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ACC Basketball Confidential Roundtable: January 22, 2015

Every week, the Confidential contributors get together during football and basketball seasons to provide a summary of their school, the ACC, and other topics of note.  Here is this week’s thoughts on hoops:

1.  How did your school look this past week–any surprises or disappointments?  Are you looking forward to anything regarding your school?

Brian (FSU): Well the fact FSU actually won on the road to a half decent Clemson team was a surprise.  Although, I was disappointed we lost at home to NCSU. I thought NCSU was one of the games against a good team that FSU could steal at home. In looking at FSU’s likely win total, I think I see 4 to 5 wins the rest of the year. I have stated that 16 wins would be surprising, and I doubt FSU can get there this year.

Harrison (NC State): While disappointing, the UNC loss was expected. It was too much to expect a young team to take down both of the local powerhouses. Honestly, I’m just happy that the game was (somewhat) close the entire time. A few days later, NC State found itself playing a road game without their point guard. Cat Barber sat out due to a death in the family. The team was able to rally around it however and managed to win fairly easily. This is refreshing for fans of a team that is known for picking up bad losses in conference play.

Anthony (Syracuse): The loss to Clemson was obviously a disappointment, but getting back to the win column against Boston College without a dominating performance by Rakeem Christmas was a pleasant surprise.
2.  What surprised you or disappointed you with the ACC?
Brian (FSU): I was surprised that Duke was able to bounce back after 2 surprising losses, and to do it by 11 points at Louisville is even more surprising. I am starting to be disappointed with Louisville.  The big boys of the ACC are giving them some issues.  I see at least another 2 to 3 losses this year for them, and maybe more.
Harrison (NC State): January is over and we still aren’t sure what to make of Syracuse. We see them play great some games and then they go lose by 13 to Clemson (in the Carrier Dome no less). They really are becoming the team that won’t die. Every time we try to write them off as a bad team, they win some more ACC games. It’s safe to say that with Christmas in the lineup, this could be a dangerous team in the ACC Tournament.
Anthony (Syracuse): Virginia Tech at 0-4 is a bit surprising.  I thought Buzz Williams would have pulled out a win by now.
3.  Anything noteworthy outside of the ACC?
Brian (FSU): Well my Kentucky watch continues. Since we spoke last they whooped up on Bama, and struggled at home against the Commodores.  Kentucky is vulnerable and beatable… I am still predicting they lose on February 10th at LSU. I am calling my shot!

Harrison (NC State): Ole Miss has had a very weird season to say the least. They opened the season with a loss to Charleston Southern, but then beat Creighton. They lost to Dayton, but then take Kentucky to overtime. This week, the Rebels beat another top-25 team (Arkansas) but then lost unranked Georgia. If you want to have some fun with the transitive property, look no further than this team.

Anthony (Syracuse): How about Creighton at 0-7 in the Big East?  Tulane with a 4-3 conference record in the AAC, with UConn  sitting way back at 2-2.  Texas in the middle of the pack in the Big 12.  Speaking of Texas, is there any greater example of money not guaranteeing success in the revenue sports?

ACC Basketball Confidential Roundtable: January 15, 2015

As we have done with football, the Confidential plans to get some or all of the Confidential contributors together weekly during the basketball season to provide a summary of their school, the ACC, and other topics of note.

1.  How did your school look this past week–any surprises or disappointments?  Are you looking forward to anything regarding your school?

Brian (FSU): Not really surprised by how my Noles looked on the court. Syracuse handled FSU at home… as expected. Syracuse is a solid team if not outright very good, and FSU is just not that good. No surprises from FSU. I guess I am disappointed in the loss, but if you believe you must have high expectations to be disappointed by a loss, then I am not even disappointed. I still wonder if FSU can get to 16 wins this year… right now they sit at 9 total. I bet they get to maybe 15… probably 14. 

