NCAA Second Round – Day One

There seemed to be a lack of upsets in the first round this year, with only three higher seeds advancing. It was kind of curious given the relative volatility of the top 25 rankings this year. Maybe the teams in the power conferences have finally realized that you can’t take any NCAA games for granted. Or, more likely, it’s just the law of averages. Stuff happens.
1, 2, brackets go boom
Which brings us to the second round. Let the upsets begin! First, Gonzaga, just a few years removed from being Cinderella themselves, got whomped by Pacific 91-72. That’s about the most surprising margin of victory in an upset that I can recall. So, do we start putting the Zags in that list of underachieving major programs?
Next up to be fitted for their toe tags was Stanford. They blew a 13 point lead in the second half to an Alabama team that was on the bubble until the last week of the season. Fittingly, Stanford had a chance for yet another amazing last second shot to tie. This time, it missed. There’s that law of averages again.
ACC not perfect
The ACC finally lost some games. After running their record to 8-0 behind a yawner for Duke and a tight win for Wake, the ACC lost both Maryland and UNC.
Technically, UNC’s loss wasn’t an upset, as they were the six seed to Texas’ three seed, but really, anytime UNC loses an NCAA game, it feels like an upset. Three down years hasn’t fully changed that yet.
Maryland lost to Syracuse, in a matchup of the previous two NCAA champions. Maryland tried to reuse their recent pattern of getting down and coming back, but they came up one bucket short. I’m sure it was a particularly gratifying win for some Syracuse friends of mine who are tired of my ACC bragging. Not only did their Orangemen advance, but they knocked out an ACC team to do it. The first ACC loss of the tourney, even.
Pathetic 10
All season, there were two story lines out of the Pac 10. First was Stanford’s amazing season. The other, often brought up in relation to the first, was about how unbelievably bad the conference was as a whole. Talk about your law of averages. How is it that so many teams hit low points in the same year? Six of the ten teams finished with losing overall records! Well, the story of the Pac 10 sucking turned out to be the one with more legs. Stanford’s run ended today and not one Pac 10 team made the Sweet Sixteen. Three bids – two losses in the first round and one in the second. Ouch.
Tournament performance by conference:

 

NCAA NIT Total Postseason

Conference

Bids W-L Win % Bids W-L Win % Bids W-L Win %

ACC

6 8-2 .800 2 2-1 .666 8 10-3 .769

Conference USA

6 4-3 .571 2 2-0 1.000 8 6-3 .666

Big East

6 7-2 .778 4 6-0 1.000 10 13-2 .867

Big Ten

3 2-1 .666 3 1-2 .333 6 3-3 .500

Big Twelve

4 5-1 .833 5 4-2 .666 9 9-3 .750

Pac 10

3 1-3 .250 1 1-0 1.000 4 2-3 .400

SEC

6 5-2 .714 3 0-3 .000 9 5-5 .500

NCAA – Day Two

Oh, Richmond! The Spiders almost did it again. I picked Wisconsin in my pool, but I was pulling hard for Richmond. I can’t help it. Unless it’s an ACC team in trouble, I always pull for the underdog.
Richmond is sort of underdog royalty. It’s amazing how a few upsets over a nearly 20 year period can so define a program. Whenever anyone thinks of Richmond basketball, they think of upsets (or maybe Dick Tarrant’s magnificent afro). For the players, it has to be a wonderful advantage for their NCAA games. They are surely aware of their school’s history and it gives them confidence. They feel like they should pull off the upset. And their opponents know it too. Maybe they didn’t know the history before, but by game time, they’ve been asked about it several times. Then when Richmond gets close or gets a lead, the crowd gets a buzz, the Spiders get confident and the favorite gets tight. Or at least, that’s how it sometimes goes. Tonight, that worked for a while until the Badgers had a hot spurt and squished the Spiders. It was fun while it lasted.

