Saturday, March 20, 2010

ACC Goes 4-2 in First Round of NCAA Tournament

The ACC had a very respectable showing in the first round of the NCAA tournament which concluded late Friday night. The ACC has struggled in recent years outside of North Carolina in the tournament so this is a good step in the right direction. Unfortunately, two of the four teams that advanced now have to play either the one or the two seed in their brackets in round two.

Game Recaps:

Duke 73, Arkansas Pine-Bluff 44

The goal for Duke here was to get an easy first round win and be able to rest down the stretch. The Devils were clearly the more talented team, as a one seed should be, and never really had to worry in this one. Kyle Singler led the Blue Devils with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Duke takes on California in round two who pulled what most people would say was a mild upset in beating Louisville. Duke will be favored but a really bad shooting game could mean a loss, especially if Cal is shooting the ball as they did against Louisville. Prediction: Duke

Maryland 89, Houston 77

The fourth seeded Terrapins got 21 points and 17 rebounds from Jordan Williams to put away the Cougars down the stretch. This was a one point game at halftime but Maryland's overall talent level won them the game late as the Cougars wore down. Up next for the Terps is a match-up with always tournament ready Michigan St. This is not a vintage Spartans team (Maryland is the four seed and Michigan St. the five) but Tom Izzo always has his team ready to go in March. Maryland will have to play really well to win. I don't see them having much of an answer for Kalin Lucas. I picked Michigan St. in my bracket to advance to the Sweet 16 so I will pick them here. The ACC really needs Maryland to advance however, as they are definitely the second best chance for the conference to get multiple teams in the round of 16.

Wake Forest 81, Texas 80 OT

Ish Smith hit a 17 foot jumper with 1.7 seconds to go to give the Deacons a first round win that most considered to be a mild upset. The game was back and forth throughout. Wake now has the unenviable task of playing the first seeded Kentucky Wildcats in round two. The one thing going for Wake is that they are an experienced, older group for the most part while Kentucky is one of the youngest teams in the country, albeit very talented. If Wake can hang close and put some game pressure on the Wildcats it could get interesting. Prediction: Kentucky

Georgia Tech 64, Oklahoma St. 59

Georgia Tech pulled another mild upset for the ACC in round one beating the seventh seeded Cowboys in the Midwest region. GT got 14 points from Gani Lawal and 12 from Derrick Favors to advance to round two. GT played great defense in limiting OSU to just 59 points, when their season average was 74.3. Up next for the Yellow Jackets is the second seeded Ohio St. Buckeyes. This will be a tough test for Paul Hewitt's team and they will be the underdog. Ohio St. will have the best player on the court in Evan Turner. GT does have a ton of talent however, and should make this a game. Prediction: Ohio St. - this could be a mild upset alert type of game though and I believe is the ACC's third best chance (over Wake beating Kentucky) for a multiple ACC sweet 16.

Missouri 86, Clemson 78

The Tigers are sent home in the first round yet again. Oliver Prunell is still yet to win an NCAA tournament game while at Clemson. Clemson struggled all year with consistency and it bit them again here. I still say they press too much and teams get used to seeing it as the game wears on and it leads to Clemson giving up too many easy baskets. Missouri's press was much more effective (forced Clemson into 20 turnovers where Clemson only forced 9) and was the difference in the game.

Gonzaga 67, Florida St. 60

FSU fell way behind early (down 16 at halftime) and made a great run but it was just too much to overcome (got as close as 4). FSU played decent defense on the usually high scoring Bulldogs for much of the game but couldn't muster enough on the offensive end, which has kind of been their story all year. This season overall was a step in the right direction for the FSU basketball program though.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The One and Done Rule - Why Its Terrible

Work with me here (because this is obviously not the case): I am a stud five star point guard in my senior year of high school. My game is being compared to those like Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, and Jason Kidd. I have an "NBA ready" body and will immediately be a top two or three player in college basketball and probably the number one or at worst two pick in the next NBA draft. It makes sense for me, being eighteen and a legal adult who is able to serve in the military, to go to the NBA, make money playing the game I love and hopefully be able to save enough to last me the rest of my life after my playing career is done. So, that's it; I am going to enter the NBA draft and take my game to the highest level possible.

Wait. Nevermind. I can't. Even though guys like Kobe, Lebron, KG, Monta Ellis, Dwight Howard, and many others have not gone to college because they were ready for the NBA, I can't. The NBA and NCAA have decided that I must go to college for one year before I can go the NBA. Well that stinks. I don't want to be a college student. I want to play basketball. I have no desire to go to class, study to make good grades, and work hard in the classroom when I KNOW that after one year I am leaving anyway to go to the league.

