ACC Weekend Preview: Dec. 11

Boston College (2-7) vs. Stony Brook (3-4), 12/11, 5:00 PM (No TV, thankfully)

Last in the ACC in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive and defensive rankings (and points per possession scored/allowed), Boston College has to thank the basketball gods for Utah. The 1-7 Utes are easily the worst major-conference team in the country, but BC is trying to make it competitive. And why not? The Eagles haven’t been competitive in many other basketball-related contests.

Boston College blog Soaring to Glory has an interesting look at BC’s season thus far (if games were ten minutes, the Eagles might be undefeated!). If there is a bright side, BC has cut way back on its turnovers (just 11.5 per game in the last two after averaging 16 in the first seven). So there’s that. Oh, and 40% from three against Providence was BC’s best percentage since the season-opener.

Boston College was competitive with Providence but fell apart in the second half, a trend for the Eagles all year. And their shooting from inside the arc against the Friars (9-of-31, 29%) was their season low and perhaps a program low moment in a deeper sense. That is just awful. North Carolina’s length and athleticism hass held just one opponent to a mark that low (Evansville, 28.2%).

BC head coach Steve Donahue has used a different lineup in almost every game to see what works (10 different starters in nine games), and this is a team that will get better throughout the year once he finds the best mix. But that means one, maybe two ACC wins. And as of right now, it’s not helping the Eagles find a rhythm.

The Stony Brook Seawolves have lost by 30 at Indiana, by 11 at Sacred Heart, by five at Northwestern and by three at Eastern Illinois. Ken Pomeroy has Boston College ranked at 266th and Stony Brook at 146th.

Prediction: Stony Brook 66, Boston College 57

Random: A Seawolf is not a real animal – that we know of. It is, however, a “mythical sea creature of the Tlingit tribe, said to bring good luck to all those fortunate enough to see it.” I don’t think Boston College will feel that way when they meet multiple Seawolves on Sunday.

A seawolf.

Florida State (6-3) vs. UNCG (2-7), 12/11, 1:00 PM, RSN

Jeremy Lundblad from ESPN’s College Basketball Nation Blog had an interesting tidbit on Florida State’s turnover issues. As he pointed out, the Seminoles played Charleston Southern, whose average player height was around 6-2 while FSU is the third-tallest team in the country (average nearly 6-7). Yet the Seminoles had 21 turnovers (23.6% loss of ball) and are averaging 18.2 per game, 327th in the country. It’s been a team effort – of the eight Seminoles averaging at least 15 minutes, six average at least two turnovers a game. Only point guard Jeff Peterson (1.8) and Terrance Shannon (1.3) are under that mark. Even Deividas Dulkys, an experienced player, has had issues – he had a team-high six turnovers in 20 minutes against Charleston Southern.

This wouldn’t be as bad if the Seminoles’ pace allowed for these kinds of turnover issues, but tempo-free, they are last in the ACC with a nearly 22% loss of ball. That’s over a fifth of FSU’s possessions that don’t even result in a shot attempt. The Seminoles haven’t had a 25% or higher loss of ball but they have flirted with it, notching 22% or more six times in nine games so far. The lowest loss of ball they have had is 17.4% in the season-opener against Jacksonville; six ACC teams have a lower season average.

If you take out all the possessions that FSU has turned it over on offense, they average 1.03 points per possession. Unfortunately, those wasted possessions count too. And that’s why FSU is 11th in the league in points per possession, ahead of only Boston College. Fortunately for the Seminoles, its defense is still fantastic, leading the league in PPP allowed (0.67) and ranking second in loss of ball forced (20.9%). And they will be playing UNC-G on Sunday and have a chance to develop some good habits before point guard Ian Miller hopefully returns to the team in January. The Spartans have been scrappy in the past, but not this year.

Prediction: Florida State 83, UNC-G 56

Random: UNC-G must be masochistic, because the Spartans have traveled to Tennessee, Georgetown, Boone and Cullowhee (all losses), not to mention losing two in the Greensboro Coliseum twice to nearby foes North Carolina A&T and Elon. The Spartans have wins over UNC-Pembroke and Towson. Former Tar Heels Wes Miller and J.B. Tanner are on the UNC-G staff.

