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Sully's Court: Assessing the ACC

Posted by Joe Sullivan, Globe Staff  January 14, 2011 11:41 AM

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The ACC at this point:
So Duke showed some flaws in losing to Florida State, but I'm positive the Blue Devils are still the best team in the conference. I would venture to say Virginia Tech is probably next but the Gobblers looked gutless Thursday night as they blew a 16-point lead and let North Carolina come from behind for a 64-61 victory. I can't say I love them. Who's to love in what used to be the best basketball league in the land? Selling its soul for football seems to have diluted basketball. With a 68-team field, it will still probably add up to seven NCAA bids, but the league isn't what it used to be. The bottom line for BC fans is the Eagles are in first place at 3-0 and should have a good season resulting in an NCAA bid. Here's look at the ACC in the order of Friday's morning's standings.

Boston College (3-0): Steve Donahue has done a great job installing his uptempo, outside-shooting offense and the Eagles compete hard. It's paid off; they've won at Maryland and home games against Georgia Tech and NC State. They have an interesting test at Miami Saturday. They need to protect home court and win a few on the road and they'll be fine.

North Carolina (2-0): The Tar Heels seem to have greatness bubbling up every once in a while. Overrated freshman Harrison Barnes bubbled up Thursday night with several key buckets that sparked the comeback win over Va. Tech. The Heels still have major ballhanding problems; they sometimes have difficulty throwing the most simple of passes. They don't have a great outside shooter. Still, if all the young talent suddenly improved, they could be great. Probably won't happen until next season.

Clemson (2-1): The Tigers got off to a disappointing start under new coach Brad Brownell, losing to Old Dominion, South Carolina, and Michigan. The recent schedule has been soft and they've won eight straight. I'm not sure about them yet.

Duke (2-1): The Blue Devils are still the best team but obviously they're no longer invincible. They need injured point guard Kyrie Irving to achieve true greatness. With him, they're a national championship contender. Without him, they're still outstanding and a Final Four contender.

Florida State (2-1): The Seminoles are capable of big things, with the victory over Duke as an example. They're also capable of underachieving, with the loss to Auburn as an example. They've very good at home but I still don't trust them, especially on the road.

NC State (1-1): Freshmen hold the key for the Wolfpack and that's dangerous. They'll be inconsistent all season.

Virginia (1-1): Can't say I'm sure about the Cavaliers but this team has played a tough schedule and will benefit. Plus I like the guy on the bench, Tony Bennett. They could surprise but they've got to win at home and they've already let North Carolina slip away in Charlottesville.

Maryland (1-2):
The Terps have a tremendous big guy in Jordan Williams and are capable of beating anyone. But then again, they lost at home to BC.

Virginia Tech (1-2):
The Hokies will rally and finish strong behind a great guard in Malcolm Delaney.

Miami (0-2):
The Hurricanes haven't played a home game in the league yet. They have played a difficult non-conference schedule, but an ugly loss to Rutgers sticks out. A .500 record would be a decent goal.

Georgia Tech (0-2):
Too many early defections to the NBA and too many young players have doomed Paul Hewitt. His job could be in jeopardy.

Wake Forest (0-2):
The Deacs haven't been this bad since the mid-80s and they'll finish last.

Other thoughts:

A bad night in Oregon: The Ducks opened their new Niketown Arena, leaving behind a great place, McArthur Court but beating USC 68-62.

Sidney sighting: Finally got to see Mississippi State's notorious Renardo Sidney but I only watched during lulls in the VaTech-UNC game. This is what I saw: An overweight big guy with great offensive skill who can score both with his back to and facing the basket. He has a great touch. He also walked more than he ran, looked askance at loose balls near him and didn't extend for rebounds. He's a mixed bag, to say the least. He did end up with 24 points and Mississippi State won at Mississippi 69-64.

Surprising scores, amazing margins:
West Virginia 93, Providence 63:
The Friars have lost 16 straight Big East games.
Bryant 69, Quinnipiac 61: The Q blew another one at home and this was a doozy. Bryant missed its first 17 shots and trailed 23-3.
Drexel 62, Old Dominion 57: Quality home win for Bruiser
Minnesota 70, Purdue 67: A taut, defensive thriller at Minny's barn that's a victory the Gophers needed. Minny's Trevor Mbakwe, jailed for violating a restraining order, only sat out the first four minutes. I hope they make him stay off Facebook for a week at least.
Stanford 58, Washington 56: Playing its first game without injured point guard Abdul Gaddy, the Huskies get upset in Palo Alto.
Rhode Island 78, Richmond 74: A nice little upset for Rhody as Spidey fails to defend homecourt.
Utah State 69, Boise State 59: Boise's improved but it couldn't handle WAC leader Utah State at home.
UNC Greensboro 75, Appalachian State 74: First win of the year for Greensboro after 15 losses.

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