Harrison (NC State): The Virginia loss was somewhat expected. There was a little hope in the 1st half as State jumped out to an early lead, but it vanished in the 2nd half as the Cavaliers took control of the game. That loss made the Duke win even sweeter.  In case you somehow missed it, NC State was able to take down Duke this week. There’s not much to say other than it was a near perfect effort from the Wolfpack. I would not have picked Duke to be the win between UVA, Duke, and UNC. Tonight, they have the chance to do the impossible and finish 2-1 in that stretch. The team is hot and I think fans are optimistic.

Len K (Louisville): The Cards are still struggling with their offense but are showing signs of improvement. PG Chris Jones is finally scoring and passing the ball turning in his best performances of this season the last few games. They are still looking for a consistent answer at the 5 position. Duke comes to town this Saturday so I am looking forward to seeing if they continue to show improvement on the offensive end. Wayne Blackshear has a tendency to disappear in big games, will he show up this weekend?

 Anthony (Syracuse): Nothing was more disappointing than the injury to Chris McCullough.  Count me in the group that thinks that this could be a very good thing for him–he needs more work.  Maybe he will enter the draft, but showing up every night and being hit or miss probably was not helping his cause.  Very proud of the team holding serve and beating the teams it is supposed to beat.  The ACC is tough top to bottom.  No bad wins.
2.  What surprised you or disappointed you with the ACC?
Brian (FSU):  Duke getting handled by two un-ranked teams. Yes one is a rival. Yes they are both good teams. But to be beat by double digits in back to back games… that is hardly the sign of an elite team.  I think the top of the ACC is suddenly wide open.
Harrison (NC State): I’ll steer clear of NC State’s win and talk about UNC and Louisville. In what was a very entertaining game, UNC defeated the Cardinals with some late game heroics. I’m still not really sure what to think of the Tar Heels as they have had some of bigger ups and downs in the conference. Meanwhile, Louisville is still one of the best teams in the country with its only other loss coming at Kentucky. Both teams look dangerous coming down the stretch.
Len K (Louisville): The ACC has seen its fair share of upsets this season, will they continue? Notre Dame, NC State, Syracuse & Miami are all playing great ball right now & any one of them can break into the top four of the ACC. The bottom half of the conference is looking strong as well. Manning is making an immediate impact at Wake Forest. Its going to be a fun season.
Anthony (Syracuse): How about how good the bottom of the ACC is?  There are no pushovers.  Each team may be good enough for some post-season tourney.  It cannot happen, as they will beat up on each other.  But that has been a surprising development.
3.  Anything noteworthy outside of the ACC?
Brian (FSU): Kentucky had yet another close call against A&M.  I think Kentucky will drop a game, it is just a matter of when.  Of course as I say this statement Kentucky is utterly destroying Missouri by almost 50 points. If Kentucky loses in the regular season it will be either this Saturday, January 24th, Feb 7th, Feb 10th, Feb 28th, or March 3rd.

 If I had to lay money down it will be on Feb 10th against LSU on the road. The reason is on the 7th they will be at UF, who I think will fight Kentucky, but I see the Wildcats pulling it out. Then only 3 days later Kentucky goes to LSU.  In terms of offense, rebounds, passing the ball, and efficiency LSU is actually very similar to Kentucky.  In fact, LSU has a better field goal %. I think if a tired Kentucky team goes to LSU, they might get upset. 

Harrison (NC State): Former ACC member Maryland continues to be look impressive as they have taken an early lead in the B1G. I know that many people, myself included, didn’t see Maryland as a top 15 team especially after their sub-par finish in the ACC last year.  The Big 12 is surprisingly competitive this year in basketball with 7 teams in this week’s top 25. We all knew about Kansas and the other usuals, but teams like Oklahoma State and West Virginia have seemingly come out of nowhere.

Len K (Louisville): I’m going to step away from basketball here this week. First I want to congratulate Cards volleyball player Katie George for being crowned Miss Kentucky recently. Secondly lets talk about the first football playoffs. Ohio St winning the championship proves that there is parity in college football. The difference between the power 5 compasses isn’t that great. It also shows that the B1G is stil a solid Football Conference. You can also make a strong argument now of how the BCS system was flawed with #4 winning the title.
Anthony (Syracuse): Rutgers beating Wisconsin. 