Richmond NCAA upsets:
1984 – Beat Charles Barkley and his Auburn Tigers in the first round. Longtime NBA player Johnny Newman was on this Richmond team.
1988 – Beat defending national champ Indiana in the first round.
1988 – Beat Georgia Tech in the second round to make the Sweet Sixteen
1991 – Beat #2 seed Syracuse in the first round
1998 – Beath #3 seed South Carolina in the first round

The big upset that did happen was Pacific beating Providence. What kills me about this one is that I picked it, but then erased it and changed it! Curse the fates! I only changed two picks in my whole bracket, and one of them has bitten me already. Oh well, it’s not like I don’t suck at picking the tournament anyway.
In other news (sounds cheezy, but I couldn’t think of another segue), the ACC completed its undefeated first round, going 6-0. Basically, it won all the games it was supposed to win. That’s an accomplishment to be sure, but the big games are this weekend. Power conference teams are nearly always favored in their first round games. It’s the teams that make it to the second week that really make their mark though. That’s where the ACC will validate (or not) it’s great year. Six teams in the final 32 is great, but that won’t mean much if a bunch lose in the next round. Six Sweet Sixteen teams is still a possibility, but so is a flame out. All the games are tough now.
Tournament performance by conference:

 

NCAANITTotal Postseason

Conference

BidsW-LWin %BidsW-LWin %BidsW-LWin %

ACC

66-01.00022-01.00088-01.000

Conference USA

6 4-2 .666 2 2-0 1.000 8 6-2 .750

Big East

6 5-1 .833 4 5-0 1.000 10 10-1 .909

Big Ten

3 2-1 .666 3 1-2 .333 6 3-3 .500

Big Twelve

4 4-0 1.000 5 4-2 .666 9 8-2 .800

Pac 10

3 1-2 .333 1 1-0 1.000 4 2-2 .500

SEC

6 4-2 .666 3 0-3 .000 9 4-5 .444

NCAA – First day

Whew! Wake Forest damn near blew my up my brackets just a few hours into the first day. For some reason, and I’m blaming it on those damn squirrels, I ended up with Wake in my Final Four. Not a great idea, probably, but I certainly didn’t want to lose them in the first round.
Is it just me, or are the 12, 13 and 14 seeds getting better every year? Did you see UTEP play Maryland? That team’s a 13 seed, but they were dynamite. They showed no fear of Maryland and were really only a play or two from advancing. Same with VCU, BYU and of course, Manhattan, who did advance.
My fears for the ACC weren’t justified yet. They squeaked by in three of their games, but still went 4-0 on the day. In the end though, the close wins count the same as the big ones. Survive and advance.
The Big East continued its renaissance as well, going 3-0 on day 1.
The Big Ten and Pac 10 lived down to their billings, each losing one of their three teams. The Big Ten has a history of fabulous NCAA tournament flameouts, and this year could be no exception. Remember those two years in a row that the Big Ten didn’t get anyone in the Sweet Sixteen? In 1995 and 1996, they had a combined 11 bids and they all failed to win two games. It could happen again. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if they don’t get any teams into the second round this year.
Tournament performance by conference

 

