ACC Weekend Preview: Dec. 18
Bryant (1-9) at Boston College (3-7), 1:00 PM, RSN
Boston College’s fairly easy win over Stony Brook last weekend was a nice surprise. Stony Brook shot just 29%, which was Boston College’s best defensive performance of the year (as were the 51 points allowed). The most encouraging part was that BC shot just 24% from three and still won easily. The Eagles might just be gaining a bit of confidence, which should mean a relatively easy win over an awful Bryant team.
Prediction: Boston College 66, Bryant 58
Random: It’s hard for players to get comfortable when their minutes aren’t stable. Matt Humphrey is the only Eagle who has played at least 20 minutes in all ten games. It’s not like BC’s games have been all that different, and the pattern is settling down a bit, but certainly it’s nice for players – particularly freshmen – to know they have some stability in terms of their playing time.
Gardner-Webb (6-6) at Wake Forest (6-4), 1:00 PM, ESPN3
Wake Forest shouldn’t be ashamed of losing at Seton Hall, which is arguably the Big East’s most improved team. But Wake’s 54 points were a season-low, as was its 12.5% from three-point range. Wake’s interior defense has also been bad all year and was again last week, allowing Seton Hall to shoot 59% from two-point range. Perhaps with shot-blocker Ty Walker’s recent return from suspension, that will improve some.
Travis McKie has been ridiculous (18.6 ppg on 50% shooting, 40% from three), adding 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 35 minutes a game. But C.J. Harris’s improvement is worth noting, per Rush the Court:
Last year, according to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, Harris posted a 93.6 offensive efficiency rating while taking 15.6% of the team’s shots. This year? Harris has an offensive efficiency rating of 117.7 while taking 25.1% of his teams shots. That’s an insane improvement. So now, not only does Wake Forest have the conference’s second-leading scorer, but it also has the conference’s third leading scorer (17.9 PPG). It might have sounded crazy this time last year, or even two months ago, but Wake Forest easily has the most productive scoring tandem in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Gardner-Webb is not very good, so the dynamic duo should do some more stat-padding on Sunday.
Prediction: Wake Forest 85, Gardner-Webb 65
Random: Gardner-Webb beat Alice Lloyd College earlier this season, and the name seemed strange. Good ‘ole Google and/or Wikipedia: it is located in the Kentucky mountains and their athletic programs are NAIA. Seventy-five percent of Alice Lloyd graduates are the first in their families to earn a college degree.
Loyola Marymount (6-4) at Florida State (7-3), 3:00 PM, ESPNU
So much for cutting down on turnovers. Florida State is averaging 19 a game and have coughed it up 47 times in their last two games, leading to 34 points by their opponents. Without those, Charleston Southern and UNC-G would have combined to score just 77 points. That’s not realistic, but considering the athletic Seminoles are shooting 46% on the year, it’s beyond irritating to think about their offensive potential without all the silly turnovers.
Another under-the-radar concern for FSU is its rebounding. The Seminoles have allowed opponents to average 14.7 offensive rebounds per game and are just +5.0 overall on the backboards. With their height and length, that should be a bigger margin. FSU out-rebounded UNC-G just 35-33 and allowed the Spartans to get 17 offensive boards.
Loyola Marymount beat UCLA in the L.A. Sports Arena early this season and also has a win over then-No. 23 St. Louis. Two of Loyola’s losses have been to pretty good teams, Harvard and Middle Tennessee State. But the Lions also have losses to Columbia and North Texas. Ultimately, FSU’s defense will be way too much.
Prediction: Florida State 73, Loyola Marymount 57
Random: Considering Loyola Marymount basketball is still best known for its success between 1985-1990 under Paul Westhead, it’s appropriate to plug ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary Guru of Go. The movie is mostly about Hank Gathers’ untimely death in the 1989-90 season and how Westhead’s team responded to make an improbable NCAA Tournament run, but it’s also about Westhead’s unconventional style. One of the more underrated 30 for 30 films.
Virginia (8-1) at Oregon (6-2), 5:30 PM
Virginia is arguably playing as well as anyone in the ACC so far (against a non-conference schedule Pomeroy ranks 308th). Since the Michigan win, UVA has made quick work of its lesser foes. After losing to TCU, Virginia won six straight by an average of 18.8 points. In the Cavaliers’ last game (on December 6th), George Mason shot the highest percentage allowed by UVA all year (47.5%) and scored just 48 points.
Oregon’s two losses have both come on the road to pretty good teams (Vanderbilt and BYU), but the Ducks were beaten soundly in both games. Oregon doesn’t have any great wins (the best is Nebraska), but Eugene is a tough place to play. Minnesota transfer guard Devoe Joseph recently became eligible and has averaged 15.5 points in two games. The Ducks’ front line has ACC connections: Kyle’s little brother E.J. Singler (13 ppg, 1.0 bpg) and Wake Forest transfer Tony Woods (7.8 ppg, 1.8 bpg).
Last season, Virginia went to Stanford for its first true road game and was crushed 81-60 (with Mike Scott, who leads the team in scoring this year but missed most of last year with an injury). This is Virginia’s first true road game of 2011-12 and it just seems like a games the Cavaliers will lose. Considering ACC basketball has been such a disappointment this year, this just feels like the right pick.
Prediction: Oregon 65, Virginia 62
Random: Starting on December 20th, Oregon will host the ironically-named Global Sports Hoops Showcase. The field: Oregon, North Carolina Central, Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin. Last year’s field was Auburn, Samford, Campbell and Middle Tennessee State. Scouring the web as to what makes this global, or even a showcase, I found nothing.
Last Week: 9-1
Season Record: 19-10