ACC Basketball Confidential Roundtable: January 8, 2015

As we have done with football, the Confidential plans to get some or all of the Confidential contributors together weekly during the basketball season to provide a summary of their school, the ACC, and other topics of note.  (Ed. note: This should have been published yesterday.  Apologies in advance.)

1.  How did your school look this past week–any surprises or disappointments?  Are you looking forward to anything regarding your school?
Brian (FSU): I was surprised FSU won 2 of 3 games (counting December 30th for this question), but was disappointed in the loss. FSU in one of the oddest ways you will ever see beat UF on a buzzer beater (FSU player went for a 3 in a tied game at the end of the game and missed short of the entire rim, and then a UF player went up for the rebound and accidentally tipped in the ball for an FSU win as time expire). Then FSU a few days later goes to a 6 win Mississippi State team and gets handled on the road. Then on the 6th of January handles its first ACC team of 2015 in VT. Talk about an up and down year.

I am not sure I am looking forward to anything coming up as I see FSU losing its next two games on the road to Syracuse and Pitt. Seriously with 9 wins, I wonder if FSU can get to 16 wins before the ACC tournament starts. There are 16 games left this year and I only see 3 likely wins, and another 3 to maybe 4 games where FSU has a decent shot to win. For every other game FSU has at best a 25% or worse shot of winning.  So the magic number is 7 for FSU to finish 16-15 in the regular season… not sure if they will get there. 

Harrison (NC State): This past week we saw two very different NC State teams. Against Cincinnati, the team looked slow and confused. Trevor Lacey only had 6 points, which was obviously an issue, but the team should be able to function even when he has a bad game. After disappointing fans in that game, the team turned it around and played a very impressive game against Pittsburgh. The team was totally different and improved to 2-0 in the ACC. Now comes the real challenge. The Wolfpack face UVA, Duke, and UNC in their next 3 games. I think it’s reasonable say that even 1 win in that stretch would make Wolfpack fans very confident.

Anthony (Syracuse): Syracuse won a tough one in Virginia Tech.  And that is all that matters.  What is impressive so far this year is the improvement by Rakeem Christmas.  He has really developed an inside game.  If he can control the fouls, he will be a much-welcomed addition to the ‘Cuse for March.

2.  What surprised you or disappointed you with the ACC?
Brian (FSU): I was surprised how much trouble Wake gave to Louisville, but much more surprised that GT took ND to OT… then I was surprised even more when only 2 days removed from a slug fest with GT ND traveled to a ranked, now hot, UNC team and pulled out a 1 point victory. ND is starting to look like the 2014 FSU football team… okay, maybe I went too far there.
Harrison (NC State): I think the biggest story this week in the ACC is Virginia Tech playing a very competitive game against Syracuse. VT is not highly thought of in the ACC and were even down 19 at the half. To come back and only lose by 2 was quite impressive. I still don’t see them contending for a title, but they look like they could pull a few upsets this year. Notre Dame was also a huge surprise at least for me. Going in to Chapel Hill and getting a win is not an easy thing to do. The Irish have quietly risen to contender status.

Anthony (Syracuse): Notre Dame at 3-0, including a win over UNC in Chapel Hill is impressive.  Period.  The top 7 in the ACC are not surprising.  The fact that Notre Dame is atop–and validly atop–the standings certainly is.  Watch out for Virginia Tech too.  Buzz Williams is sweaty, but he is a good coach.

