The Week That Was – 1/23 – 1/29/2006

All in all, it wasn’t a very good week for the ACC. After Duke’s loss to Georgetown, the conference’s three intraconference tilts seemed like great opportunities to shore up the overall conference rating. Unfortunately, that advantage was not taken, as the ACC went just 1-2 in those three games. And one of the losses was bad. You know which one I’m talking about. More below.
01/24/06 Florida State 75, Wake Forest 68 Winston-Salem, NC
Florida State wins road ACC games about as often Nigel Dixon missed a meal – rarely. Fortunately for the Seminoles, Wake Forest is in a giving mood this season. Despite having two players who should be first team all-conference performers, the Deacons are now officially the worst team in the ACC. The numbers may not show it just yet, but it’s true. I’ll piss on them some more below, as this was actually Wake’s best game of the week.

01/24/06 Virginia 71, Miami 51 Charlottesville, Va.
With this win, Virginia moved to 4-2 in the ACC, the most shocking conference standing I’ve seen in years. The Cavaliers won four games all last season, and that was with Elton Brown, Devin Smith, Gary Forbes and Donte Minter still on the team. Four wins for the whole ACC season would have been monumentally successful for this meager collection of talent. But Dave Leitao has done a great job of getting these players to buy into a no-frills system. They play solid defense, they grab rebounds and they try to minimize mistakes. Sounds pretty simple, but after the Gillen years, it’s a strange sight to see fundamentals in Charlottesville.
Virginia is guaranteed to finish at no worse than .500 through the first half of the ACC season. They may still finish with only four or five ACC wins, but even so, the season has already been a success.
01/25/06 Maryland 86, Georgia Tech 74 Atlanta, Ga.
The Duke Basketball Report previewed this game by digging up an old Dean Smith quote about being scared of teams in the first game after they lose a star player. Dean was right, teams very often do play better (at first) after losing a key player. They band together and overcome. It rarely lasts, but it can be very powerful for a game or two.
Of course, even without Chris McCray, Maryland is a better team than Georgia Tech right now.
01/25/06 Seton Hall 83, NC State 65 Raleigh, N.C.
If Clemson hadn’t lost to Elon – at home – this would probably be the worst ACC loss of the year. It’s not that Seton Hall is that bad – they’ve come a long way since losing to Duke by 473 points – it’s that State played so poorly in this one. It looked like they just didn’t care or didn’t think they’d have to play hard at all. The Hall certainly played well, very well in fact, but that wasn’t the whole story. What has State fans in a tizzy is that the Pack showed a bunch of the same problems that have plagued them in recent years – problems that seemed to have finally gone away – disorganized offense, long dry-spells, poor defensive rebounding, etc.
Add it all up though, and it doesn’t really amount to much. It was one game and while I hate losing to Big East teams, nonconference games just don’t count as much. State still has a very good chance to be something like a 3 or 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, possibly even a 2.
01/25/06 Boston College 81, North Carolina 74 Chapel Hill, N.C.
Don’t look now, but Boston College is finally becoming the team we all thought they’d be. Carolina didn’t play poorly in losing at home; they just lost to a better team. BC’s 0-3 ACC start is officially old news.
01/26/06 Duke 80, Virginia Tech 67 Blacksburg, Va.
Solid rebound game for Duke. Did anyone think they wouldn’t come out focused in this one? Sometimes the best thing for a very good team on a hot streak is to get beat. It helps the coaches get their messages through. It helps point out the key weaknesses. How else could Coach K convince Greg Paulus that he needs to take better care of the ball? If being aggressive and careless never costs him a loss, K’s words might fall on deaf ears. Losing gets everyone’s attention.
I already covered the other story from this game.
01/28/06 North Carolina 86, Arizona 69 Chapel Hill, N.C.
Now that was a nice effort from the young Tar Heels! After back-to-back losses to the Big East, the ACC needed a win over another major conference. And after three losses in four games, the Heels needed a win, period. Arizona is not a great team, but they are talented and athletic. The Heels just methodically put the game away early in the second half and held it. Very nice.