This is the dilemma facing quite a few elite high school players every senior class. John Wall should not be in college (there is a website called Kevin Durant should not have been in college. So what should they do and what should be expect them to do?

These are the requirements that current one and done players must meet during their first year of college to stay eligible to play college bball for one year. They must take and pass six hours their first semester. These classes do not have to go towards a degree but can simply fill basic requirements (even elective requirements). They must make a C- average in those two classes. The spring semester they are also required to be ENROLLED in two classes (6 credit hours). Notice the difference here. They do not have to pass these two classes to remain eligible. Why? Because basketball season is over (final four is first weekend in April) before the semester is over. If a kid knows he is leaving after bball season to go pro then he doesn't even have to pass those classes the second semester (again these could even be elective classes) because he is going pro anyway and it doesn't matter if he would be deemed academically ineligible because HE WON'T BE THERE ANYWAY. This means that these players do not have to attend one class their entire spring semester if they don't want to because they don't need the spring semester to stay eligible for their one year of bball. This is pathetic and a mockery of the so-called "student athlete".

Most everybody will agree that this term died years ago anyway. Just take a look at the majority of majors listed for college basketball players (especially scholarship guys). Every school has their "pet" major that quite a few of the players choose. However, this still means that these guys are gaining hours towards a college degree (which no matter what it is in is still useful).

This system does nothing but hurt the college game. If a kid wants to go pro, let him go. I propose that college adopt a system similar to college baseball. Kids can go pro straight out of high school, but if they choose to go to college, they must stay three years. I would propose a two year rule in basketball. This would allow kids to be halfway done with a four year degree and if they chose to come back and complete it, most could do it in a year and a summer session.

Colleges have to see that this is not a good system; and I do not blame the kids for one second. Most of us would probably do something very similar to what many of them are doing if we were in their position. I went to college for four years and if someone had told me I could leave after one (and not go to class my second semester) and make millions of dollars I would have probably left too. The system is set up now where these kids aren't really students anyway. They are basically doing what NBA players are doing (going to practice and playing games) but aren't getting paid for it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

National Signing Day 2010

Yesterday was the second or third biggest day behind bowl games and rivalry games for most college football programs (and it could be argued the biggest). Recruiting is the lifeblood of any collegiate program and without a doubt in football. There is only so much you can do in talent development - you need talent. Here is a rundown of where the ACC teams finished in this years' recruiting rankings. You can refer to my previous post from earlier this week to see which programs moved up or down.

Rankings from each set (previous and these) come from

1. Florida State (#10) - 5* WR Christian Green (#5 WR), 5* MLB Jeff Luc (#2 MLB), 5* CB Lamarcus Joyner (#2 CB)

2. Miami (#17) - 4* C Brandon Linder (#1 C), 4* RB Eduardo Clements (#14 RB), 4* CB Kacy Rodgers (#14 CB)

3. Clemson (#23) - 4* CB DeAndre Hopkins (#13 CB), 4* DE Corey Crawford (#18 DE), 4* S Bashaud Breeland (#22 S)

4. North Carolina (#31) - 5* OT James Hurst (#3 OT), 4* RB Gio Bernard (#13 RB), 4* DT Brandon Willis (#21 DT)

5. Virginia Tech (#35) - 4* DE Zack McCray (#24 DE), 4* G Laurence Gibson (JC), 3* MLB Chase Williams (#23 MLB)

6. Georgia Tech (#41) - 4* CB Louis Young (#11 CB), 4* CB Ryan Ayers (#16 CB), 4* DT Shawn Green (#31 DT)

7. North Carolina State (#42) - 5* OT Robert Crisp (#4 T), 4* DT Fre'Shad Hunter (#29 DT), 4* WR Tony Creecy (#35 WR)

8. Maryland (#43) - 4* OLB Javarie Johnson (#16 OLB), 4* QB Tyler Smith (#18 QB), 3* G Sal Conaboy (#12 G)

9. Boston College (#44) - 4* OLB Steele Divitto (#25 OLB), 4* OT Seth Betancourt (#27 OT), 3* TE Jarrett Darmstatter (#17 TE)

10. Wake Forest (#61) - 3* C Daniel Blitch (#21 C), 3* G Antonio Ford (#38 G), 3* CB Merril Noel (#67 CB)

11. Virginia (#67) - 4* OT Morgan Moses (JC), 3* TE Zach Swanson (#28 TE), 3* MLB Henry Coley (#41 MLB)

12. Duke (#69) - 3* OG Laken Tomlinson (#23 G), 3* RB Juwan Thompson (#58 RB), 3* QB Brandon Connette (#62 QB)

JC stands for junior college. These players do not fit into the high school senior class national rankings individually by position but do figure into the team rankings.