NCAA NIT Total Postseason

Conference

Bids W-L Win % Bids W-L Win % Bids W-L Win %

ACC

6 4-0 1.000 2 2-0 1.000 8 6-0 1.000

Conference USA

6 1-1 .500 2 2-0 1.000 8 3-1 .750

Big East

6 3-0 1.000 4 4-0 1.000 10 7-0 1.000

Big Ten

3 0-1 .000 3 1-2 .333 6 1-3 .250

Big Twelve

4 2-0 1.000 5 3-2 .600 9 5-2 .714

Pac 10

3 1-1 .500 1 1-0 1.000 4 2-1 .666

SEC

6 1-1 .500 3 0-3 .000 9 1-4 .200

ACC in the NCAA

The ACC had a great regular season. It regularly had five teams ranked and finished with six in the final polls. The league really was competitive from top to bottom, as demonstrated by having six of nine teams make the NCAA tournament and two more make the NIT. Only Clemson missed out on the postseason, and even Clemson managed victories against NC State, UNC and Florida State.
With all that quality depth though, there wasn’t a single great team, like in recent years. There’s no one team you can point to and say that they should be in the Final Four, not even Duke.
So, that worries me. I’m concerned that as great as the league was this year, it will underachieve in the NCAA tournament. Logic says that it won’t, but all of the teams are just flawed enough to leave that chance.
But, I’m not going to dwell on that today. Instead, I’m going to marvel on past successes. The ACC has been absolutely tremendous in the NCAA tournament. Yes, the ACC gets all the hype and the extra media attention, but it has consistently earned it.
So, here (courtesy of Charlie Board’s incredible ACC stats archive) are some aspects of that domination:
Since 1990 (just assume that caveat for all of the following stats), the ACC has won as many titles as any other two major conferences combined. The ACC won five (three for Duke and one each for UNC and Maryland). The SEC won three and the Big East and Pac 10 each won two.
The ACC has fewer teams than each of the other major conferences, and that is reflected in the total number of bids. Only the Pac 10 has had fewer (61) than the ACC (68). The Big 10 has had the most bids (80). By the second round though, those numbers quickly change. Only the Big 10 has more second round appearances (58) than the ACC (54). By the Sweet Sixteen, it’s no contest. The ACC has 37 appearances in the past 14 years, seven more than the next closest, the Big East.
The ACC has more Final Four appearances, 15, than the number of years we’re considering, 14. That means it’s statistically more likely that an ACC team will make the Final Four than win the ACC tournament. The next closest conference is the Big 10 with 10 Final Four appearances. The ACC’s 15 matches the combined efforts of the Pac 10, Big East and Big 8/12.
Some have criticized these sorts of statistics about the ACC, saying that it’s really just Duke and UNC doing all the work, as if it’s fair to discount two of the nine schools. Looking at the actual numbers however, you’ll see that only the Big 10 has had more different schools reach the Final Four. The same fact holds for the Elite Eight, where seven of the nine ACC schools have appeared since 1990.
If you remove the efforts of the top two teams from each conference, taking out Duke and UNC from the ACC, the ACC still has the highest NCAA tournament winning percentage, at 59.2%.
The numbers don’t lie. The ACC has simply been the best conference when the games matter the most. Hopefully this year will continue that trend. In fact, it could be a banner year, as (despite my fears) each of the six ACC participants has the talent to make it San Antonio. It should be fun.