3.  Anything noteworthy outside of the ACC?
Brian (FSU): Kentucky may not be better than the Sixers. Kentucky barely beat Ole Miss, a 9 win team. You know a team with the same number of wins as FSU, and you know how much I think of my Noles. One interesting stat to look at in the game is Kentucky’s field goal percentage. They are not even top 50, and that is a bit surprising considering how much bigger their team is than everyone. I would have thought their size alone would ensure they have an elite field goal percentage. So maybe everyone jumped the gun who said that the Wildcats could take-out the Sixers in a game. Let’s all be realistic… we all know they are only capable of beating the Knicks right now. 

Harrison (NC State): More than anyone else, Kentucky contines to impress me. Putting up video game numbers one day against UCLA, and now going into Louisville to beat a top 5 team. I don’t expect them to go undefeated, but I am very interested to see who beats them and how they do it. Also, don’t look now, but Old Dominion is 12-1 and ranked this week. Looking at their resumé, I’m not totally sold on them. However, this has to be the first time in a long time that 3 teams from Virginia are ranked.

Anthony (Syracuse): St. Johns being 0-3 in the Big East is a surprise.  That is too much talent for that kind of a start.  Michigan State at 10-5 is also a surprise.  But smart money is on Tom Izzo figuring out a way to get any 12 D-1 players to be competitive by March.

ACC Basketball Confidential Roundtable: December 20, 2014

As we have done with football, the Confidential plans to get some or all of the Confidential contributors together weekly during the basketball season to provide a summary of their school, the ACC, and other topics of note.

1.  How did your school look this past week–any surprises or disappointments?  Are you looking forward to anything regarding your school?
Brian (FSU): FSU continued with its unimpressive play in a blow-out loss to ND.  I guess the Irish got their revenge against FSU for what they believe was a bad call on the football field this year (it was the correct call Irish, get over it).  Anyway, ND destroyed FSU… and I would say was disappointed, but I saw it coming with how FSU has played all year.  Yes, FSU looked good against UCF, but they are at best an NIT caliber team this year.  This year has really been one big disappointment… and I am not looking forward to the regular beat downs the ACC season will bring.  Although, I hope we can upset UF on December 30th.
John (UNC): It wasn’t surprising that North Carolina lost to Kentucky. After all, the Wildcats are the runaway number one team in the country. They’re big. They’re talented. And while both teams legitimately played well, Big Blue was simply more talented. Still, it’s disappointing. Why? Because this is definitely not where I expected North Carolina to be at this point in their schedule. With all of the preseason expectation- a top 5 ranking, key returnees, big name recruits, it was inevitable. The Tar Heels were back. They were going to return to the Final Four and put the past few years of the academic and athletic scandal behind them. And yet, here they are, a respectable, but not great, 7-3, with conference play on the horizon. Yes, it was nice to have wins over #18 Florida and #22 UCLA, but those teams aren’t ranked anymore. It’s time to prove something this Saturday against Ohio State. They’re #12 and not showing any signs of slowing down.
Mike (NC State): The Wofford loss is a bummer but may serve as a wake-up call for the Pack.  What has me more concerned is the play of BeeJay Anya.  He lost weight in the offseason and that did increase his stamina, but he looks a little out of sync to me, as if he is having a hard time adjusting to the lighter weight.  His rebounding has gone up, though, so maybe it’s just me.  And I am pleased that three players are scoring in double figures, but I wonder what will happen when State hits the meat of their ACC schedule. 
Len K (Louisville): The Cards have shown improvement since the start of the season. They were out rebounded by Berry in their first exhibition but have strong on the boards since. They are further along defensively then what I thought they would be with so many freshman. My biggest surprise so far would be the play of freshman Chinanu Onuaku at C. Onuaku brother played for Syracuse & came into Louisville ready to play physically. He will need to learn how to stay out of foul trouble however. The biggest disappointment on the season has to be the Cards shooting. They have struggled with their 3 point shooting which has carried over into their free throw shooting as well. Freshman SF Shaqquan Aaron has 2 more games left on his 10 game suspension from the NCAA for improper housing benefits that he deceived while in high school. The Cards shooting has been improving and adding Aaron to the line up should help as well.
Anthony (Syracuse): Syracuse recruits for its zone defense–but it does not recruit for three-point shooting.  This means that the team rises or falls in that department on Trevor Cooney.  Syracuse’s 2003 team had three guys that could reliably hit three-pointers, this one has just one.  This continues to be an achilles heel for Syracuse.  I just do not see it improving.  If Cooney gets hot in March, anything can happen in the Big Dance.  But if he is cold throughout January and February, March may be irrelevant.  It is not HIS fault that he is the only pure shooter.  It is what it is.
2.  What surprised you or disappointed you with the ACC?
Brian (FSU): I am surprised how well ND, Miami, and GT has looked.  I am disappointed in Syracuse… thought they could be better.  UNC is what I thought they were, kind of good but not elite.  I had a feeling they were overrated.  But ND, UM, and GT have really surprised me this year.