Just for comparison, FSU was the only ACC team in the top 10 nationally and we had 3 in the top 25. The SEC was the number one conference and the numbers really are staggering. If you want to know why the SEC is the king of college football here were their "numbers": They had 4 teams in the top 10 (ACC had one) and seven in the top 25 (ACC had three). Their lowest rated school was #53 Vanderbilt (the ACC had three below Vanderbilt). The SEC is ridiculous in college football.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

National Signing Day for Football less than One Week Away

National Signing Day for college football is less than one week away (Wednesday, February 3). With it approaching, here is a quick rundown of where ACC teams stand nationally.

Teams will be listed by highest rank nationally (in terms of their recruiting class) with their national rank in parentheses.

1. Florida State (18)

Top signees: 5* MLB Jeff Luc and 5* CB Lamarcus Joyner
Outlook: Jimbo Fisher is now the head coach at FSU and right after he was introduced the two players listed above committed. FSU recruiting will always be strong but it looks as though FSU could be moving back towards the elite top 10 status with a younger, energized coaching staff.

2. Miami (19)

Top Signees: 4* C Brandon Linder and 4* RB Eduardo Clements
Outlook: Miami continues to re-build a solid program under Randy Shannon. C Brandon Linder is the number one ranked C in the country. Miami is still recruiting a couple of kids that if they are able to land could push them into the top 15.

3. Clemson (24)

Top Signees: 4* CB DeAndre Hopkins and 4* DE Corey Crawford
Outlook: Clemson has another top 25 haul. While they have not landed a couple of the top 30 players nationally like they did under Tommy Bowden, the overall class looks very solid and should allow the Tigers to continue to compete for the ACC crown.

4. North Carolina (29)

Top Signees: 5* T James Hurst and 4* RB Gio Bernard
Outlook: UNC continues their great recruiting (esp. when compared to the previous decade) under Butch Davis. They are going for a ton of top talent, and while striking out some, are getting their few and it is starting to show in on-field talent and results.

5. Virginia Tech (30)

Top Signees: 4* DE Zack McCray and 4* G Lawrence Gibson
Outlook: VT, under Beamer, doesn't always sign 5 star guys but they definitely get good players and do an unbelievable job of developing them. A top 30 class is really good for VT and leads me to believe that they will continue to be a frontrunner in the ACC.

6. North Carolina State (36)

Top Signees: 5* T Rob Crisp and 4* DT Fre'Shad Hunter
Outlook: NC State probably hasn't had the total on-field results they had hoped when they hired Tom O'Brien three years ago. This class is really good for the Pack and should be one that will continue to help O'Brien build. They won't win only 5-6 games a year under O'Brien forever.

7. Maryland (39)

Top Signees: 4* OLB Javarie Johnson and 4* QB Tyler Smith
Outlook: Maryland has struggled mightily the past couple of years when compared to the beginning of Friedgen's tenure. This class has a couple of good players and is a top 40 class nationally and could help Friedgen turn it around in College Park if he has the time.

8. Boston College (40)

Top Signees: 4* OLB Steele Divitto and 4* T Seth Betancourt
Outlook: Boston College has been really unsettled at the head coaching position the past 5 years but this class, considering that, is not bad at all. A top 40 class will allow BC to have enough talent to compete with every team on their schedule and to see if Spaziani has what it takes to continue to sustain and perhaps grow the Eagle program.

9. Georgia Tech (45)

Top Signees: 4* CB Ryan Ayers and 4* DT Shawn Green
Outlook: Georgia Tech won the ACC title last year but that was mostly with Chan Gailey's recruits. Johnson did a remarkable job of taking players recruited for another system and taking them to an ACC title. Georgia Tech's class is solid but not spectacular. The hardest part for the rest of the conference is that the system is so hard to stop that it might not matter if they don't get elite talent (at least not until their bowl game).

10. Wake Forest (58)

Top Signees: 3* C Daniel Blitch and 3* G Antonio Ford
Outlook: Wake has never recruited "elite" talent under Grobe. However, they win a lot of games (more than any other era in Wake history). This tells me that Grobe probably does the best job in the conference (along with Beamer) of scouting talent and developing it. Wake will win as long as Grobe is in Winston Salem.

