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ACC Preview Part 2: The Middle Men

In my previous post, I discussed the four teams, who I feel, will be competing for the conference title at the end of February. I also stirred up the crowd by making the argument that Duke is better than UNC (barely). In this post, I look at the next 4 teams, the middle 4, of the toughest conference in the country.

In the last post, we took a look at Wake Forest, Clemson, UNC and Duke, detailing how each team has fared thus far and how they might do during the rest of the year. Today, let's take a look at Maryland, Boston College, Miami and us. This is an excellent group of basketball teams that is capable beating any team at any given time, see BC vs UNC.

Let's take a look at each of the teams:

8. Boston College Eagles

Yes, they beat the best team in the nation. It was one game and they deserved to win. Boston College shot lights out and took advantage of the opportunities that UNC provided them. UNC had a miserable shooting night. This win goes to show that the ACC is going to be more competitive than people thought, meaning any given team could win on any given day. Last year, the Eagles finished 14-17 overall, going a lowly 4-12 in ACC conference play. Somehow, they pulled themselves together after erratic conferenc play to  beat Maryland in the first round of the ACC tournament, only to get destroyed by Clemson in the second round. This year, BC only has 67% of returning minutes back on the floor this year. But they are going to be led by two excellent sophomores: Corey Raji and Josh Southern. Last night we also see the coming out party of Corey Raji, another highly athletic sophomore on this team. Notice a pattern? This is a young team and despite their success in the early part of the season, it is likely they will have their struggles down the stretch. Currently, BC is ranked 52nd in the Pomeroy Ratings and they are 12-2 in OOC play, losing to Purdue and St Louis. The average rating of the OOC opponents is 174, with big wins over Massachussetts, Providence, Iowa and UAB. However, they have only played 4 games outside of the Commonwealth.

                      Offense               Defense
Raw Efficiency : 112.9 ( 27) 95.4 ( 90)
Adj Efficiency : 112.2 ( 31) 95.9 ( 86)

Effective FG% : 51.5 ( 84) 44.3 ( 40)
Turnover Pct. : 17.5 ( 25) 19.1 (263)
Off. Rebound% : 40.9 ( 16) 34.7 (211)
Free Throw Rate: 25.7 (136) 29.7 ( 55)

3-Point FG% : 34.9 (139) 30.1 ( 40)
2-Point FG% : 51.0 ( 69) 43.9 ( 60)
Free Throw Pct.: 68.7 (161) 66.4 ( 98)
Block Pct. : 10.4 (251) 11.4 ( 61)
Steal Pct. : 8.3 ( 58) 9.3 (217)

3PA/FGA : 31.6 (208) 30.3 ( 79)
A/FGM : 59.8 ( 66) 46.7 ( 27)

Clearly, a mixed bag of stats. BC, despite its athleticism, play a relatively down tempo game, averaging 70 possessions per game, scoring 1.12 points per possession. They also do a great job on the offensive boards, which may be a result of their hustle and their height. They rank 53rd in the nation in average-minutes weighted height.  Corey Raji 6'6 So is bringing down 13.8% of his teams offensive rebound opportunities, anything over 10 is considered excellent. Josh Southern 6'10 So is also getting it done on the glass on both ends of the court. Boston College's success will depend on consistent play from Raji, Tyrese Rice (the lone senior on the team) and Rakim Sanders. Raji is one of the top players in the country and is very active all over the court. He is shooting extremely well with an eFG% of 56.4. Like our Toney Douglas, Raji rarely gets off the court. Lets hope this Raji doesn't tear up the ACC like his football counter part did. BC and the Noles are similar in many regards, however, they don't have the depth of talent that we do. Look for BC to make some noise in ACC play. We have already seen what they can do against UNC but I don't expect the Eagles to keep it up. While BC may have the offensive skills, they don't force the turnovers that are required to sustain effective play in the ACC. BC may surprise us but they need more experience and talent.

7. Florida State Seminoles

This team is close to being one of the elite teams in the conference, but not this year. We have shown flashes of brilliance in the OOC schedule and demonstrated that we're not quite there. For examples of both, see our performance against the Pitt Panthers and the Northwestern Wildcats.

