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As The ACC Turns: Half Way Point

Miami and Duke fight for seeding, North Carolina take care of business, NC State loses 3 straight, and Virginia and Maryland fight to make the field. Everyone else is building for next year.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As we come to the half way point of the season, we are starting to a have a clear idea of the league. Miami and Duke are fighting for top seeds. North Carolina and NC State are likely in the dance if they take care of business. Virginia is in the same tier but could really use a big win over Duke or Miami. Barring a great run by Maryland, the ACC might only have 4 teams make the tourney. Only 8 games to go!

1) Miami (10-0) Previous rank: 1st

What they did
W Miami 73 Virginia Tech 64
W Miami 79 NCSU 78
W Miami 72 Boston College 50
W Miami 87 North Carolina 61

Our Canes are still a perfect 10-0. It is the first time a team not named Duke or North Carolina has started 10-0 since Virginia in 1981. And the rest of the world seems to have noticed with a #3 ranking and 17 first place votes. It's a good time to be a Hurricane. Check out the great work by Isaac and Jerry on the past 4 games. The Canes are a balanced, mature, and efficient team. Down late against NC State, Miami got a few timely steals and made enough foul shots to win the game. It's that kind of poise that will help them in the ACC tourney.

Tourney Outlook: Definitely dancing, the question now is if they get a 1 seed or stumble to a 3 seed.

2) Duke (8-2) Previous ranked: 2nd
What they did this week

W Duke 75 Wake Forest 70
W Duke 79 FSU 60
W Duke 98 NCSU 85
W Duke 62 Boston College 61

Duke had an up and down two weeks, but manage to get through it unscathed. They beat a Wake team that is very good at home, coming off knocking out the high flying Wolfpack the week before. Duke pulled out the win behind Marshall Plumlee's 32 points and Seth Curry's 21 as the rest of the team had trouble getting going. Duke had no trouble with Florida State before the rematch with North Carolina State, sans Lorenzo Bown. Duke lead by 20 points for most of the game due to raining 3s. The Wolfpack got it going into the 2nd half and managed to get the lead down to 8 a few times before Howell fouled out. Mason had 30 again and Seth Curry had 26, but got support from Quinn Cook with 21 points. The blizzard and last minute travel arrangements had Duke looking lethargic against Boston College, down 61-56 with 2:15 to play. Duke closed out a 6-0 with a Suliamon 3, and 3 Plumlee free throws while Hanlan's game winner missed.

Tourney Outlook: Get the dancing shoes, close will determine if they get a 1 seed or a 3.

3) North Carolina (6-4) Previously Rank: 4th
What they did this week

W North Carolina 82 Boston College 70
W North Carolina 72 Virginia Tech 60 OT
W North Carolina 87 Wake Forest 62
L Miami 87 North Carolina 61

You have to give North Carolina credit for taking care of business, beating 3 teams they should and then running into the hottest team in the country in front of LeBron, Wade, and James Jones. While lacking any signature wins, they are slowly solidifying their position in the NCAA tourney to avoid their every-3rd-year trip to the NIT. This is the opposite approach from their friends in Raleigh, who win the big games and drop the tough, but winnable ones. There is no shame in 4 losses to Virginia, Miami (twice), and North Carolina State, but a win against Duke this week would aid them greatly. Erik Green and crew pushed the Tar Heels to overtime where they blitzed the Hokies in overtime. They are playing solid defense right now and getting the points they need from McAdoo and Bullock regularly. There was even a Dexter Strickland sighting last week with 14 points against BC. While they were rumors of infighting, the team is now 2nd in country with 18 assists a game despite a freshman point guard at the helm.

Tourney Outlook: Dancing if they continue to take care of business. They are looking at a 10ish seed but can move up as they continue to win. Lack of signature win will hurt

4) Virginia (7-3) Previous rank: 5th
What they did this week

W Virginia 58 NCSU 55
L Georgia Tech 66 Virginia 60
W Virginia 78 Clemson 41
W Virginia 80 Maryland 69

Virginia played a sublime game against NC State holding one of the best offense in the conference to 55 points on 37% shooting as Brown went down early with an ankle injury. They suffered a letdown against one of the lesser teams in the conference when they traveled to Atlanta. While Georgia Tech is normally a poor shooting team, their 47% shooting knocked off the Wahoos. This week, UVa had an offensive explosion, averaging 79 points a game. Mitchell, Anderson, Harris, and Jesperson all had double digits in the win over Maryland in a game they never trailed.

