Friday, March 01, 2013

Weekend Preview: 3/2-3/3

I'm not going to proclaim that Virginia is in the NCAA Tournament after beating Duke, because that came back to bite the Hokies a couple years ago.  But they certainly made a big step toward securing a berth.  The Duke win, coupled with the wins over N.C. State and Wisconsin, looks good for a bubble team's resume.  Maryland, meanwhile, went in the other direction, thoroughly outplayed on the road at Georgia Tech.  The Terps have only won one road game in the conference this year.

This weekend's slate is highlighted by the ACC game of the year, Duke hosting Miami.


Maryland at Wake Forest (12:00 p.m., ACC Network)
Maryland desperately needs a win here, but they are at a big disadvantage.  Their road woes, coupled with Wake's strong play at home, doesn't bode well.  A loss here could be the death knell for the Terps' NCAA Tournament chances.

Miami at Duke (6:00 p.m., ESPN)
Miami certainly has a lot of confidence coming in, knowing what they did to Duke in Coral Gables.  Duke had actually been playing better than Miami in their last few games, until their performance against Virginia.  It is unlikely now that Duke will be able to win the regular season title, and they may have lost their chance at a #1 seed.  But you better believe they will be fired up at home.  I expect a tight game.

Clemson at Virginia Tech (8:00 p.m., FSN)
Clemson has really struggled away from Littlejohn, and is heading for a second straight disappointing season.  Virginia Tech won last week at home against Florida State, and should come out inspired on Erick Green's senior day.  These two teams always seem to play close games, and this should be no exception.


Florida State at North Carolina (2:00 p.m., CBS)
This game looked a lot more attractive at the start of the season for CBS than it does now.  North Carolina is rounding into form.  Even though Florida State has pulled off some good road wins this year, they are on a downward trend, and it's hard to see them keeping up, especially if the Tar Heels start hitting some threes.

Virginia at Boston College (4:00 p.m., ACC Network)
Two years ago, after knocking off Duke, Virginia Tech failed to beat Boston College, a very costly loss.  Virginia will try to avoid the same.  The Cavaliers have been really solid in the last month, but Boston College has the ability to pull off the upset at home.  The team that can hit more outside shots will have the upper hand.

N.C. State at Georgia Tech (6:00 p.m., ESPNU)
This is the type of game that N.C. State has struggled with this season.  They are 2-5 on the road this year, and their two wins are by a combined six points.  The Wolfpack still have a chance of getting a first round bye in the ACC Tournament, but they have to win this one.  After a really rough start to the conference season, Georgia Tech can actually finish with the 8th seed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Week Preview: 2/26-2/28

The headline in the ACC this weekend was Miami suffering its first loss of the season, on the road at Wake.  I am not going to fault Miami for losing to Wake.  It's very difficult to go through a conference season undefeated and they were bound to have a bad game.  I am a little surprised that they had a bad game on defense - I figured if they lost it would be because of a bad shooting night.

North Carolina picked up a big win this weekend over rival N.C. State.  The Heels used a late run to put the game away, moving them closer to making the NCAA Tournament.  N.C. State Coach Mark Gottfried has to be disappointed about how his team folded down the stretch.

Not a lot of drama this weekend: the six games were decided by 13, 15, 11, 21, 28 and 10 points.  Here's hoping for closer games this week:


Wake Forest at Florida State (9:00 p.m., ESPNU)
Florida State suffered a fatal blow in their NCAA Tournament chances, losing Sunday at last place Virginia Tech.  Right now they are playing for positioning in the ACC Tournament and a possible berth in the NIT.  They should be able to take care of home court against Wake Forest, who is due for a letdown off their biggest win in years.


Virginia Tech at Miami (7:00 p.m., FSN)
This definitely looks like a mismatch, the first place team hosting the last place team.  The Hokies did play well in their last game against Florida State, though, and almost beat Miami in Blacksburg.  The Hurricanes could come out focused and mad after losing their first conference game.  Or they could get caught looking ahead to their huge game with Duke.

Boston College at N.C. State (8:00 p.m., ACC Network)
It should be a good bounceback game for N.C. State, hosting Boston College.  This is a tough two game stretch for the Eagles, with back-to-back road games at Duke and N.C. State.  The Wolfpack still have a chance of a first round bye in the ACC Tournament.

Maryland at Georgia Tech (8:00 p.m., ACC Network)
Georgia Tech has been a lot more competitive recently, up until Sunday's game against Virginia, where they got smoked.  Maryland really needs this win to build some wins for that NCAA Tournament resume.  They have to play better than they did in their last road game at B.C. if they want to win this one.


