Friday, March 13, 2009

ACC Day 1 Wrap and Day 2 Preview

Solid, but not spectacular day 1 for the ACC. Georgia Tech made the big headlines with its Clemson upset, and Virginia Tech made a good statement with a convincing win over Miami.

Games 1/5 - Virginia Tech over Miami, against North Carolina
The Hurricanes picked a very bad time to have their worst shooting and worst offensive rebounding game of the season. The Hokies held them to .404 efg% and just 19% on offensive rebounds. Nobody on Miami got to double figures. For Virginia Tech, Malcolm Delaney overcame a poor shooting performance from the field (1-10) with a huge night at the line (14-15). JT Thompson made solid contributions with 12 and 8 without missing a shot on the floor.

So now the Hokies have to deal with North Carolina. The game in Blacksburg last week was a closse one, despite the fact that Virginia Tech was ice cold from three and couldn't turn UNC over. The Hokies played even with Carolina on the glass and held them to a sub 50% shooting night. Lawson, who had 22 and 5 assists, will not play. Roy should look to Bobby Frasor as the replacement point guard, because Drew has been the single worst player in the ACC this season - he has an offensive rating of 53.86 and turns it over on more than half of the possessions he uses. If VT can capitalize on his absence with a win, their tournament profile looks a lot better.

Games 2/6 - Georgia Tech over Clemson, against Florida State
The Jackets had their best offensive game of the ACC and their best since dropping 92 on Winston Salem State in the first game of the season. The Jackets went 28-45 from 2, and hit the glass for 43% of their own misses, exploiting the interior defense that has been a weakness for Clemson all season. Gani Lawal - 20 and 14, including 7 on offense - and Lewis Clinch - 32 points on 20 shots - led the way for Georgia Tech. This is their whole post-season unless they win it all - it's nice to see them get out and just play good basketball. Clemson's now allowed 7 of their last 9 opponents to score over a point per possession.

The game between FSU and Georgia Tech earlier this year was, not surprisingly, a defensive struggle. The final was 62-58 in a 70 possession game, with both teams cold from 3 (a combined 6 of 38). Toney Douglas had his second-worst game of the conference season, with "just" a 108 offensive rating, and not racking up an assist. The Noles offense is playing much better since January - 6 of the last 9 with at least a point per possession (and 2 of the other three with 0.99 points per). This game is pretty much meaningless except for FSU's ultimate seed line. Advancing to the semis, or even finals, could make the Noles a 4.

Games 3/7 - Maryland over NC State, against Wake Forest
74-69 doesn't necessarily look like an offensive shootout, but it is in a 59 possession game. NC State did their work inside (18-32 from 2, plus 18 of 33 offensive rebounds), and Maryland did theirs on the perimeter (9 of 16 from 3, 8 steals). Eric Hayes was the Terps' spark, hitting 5-6 from downtown and leading the team with 21 points off the bench. Vasquez also had a solid double-double with 17 and 10 assists (and did it efficiently!).

Now Maryland gets another crack at the Deacs. Last weekend, they had Wake Forest on the ropes, but allowed them to escape with a 65-63 win. Maryland went to the line just twice and got hammered on the glass - only some decent outside shooting and Wake Forest turnovers kept them around. Vasquez had one of those games that looks good superficially (16 points, 7 assists) until you realize it took him 24 shots and 4 turnovers to get there. Al-Farouq Aminu was huge for Wake, with a 16 point 14 rebound (6 offensive) double-double. This game means a whole lot to Maryland - with the way the rest of the bubble has been performing, a win over Wake would do a whole lot for their chances of getting a bid.

Games 4/8 - Boston College over Virginia, against Duke
BC coasted against UVA (the ACC's worst team this season, regardless of whether they got more conference wins than Georgia Tech). Rakim Sanders, who has been their best player down the stretch, was the Eagles' best again last night. BC lived on the line, scoring 31 of their 76 points at the stripe. Recognizing that the calls were coming, they focused inside, inside, inside, making just 1 three. For Virginia, Diane had a nice finish to his career, scoring 24 on just 13 shots, including 4-6 from downtown. Why Leitao didn't let him play through his struggles this season is beyond me.

Now the Eagles will get Duke, who they beat in Chestnut Hill earlier this season. BC had their best shooting game of the season by a huge margin - 22 of 33 from 2 and 8 of 18 from 3, for a .667 efg%. They hit some contested shots, but the real key to the game is that they got a lot of uncontested shots. Duke hung around in that game by hitting the glass (18 of 37 offensive rebounds) and turning BC over (19 in a 69 possession game), but hit just 3 of 16 from outside and couldn't keep up with the scoring. This was the last game before Scheyer took over the point, and Duke will be hungry to get another shot at Boston College with their new look.

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