ACC Weekend Preview: Dec. 17
While this slow weekend schedule in terms of non-conference games won’t do much to enhance the ACC’s image, it can improve its awful non-conference record (75-39). And N.C. State has the opportunity to pull off a huge upset at home against No. 1 Syracuse.
Florida Atlantic (4-6) vs. Miami (5-4), Sunrise, Fla., 12:00 PM, FSN
Miami had a rough weekend as it lost its second straight non-conference game, this time at West Virginia. It’s easy to harp on Reggie Johnson’s absence as the reason for Miami’s struggles. But his impact has been felt: two of Miami’s last four opponents have shot better 63% from two-point range. But big man Kenny Kadji has progressed well, averaging 12 points in the last three games on 65% shooting. And Johnson may return on Saturday,per The Palm Beach Post.
Florida Atlantic is 4-6, but the Owls have lost just twice by double digits and just once by more than 20 (at Kansas). They nearly upset Washington in Seattle only to fall by six points. Last week, FAU lost 75-68 at No. 16 Mississippi State but led in the second half. Miami has been on a bad skid lately and and if the Hurricanes aren’t careful, they’ll lose this one, too.
Prediction: Miami 71, Florida Atlantic 61
Random: Florida Atlantic coach Mike Jarvis should eventually join Lefty Driesell as one of two coaches to win 100 or more games at four different schools. He’s already one of eight head coaches to have 100 or more wins at three schools (Boston, George Washington, St. John’s). Jarvis is 364-201 and 45-59 at FAU.
Campbell (8-2) at Virginia Tech (7-3), 4:00 PM, ESPN3
The Tech Hoops blog posted notes from Seth Greenberg’s radio show, including the head coach defending the playing time of seniors Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila. Davila was never supposed to be an offensive threat and has seen his playing time reduced, but Hudson is averaging 30.8 minutes and 10.8 points on 38% shooting (23% from three). He hasn’t shot over 33.3% in a game since November 23rd (13-of-52 in six games since). Greenberg said that he wants Hudson to be more aggressive on offense. With a week off, maybe he will be.
Campbell has some firepower, but lost on Wednesday on the road by 11 to…Houston Baptist. Ew. For a more detailed preview of the Camels, check out Tech Hoops’ write-up. With a week to prepare, the Hokies should win.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 83, Campbell 75
Random: Despite its record, Campbell is 206th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The Camels have won at Iowa but that is their best win. Three wins have come over non Division-I teams and the average ranking of a team they have beaten is 252.7. Houston Baptist, one of Campbell’s losses, is 327th.
Winthrop (4-6) at Clemson (4-4), 4:30 PM, RSN
In the loss at Arizona last Saturday, Clemson set offense back decades by scoring 47 points and shooting 37% from two-point range (31.7% overall). The Tigers are averaging a paltry 13 free throw attempts per game and had just five at Arizona. Andre Young had 17 points, but big men Devin Booker and Milton Jennings combined to shoot 5-of-16 from the floor, scoring just 13 points in 52 minutes with nether recording a steal or a block.
Clemson’s defense is struggling; they allowed 51% shooting to Arizona to and 42% to South Carolina. College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina combined to shoot 50% in wins over Clemson. Winthrop beat Presbyterian earlier this week, and the Blue Hose beat South Carolina, which beat Clemson. By transitive property, Clemson could lose. But it won’t.
Prediction: Clemson 62, Winthrop 51
Random: Patrick Finley at the Arizona Daily Star wrote a nice article on Clemson’s Tanner Price, who reaches out to children with cancer with “Tanner’s Totes”.
Appalachian State (4-5) at North Carolina (8-2), 6:00 PM, ESPNU
The Tar Heels had their best shooting performance in six games against Long Beach State last week (51.5%). Carolina had its worst defensive performances of the year, allowing 47% shooting and its second-highest point total allowed (78). Former Tar Heel Jason Capel will come back to Chapel Hill on Saturday night as the head coach of Appalachian State. His team has been competitive, losing by just 14 at Minnesota, but also has losses to East Tennessee State (twice) and East Carolina (by 20). But Capel’s team has struggled to score, averaging 52 points in the last two games. Carolina really won’t be tested until Texas comes to the Smith Center next Wednesday.
Prediction: North Carolina 102, Appalachian State 69
Random: Former Ohio State benchwarmer Mark Titus is writing at Grantland and in his top 12 rankings, he eviscerates Carolina’s collective defensive effort. While complimenting the effort of guys like Dexter Strickland, Reggie Bullock and Justin Watts, he says it’s Harrison Barnes’s lack of consistent effort that holds the Tar Heels back:
Harrison Barnes … is one of the five best players in America. He should set the tone for the Heels, but he’s so blatantly disinterested in defense that I literally started laughing at one point while watching the Kentucky game. For most of the game he stood straight up on defense, got lost on screens, didn’t close out hard to shooters, played no help-side defense, showed no understanding of helping the helper, allowed his man to dribble penetrate way too easily, and didn’t seem to care about blocking out. Outside of UConn’s Jeremy Lamb and … Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas, there isn’t a guy in college basketball I’d rather watch on offense than Barnes, but his lack of defensive effort was a huge disappointment. It’s keeping him from being a truly special player, and keeping Carolina from being a dominant team.
Syracuse (10-0) at N.C. State (6-3), 6:30 PM, ESPN2
Akula Wolf over at Backing the Pack wrote a nice preview (complete with funny pictures). The key to this game will be Scott Wood – against the Orange’s long and active zone, he will have to knock down three’s. He has 25 of N.C. State’s 45 made three-pointers this year, and while he shoots 57% from three, his teammates shoot 20-of-90 (22.2%). Wood has to stay out of foul trouble, something he hasn’t been able to do in the Wolfpack’s most important games to date.
The Wolfpack will also have to take care of the ball – Syracuse likes to get out in transition. As Luke Winn points out in his latest power rankings, sixth-man guard Dion Waiters is great at getting steals. N.C. State has turned it over an average of just 15 times a game in three losses but opponents have averaged 20 points off of those miscues.
This is Syracuse’s first true non-conference road game in 1,092 days (per Joe Lunardi of ESPN bracketology). Besides beating Florida at home, the Orange really haven’t been tested. But N.C. State isn’t good enough yet on defense to win a game like this, even at home.
Prediction: Syracuse 85, N.C. State 79
Random: N.C. State is 5-25 all-time against the nation’s No. 1 team; the last win came over Duke in 2004 in the RBC Center. The Wolfpack have beaten No. 1 North Carolina three times (they were not ranked any of those times). The other win over No. 1 came in the 1983 national championship against Houston.
Last Week: 9-1
Season Record: 19-10