Ban The Charge

Basketball is a great sport. It’s fast, physical, graceful and beautiful. Many have compared a well-played game to jazz – the participants engaging in free-form improvisation while adhering to common, recurring themes and practiced set pieces.
There is a growing problem with the music though – a few false notes sprinkled occasionally throughout the music. These bad notes are so artificial, so incongruous with the overriding themes of grace and aggression, they threaten to ruin the whole performance.
Those bad notes are charges. More specifically, they are defensive players positioning themselves to draw contact and then flopping to the floor like victims of a shotgun blast. Bodies hitting the floor instead of flying through the air. Players acting instead of competing.
This has to stop. True sporting competition has no place for acting. There is no honor in pretending to have been knocked over, falling back on your butt screaming, all the while keeping an eye on the referee, hoping he has fallen for your act. Nothing is as ridiculous as seeing some 265 pound chiseled power forward falling like a load of bricks after the 160 pound point guard grazes him on the way to the basket.
One of the great things about watching basketball is the fluidity of movement of both the offense and the defense. When played properly, players move all over the floor, keeping their feet active, and playing or defending the ball with their hands. When a defensive player is trying to draw a charge however, he keeps his feet wide and planted, usually with his arms at his side. There’s nothing wrong with impeding the path of the ballhandler, but standing still and not even raising your hands is not what basketball should be about. There’s nothing more exciting than a great blocked shot – just listen to the sounds of the crowd when one gets swatted – it’s a mixture of ooohs, cheers and laughter. The only single play that is as fun for the crowd is a good dunk. It’s hard to block a shot with your hands at your side though.
Do you remember Shane Battier’s early career at Duke? He was a great shot blocker. He had that unique gift of timing his leaps just right and could get his hands on almost any player’s shot. But what is Battier best known for now? Drawing charges. Or, if you’re not a Duke fan, flopping. He was obviously quite talented at drawing charges and since that produces not only a turnover but a foul on the offensive player, that became Battier’s chief defensive tool, not blocking shots. Frankly, I’d much rather have seem him jumping to swat shots than sliding backwards on his butt with a grin on his face.
A great situation in basketball is the fastbreak, particularly when a defender is back, maybe a two on one break. You expect the players to be at full speed, the offensive player going up for a layup or dunk and the defender going as high as he can to block it. You rarely see that anymore. Now, players are taught to try to draw a charge if they find themselves in that defensive position. They’ll try to force the pass and then stand still in the lane, hoping either the passer or the receiver crashes into them. So a fastbreak that should have ended with a high-rising athletic play ends instead with bodies on the floor looking at the ref and waiting for the call.
Which brings us to one of the worst parts of the charge, the difficulty in determining what is and isn’t a charge. Rarely does a game go by where the comment isn’t made about how the charge/block is the hardest in the game. It’s a very subjective decision – a foul has clearly been committed, but it’s not obvious by whom. And the outcome is critical, as a charge not only is a turnover, but a foul on the offensive player. Those two potential outcomes, an offensive foul and a turnover, make the attempt a reasonable decision by the defender. All he has to lose is a foul, while the offensive player could get a foul AND a turnover. Not to mention that the collision is usually enough to prevent the shot from being made.
Think of all the times you’ve played pickup basketball. Has anyone in your games ever called a charge? If so, how was it handled? The very few times I’ve ever seen any one dare to try that call, they were harassed mercilessly. Nothing says sore loser like calling a charge in a pickup game. If it’s such a lame play in pickup games, why is a charge so accepted in refereed basketball? Shouldn’t the game we watch be nearly the same as the game we play, just at a much higher level? It’s not like drawing charges is something that pickup players can’t do. We just choose not to, because everyone understands that the call sucks.
So, what would the game be like without charges?
First, let me explain the ground rules. There would be no charges, but the blocking call would still exist. If an offensive player gets to a spot before a defender and the defender collides with the offensive player, that’s a foul. If the offensive player initiates the contact, it’s not a foul. While that may seem unfair to the defense, remember that the offense needs to maintain possession of the ball and try to score. It’s tough to maintain a dribble or hit a shot while slamming into a defender.
Pushoffs and hooks would still be offensive fouls. Using your off hand to hold or push the defender (think of Jordan hitting his famous last shot as a Bull) is still gaining an illegal advantage.
Since we’ve taken a key weapon away from the defense, referees would need to be better at allowing defenders to defend their spot. “The principal of verticality” that you often hear about doesn’t require defenders to stay on the ground. You should be able to jump all you want in your spot. If an offensive player runs into a defensive player who has established his position, then there’s no foul, even if the defender is in the air.
So what would this do for the game?
First of all, it would clean it up a bit. Defenders would have less incentive to just stand still to draw contact and they’d have no incentive to go falling backwards. Fewer bodies clogging the driving lanes and fewer bodies hitting the floor should result in a more fluid game. Defenders will still try to stay in front of their man, but they won’t fall like a load of bricks the second they get touched. The NBA made an attempt at this result by eliminating charges from right under the basket, but they didn’t go far enough.
It would make life much easier on the officials. No more momentum changing calls, where what often amounts to a guess makes the difference between a foul on the defender or a turnover and foul on the offensive player.
It would get rid of these embarrassing scenes where players flop around trying to influence the refs. I wasn’t a good enough player to play on a college team, but I can only assume that they devote some significant practice time to this skill. They must have drills where you learn to fall without hurting yourself while making it look like you were clobbered. Frankly, I think that time would be better spent on some more productive skill, one that adds the sport instead of exploiting a rules loophole.
So, what about Shaq? Wouldn’t he be able to dominate the lane with impunity, clobbering weaker players on his way to the rim every time? Well, what about it? He’s bigger, stronger and quicker than almost everyone who plays him. Why shouldn’t that be an advantage? I see no reason why a rule needs to level the playing field for those who are physically superior. Sport is not about equity; it’s about competition and using your advantages. Even so, with Shaq, there’s no reason a defender couldn’t stand up to him and absorb any contact. It’s not like his opponents aren’t pretty big and strong themselves. Maybe while he’s banging into his man, a guard could come down and take the ball that he’s probably not dribbling too well. There are many ways to skin a cat, but there’s no reason that a player, and Vlade Divac comes to mind, should be able to be effective by basically quitting and trying to trick the refs.
What then about the case where a guy, say a power forward, is coming down on a break and there’s one defender back. If that guy decides that he’s going to the rim at any cost, what can the defender do if there’s no chance for an offensive foul? First, I’d say that that this situation is relatively rare. There aren’t many players out there with the strength and skill to run over people while maintaining possession of the ball. So, it’s not a situation that you’d see a lot. I compare this to sports like soccer or lacrosse, where there is no such thing as a charge. In those sports though, you rarely ever see an offensive player just barrel through the defense, because they’d lose the ball. It’s not really an advantage. So, back to the guy on the break. If the defensive player doesn’t want to try to strip the ball or block the shot, he could set up in solid defensive position far enough away from the basket that the offensive player couldn’t just jump into him while shooting. If the guy crashes into him while dribbling, he’s going to lose the ball and his scoring opportunity. If the defender sets up too low, allowing the guy to get his shot off while making contact, then the defender has been beaten and doesn’t deserve the call. This is why the NBA created the no-charge line under the basket.
The charge is damaging the game of basketball. Taking the call out of the game does not give the offense an unfair advantage. Instead, it just removes an unfair advantage from the defense along with the ugliness of bodies constantly hitting the floor. No charges means freer lanes and no more acting.
So, let’s fix this. Let’s bring back the beautiful rhythm of the game. Let’s hear the jazz. Ban the charge!
Updates:
Mark Cuban Agrees With Me

