Jacked Up

Last night’s Wake Forest-Georgia Tech game was a lot of fun to watch, wasn’t it? It wasn’t the most beautiful execution you’ll ever see, but both teams went after each other with abandon. There’s just something fun about watching backcourts full of athletic, aggressive players attack each other. Jack, Bynum, Paul and Gray – those are four damn fine guards. They might all end up in the NBA.
Some people might have been surprised that Georgia Tech triumphed, but really you should be beyond the point of being surprised by ACC results this year. When things get tight like this, you can often determine who’s gonna win be asking who needs the game more. Wake wanted the win, but the Yellow Jackets needed it.
A smattering of thoughts about the game:
1. Wake needs to play better defense. Time and again, the Tech guards would beat their men off the dribble (because that’s what they do) and Wake’s big men never seemed to help out. While it was very polite of Williams and Danelius to waive them on by, it would probably help if they stepped in once in a while.

2. I can’t believe the refs didn’t call Chris Paul for tripping Jarrett Jack right near the end of regulation. It was right in front of the ref! He stepped on Jack’s foot, taking him down Wojo style. Maybe the ref’s think Jack routinely collapses into a heap on his own while running up the court.
3. Billy Packer is getting senile. He said over and over that Muhammad had cramps when it was abundantly clear that it was McHenry. McHenry even wears those knee-high socks to make it easier. Packer didn’t even pick it up in the replay where McHenry was falling down while Muhammad had the ball and was shooting.
4. Eric Williams’ calf cramps were painful looking. It made me queasy seeing his calf all flexed and tense like that. Ugh. By the way, shouldn’t he be in better shape by this point of the season? You shouldn’t be getting cramps in January. Just think how bad it might have been if he played defense as well!
In the other game of the night, Virginia Tech rubbed out their rivals from Charlottesville like an assassin rubbing out a cigarette. For that matter, they effectively snuffed Pete Gillen’s UVA career as well. It’s over.
The Cavs actually rallied from 16 down in the second half to get it to a three point game with about two minutes left. Then they proceeded to turn the ball over in three out of four possessions. They lost it one more a few possessions later for good measure. Good teams make plays to win down the stretch. Virginia throws the ball into the stands (or worse, their opponent’s hands).
So, who will Virginia get to replace Gillen? The speculation begins. (By the way, I love the idea of Mike Montgomery. The NBA thing isn’t working out and he’s been on UVA’s short list before. He almost got the job back when Jeff Jones got it instead. UVA had offered Rick Barnes and he accepted. Virginia told Montgomery it was over and then Barnes changed his mind, leaving UVA high and dry. They had to go with assistant Jones. Montgomery is a damn good coach and he’s proven he can win at an academic school.)
One odd note from that game, or rather from before the game. The Hokies (before last night’s game) were last in the ACC in both offensive and defensive field goal percentage, yet had a winning league record of 3-2. They are also last in the league in rebound margin. Explain that one to me.
To wrap things up, I’m gonna unveil a little feature I hope to continue throughout the rest of the season. Each Monday, I’ll put out a new table showing the teams and their ratings according to various computer rankings, including the RPI. For this first one, I’m using today’s numbers, but I’ll get on track on Monday and do weekly updates. Each chart will show the current and previous week’s ratings so that you can see if teams are moving up or down.
The interesting things in this table right now are the ratings of Clemson and Virginia Tech. The computers like the Tigers, but aren’t yet convinced by the Hokies. I can’t really explain it, but Virginia Tech’s horrendous non-conference schedule (and they lost some of those games) is probably their problem. I can’t really explain the Clemson love. I guess they’ve lost a bunch of close games and none to any bad teams (other than the Hokies). The Tigers’ wins over Ohio State and South Carolina are actually proving to be pretty decent wins.

Team Pomeroy Sagarin Greenfield RPI Trend
Wake Forest down
68.77 (3) 91.93 (6) 96.769 (2) .6712 (3)
Duke down
67.14 (5) 93.86 (2) 94.745 (4) .6693 (4)
Carolina down
70.38 (2) 93.50 (3) 95.465 (3) .6520 (9)
Georgia Tech down
61.98 (22) 86.12 (21) 84.652 (39) .6017 (26)
Maryland down
61.16 (27) 85.27 (25) 85.833 (30) .5992 (28)
Miami down
56.09 (74) 82.06 (48) 82.849 (55) .5662 (60)
Clemson down
57.74 (53) 81.31 (55) 82.136 (61) .5668 (59)
NC State down
57.91 (48) 81.23 (56) 81.119 (80) .5268 (124)
Virginia down
55.20 (90) 80.38 (66) 82.152 (59) .5740 (51)
FSU down
56.41 (70) 80.38 (66) 80.990 (82) .5385 (102)
VA Tech down
53.67 (110) 78.21 (101) 78.492 (120) .5166 (146)

One other note from this table is that it’s pretty clear that right now the ACC has five tournament teams. NC State and even Clemson can be seen as lower bubble teams. I’m guessing that if the Hokies keep up their winning (four conference wins already!), they’ll get there too.

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