                      Offense               Defense
Raw Efficiency : 99.3 (200) 89.1 ( 28)
Adj Efficiency : 98.8 (206) 88.2 ( 21)

Effective FG% : 49.1 (158) 42.8 ( 19)
Turnover Pct. : 24.1 (299) 23.0 ( 80)
Off. Rebound% : 35.5 (103) 34.1 (190)
Free Throw Rate: 32.9 ( 18) 31.5 ( 78)

3-Point FG% : 34.6 (150) 32.6 (112)
2-Point FG% : 47.7 (179) 39.3 ( 10)
Free Throw Pct.: 69.9 (130) 63.5 ( 25)
Block Pct. : 6.4 ( 44) 18.6 ( 6)
Steal Pct. : 10.4 (204) 12.7 ( 33)

3PA/FGA : 33.1 (165) 36.7 (282)
A/FGM : 55.0 (151) 46.7 ( 26)

Currently, our offense ranks 206th in the nation. Our defense is 21st. Worst offense. Fourth best defense. We have no players in the top 500 in offensive effeciency. But, we get to the line early and often. Our assist rate is improving, and slowly but surely our Assist to FG ration is improving. Defensively, we continue to shut teams down, forcing steals and blocking shots. You all know our cast of characters. Keep an eye on Singleton; he is a special player. I think we keep the likes of Duke, UNC and Clemson to some of their lowest scoring games of the year, but I don't think we have the offensive fire power to keep up. Check out all of our old posts in the Basketball section to get the full analysis of this team.

6. Miami Hurricanes

Last year, Miami basketball made a splash on the national scene going 23-11 overall, 8-8 in ACC play and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Texas 75-72. This year they, they bring back 79% of their possible returning minutes, specifically returning 4 starters and adding highly touted freshman, DeQuan Jones. Look for an absolute battle between the 6'6 small forward and Chris Singleton. However, comparing production so far, Singleton's numbers are miles ahead of Jones, but Jones has seen limited time, only seeing about 13 minutes of playing time per game.  Miami's OOC play had its highs and lows, beating teams 94-41 one night and losing by 15 or so to the likes of Connecticut, Ohio State and Clemson. Clemson made a statement against the Hurricanes beating them 91-72 in Miami. Their average OOC opponent's Pomeroy rating was 166 with a majority of their games being played at home. Here are Miami's numbers:

                      Offense               Defense
Raw Efficiency : 110.5 ( 40) 88.7 ( 25)
Adj Efficiency : 111.8 ( 35) 90.2 ( 31)

Effective FG% : 49.5 (146) 42.0 ( 9)
Turnover Pct. : 20.1 (126) 19.0 (267)
Off. Rebound% : 42.0 ( 11) 30.3 ( 79)
Free Throw Rate: 31.9 ( 28) 27.2 ( 29)

3-Point FG% : 35.7 (109) 25.9 ( 2)
2-Point FG% : 47.5 (188) 43.6 ( 54)
Free Throw Pct.: 66.0 (237) 68.9 (191)
Block Pct. : 11.5 (292) 12.4 ( 45)
Steal Pct. : 9.6 (148) 9.1 (230)

3PA/FGA : 33.8 (142) 34.3 (226)
A/FGM : 51.7 (233) 56.0 (210)

Again, another team with numbers all over the map. They play a slower tempo game, averaging 67 possessions per game, scoring 1.1 points per possession. So, how are they so succesful? They shut you down on defense...not by stealing the ball but by challenging your shot. However, in their three losses, they allowed their 3 worst opponent eFG% of the year. Clemson had an eFG% of 54.9 against the 'Canes. Miami's offensive success rests squarely on the shoulders of Jack McClinton 6'1 Sr and Dwayne Collins 6'8 Jr. Miami beats you by getting to the line and hoping they beat you with the three. McClinton is happy to pull the trigger from deep. Miami's offense is helped by its ability to take care of the offensive glass. If McClinton and Collins can continue to produce on the offensive end, Miami might make it back to the NCAA tournament. It helps that they have 4 seniors and 4 juniors on their team. Miami has fallen of the map on the national scene recently, particularly in light of their loss to Clemson. Boston College shot up the polls today. This type of volatility in the polls is quite common early in the season, particularly in the lower half of the polls. Miami may show up again or they may fade. Based on their experience, I would expect them to make some noise in the ACC and get to the tournament. Though, I still think Miami has been playing ahead of themselves so far this year. I haven't been overwhelmed the couple of opportunities I have had to watch them. Pomeroy is predciting us to lose both games against Miami; I just don't see that happening.