Remembering Randolph

On Thursday, the fifty-first ACC tournament begins. Well, at least the Les Robinson Invitational takes place. The tournament really starts in earnest on Friday.
This is a great time of year for ACC fans – our Christmas season. We get a great tournament this weekend and then a few days of rest before the NCAA tournament begins next Thursday. I’m giddy just thinking about it!
When I think about the ACC tournament, I can’t help but think back to my favorite tournament moment. Actually, it wasn’t really a moment, but a performance I’ll never forget. I’m not a Wake Forest fan, but what Randolph Childress did for Wake in 1995 still astonishes me. It was the greatest single streak of athletic performance that I’ve ever witnessed.
Wake, behind Childress and sophomore Tim Duncan finished the regular season in a four-way tie for first place with UNC, Virginia and Maryland at 12-4. Wake won the tiebreakers and got the first seed for the tournament. ’95 was the season of the infamous Duke collapse, when Krzyzewski missed most of the season and Duke finished in last place at 2-14. Duke won their Thursday night game against Les Robinson’s NC State team (of course, back then, State always played in that game).
So, Wake got Duke on Friday and Childress absolutely torched them, hitting 8 threes and scoring 40 points while also dishing out 7 assists. His 40 points tied for the fifth most in ACC tournament history.
On Saturday, Wake played and beat a talented Virginia team that would eventually end up one game away from the Final Four. Childress had his “worst” game of the tournament, hitting only 6 threes and scoring 30 points. Once again, he had 7 assists.
In the championship game, Wake faced a UNC team that featured Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Donald Williams and Jeff McInnis and would eventually make the Final Four. Wake prevailed in overtime 82-80 behind Childress’ 9 three pointers, 37 points and 7 assists. Childress scored all 9 of Wake’s overtime points including the game-winning jumper with 7 seconds left.
It was a simply incredible three-game performance. Childress smashed the old scoring record by hitting for 107 points, an average of 35.7 points per game. He hit 23 three pointers in the three games, hitting 8, 6 and then 9. This entire season, only two ACC players had 8 three pointers in a single game. And on top of all that scoring, he dished out 19 assists. If you assume that those were all 2-point baskets, that means that Childress accounted for just under 50 points per game!
And he did all of that while playing with a broken finger.
One funny sidenote to the weekend was that after all of that, Childress was not unanimously selected as the MVP. In fact he wasn’t even a unanimous selection as first team all tourney! Out of a possible 177 MVP points, he received 174. Joe Smith, whose team didn’t even make the finals, earned 2 votes for tournament MVP. Donald Williams of UNC got the other. For the all tournament team voting, Childress actually came in second, behind Rasheed Wallace of UNC who scored 9 points in the championship game. Hopefully the ACC hunted these morons down and took their voting privileges just after beating them with a lead pipe.