N.C. State (5-3) vs. North Carolina Central (5-4), 12/11, 3:00 PM, RSN

N.C. State’s defense hasn’t been great, but fouls have become a bigger problem. Opponents are averaging 25 free throw attempts per game on 20.0 N.C. State fouls. Even Lorenzo Brown fouled out against Stanford; he had five fouls for the season entering that game. Forward Richard Howell has had three or more fouls in six of N.C. State’s eight games and even the heady C.J. Williams has fouled out (against Vanderbilt).

Scott Wood is the main culprit, averaging 3.1 fouls per game. Taking out Princeton (he played two minutes before getting hurt), he has averaged 3.7 fouls. While he might feel the fouls are bad calls (which he makes known to the officials, and that certainly isn’t helping), he constantly puts himself in bad positions. His fifth foul against Indiana was a questionable flagrant foul call, but considering he has three or more fouls in five of the six games he has finished this year, at some point it becomes a pattern. He fouled out against Stanford on another questionable double foul call, but he put himself in a position to get that whistle as well. Wood has made 20-of-35 three’s this year (57%) while his teammates have combined to shoot 18-of-76 (23.6%).

At the beginning of the year, unsure of how N.C. State would look, this felt like a game the Wolfpack could win narrowly or even lose. It’s worth noting that N.C. Central is 7th nationally in field goal percentage (52.2%).  Central is really improving, dropping games at Wake (by 14), at Wagner (by four) and at UNC-Charlotte (by 16). But they have just one Division-I victory and N.C. State is more talented overall, particularly offensively. This should be a confidence-rebuilding game for N.C. State but if they don’t take Central seriously with weapons like Kansas State transfer Dominique Sutton (17.3 ppg, 65% shooting) and Ray Willis (17.1 ppg, 56% shooting), they could be in trouble.

Prediction: NC State 88, NCCU 63

Random: Central head man LaVelle Moton has a very entertaining Twitter feed (@LaVelleMoton). A lot of former area players have relationships with him, and he even sent this YouTube link to North Carolina’s Sean May to poke a little fun at Raymond Felton. He’s worth a follow, with plenty of motivational Tweets and he has a lot of thoughts on basketball, including this about David Stern vetoing the Chris Paul trade:

@LeVelleMoton David Stern “No one man should have all that Power”…(Kanye Voice)

Virginia Tech (6-3) vs. Norfolk State (6-3), 12/11, 4:00 PM

After disappointing back-to-back losses to Minnesota and Kansas State, it felt like Virginia Tech might lose at Rhode Island. But head coach Seth Greenberg’s teams don’t quit and the Hokies won, 78-67. They still are bound for the NCAA Tournament bubble yet again with no more high-profile non-conference win chances left.

From Tech Hoops, Erick Green came off the bench for the first time this year against Rhode Island because of “the manner in which he was carrying himself.” Despite that, the junior had 24 points off the bench on 10-of-14 shooting. He has been by far Tech’s most efficient offensive threat, averaging 17.1 points on 49% shooting (50% from three). He has shot below 50% just twice this year.

Dorenzo Hudson has been strug-uh-ling this year, shooting 39% (25% from three). It’s puzzling – he averaged 17.8 ppg in the first four games and was shooting 21-of-37 (nearly 57%) and 5-of-13 from three, also averaging 6.8 free-throw attempts per game. Since, he has 30 total points in the last five games (6.0 per game) and has shot 10-of-42 from the field, 2-of-15 from three and has 10 free-throw attempts in five games. They need him because the perimeter will have to carry this team.

Norfolk State seems like a pushover opponent, but the Spartans reached the finals of the Paradise Jam (in which Virginia lost to TCU), losing to No. 11 Marquette by two points. Since, the Spartans have won three of four, but committed 34 turnovers in a loss at home to Elizabeth City State.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 75, Norfolk State 53

Random: Rucker Park legend Pee Wee Kirkland and NBA star Bob Dandridge played together at Norfolk State in the 70’s.

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