Tuesday night, going scoreless in 13 minutes in a win over NJIT. Maayan will be returning to his native Israel to fulfill his commitment to the Israeli Defense Forces. Maayan spent three months this summer training…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:37 AM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 19 Florida 67, No. 13 Kansas 61 Florida played the first month with many players sidelined for various reason. Chris Walker, the Gators hope, will be another piece they get back soon. On Tuesday night, Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill returned from injuries to team up in the back court. The…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:02 AM EST
Gonzaga had not led since 18:35 left in the first half, but with 4:10 remaining in the game, Kyle Dranginis found the trailing Kevin Pangos, who had struggled to this point, at the top of the key for a wide-open three on the secondary break. The sharpshooter drilled it, giving the Zags a 68-66 lead.…
Dec 10, 2013, 11:49 PM EST
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