Great Year – Great Guards

What a year it’s been in the ACC! Yes, everyone else has already said it, but for once the general media has it right. It was a great year and I hope it continues. I can’t remember a year when the conference was so competitive from top to bottom. There may not be a great team like there has been in recent years, but the depth this year is unprecedented.
One of the key reasons for that depth this year is the startling number of really good point guards. Chris Duhon, Raymon Felton, Jarrett Jack, Chris Paul and John Gilchrist – all excellent point guards. TJ Bannister at Virginia only got significant time late in the season, but he might join that group of top players as well. The really cool thing about the current crop is how young they all are. With the exception of Duhon, all the guys listed above are sophomores or younger. No less an authority than Phil Ford, perhaps the greatest point guard in ACC history, thinks this is the best group ever.
Best group ever, huh? That’s a tough one. It’s possible that this group could become the best group, but I don’t think they can lay claim to that yet.
I decided to go back and look at some of the great years for point guards in the ACC. I’ve only really watched games since the early 80’s so that’s as far back as I can fairly go. Looking back, three years stood out with excellent guards, 1986, 1991 and 1993.
In 1986, the league had Mark Price at Georgia Tech, Tommy Amaker at Duke, Kenny Smith at UNC and Tyrone Bogues at Wake Forest. An excellent group. In my opinion, Price and Smith are right there in the running for best ACC point guards of my lifetimes. Amaker helped lead his team to the NCAA championship game that season. Bogues is still remembered as perhaps the most feared defensive point guard of all time.
In 1991, you had Kenny Anderson at Georgia Tech, John Crotty at Virginia, Chris Corchiani at NC State and Bobby Hurley at Duke. Anderson may have been the most talented player to ever play in the ACC. The only reason he isn’t listed as one of the best three or four players ever is that he only played two years of college ball. Corchiani and Hurley finished their careers as the top two assist men in college history and both are undisputed as their schools’ best points. Of course, Hurley led his team to two NCAA titles and one title game loss (the infamous UNLV game where he had the runs). Crotty, like Corch and Hurley at their schools, is considered the best point guard in Virginia history.
Finally, there was 1993. Hurley was still at Duke, a senior then, and the league also had Sam Cassell at Florida State, Cory Alexander at Virginia, Travis Best at Georgia Tech and Chris Whitney at Clemson. This group probably wasn’t as strong in college as the previous two classes, but Cassell, Best and (especially) Whitney really blossomed in the NBA. Alexander had injury problems in subsequent years, but was probably the most physically talented guard in Virginia’s history.
So there you have it – three great years for point guards. Is this year’s group in that class? Probably so, but it’ll be a few years before we can really know for sure. Talent-wise, they compare already, but they have a little work to do to compare in the production department.
Did I miss any of your favorite guards or maybe a particularly good year? Click on the Comments link below and let me know.

Blinded by points

It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that basketball production can be summed up merely by total points scored. Case in point, the headline in today’s News and Observer, “Lewis leads Jackets over Seminoles.” A quick look at the box score tells you why the headline writer (probably someone at the AP) picked Lewis, he scored the most points, 21 in this case. But if you look a bit further down the box score, you’ll see that Jarrett Jack scored 18 points, along with 12 (!!) rebounds, 6 assists and only 1 turnover. That’s a GREAT line, certainly much better than 21 points and only a couple rebounds and assists.
So, some professional sports writer (Keith Parsons, according to the byline), someone who makes his living off of his ability to analyze basketball, was blinded by points. He failed to recognize that those points were most likely the result of teammates doing all the other things that actually win basketball games – rebounding, passing, setting picks, guarding their man, diving on loose balls, fighting through screens, etc. Lots of those things don’t show up in the box score, but when a point guard gets 18 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists, against only one turnover, you know he did all the big and little things.
So, don’t be like those guys. Don’t just look at who scored the most points and assume that guy had the best game. But, then, you already knew that, didn’t you?

All ACC

There’s only one game left for each ACC team, except for Clemson, who’s done. That’s a fair enough time to pick an All-ACC team. Conceivably, a player could play himself up or done in that last game, but I’ll ignore that possibility, because starting next week, we’ll be talking about the ACC and NCAA tourneys.
When picking the All Conference teams, I am a firm believer that you should only use the stats from conference games. Teams play wildly different non-conference schedules and frankly, what you did against East Valley State shouldn’t matter.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on a good source of conference-only stats, so the numbers I ran use the whole season. I will however strongly consider the conference results in my final picks. You’ll see below.
First, I want to list the top 20 players in the conference according to their Prouty ratings. The Prouty system is a pretty solid one, as it takes into account all facets of the game – at least all of those that show up in the box score. It also takes into account the team’s record in rating players, as a player who scores 15 ppg on a really good team is likely better than a guy who scores 15 ppg on the worst team in the league.
So, here is the top 20 according to Prouty (for the whole season, unfortunately):

