ACC Preview: Jan. 4
Auburn (10-3) at Florida State (8-5), 7:00 PM, ESPN3
Rush the Court asked the question we’re all asking ourselves: is Florida State good? I will get more into that in ACC previews coming up later this week. But this is FSU’s worst non-conference start since 2005 when the Seminoles were 8-5 leading into ACC play. (They went 12-19 overall.)
If there’s a concern that hasn’t been discussed ad nauseum (an appropriate phrase when talking about FSU”s offense), it’s rebounding. FSU’s defense is 6th nationally (per Ken Pomeroy). They rank in the top 41 of all but two defensive categories, and one is offensive rebounding percentage allowed (33.3%, 200th nationally).
FSU simply has too many athletes and plays defense far too well to be giving up multiple opportunities. Teams are averaging just 8.4 second-chance points, but Michigan State had 12 second-chance points and Florida had 14. While the bad teams weren’t able to capitalize on the second chances FSU gave them, good teams will always make you pay.
Fortunately for them, Auburn isn’t very good. The Tigers are 10-3 but their wins have come against teams with an average ranking of 268.7 and they haven’t beaten a team ranked higher than 133rd. Only two wins have come over the top 100 teams. Their losses certainly aren’t bad, though (Seton Hall, Long Beach State and UTEP).
Prediction: Florida State 71, Auburn 59
Random: Auburn’s official mascot is Aubie the Tiger, but they are more known for their “War Eagle” cry and the eagle that flies around the stadium. The most popular story of its origin? In 1892, a veteran of the Civil War who was at a game had an eagle with him that he found on a battlefield. The eagle “suddenly broke free and began … circling the playing field.” Supposedly as this was happening, Auburn “began a steady march toward the Georgia end zone for a thrilling victory.” They saw it as a good omen and started chanting “War Eagle!” At the end of the game, the eagle crashed into the field and died.
Delaware State (4-8) at NC State (10-4), 7:00 PM, theACC.com
N.C. State has been improving its defense in this recent stretch of non-conference games (Northeastern, Campbell and West Carolina), which represent three of the six worst-rated teams they have faced this year. That should continue against Delaware State, the lowest-ranked team the Wolfpack has faced or likely will face at 287 (though Boston College is 274 right now).
State’s offense – which was already good – is improving; it has 20 or more assists in four of the last five games. After having problems with turnovers, the Wolfpack have committed 12.3 per game in the last four. But Campbell and Syracuse both shot 50% or better against NC State (Syracuse shot a 57%, the highest allowed by State). Their defensive effort needs to be as good as it was against Northeastern and Western Carolina, opponents they held to an average of 57 points on 34.4% shooting.
Delaware State has lost five straight, although they only lost at Georgia by seven on December 30th. But they lost at George Washington by 18 and their only Division I wins are over Eastern Kentucky and Maryland Eastern Shore.
Prediction: NC State 89, Delaware State 62
Random: Delaware State’s mascot is the Hornet, and there is no information from Delaware State about its origin. But I did find this from Spawn of M Zone, which says that the 1942 football team rode around in a bus nicknamed “the Green Hornet”.
Duke (12-1) at Temple (9-3), 7:00 PM, ESPN2
Freshman point guard and reigning ACC Rookie of the Week Quinn Cook had a rough start against UNCG on December 19th. He entered the game and turned it over twice in about nine seconds; he was benched quickly. But including the remainder of that game and Duke’s last two games, he has 21 straight assists without a turnover in 21.0 minutes per game, scoring 12.0 ppg.
Eight different Blue Devils have scored off his assists in the last three games. The biggest beneficiaries have been Mason Plumlee (four dunks/lay-ups) and Josh Hairston (four of of his five baskets in the last two games are off Cook assists). Andre Dawkins has made just seven baskets in the last three games and Cook has assisted four of them, including two of his four made three-pointers. Seth Curry had been in a three-point shooting slump (4-of-16 in a four-game stretch) and in the last two games, Cook has assisted on two of his six made three’s (in 11 attempts).
This will be Duke’s toughest opponent arguably since facing Ohio State. Temple matches up pretty well with Duke on paper. The Owls’ three-point defense is fifth nationally (allowing just 25.6%) and their three-point shooting is 40th (38.5%). The Owls have an experienced backcourt. In the last five games (including Texas and Villanova), Temple has turned it over 55 times (11.0 per game) and opponents have 15 total steals (3.0 per game). The Owls forced 74 turnovers (14.8 per game) on 42 steals (8.2 per game) and scored 17.6 points off turnovers per game in their last five.
Prediction: Duke 85, Temple 72
Random: In 1882, Temple founder Dr. Russell Conwell came to Pennsylvania to lead the Grace Baptist Church and <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_University#Beginnings”>began tutoring working class people late at night (because of their schedules) in the basement of the church (known as the Baptist Temple)</a>. These students were dubbed “the night owls” (which is where the mascot comes from).
Last week: 12-3