Thursday, March 08, 2007

Four One-Hundredths of a Percent

That's the odds of all four lower seeds prevailing in the first round of the ACC tournament. Play those games 2500 times, and this is only supposed to happen once. So of course that's what happened. Rational thought escapes me on this (particularly after watching Harvey Hale and Anthony Morrow play Randolph Childress and Dennis Scott for two overtimes) so here are some thoughts:

Poor Clemson. After clawing their way back into the discussion, they get an Al Thornton-sized heartbreak as the FSU superstar nails 1 of 2 from the line (the second, to make it suspenseful) with a second left in the game to give the Noles the win. Thornton was his usual self (though he did cough up 6 turnovers). Props to Trevor Booker, who played angry after not even getting honorable mention on the ACC all-freshman team - Trevor, you earned your spot on the OMAC all-freshman team today. (Author's note #1 - apparently Clemson got jobbed on the call that put Thornton on the line, to the point that even Al himself was surprised to be shooting free throws. Just a tough, tough year for the Tigers). (Author's note #2 - FSU is now 19-7, and 7-5 against the ACC, in games with Toney Douglas. I am now subliminally beaming that information into the heads of all members of the selection committee).

Maryland never wants to see Miami again this year. Their offensive rating in 2 games against Miami - 82.76. This is the same Miami team whose conference defense has been so generous to the rest of the ACC (in non-Maryland games, Miami opponents score 1.2 points per possession). Maryland was sunk by poor outside shooting (just 3 of 18), poor free throw shooting (57.7%) and Miami's offensive rebounding, which has been an achilles heel for Maryland all season. Miami grabbed 47.5% of its misses and was able to win despite a 0.22 A/TO ratio. Props to Dwayne Collins - he's the best offensive rebounder in the conference, and boasts Miami's best FG%. McClinton may monopolize the shots and the points, but I think Collins has been Miami's most important player.

Duke has now played its third consecutive god-awful defensive game - tonight's set a new season low in defensive efficiency at 120.10, and NC State was able to shoot .647 EFG%. In February and March, Duke has allowed ACC opponents to post a 106.67 O Rating and shoot a .533 EFG%, including 39% from 3. That's just not good enough for this team to win games. Dual props for this game - Brandon Costner, career highs in the ACC tournament are always a good thing. Martynas Pocius, career highs in the ACC tournament without missing a single shot are a great thing. I couldn't be happier for Marty, who contributed a whole lot of value in a situation where he was very much needed.

Then there's Wake and Georgia Tech. After the first 20 minutes, Tech led 37-33. Over the next 30 minutes, the teams combined for 156 points, with Wake outscoring the Jackets 81-75 (by the way, here's shooting stats you don't see too often - Wake on 3s: 70%, Wake on 2s: 60%, Wake from the line: 63%). They combined for 25 threes, 48 turnovers, and an astonishing 66 fouls. And the Morrow-Hale show in OT was really something to watch. As fun as those two were, my dual props go to Ishmael Smith and his 13 point 15 assist double-double, and to Alade Aminu, who had 17 and 8, hitting all 7 of his shots from the floor. Raise your hand if you had Aminu outscoring Crittenton in the office pool. I didn't think so. By the way, the three worst defensive efficiency games of the season for Georgia Tech: Miami, Wake Forest, and Wake Forest - unbelievable.

Tomorrow pits UNC against FSU, BC against Miami, Virginia against NC State, and Virginia Tech against Wake. And quite frankly, after today, there's not a single thing that can happen tomorrow that will surprise me.


Anonymous said...

I am not sure exactly how you are working out your odds, but there is one problem with the analysis. It assumes that all the teams that lost yesterday were trying their hardest to win, which is a questionable assumption.

If you study the ACC tourney back when only the winner thereof got to go to the NCAA's, the first place team during the regular season almost always won. Only when they expanded the field in 1975 did it become common for the first place team not to win the tournament.

Duke has been far and away the top team in the conference since Dean Smith retired. But I submit that part of the reason for Duke's ACC tourney success is that K is one of the few coaches who actually treats these games the same as any other games. One can only wonder if the poor results in the NCAA tourney from 2002-2006 might be related to Duke being tired, given their limited substitution patterns.

We shall see but Gerald Henderson may have done the entire Duke nation a real favor. For once, they are likely to see a well-rested team next Thursday or Friday.

Paul Rugani said...

Maybe, maybe, Maryland was taking it easy. But if you think Clemson, Georgia Tech, or Duke weren't trying their hardest to win, I highly disagree. Clemson was fighting for its NCAA life, GT is by no means a lock, and I've never seen a Duke team take a break during the ACC tourney. I mean, there's a whole lot of problems with the odds analysis (doesn't take into account the level of more recent performance, doesn't take into account roster changes, doesn't take into account location), but I'm not sure effort is one of them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about Duke and the NC State-Duke game. That was State's post-season. But I think that Georgia Tech was sort of having fun. Granted they were trying to win, but they weren't playing with the intensity that comes from desperation. That is what you get in the NCAA tourney.

Honestly, the guys a little older than me talk about how in the early 1970's and late 1960's, the ACC tourney was a bigger deal than the NCAA's because UCLA won every year back then. Bobby Cremins still talks about the devastation of going 16-0 through the first two tournament rounds in 1970 and then losing in double overtime to NC State, 42-39, back in the days before the clock and 3-pointer.

FSU looked terrible today and it seemed like they had so much to lose. Granted, Carolina had already stomped them but that was in Chapel Hill and this was in an arena that FSU had already played in twice this year. This game had a scrimmage-like feel. I hope Leonard Hamilton knows what he was doing by getting that strange technical at the end of the first half.