North Carolina at Clemson (7:00 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2)
Both of Thursday's games are really important for bubble teams.  North Carolina has been playing well, but they need to play well on the road to win this one.  Clemson is tough at Littlejohn.  They just haven't been able to close out games late.

Duke at Virginia (9:00 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2)
Huge opportunity for Virginia to come up with a signature win this year.  They have played really well at JPJ.  But Duke has looked very good in their last two games since losing to Maryland.  The team that can hit more threes will probably win this one.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Weekend Preview: 2/23-2/24

It was a good week for the top teams in the ACC.  Miami, Duke, N.C. State and UNC all won.  Miami was the only team that did not win convincingly, but they had the toughest test, at home against Virginia.  The Cavaliers were able to get the tempo back to what they wanted, but couldn't make the plays down the stretch.  N.C. State is firmly in the tournament right now, as they have righted the ship a bit, and are now playing for seeding.  Maryland was the big disappointment this week, losing by double digits at Boston College and losing all the momentum they got from the Duke win.

Here is the schedule for this weekend:


Clemson at Maryland (12:00 p.m., ESPN2)
Not a lot of interest in this game, other than the fact that Maryland has to win.  The Terps can't afford any more bad losses if they want to push to make the NCAA Tournament.  Clemson hasn't shown that it can play well on the road, although they have had a week off to rest so they might come out with better energy at the start.

Miami at Wake Forest (1:00 p.m., FSN)
Wake did have one big home win earlier this year, against N.C. State.  And they will be pumped to try to give Miami its first conference loss.  Wake has also had extra rest for this game.  But even though the Deacs play well at home, it's hard to see Miami losing this one.  They are focused and I think really want to go through the conference season unblemished.

N.C. State at North Carolina (4:00 p.m., ESPN)
This should be a great game.  The Tar Heels will have payback on their minds after the embarrassing first half in Raleigh earlier this year.  And they are playing better than they were in that first meeting.  N.C. State is starting to round back into form, though, and has more talent than Carolina.  If the Tar Heels can knock down some threes like they did against UVA, they will be difficult to beat at home.


Boston College at Duke (2:00 p.m., ACC Network)
BC picked up probably their best win of the year against Maryland, but following that up with a win in Cameron is unlikely.  Duke is trying to nail down the #2 seed for the conference tournament and a possible #1 seed in the NCAAs.  They should roll.

Georgia Tech at Virginia (2:00 p.m., ACC Network)
Virginia lost an opportunity at a big win in Miami this week, but they can get back in the win column this weekend at home.  Georgia Tech is offensively challenged, so the first to 50 might win this one.  Virginia is probably as squarely on the bubble as any ACC team and they can't afford to lose this one.

Florida State at Virginia Tech (6:00 p.m., ESPNU)
Barring a big run, I think Florida State is not going to make the NCAA Tournament.  But if they want any chance, they can't lose to the last place team.  The Seminoles have been so inconsistent, so Virginia Tech could sneak through a win.  But traditionally Florida State has been a tough matchup for the Hokies.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Week Preview: 2/19-2/21

It was another close call, but Miami kept their perfect conference record intact after knocking off Clemson on Sunday night.  It wasn't the best-played game in the world, but Miami continues to impress me with how they are able to close out games.  Clemson had two really good chances to tie at the end but couldn't convert.  That was the biggest headline of the weekend in the ACC which also saw Duke go down in College Park.  That is definitely a big win for the Terps and could revive their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Duke has now played three games in a row in which they didn't look all that good.  To their credit, they managed to win two of them.

N.C. State continues to struggle a bit, although they were able to escape at home with a thrilling overtime win over Virginia Tech.  And Virginia's defense was as bad as it's ever been under Coach Tony Bennett in surrendering 93 points to North Carolina.

Some intriguing games for the bubble teams this week.  Here's what the schedule looks like:


Florida State at N.C. State (7:00 p.m., ESPN2)
Florida State struggled some with Boston College, and right now has a pretty faint hope of making the NCAA Tournament.  N.C. State is vulnerable, although they are a much better team at home.  I keep waiting for the Wolfpack to come out with the focused effort that they had against Duke and North Carolina.  Maybe it will happen Tuesday.

Maryland at Boston College (9:00 p.m., ACC Network)
This is a critical game for the Terps to not have a letdown.  They need as many wins as they can get to try to make the NCAA Tournament, and this would qualify as a bad loss.  Boston College continues to struggle down the stretch of games.  They are close, though.

