Featherston Peers Into The Bubbles

Tis the season for endless articles about who’s in and who’s out and what teams still need to do. I love it! If my article from Monday wasn’t enough for you (and I’m sure it wasn’t), read Al Featherston’s lengthy piece at the DBR. Coincidently, Featherston uses the same power ratings I do, but he’s obviously a much better writer.
One point that Featherston makes that I should have mentioned is the role of injuries. The NCAA Tournament Committee has always factored in the impact of key injuries. Lose an important player late in the season, and the committee will round your numbers down. Have an important player return late (like Derrick Whittenberg for that ’83 Wolfpack team) and the committee will round your numbers up.
The two ACC teams that affects are Boston College and Florida State. BC will be seen as slightly worse than their record shows, because they no longer have Sean Williams. In fairness, he’s been gone a while, but they did win a bunch of games with him. For Florida State, if they can get Toney Douglas back before the season’s over, that could really help. In fact, he might be more valuable to them hurt than healthy, assuming he does return. At least this way, they can claim that they would have won another game or two without having to prove it.

Big Four Hegemony Over?

Growing up as an ACC fan outside of North Carolina, I quickly learned to resent the Big Four schools. I mostly hated UNC, of course, but I was also really annoyed at how the conference really only seemed to exist to serve the schools in North Carolina. The ACC Tournament was nearly always there, players from those schools littered the all-conference teams and the media focused on Tobacco Road. It felt like Virginia, Maryland, Clemson and Georgia Tech were just around to fill things out a bit, like we were part of the club, but still couldn’t go into the VIP Lounge in the back.
Over the years, I grew to learn that things weren’t really artificially tilted toward the Old North State. Yes, North Carolina was and still is the main focus, but that’s for a very good reason – the conference (and I’m talking basketball here) has been dominated by those four teams. In addition, it’s served the ACC very well over the years to have this geographic and cultural center. It’s here in North Carolina where the ACC matters the most and where the league’s heart truly lies. Expansion has diluted things, but make no mistake, the ACC still revolves around the Big Four.
But the absolute dominance might be wavering. David Glenn wrote a brief piece today echoing a fact someone told me last week – this could be the first year in ACC history that fewer than two Big Four teams will finish in the top four of the ACC standings. That will happen unless Boston College, Virginia or Virginia Tech slip and Duke moves up. Of course, that’s probably exactly what’s going to happen.
If things do hold like they currently stand, I don’t really think it means much in the long term. For one thing, the ACC simply has more teams now. For a long while, finishing in the top four only meant you were in the top half of the league, and considering that the Big Four made up half (or so) of the ACC, it’s really not that surprising. Hell, UNC alone has only missed being in the top three a handful of times in league history. Also, both Duke and Carolina are still among the nation’s top five programs. They aren’t going anywhere and they’ll be fighting for ACC supremacy for the foreseeable future.
So, non-North Carolina teams, you better resign yourself to more of this:
ACC Men’s Basketball Championships

Duke — 16
North Carolina — 15
N.C. State — 10
Wake Forest — 4
Everyone Else Combined — 8 (Georgia Tech 3, Maryland 3, South Carolina 1, Virginia 1)

Former Cavs

It’s completely predictable. A coach of a struggling team is fired and before his replacement has even unpacked his boxes, several key players transfer. It makes sense. Things weren’t going well and the guys are obviously frustrated. They don’t know what to expect from the new guy, so they head out for greener pastures.
When Dave Leitao came to Virginia, he lost two key players, big man Donte Minter and wing guard Gary Forbes. Minter eventually popped up at Appalachian State while Forbes went to UMass. Each of those guys is now the second leading scorer on a tourney-worthy (or close) team.
Before Leitao was even hired, UVA lost talented wingman Derrick Byars, who transferred to Vanderbilt. Byars is now the leading scorer for the Commodores and helped lead their upset over #1 ranked Florida last weekend.
Given how much UVA relies on two players for their scoring, don’t you think Leitao would have liked to have kept those guys? And just how bad was Pete Gillen? Leitao has this team, with almost all Gillen players, in first place in the ACC even without those three. Gillen led that bunch to dead last in the ACC.

Bubble Watch – 2/19/2007

Things are getting serious. Nine ACC teams have a very good chance of getting into the NCAA Tournament – although not all nine will – but only three have wrapped up bids with two weeks left. Carolina is really only playing for seeding – a one or a two – at this point. It probably doesn’t make that much difference this year, as there aren’t enough really good teams out that to make it all that different if they are lined up against a three seed (as a two) or a four (as a one) to get to the Final Four.
Duke and Maryland have also both sewn up bids. That Maryland claim may surprise some, but the Terps have quietly won three straight and now have 20 wins. There is no way in hell that an ACC team gets 20 wins and doesn’t get a bid, especially in a year where like this, where the ACC is very good (but not quite great).
The conventional wisdom is that two teams, Clemson and Florida State, have played their way out of the tournament. I disagree. The Noles certainly have put themselves in a bit of a whole, but Clemson’s situation is nowhere near as dire as some would think. The Tigers have already won 19 games and still have an RPI of 30. Those are NCAA-worthy numbers. Sure, they are sliding, but one more win out of their final four will get them to 20. I already stated my position on that. I don’t believe ACC team has ever gotten to 20 wins and missed out on a bid. 19 wins is no guarantee, but 20 seems to be the magic number. I think the Tigers will make it.
FSU needs to win at least two of their final three and then get one or two ACC Tourney wins to feel safe.