5. Maryland Terrapins

I think that Maryland is the forgotten team in the ACC this year. Putting them at #5 might be a bit generous, but I think they have the ability to play at a high level. I really think the 5-8 spots in the ACC are up for grabs this year. Last year, the Terps went 19-15 overall, 8-8 in the ACC and lost to Syracuse in the second round of the NIT. Maryland could have easily gone 11-5 in the ACC, losing some very close games, this was despite having a middle of the road offense in the conference. This year they bring back 70% of returning minutes, losing two of their key players to graduation: Gist and Bambale. Unfortunately, Gary Williams wasn't able to bring in the typical talent he is used to having in Maryland, thought he is already off to a great start for 2009. Their average OOC opponent ranking was 165. Aside from a two game slide against Gonzaga and Georgetown, Maryland is, in general, taking care of business, winning games by 15-20 points.

                      Offense               Defense
Raw Efficiency : 107.8 ( 69) 89.4 ( 31)
Adj Efficiency : 105.5 ( 91) 88.6 ( 23)

Effective FG% : 48.0 (193) 44.5 ( 44)
Turnover Pct. : 17.1 ( 18) 23.3 ( 68)
Off. Rebound% : 36.0 ( 90) 32.4 (140)
Free Throw Rate: 24.1 (183) 27.2 ( 28)

3-Point FG% : 34.4 (158) 30.0 ( 38)
2-Point FG% : 46.6 (215) 44.3 ( 67)
Free Throw Pct.: 79.5 ( 3) 64.7 ( 50)
Block Pct. : 8.6 (163) 12.8 ( 41)
Steal Pct. : 7.7 ( 20) 11.7 ( 67)

3PA/FGA : 27.8 (278) 32.4 (148)
A/FGM : 55.7 (139) 53.0 (137)

Maryland plays a similar "stats" game to the Noles, focusing on defense. They are currently ranked 23rd in the nation. Their offense, however, is 91st and would likely be better if they shot the ball better from the floor. Still, they get away with it because they don't turn the ball over and take advantage of getting to the line. Again, they are a relatively slow tempo offense compared to the likes of Clemson, Wake and UNC. Though, Maryland is scoring a lowly 1.07 points per possession. Keep in mind, we only score 0.99. However, the most points per possession we have allowed this year was 1.1 against Georgia Southern. Against Pitt, we only allowed 0.8 points per possession. So that's how we can get away with only scoring 0.9 points per possession. Sorry for the digression...back to Maryland. Despite their shooting troubles, Maryland has 4 players in the top 500 for Offensive Rating and 3 in the top 500 for turnover rate. That is the key to their offense...they limit their mistakes, which is quite impressive for a team with only one senior.  Vasquez  6'6 So is their top offensive player and he, like Toney Douglas, does not come off the court. The big concern for Vazquez is that he turns the ball over on a regular basis. Look for Maryland to play a three guard line up on a regular basis with Vasquez,  Sean Mosley 6'5 Fr and Eric Hayes 6'4 Jr. They may run into trouble against some of the bigger teams in the confernce like ourselves and Wake. There isn't a lot to get excited about here. I think the Maryland is a better version of ourselves...meaning they get it done on both ends of the court, unlike ourselves, who have yet to settle into an offensive rhythm on a regular basis. Maryland may quietly hang around in conference play, likely going 8-8. Some have predicted that Maryland may only win 4 conference games this year, which could be entirely possible.


So here is the lay of the land so far:

1. Duke

2. UNC

3. Clemson

4. Wake Forest

5. Maryland

6. Miami

7. Florida State

8. Boston College

What are your thoughts? Did Boston College's win against UNC move them up your rankings? Where do you think FSU will end up this year? The big question is will they make the tournament? With Pitt being ranked #1 and many saying that the FSU game was their closest game of the year, we might have a chance. We just need to hang on for the ride that will be the ACC conference play.

Thanks again for contributing and reading my ramblings.