Saturday, December 15, 2007

ACC Weekend Update

After the long, dark teatime of the soul that is finals week, a handful of ACC schools swing back into action this weekend. Let's take a look at the matchups:

It's a matchup of the red-headed stepchildren of the state university systems in the Carolinas (well, sort of). The Pack is coming off back to back losses and the story everywhere is what in the h-e-double hockey sticks happened to Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley. Last year McCauley had a 1.20 PPWS and a .584 EFG, and dished the ball as well, to the tune of a 20.29 A/B%. Costner shot 53.7% from 2 and 37.9% from 3 on his way to putting in 27.5% of the Pack's points. This year, McCauley's minutes have fallen from 2nd to 6th on the team, and he's at just 0.88, .400, and 14.11 in the stats mentioned above. Costner's shooting has been terrible - 33.3% from 2 and 26.9% from 3, and his turnover percentage is very high at 7.35%. I find it hard to believe that JJ Hickson could mess both of these guys up this much, and still believe that they'll get it all sorted out in the end. Perhaps playing a patsy like SC St will help (although I would have been inclined to say the same thing about playing ECU last weekend).

FSU v. Butler:
A win here would give the 'Noles two impressive non-conference pluses (Florida, Butler) to counter their two ugly minuses (Cleveland St., South Florida). The hot shooting guards have led FSU both inside - Toney Douglas is 61,9% from 2 - and outside - Isaiah Swann, Jason Rich, and Ralph Mims are all at 39.4% or better from 3. Easy prediction for today's game - there will be lots of 3s. Butler takes over 50% of their shots from beyond the arc, and the Noles check in at 35.4%.


UNC @ Rutgers:
Tennessee Tech, North Dakota State, NCCU, Dartmouth, Princeton, Lafayette, NJIT. That's the list of worldbeaters that Rutgers has collected its 7 wins against. My not-so bold prediction for the Scarlet Knights: they won't win seven more all season. Regardless, they certainly won't win on Sunday. If there's one thing the Heels know how to do, it's beat bad teams. This one's a pick-your-margin game.

Bucknell @ Wake Forest:
After running out to a 4-0 record with a win at Iowa, I thought Wake might be a little frisky in conference play this year. Even the losses to Charlotte and Vanderbilt were very close (and on the road). Then they got dismantled by Georgia, and suddenly they looked very much like a 12-win team overall. They still have a lot of the same problems as last year, only without Kyle Visser to help out. Ish Smith still can't shoot - he's at a you-can't-be-serious 17.6% from the line - but neither can the rest of the team. They have the worst team shooting in the conference, and it's dragged them down to an ugly 95.4 offensive efficiency, which checks in at 216th in the country and last in the ACC. Bucknell still has some name cache from their tournament years, but this year's Bison are not the same team, losing to Wagner, Marist, and St. Francis (PA). Deac fans - savor this win. You won't see too many come ACC play.

Virginia Tech @ Old Dominion:
The Hokies have simply annihilated their last two opponents on the defensive end. UNCG put up just 39 points for a 65.49 ORating. GW was even worse, scoring just 36 points on its way to a mind-boggling 56.29 ORating. The Hokies work against GW is likely to be the best single game defensive performance (at least statistically) by an ACC team this year. VT has seen upper class leadership from Washington and Vassallo, stud play from freshman Jeff Allen, and a very capable point guard rotation between Hank Thorns and Malcolm Delaney, who collectively average over 7 assists a game. ODU has run hot and cold on offense, struggling against Clemson, Louisville, and Georgetown, but torching UNC (in a losing cause) and lesser opponents like Iona, Georgia State, and UMES. If they run cold against Virginia Tech, look for the Hokies to win another ugly, low-scoring affair.

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