With each team playing one game this weekend, we're going to hold off on updating the SotU ACC power rankings until next week. But our first ACC weekend was a sweet one, and gives us a glimpse at what is to come.
Miami 62 Georgia Tech 49
Miami: Man did Kadji step up in Reggie's absence against Georgia Tech. I thought this game would be won on the boards and Kadji's 14 boards went along way to the 40-29 rebound advantage. Kadji's 11 points went well with Rion Brown's 22 point coming out party, going 9-11 and 4-6 from 3. The fact they were the only 2 in double figures is a bit troubling. What remains to be seen is whether this team can compete night in and night out without Reggie or if this win was just an "us against the world" wave that comes after a major injury. Only time will tell.
Georgia Tech: Senior center Daniel Miller said, "We just haven't played bigs like this all season." GT still has some growing to do but you can't be too upset when you hold the opposing team to 41.5% shooting. With that defense, they will win some games in the conference while going through some growing pains. 3 major rotation players, Robert Carter, Marcus George-Hunt and Chris Bolden were playing their first conference game on Saturday. Due to their light schedule, we don't really know what the Yellow Jackets have but I predict a largely up and down season as they upgrade the talent in Atlanta.
Duke 80 Wake Forest 62
Duke: Duke's Ryan Kelly was on fire, scoring 22 in 18 minutes and only foul trouble kept him from scoring 30+. Wake tried to muscle Plumlee II much like Davison did, leading to wide open 3 point shooters on the kick out from the post. Sophomore guard Quinn Cook was 0-11 from the field but had 14 assists running an offense with just 6 turnovers. Curry poured in another 22 to show us why Duke right now is the class of the ACC. Of note, Duke didn't make a 2 pointer until 11 minutes in, and we all know when the 3 isn't falling, Duke is vulnerable.
Wake: Wake is just young. There is talent there and Bzdelik is doing everything right, but the people of Winston-Salem need to have patience with 9 scholarship freshman on the roster. Junior do it all Travis McKee had 22 points and 11 boards but the team was hounded by 19 turnovers in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Freshman Devin Harris pulled down 12 rebounds in the effort. Three freshman (Harris, Madison Jones, and Codi Miller-McIntyre) played over 20 minutes. Only Kentucky can get away with that. I'm sure this group is going to put up a much better test in their 2nd and 3rd trips to Durham.
Maryland 94 Virginia Tech 71
Maryland: A 23 point win in conference play is nothing to sneeze at. Maryland has not had a tough schedule and their most impressive game is a close loss to Kentucky, but they pass the eye test. Turgeon has quickly made large strides to improving the talent in College Park. 7 footer Alex Len, who looks to be on his way to an All-ACC season, put up 16 and 9 and Seth Allen led Maryland with 21 points off the bench. They are tough, have a good PG running the show in Pe'Shon Howard, and multiple guys who can score and rebound. With freshman Jake Layman's break out 20 points, they are still getting better. They are definite ACC contenders.
Virginia Tech: ACC leading scorer Erik Green got his with 28 points, but the team shot 37% from the field, 21.1% from 3 and were blitzed by the many pronged attack from Maryland. Nothing to do but move onto the next one.
NC State 78 Boston College 73
NC State: Oh NC State, are you trying to make my preseason prediction look bad? No shame in being ranked 23, but I had you picked to win the ACC. This team is more or less what we thought they were, 6 players scored double digits, athletic freshman Rodney Purvis had 19 to lead the way, a steady hand at the tiller with Lorenzo Brown scoring 14 with 8 assists, and CJ Leslie capable of going off in any game, getting 10 and 5 in this game. Scott Wood scored 12 points in the final four minutes to pull out the win, but something is amiss. Somehow they are less than the sum of their parts; this team should be able to blow out teams like Boston College, but instead they eek out a 5 point win in a game they easily could have lost. I'll get back to you when I figure it out, just don't tell the
Wolf Pack Wolfpack. I like watching NC State's little brother act in the Triangle.
Boston College: Ryan Anderson is making the leap this season, going from 11 - 7 last year to averaging 16.4 points and almost ten rebounds a game in 2013, but this isn't a tourney team. Again, NC State should have had at least a ten point win. The loss snaps a 5 game win streak for the Eagles. With a loss to Harvard, nothing is guaranteed for this team.
Florida State 71 Clemson 66
Florida State: FSU blew a 16 point lead before picking off a pass in the last minute to seal the game. Snaer, the ACCs 3rd leading scorer, was uncharacteristically held to 8 points. Naturally, FSU won by holding Clemson to under 39% shooting. I find I have never have anything to say about FSU because it's always the same. They play suffocating defense and it is a roll of the dice as to whether they score enough to win. Tonight they did.
Clemson: The bookend of Bookers, Devin, had 19 points and 11 rebounds. The ACC won't be the same when all the Bookers are gone. I love when Littlejohn is rocking, but there is no football atmosphere in Clemson this year. This team still doesn't have anyone to get to the hoop on the bounce and is unlikely to go dancing.
Virginia 61 North Carolina 52
Virginia: I've been a big fan of what Bennett is brewing in Charlottesville and tonight was the big payoff. This win wasn't even an upset. Vegas had the Wahoos favored and the students didn't even rush the court so Roy didn't have to leave with his starters early. Virginia plays serious defense and holding UNC, even this UNC team, to 52 is an accomplishment.
North Carolina: This is a vintage Roy Williams rebuilding special. Rather than adapt to the players he has, a bunch of wing players that need to play tough defense and work outside in and launch a ton of 3s, Roy is sticking to the fast paced blueprint that works best with first round point guards and flounders with anyone approaching mortal. The best part of all this is watching former Tar Heel Larry Drew II, who was unceremoniously thrown under the bus by Roy and company, tear it up at UCLA. I think he could help run the show that has an emerging Reggie Bullock, a future first round pick in McAdoo, and a plethora of shooting and slashing wings. Weak frontline depth and rumors of poor leadership and lack of teamwork are working against them. While right now their future is hazy, you can never count out a team of
9 5 McDonald's All-Americans.
What's on tap for Miami?
At North Carolina
Thursday, January 10 ESPN/ESPN2
Sunday, January 13 ESPNU
Two very competitive games for the Canes and I'd be happy if they go 1-1. Going on the road is never easy, but UNC is vulnerable and Maryland looks very, very good.
Game of the Week Duke - NC State
Raleigh, NC 12pm ESPN
Everyone circled this game on the calendar when the schedule came out and it is the first heavyweight fight of the season. Leslie and Company blew a 20 point lead last year in Durham and are back for revenge. Duke is much improved from last year and hopefully this turns into one of the best games of the season. Despite NC State's disjointed play, I see them showing up hungry and focused.