01/28/06 Temple 91, Maryland 85 Philadelphia, Pa.
Remember what I said about the euphoria following the loss of a key player? It’s ephemeral. I guess Maryland already lost that lovin’ feeling. Temple is better than in recent years, but Maryland really could have used that road win. I mean, Temple had a game less than two weeks ago where they scored 34 points. 34! J.J. Redick would be a two-point favorite by himself.
But like State’s loss to Seton Hall, this one is of only limited damage. Maryland is still sitting at 4-2 in the ACC and in decent shape for an NCAA bid. They can’t afford too many more upsets though.
01/28/06 Virginia Tech 76, Wake Forest 70 Winston-Salem, NC
Virginia Tech came into this game 0-6 in the ACC. Starting center Coleman Collins was absent, caring for his father. Starting forward Deron Washington was suspended. Reserve Shawn Harris was at his grandmother’s funeral. The game was in Winston-Salem.
And yet, Virginia Tech won.
In fairness to Wake, Justin Gray didn’t play either. But should that have mattered? Shouldn’t Wake have felt like they absolutely had to win that game? The Deacons are done.
I’ve been ignoring the popular Internet rumor that Skip Prosser is going to leave after the season to take the Cincinnati job. After that game though, I’m thinking it’s more likely. Prosser can’t be happy right now. He can’t be. Maybe he’ll want a change of scenery. If the whole rumor is true, Wake would get West Virginia coach John Beilein and exiled coach Bob Huggins would take over in Morgantown. If it all happens that way, it might not be too bad for Wake. Beilein’s a hell of a coach.
(Update: evidently Gregg Doyel is thinking the same thing.)
01/28/06 Duke 82, Virginia 63 Durham, N.C.
I hope to get an article out about what J.J. Redick did in this game. The simple way to describe is to say that he took 13 shots and scored 40 points. Incredible. Really, really incredible. Like most non-Duke fans, I find Redick slightly annoying and the constant fawning over his game nauseating. But on the flip side, there’s one thing that always grabs me in sports and that’s win an athlete actually lives up to and even exceeds outrageous expectations. That’s why I like watching Tiger Woods. That’s why I like watching LeBron James. Those guys had no way to live up to the hype and yet they did. J.J.’s doing the same thing right now. When I watch Duke play, I find myself secretly hoping that Redick will get hot and I’ll something special. Just don’t tell anyone.
01/29/06 NC State 94, Clemson 85 (2OT) Clemson, SC
Since when did Clemson students start doing Wake Forest’s trademark jumping up and down thing while humming to that techno song? I mean, they are doing the exact same thing! Show some originality, Tiger fans. Show some pride.
Of course, with Wake on the serious decline, maybe it’s a good time to beat them up and take their stuff.
For this game, Clemson blew it like they’ve blown some other games this year – with missed free throws. It was an important win for NC State, but they got very lucky. Clemson missed key free throws in the last seconds of both regulation and the first overtime.
01/29/06 Miami 84, Florida State 78 (OT) Tallahassee, Fla.
A nice rebound game for the Hurricanes after being spanked in Charlottesville. Both FSU and Miami have gotten themselves into legitimate bubble consideration at this point, so this game was pretty important for each. The loss doesn’t cripple the Seminoles, but I think they are going to need to steal another road win, which would be their third this season. Florida State winning three road ACC games in one year is something like the fourth plague in Revelations, isn’t it?
01/29/06 Boston College 66, Georgia Tech 64 Chestnut Hill, Mass.
There I go bragging about how BC had gotten their game on track and were rolling and then they very nearly were upset by what is likely the worst team in the ACC. In fairness to the Eagles, while they are a very good team, they are not terribly athletic and Georgia Tech is. Tech isn’t necessarily good, but they can run and jump.
In the end, while they nearly blew it, BC held on and that’s all that counts. With their fourth straight win, the Eagles moved from last place to fourth place in the ACC. I expect that they’ll finish in either second or third.
And now for the updated standings:

N.C. State
Florida State
Ga. Tech
Wake Forest
Va. Tech

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