Continue reading “Bubble Watch – 2/19/2007”

The Message Board

Pardon me for a little site-related post here.
Lately we’ve had some good discussions in the comments of my articles. There are a lot of intelligent, knowledgeable ACC fans reading and posting here, fans from nearly every school in the ACC. Each day, Dave Sez receives at least 500 unique visitors, some days seeing well over 1,000. Granted, a large hunk of those are surfers searching for sexy pictures of Serge Zwicker or meat-cutting tips from Shavlik Randolph’s mom, but there are still a great many ACC fans coming here looking for some good ACC talk.
What a lot of people may not realize is that Dave Sez includes a full-featured message board (named the Sports Shack in honor of my favorite amphibian) and that any one of you can create threads or comment in an existing one. All you need to do is register here and you can do it all.
If you are reading an article and are perusing the comments, you can switch to the message board by clicking on the “forum view” link at the bottom. There, you’ll find the exact same list of comments, just in message board format.
One of the main goals I had when I created this site was to have a community of like-minded ACC fans who could have intelligent discussion. Team-specific boards can get boring. Dave Sez can never replace the boards at the Duke Basketball Report, Inside Carolina, The Sabre or Pack Pride, but it can be a great alternative when you’re tired of reading about why we should or should not fire the coach.
So, give it a try. Register and start a thread. All it takes is a handful of regulars (and I think we have those) to get a great board going.
p.s. if you’re wondering why it’s called The Sports Shack

ACC Review – 2/15/2007

It was an interesting week, that’s for sure. With Virginia Tech’s impressive win in Chapel Hill, Duke’s explosion (and BC’s implosion) in Chestnut Hill last night and Clemson and FSU damaging their NCAA chances, there was a lot going on. Each year, when we get to this point, the most interesting storylines to me are the teams who are right on or near the bubble and how they play in the last couple of weeks. This year, the ACC has nine teams with a good shot of making the tourney, and really only Carolina and Duke (don’t believe the hype – the Blue Devils are already in) have completely sealed their bids. But the ACC’s not getting nine in, regardless of what Joe Lunardi projects (actually, he’s already changed. He had nine in the other day, but now FSU has fallen out).
Obviously, it’s important for every team to play well, but really, your NCAA seed isn’t that critical. Unless you can land a top two seed, you’re going to have to beat a decent team even in the first round. No, the real intrigue and the real pressure is on the teams just trying to make it in. There’s a ton at stake – prestige, money, recruiting, the coach’s job. It’ll be a lot of fun to see how UVA, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Maryland and even Virginia Tech and BC finish up. Someone’s going to blow their chance. Who’s it going to be?

Continue reading “ACC Review – 2/15/2007”

Piling On

Duke’s been losing. Have you heard?
The news has gotten so pervasive that even those college hoops agnostics in the Northeast have caught on. And this guy seems to be enjoying it. That’s a pretty inflammatory piece right there. He even gets in a few shots at NC State and Clemson. Call Duke any names you want, but saying they’re insignificant? That hurts.
A few more articles like that and BC might just start being a real part of the ACC after all.

Mid-Season (sort of) Player Ratings

Each year, I like to check in somewhere around the middle of the ACC season and run an analysis on the players to see who’s having the best season so far. As in the past, I’ve calculated the Prouty Rating of each player in the league who averages 10 or more minutes per game. I’ve also added my own slightly modified version that I’m calling the Irwin Rating (crappy name, I know). Basically this is just the Prouty with the win share dialed back a bit. Prouty has it as 25% of the total, while the Irwin Rating has it as just 10%.
No statistical analysis should be trusted without a bit of a sanity check. Any educated observer would say that a good rating system would have to rate Jared Dudley, Tyler Hansbrough, Sean Singletary and a few others as the best players in the league. By that measure, the Irwin Ratings look pretty good. Dudley comes out on top, followed by Hansbrough (Singletary is number 5).

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The Pete Gaudet Story

One of the commonly listed items in Duke-haters checklists is that Duke and Coach Krzyzewski unethically saddled interim coach Pete Gaudet with K’s losses in 1995. This story has always seemed like a non-issue to me, because Gaudet did coach that team for two losing months, but the controversy never seems to go away.
Well, with Duke now losing like it’s 1995, the Gaudet Issue has resurfaced like a sulphuric bubble popping out of a tar pit. Coach K was asked about it in his press conference yesterday and said that he thinks he should be saddled with the losses. Gary Johnson, the NCAA’s associate director of statistics says that the decision is totally up to Duke and they were well within their rights to assign the record to Gaudet. Duke did not have to “petition” the NCAA for anything. The NCAA leaves those sorts of decisions up to schools (which is amazing considering how much the NCAA does regulate).

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