11. Duke (70)

Top Signees: 3* G Laken Tomlinson and 3* RB Juwan Thompson
Outlook: Duke has continued to improve vastly on the field under head coach David Cutcliffe. Recruiting was also much better the first couple of years. This class, by all accounts, has been a disappointment. Duke has lost some guys previously committed to other schools and missed on many of their bigger recruits. Duke is still signing much more speed than in previous years but this class hasn't been their best.

12. Virginia (73)

Top Signees: 3* MLB Henry Coley and 3* T Conner Davis
Outlook: Virginia football has really fallen the past few years. Groh hasn't been recruiting as well (besides the O-line) and a coaching change was made in the offseason. New coach Mike London had no time to save this class so next year will be the first to judge his recruiting ability. Virginia will likely struggle at times next year and maybe the year after. After that it is unsure.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Lets start with this. The title of this post is a joke. I don't believe that UNC losing to two ranked ACC opponents in a row equals them being in real danger of not making the NCAA tournament. The only real alarming loss for UNC this season is to College of Charleston a week or so ago. There have been some positives and obviously some negatives this year for the defending national champs. Here are a few of them on each side.


1. Ed Davis' development: The last two games haven't been Davis' best (4 pts. 4 rebs. vs Clemson and 12 pts. and 8 rbs. against GT) but overall this year Davis has shown great improvement from a year ago. He is averaging 14.7 pts and 9.8 rebounds for the year and has been the Tar Heels most consistent player.

2. Dexter Strickland: The highly touted freshman started slowly, struggling to adapt to his role as a PG at Carolina after being a SG his entire high school career. The last few games, however, Strickland might have been the Tar Heels best PG. Against Clemson particularly, he might have been the only player to show up in UNC's worst performance of the year.


1. Marcus Ginyard: Unfortunately he has not had the year that UNC fans were hoping and the media (who picked UNC to win the ACC and #4 nationally preseason) thought he would. He has been a decent perimeter defender (but not as good as pre-injury) but hasn't provided the consistent scoring on the wing that UNC needs to make their offense go. He is only averaging 9.4 points on the year. Ginyard's role cannot be fully stated just in stats (his leadership is huge for this team) but if UNC is going to turn around from a less than stellar start they need more perimeter scoring. If they don't get it, teams will continue to solely focus on UNC's inside guys and take their chances on UNC beating them from the perimeter.

2. John Henson: For a guy that was rated the #4 overall prospect nationally in last years' high school class, he certainly has not fulfilled the role that UNC fans were hoping and probably Roy Williams was hoping. He really doesn't have a position at this point in his career. His frame is too thin to play in the post but he doesn't, at this point, have the quickness, shot, or ball handling ability to play on the wing. He has a great feel for blocking shots and should be a good rebounder during his career. UNC needs more than that from Henson though.

Has UNC's season been a disappointment so far? It depends on how you look at it. Their six losses were to teams currently ranked 24, 4, 2, 19, 18, and then the College of Charleston upset. They have also beaten teams currently ranked 15 (Ohio St. ) and 9 (Michigan St.). They are 1-2 in ACC play but again, those losses were to GT and Clemson (ranked 19 and 18 respectively).

The biggest problem for UNC thus far has been expectations. This was a predominately young team with zero proven guys on the perimeter (unless you want to count Ginyard) and guard play wins in college basketball. Had UNC been picked to be a top 25 team that would finish somewhere between second and fifth in the ACC then the level of panic would be far less. Roy Williams is a kind of a victim of his own success this year as people just expected UNC to keep rolling. That probably was not going to be possible considering what they lost last year (do the names of Hansbrough, Lawson, Ellington, Green, and Frasor ring a bell?).

Lastly, I didn't want to list this in the negative column but I haven't been overly impressed with some of Roy Williams' coaching this year. He has said on multiple occasions on TV this year before and during games that his job for this year was to get the new guys to run just as fast as his previous couple of years' teams had. This team is not ready for that. They don't have the PG to make the great decisions on the run or the three point specialist from the wing to get all the kick-outs from the point guard's drive and kick. Simply put, this team is not built to be an up-tempo team. I think Williams would be better suited to slow it down, play more of a half-court game, and run only when the opportunity presents. UNC's best asset this year is in the post and they negate some of that with their always running style. Recruits might not think it is as glamorous watching UNC play a half court game, but it might would help them win more games. Not to mention in a half court game they would not have to score as many points to win, and they are not as explosive as in years past.