North Carolina at Georgia Tech (9:00 p.m., ACC Network)
Just like Maryland, it's important that North Carolina doesn't have a letdown here after a big win.  In theory, they should have too much offensive firepower for the Yellow Jackets to keep up with.  And for some reason Georgia Tech has played better on the road as of late.  The team that can play at the tempo they want will be the winner.

Virginia at Miami (9:00 p.m., ESPNU)
Another tough road test for Virginia, going down to Coral Gables to try to give the Hurricanes their first loss.  I do think Virginia has a chance, but they need to play much better defense than they did in Chapel Hill.  If Miami starts making threes they will be very difficult to knock off at home.


Duke at Virginia Tech (9:00 p.m., ESPN)
Virginia Tech seems to rise to the occasion whenever Duke comes to town, but I'm not sure they have the firepower to pull off the upset.  The Hokies played probably their best conference game at N.C. State and still lost.  Still, Duke hasn't played their best basketball lately.  This could be a battle to the end.

Clemson and Wake Forest are off this week.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Weekend Preview: 2/16-2/17

Even when you think the game isn't going to be good, North Carolina/Duke does not disappoint.  The Tar Heels played up to their competition throughout most of the game, and almost pulled off the upset.  James Michael McAdoo's failings at the free throw line near the end really hurt Carolina.  And make no mistake, Duke did not play their best game.  They had a lot of foul trouble, and Mason Plumlee did not have his normal effort.  North Carolina needs to get over this quickly because they have a big bubble game against Virginia on Saturday.

Once again, Miami impressed.  I thought Florida State had a good shot at home, but they were playing from behind all game and couldn't catch up.  Miami at Duke looms large later in the season.

Here is this weekend's schedule:


Boston College at Florida State (12:00 p.m., ACC Network)
Boston College pulled off a nice last second win at home against Wake this past week.  They had been losing all their close games until this one.  But I would imagine they would have a tough time in Tallahassee against a Florida State team that is stinging from that second loss to their rival.  You never know what you are going to get from the Seminoles but they should win.

Virginia at North Carolina (12:00 p.m., ACC Network)
This is the game of the weekend in my opinion.  Virginia has played really good basketball in the last couple weeks, and passed their last road test at Maryland.  You can bet they will be fired up to try to sweep the Tar Heels.  This game will be a good test for how Coach Roy Williams can get his team to rebound from a tough loss.  If they come out flat, like they did at the start of their game against Virginia Tech, they will be in trouble.

Georgia Tech at Wake Forest (2:00 p.m., FSN)
You can bet that this game won't be like the first one between these two teams, which Georgia Tech won big.  The Yellow Jackets can really struggle to score at times.  Wake plays much better at home and should be favored in this one.

Virginia Tech at N.C. State (2:00 p.m., ESPN2)
N.C. State hasn't really played a complete game in a while, and they have had a week of rest.  It will be interesting to see how they come out in this one.  Virginia Tech is wearing down and won't present a very difficult challenge, so it's up to the Wolfpack to put them away early.

Duke at Maryland (6:00 p.m., ESPN)
I think the Terps are seeing their NCAA Tournament chances slip away, so they need this win in the worst way.  Maryland has been pretty good against the bottom teams in the league, but their best conference win was a one point home win against N.C. State.  Duke has played pretty shaky in their last two games, so the Terps have a chance.  And you know that crowd will be fired up.


Miami at Clemson (6:00 p.m., ESPNU)
Littlejohn is a tough place to play, but it's hard to forecast a Miami loss to one of the teams in the bottom half of the league.  Shane Larkin should have a great game in this one.  Clemson needs the best games of the year from Milton Jennings and Devin Booker to have a chance at the upset.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Week Preview: 2/12-2/14

It was a good weekend for a couple bubble teams and a not good weekend for a few others.  First the good: Virginia and N.C. State got nice road wins.  It came pretty easily for Virginia, a dominating performance at Maryland.  The Cavaliers have a very ugly loss to Old Dominion on their resume, but look like an NCAA Tournament team right now.  N.C. State's last second win over Clemson was big because it stopped the bleeding.  The Wolfpack really needed Scott Wood's shot to drop to avoid a four game losing streak.

On the flip side, Maryland and North Carolina took hits.  Maryland is on the outside looking in right now, with not much to speak of on their resume.  Losing at home by double digits to another bubble team is not the way to get it done.  Meanwhile, North Carolina looked overwhelmed in Miami much like they did at N.C. State.  And then there's Florida State.  Who can predict what the Seminoles will do next?  When they aren't getting buzzer-beaters from Michael Snaer they are looking pretty bad, only putting up 46 points against Wake Forest.