Tourney Outlook: Same as Carolina. Take care of business against less teams and get into the dance. If they can knock off Miami or Duke, they will move up from their currently slotted 11 seed

5) North Carolina State (6-5) Previous Rank: 3rd
What they did this week
L Virginia 58 NCSU 55
L Miami 79 NCSU 78
L Duke 98 NCSU 85
W NCSU 58 Clemson 57

North Carolina State continues their rollercoaster season. They are clearly the most talented team in the conference, but rode a 3 game losing streak until they eeked out a win against Clemson. North Carolina State let one slip away as Virginia ended the game on a 13-6 run. But don't blame CJ Leslie who had 22 points and 14 rebounds off the bench despite being under the weather. I'm not sure if they were hungover from the North Carolina win, were looking ahead to the Miami and Duke games, or just got caught adjusting to play without their point guard. They let another one slip away against Miami, leading by double digits in the 2nd half before Miami pounded it down low to Gamble and Reggie on the block. A few untimely turnovers and then Reggie's big left hand gave them their 2nd loss in a row. Duke used near perfect shooting in the first half to run a lead up a 20 point lead before State charged back and go the lead to single digits. But Duke used 41 free throws to hold off the Howell (23 points) lead charge. His 5th foul, an elbow to Mason Plumlee's face, ended the comeback attempt. Down most of the game against Clemson, Wood hit a 3 pointer with one second to go that may save their season. While their RPI is strong and their talent undeniable, they are going to need to close out strong. 10 wins are likely necessary for the NCAA berth.

Tourney Outlook: They have a top half seed at the moment based on big wins, but if they continue this slide against lesser teams, they could end up out. I think they get it together and end up with a 5 or 6 seed.

6) Maryland (5-6) Previous rank: 6nd
What they did this week

L FSU 73 Maryland 71
W Maryland 86 Wake Forest 60
W Maryland 60 Virginia Tech 55
L Virginia 80 Maryland 69

Maryland treaded water over the last 4 games, but needs more than .500 ball to get to where they want to be. FSU guard MIchael Snaer did what he does best, hitting a game winning 3 pointer to overcome Dez Well's 19 points and sink Maryland despite Marylands 30-19 advantage on the boards. Turgeron had some interesting lineup management as 9 players got double digit minutes, only matched by Leonard Hamilton playing nearly his entire bench. Maryland got a compete team effort behind 4 double digit scorers against Wake Forest as they doubled up the Deacons on the boards. Freshman Jack Layman paced the Terrepins in a low scoring tilt against Virginia Tech, but they had no answer for Joe Harris, Justin Anderson, and their state neighbors as Virginia rained 3s and actually outrebounded the 2nd best rebounding team in the country.

Tourney Outlook: Outside looking in. It's going to take a good run to close out the season and a good ACC tourney run to make it. Not impossible, but they need to get it together now.

7) Florida State (5-5) Previous Rank: 7th
What they did this week

W Maryland 73 FSU 71
L Duke 79 FSU 60
W FSU 56 Georgia Tech 54
L Wake Forest 71 FSU 46

Florida State is battling injury and ir is the main reason they aren't playing defense like they traditionally do. The last 3 or 4 years they have led the conference in defensive shoot percentage, but this year they are in the bottom third. Losing their best rounder in Shannon Terrence and a hobbled Ian Miller severely limits their ability to clean up the glass and guard the perimeter. For more on the issue, check out Tomahawk Nation. Over the last 2 weeks, FSU was blow out twice but also got two close wins. Snaer broke Marylands heart with a dagger 3 to win the game before Duke blew out FSU much like Miami did to the Seminoles earlier in the year. After holding off a young and improving Georgia Tech team, FSU saw the bottom fall out at Wake Forest, where the Deacons have been great at home. There are plenty of young and long guys on Hamilton's roster and next year when their healthy, they'll be back to their pesky defensive ways.

Tourney Outlook: Not happening. Injuries undermined an already rebuilding season.

8) Wake Forest (4-7) Previous Rank: 8th
What they did this week

L Duke 75 Wake Forest 70
L Maryland 86 Wake Forest 60
L North Carolina 87 Wake Forest 62
W Florida State 71 Wake Forest 46

Wake is yet another team that was working a 3 game losing streak before beating the battered Seminoles. The young Deacs played a spirited game against Duke, forcing the Blue Devils into uncharacteristic turnovers. Devin Thomas, who has to be on the Freshman All-ACC team, had 15 points but it wasn't enough to overcome a near perfect came by Plumlee. Thomas is going to be a force in the coming seasons. The 35% shooting and 42-19 rebound margin was the reason Maryland won in one of those games where everything went wrong for the Deacs. Thomas had another solid game against UNC with a double double, but North Carolina blitzed them with a 20 point first half lead. Wake Forest regathered against Florida State by relying on their upperclassmen. Junior forward Travis McKie and senior guard CJ Harris asserted themselves with 15 and 14 points respectively. Freshman guard Cody Miller-McIntyre chipped in another 14 as they harassed FSU into 32% shooting and held Michael Snear to 4-13 from the field.