UNC is by no means in BIG trouble but they need to start winning games to regain some confidence. Their next five games are all against unranked opponents before their first meeting with Duke. UNC, currently at 1-2, could easily be 6-2 heading into the game against Duke and then the perception around UNC would be much different.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

ACC Football Season Officially Over

With Georgia Tech losing ANOTHER BCS game for the ACC tonight to Iowa, another bowl season has wrapped up for the conference. It was yet another fairly disappointing year as the ACC still cannot get over that hurdle and make the jump to becoming a very good/elite football conference.

The only real quality win for the ACC came from Virginia Tech, as they dismantled Tennessee in the Chick-Fil-A bowl on New Years Eve. Thank you Virginia Tech for being the one constant in this conference. Even if you are not usually quite good enough to be a national title contender, you are always solid and represent the conference well. Without you the past five years this conference would have been no better than the MAC or Sun Belt.

You could make a case for FSU also getting a quality win for the conference (beating West Virginia in the Gator Bowl in Bobby Bowden's last game) but FSU has more talent than WVU, even if their record didn't show it this year. But I would give this at least half a point on the quality win scale (from 0 to 1).

The worst loss has to go to Georgia Tech. They are the ACC champs, 10-2 on the year going into the Orange Bowl, and a favorite in the game. This was a prime chance for them, as well as the conference as a whole, to make a statement. Iowa was the second place team in a WEAK Big 10 this year and should have no business beating the ACC champs. However, they actually dominated the game and the score should not have been as close as it was. This is two years in a row that GT has looked awful in a bowl game when their opponent has a month to prepare for their option offense. Not a good sign for Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jacket fans.

Overall, the ACC went 3-4 in bowls this season. While not the worst year they have ever had, it certainly doesn't help the national perception of this conference in football. FSU looks to be on the rise (a rash of 5* recruits have committed since Fisher took over after the bowl), Clemson should continue to be good, VT is always there, and GT looks like it will be a force in the conference. For the national perception to change any though the ACC needs to have a national title contender in the conference and two or three other teams hovering around the 10 win mark. Until that happens (and the ACC wins some big bowl games for goodness sake) it will still be looked at as a second rate football conference, behind the SEC, Big XII, PAC 10, and Big 10.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

ACC Bowl Season Kicks Off Today

The first two bowl games featuring ACC teams kick-off today as UNC plays Pittsburgh in the Meineke Car Car Bowl and tonight Boston College takes on traditional national power Southern Cal in the Emerald Bowl.

UNC continued to improve under Butch Davis in his third year, going 8-4. Their year ended on a sour note and ruined a chance at a ten win year, losing to rival NC State 28-27. This was still another step in the right direction for Davis and the UNC program though. Their opponent in their second straight car care bowl is Pittsburgh from the Big East. Pitt also lost to NC State earlier in the year. Pitt finished the year 9-3, losing their last two ball games to West Virginia and Cincinnati. Both were very close however, and it could be argued that Pitt was 3 or 4 plays away from going undefeated. On paper, this looks like a good match-up. UNC has a very good defense with lots of speed. Pitt features a balanced offensive attack led by true freshman running back Dion Lewis and his 1600 yards and 16 TDs. Pitt comes into the game as a 3 point favorite.

I look for Pitt to be able to control the line of scrimmage and be able to run the ball against UNC. UNC's offense has struggled many times this year but has done enough to help the defense get eight wins. In the end I just think Pitt has a little more across the board (especially offensively) and will win a close game.

The Emerald Bowl is an interesting match-up. This is a great opportunity for Boston College to get to play a national powerhouse on national TV. USC did not have a typical year for them over the past decade but they still have a ton of talent. Boston College continued their run of extremely consistent football over the past 15 years, this time under first year coach Frank Spaziani. They went 8-4 (the same record as USC) and made their fourteenth straight bowl game. USC will be led by running back Joe McKnight (if he is allowed to play) and Damian Williams at wide receiver. The USC defense, usually one of the fastest and best in the country, has been shredded this year. They lost a ton of playmakers (eight starters) from last years' Rose Bowl team and it showed.

On paper, this looks like a blowout. USC has more four star players (ratings coming out of high school) than BC does three star players. However, USC is young and raw at many positions (QB and on defense) and has not been "USC" this year. USC comes in as a touchdown favorite. BC did not play any team close to the overall talent level of USC this year. If it overwhelms them (even though it is young talent) this game could get a little ugly. USC has not scored enough points this year to blow teams out, and they have given up too much on defense, but they are the better team in this one. I look for USC to win fairly comfortably with BC playing tough but just not quite having the talent necessary to hang with the Trojans.