John (UNC): Once again, the conference underwhelmed on the small stage. It’s not that it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility that a talented team from a Power 5 conference like NC State could lose to a team like Wofford, but it SHOULD be unlikely. It happened this past Sunday. Yes, scoring seems to be down again this season, especially in the once fast-paced ACC, but the Wolfpack only put up an anemic 54 against the Terriers. That shouldn’t win any games. Mark Gottfried has an extremely talented group, but with a ranked West Virginia team coming up, they need to find some answers quickly.

Mike (NC State): I don’t think this qualifies as a surprise, but I was extremely disappointed by UNC’s loss to Kentucky.  Yeah, I’m the NC State guy, and normally I would be hating on the Heels, but any time one of the ACC’s “marquee” programs (Duke, UNC, Syracuse) suffers a loss in one of these high-profile matchups the conferences reputation takes a hit.  And none of us like that.
Len K (Louisville): The way North Carolina and Syracuse have struggled early in the season has been disappointing. They both came with highly rated recruiting classes so they both should improve over the course of the season. Miami has been by far the biggest surprise to me. The Canes are looking tough.
Anthony (Syracuse): Notre Dame and Miami continue to be surprises on the positive side.  If you had Notre Dame atop the ACC standings in your projections… wow.  Still, Duke, Virginia, and Louisville are more likely to be the best ACC team than the Fighting Irish.
3.  Anything noteworthy outside of the ACC?
Brian (FSU): This will sound random, but Butler and Texas are noteworthy.  For a few years Texas seemed to be on a slide.  They used to be regulars to the Elite Eight, but have not made it past the second round in over 6 years… even missing the tournament two years ago.  This year they seem to be pretty good again. I know some people thought Barnes had worn out his welcome, but maybe those people jumped the gun a bit. Butler is interesting because one would have thought when Stevens left they would regress as a program.  But since he left they went to the tournament last year and are currently ranked.  I wonder if they can continue to build that program with the new blood.
John (UNC): While losing Alex Poythress didn’t affect Kentucky’s fortunes against the Tar Heels, you have to think that at some point, he will be missed. After all, he was a key leader, an upperclassman who did far more than the stat box showed. There will be a night where the rest of the team is off, and Coach John Calipari will wish he had just one more big man. Fans of the ACC can only hope that is on December 27th against Louisville. In other news, the injury bug continues- the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks just found out that former Duke star Jabari Parker will miss the season with a torn ACL of his own.
Mike (NC State): Looks like the big one is the game Saturday between UNC-Ohio State.  Wouldn’t hurt any for the league if State upset West Virginia, either.
Len K (Louisville): Kentucky has been strong this season, they should’ve saved their 40-0 talk for this season. With only UCLA & Louisville remaining on there regular season schedule is a possibility since they play in a joke of a basketball conference. The one thing everyone should STOP talking about is “platooning”. They aren’t playing equal minutes and they are not subbing 5 at a time. Calipari is the king of gimmicks and “platooning” is just the latest one.
Anthony (Syracuse): The AAC… did YOU expect Tulane to be 9-1 and UConn to be 4-4?  Nope.  How about Penn State 10-1 and Michigan 6-4? 

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