Julius Hodge 0.507
Chris Paul 0.504
Jarrett Jack 0.496
Rashad McCants 0.494
Chris Duhon 0.490
JJ Redick 0.482
Shelden Williams 0.479
Raymond Felton 0.477
Luol Deng 0.474
Justin Gray 0.464
Sean May 0.461
Marcus Melvin 0.461
Tim Pickett 0.453
John Gilchrist 0.446
Taron Downey 0.440
Jamaal Levy 0.433
BJ Elder 0.431
Daniel Ewing 0.427
Isma’il Muhammad 0.425
Jawad Williams 0.421

Right off the bat, you can see that this is a pretty good list. It has all the players I think you would consider for the top three teams.
First Team:
I’m going to stick with four of the five that Prouty picked. I’m a bit surprised that Paul is so high, but he really has had a sensational season and he’s peaking late. He stays. The guy I’m bumping is Jarett Jack. He was great early in the season, but hasn’t been quite as dominant in conference play. I suspect that if I had conference-only stats he wouldn’t be in Prouty’s top five. He gets replaced by Tim Pickett. Pickett is one of those guys whose contribution isn’t always seen in the box score. He scores at opportune times, practically beating GT, Wake and UNC all by himself, and he plays with such passion and enthusiasm that it’s addictive. He deserves a spot on the first team.
So, my first team is:
Julius Hodge – best all-around player in the conference
Chris Paul – Phenomenal freshman year
Rashad McCants – Best offensive player
Chris Duhon – A great, great leader this year
Tim Pickett – The most fun player in the league
Second Team: Once again, I’m almost going with Prouty here. Jack slides down to the second team and I’m going to move Justin Gray up. Gray is probably the second most dangerous offensive player in the league, behind only Rashad McCants. He may not do much more than score, but he’s damn good at what he does. The guy he leapfrogs is Luol Deng, who has had a great freshman season, but really isn’t called on to lead in any particular way at Duke. Duhon runs the show, JJ Redick scores the points and Sheldon Williams controls the interior, leaving Deng (and other Dukies) to do whatever else they can. Deng has shown he is good at everything, but I just don’t see putting him this high just yet, especially when three Duke players are already picked.
Felton has taken some well-deserved criticism of late, but this is a season award, and early on, he was as good as any point guard in the country. If he hadn’t lost his jump shot, he would have been a shoo-in for first team.
So, my second team:
JJ Redick – will be on lots of people’s first team
Jarrett Jack – great young point guard
Sheldon Williams – best big man in the league
Raymond Felton – another great young point
Justin Gray – playing great at the end of the year
Third team:
The five guys left from Prouty’s top fifteen are a pretty good group. My only change is to move BJ Elder up. Many people will probably rank him higher, because he is the highest scoring Yellow Jacket, and he’s had a few big games. But he doesn’t really offer them much other than scoring, and in lots of games I’ve watched, he seemed to have little impact on the outcome. He’s a very good player, it’s just that Tech is deep and talented, so he’s able to concentrate on just scoring, much like Redick, McCants and Gray. But Elder’s not as good as any of those other guys.
The guy I moved off is Taron Downey. He had a very good freshman year last year, but got replaced this year by Gray, a better point guard. Downey is still good, but I’m surprised that his numbers put him this high. He’s just not critical enough to his team’s success to be an All Conference player.
My third team:
Luol Deng – after Hodge, the most versatile player
Sean May – should be better, but look at what he’s done
Marcus Melvin – the best inside-outside player
John Gilchrist – Yet another tough young point guard
BJ Elder – A great scoring guard in a league of scoring guards
So, there you have it. There probably hasn’t been a year in ACC history where the difference between the three teams has been so little. Almost all of these guys could have been on any of the three teams, and there are worthy players, like Jawad Williams and Illian Evtimov, who will get left out.

Caulton Tudor on All-ACC

Caulton Tudor actually has a pretty good article on the All ACC voting for this year. I have been having the same thoughts. The league is very balanced and so many of the teams rely on depth more than a few individuals that it’s hard to find players to single out.
I was hoping to put together a fairly complex analysis using something like Prouty ratings, but I need to find a good stats source and some time. Keep an eye out for this later.
Off the top of my head, the only players I’d say should be locks for first team are Hodge, Duhon and Pickett. The others I’d consider for the final two spots are Justin Gray, JJ Redick, Rashad McCants, BJ Elder and Chris Paul.