Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wednesday Look-Ahead

There's as much volatility in the ACC standings heading into the last week of the season as I can remember in a while. The Virginia schools can finish anywhere from 1st to 4th, and UNC and BC can finish anywhere from 1st to 5th. Both Duke and Maryland can finish anywhere between 4th and 7th. FSU, Georgia Tech, and Clemson can all finish as high as 7th (6th for Georgia Tech) and as low as 11th. Needless to say, there's lots of jostling and positioning to be done heading into the ACC Tourney.

Wednesday's games have one major matchup (Duke-Maryland, to be previewed in depth later tonight), one absolute must-win can't-lose tourney-lifeline game (Clemson-Miami) and one game with NIT implications, at best (NCSU-Wake Forest).

NC State beat Wake by 14 earlier this year without Engin Atsur. Every single player for State shot 50% or better except Trevor Ferguson (0-1) on their way to a team .688 EFG% that has to be one of the better performances of the year in the conference. The entire game wasn't a model of field goal defense, as Wake also shot well (.596 EFG%), but they shot themselves in the foot with a 22 turnover performance that was truly a team effort - 10 Deacons had at least one TO. Wake is only 1-6 away from Joel Coliseum this season (a 1-point win over Miami), and should fall to 1-7 after tonight. The Pack can lock up NIT eligibility with a win (and presumably they'd be rewarded with a bid - I can't recall an NIT-eligible ACC team ever not being offered a spot).

Clemson gets a (much-needed) break of sorts playing host to Miami. Of course, UVA managed to lose a game to Miami just last week, and Clemson dropped a contest at Wake the week before, so who knows whether this will really be a break. At the very least, the Tiger offense will be facing one of the worst defenses in recent ACC memory (in several defensive categories, Miami is two full standard deviations worse than the mean). And by the way, whatever happened to James Mays? Spoken of very highly after his preseason performance, Mays has put on a human disappearing act, falling out of the starting lineup and apparently out of favor with Coach Purnell - he played just 15 minutes in the loss to BC.


In the coming weeks, look for the following features:
  • Strength of Schedule analysis (here's a preview - Duke's was hardest (by far), Virginia's easiest (by farther)).
  • Deviants - recognition for team performances that deviated most from the mean
  • OMAC's - One-Man's All-Conference selections
  • Performance Reviews - Each team's best and worst performances in the conference season, along with the best performances by any team in conference play
  • Was it Worth It? - comparison of the "real" Duke tempo-free stats I've been keeping against the "traditional" tempo-free (minus now the St. John's, Air Force, and Gonzaga games).

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