Tourney outlook: Not Happening, too many freshman, but maybe next year

9) Clemson (4-7) Previous rank: 9th
What they did this week

W Clemson 63 Georgia Tech 60
L Boston College 75 Clemson 68
L VIrginia 78 Clemson 41
L NCSU 58 Clemson 57

Clemson's goal every game is to beat you up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. KJ McDaniels bullied Georgia Tech for 15 points, including two clutch free throws to ice a very even game. But then on their trip South they failed to account for Joe Rogan who had 26 points, including 6-7 from 3, to pace the Eagles despite averaging 7.7 in conference up until that point. Congratulations are in store for Devin Book for reaching the 1,000 point mark for his career. Virginia absolutely stymied the Tigers as no one could get it going and Joe Harris and the Wahoos shot 55% from the field. Clemson turned it over 18 times under pressure, while Virginia only coughed it up 6 times. Clemson got a moral victory, holding the most explosive offense in conference to just 58 points but lost on a heart breaker as Scott Wood hit a go ahead 3 with 1 second left in Lorenzo Brown's return. 16 turnovers in this one likely cost them the game.

Tourney outlook: Not happening until they get a guard that can create

10) Georgia Tech (3-7) Previous rank: 12th
What they did this week

L Clemson 63 Georgia Tech 60
W Georgia Tech 66 Virginia 60
L Florida State 56 Georgia Tech 54
W Georgia Tech 64 Virginia Tech 54

Georgia Tech's biggest problem is they can't shoot. Despite this deficiency, in a game that requires scoring more points than the other team, the Yellow Jackets won 2 games and moved up from last place in our power rankings. Solid games from Daniel Miller (16 points) Marcus Georges-Hunt (11) and Kammeon Hosley were not enough to over come KJ McDaniels and the Tigers in what was a one point game with 17 seconds left. Georgia Tech got hot against Virginia, hitting almost 48% of their shots and holding the Wahoos to just 40% from the field while rallying from a 9 point tkae the lead with 1:19 lfet in the game. Freshman Robert Carter and Chris Bolden both got into double digit scoring in this one. Like Maryland, GT got Snaered as the Seminole guard hit a layup at the buzzer to steal one from the Techies at the last minute. Holsey and Georges-Hunt both had 13 and 9 in defeating the quickly sinking Virginia Tech squad in Blacksburg for their first conference road win of the season. The freshman are getting better and hopefully they can finish the year on a positive note and carry the momentum into next year.

Tourney outlook: Not happening until they learn to shoot

11) Boston College (2-8) Previous rank: 11th

What they did this week

L North Carolina 82 Boston College 70
W Boston College 75 Clemson 68
L Miami 72 Boston College 50
L Duke 62 Boston College 61

Boston College played well against Carolina but just didn't have the firepower to keep up with McAdoo and a surprise Dexter Strickland appearance. Joe Rahon was the missing piece against Clemson as the freshman had 26. If he can make the jump next year, he'd fit in well next to solid players Olivier Hanlan and Lonnie Jackson and Ryan Anderson. Miami was never in the game against Miami, possibly distracted by the great weather. Duke was definitely distracted by the weather in Boston as last minute travel arrangements may have allowed Boston College to get the jump on the Blue Devils. I don't care what the circumnstances, going toe to toe with Duke, and earlier in the season with Miami, show what this team can be.

Tourney Outlook: Not happening but I wouldn't be surprised if they do soon with their freshman guards.

12) Virginia Tech (2-8) Previous rank: 10th
What they did this week

L Miami 73 Virginia Tech 64
L North Carolina 72 Virginia Tech 60
L Maryland 60 CLemson 55
L Georgia Tech 64 Clemson 54

Virginia Tech lost 4 straight and are currently on a 6 game slide. Erik Green continues to light things up, but is getting very little help from those around him. No one else is making shots consistently, so Erik might as well go it alone. In the last 3 games, sophomore guard Robert Brown has shot 3-12, 1-9, and 4-16. LeBrown has missed more shots that Brown has made over the last 3. VT's defense has been consistent of late, but they need to score more efficiently.

Tourney Outlook: Not happening until more than one guy on the team can score

What's on tap for the Canes?

February 13 Tallahassee, FL
MIami at Florida State 7pm

February 17 Clemson, SC
Miami at Clemson 6pm

February 19 Miami Florida,
Miami vs Virginia

February 23 Winston-Salem, NC
Miami at Wake Forest

This is a sticky stretch for Miami. I don't think Larranaga will allow a let down, but the temptation is there. FSU is reeling at the moment. But Clemson is a bruising team that plays pretty well at home. After the rugby match, on only one days rest Miami has to face Virginia, albeit at home. I think this will be the most difficult game of the week. It is very hard to prepare and recover with just one days rest. And don't sleep on Wake Forest who plays well at home; they beat NC State at their place and took Duke to the wire.