Here's the schedule for the week:


Virginia Tech at Virginia (7:00 p.m., ESPNU)
Rivalry games can be close but there's not much in the recent play of Virginia Tech to suggest that's going to happen.  The Hokies had one of the worst losses of the year, trailing at one point by 25 at home to Georgia Tech.  In the meantime, Virginia is on a roll.  If the Hokies don't start out well this could get very ugly.


Miami at Florida State (7:00 p.m., ESPN2)
In a week with good rivalry games, this one could be the most competitive.  Miami is perfect in conference play, but could take on their first defeat in this one.  Florida State is certainly capable of playing well, and they should be fired up to play Miami.  An injury to Kenny Kadji could play a big factor.  If he can't play that will boost the Seminoles' chances.

Wake Forest at Boston College (7:00 p.m., FSN)
Boston College had a really good chance to knock off Duke this weekend, but took two of the ugliest shots you will ever see at the end of the game and lost by one.  It seemed like the moment was too big for them.  We'll see how they respond at home against a Wake Forest team that is bipolar.  At home, Wake is good, and on the road they really struggle.  This one should come down to the wire.

North Carolina at Duke (9:00 p.m., ACC Network/ESPN)
I can't remember the last time this matchup had less fanfare.  Duke is just way ahead of where North Carolina is right now, even with their struggles at Boston College.  If this game was in Chapel Hill, it would be much more interesting.  But it's hard to find a scenario in which the young Tar Heels will be able to handle the Cameron pressure, seeing how they performed at Miami and N.C. State.


Clemson at Georgia Tech (7:00 p.m., FSN)
These two teams just played each other a couple weeks ago, and Clemson pulled out a close win.  I expect this one to be close as well.  Neither one of these teams is looking at an NCAA Tournament bid, but they are playing for pride and position in the standings.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Weekend Preview: 2/9-2/10

Where's Lorenzo Brown when you need him?  N.C. State has really struggled without him, dropping a third consecutive game.  There is no shame in losing at Duke, but State needs to right the ship in a bad way.  Duke's win over N.C. State was one of several blowouts in the ACC this week.  One of those included a really embarrassing road performance by Clemson, scoring 10 points in the first half for the second time this year in a 37 point loss to Virginia.

Florida State and Maryland picked up much needed road wins to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.  For the Seminoles, Michael Snaer was again the hero.  And for Maryland, while their offense wasn't in fine form, they were able to pull one out late in Blacksburg.

Some teams have interesting road tests this weekend.  Here is the schedule:


Florida State at Wake Forest (12:00 p.m., ESPN2)
As poorly as Wake played in Chapel Hill this week, it wouldn't surprise me at all if they won this game.  That's the kind of team they are.  Florida State needs to build off the momentum of their last win and take control early.  I think if they get off to a good start and take the crowd out of the game, they will win at Wake.

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (1:00 p.m., FSN)
Both teams lost close home games this week.  Virginia Tech won in Atlanta this year and always seems to match up well with the Yellow Jackets.  Where Georgia Tech has the advantage is rest.  The Hokies have a short bench, a couple players have the flu, and they just played late on Thursday night.  Don't expect a lot of scoring in this one.

North Carolina at Miami (2:00 p.m., ESPN)
The Tar Heels have been on a pretty good run recently, but this is their toughest game of the year.  You have to believe that the Hurricanes will be fired up to try to knock off the Heels at home.  I keep feeling like Miami is due to have a bad game, but that hasn't happened in a long time.  If Carolina plays up to their potential, they have a shot.  But they can't lose their poise like they did in Raleigh.


N.C. State at Clemson (1:00 p.m., ACC Network)
The ACC season is only halfway through, but this really is a must-win game for N.C. State.  They don't want to lose four games in a row.  If Brown can play, they will be much better equipped to win on the road.  Clemson can really struggle to score at times but they have played pretty well at home.  Guys like Milton Jennings have to show up though if they want to win.

Virginia at Maryland (1:00 p.m., ACC Network)
This is a big game for two bubble teams.  Virginia has looked dominant at home, but not so much on the road.  Maryland has the talent, but has not been able to win a big game.  The key for this one is how patient Maryland's young players are able to stay against Virginia's defense.  If they get frustrated and guys like Seth Allen start chucking up shots that plays right into Virginia's hands.

Duke at Boston College (6:00 p.m., ESPNU)
This is a tough week for Boston College.  After having to go to Miami (and getting blasted), they host Duke.  The Blue Devils are starting to get their rhythm back after dealing with the injury to Ryan Kelly.  Conte Forum is normally not a very intimidating atmosphere, but if the blizzard keeps people from going to this game that could make it even more of a library.  Duke should win easily.