ACC full of surprises thus far


by Paul Casey Gotham

In what could be a case of quality over quantity, the Atlantic Coast Conference has rather quietly seized four of the AP’s  most recent Top Ten.

While much has been deservedly made of the Big East and their potential for nine or ten teams earning invitations to the NCAA tournament in March, the ACC has shown they could be punching more than one ticket to the Motor City come April.

Adding an element of surprise to the early success is that two of the three undefeated teams in the country come from the ACC, and neither reside along Tobacco Road.

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Clemson Tigers have navigated a few stormy waters to maintain unblemished records thus far.

At least one of the two will have a blemish by week’s end as the Demon Deacons will pay a visit to Littlejohn on Saturday.

Hmmmmmm….sounds like a ‘Tale of the Tape’ possibility.

Of course the Deacs travel to Chestnut Hill tonight.

You don’t suppose Boston College could pull off another upset do ya?   After dropping the Tar Heels of UNC from the ranks of the undefeated, the Eagles have shown their effort was merely an upset.  Since then they have fallen to cross-town ‘rival’ Harvard, 82-70 and to Miami 77-71.

Wake Forest will need to prove Sunday night was not a fluke and tonight’s game will go a long way to establishing their legitimacy.

Speaking of Sunday night – I finally had a chance to see a replay of the game.  Man do I love the CBS College Sports station.

Did the Heels look rather mortal?

I am trying to imagine if Ty Lawson elected to stay in the NBA draft how he would be doing in a league where everyone has as much athletic ability as him.

Save for Danny Green getting hot from the outside the Heels played a less than satisfactory game.  Tyler Hansbrough made three field goals and Wayne Ellington four.  Something tells me Roy Williams is going to need more production from those guys.

But give credit to Wake Forest.   Going into Sunday’s game the Deacs had not yet beaten a ranked opponent.

They had knocked off Baylor before the Bears improved to #21.  The Deacs had ended the nation’s longest home court winning streak when they bounced Brigham Young.

With a strength of schedule rating that hovers well over the century mark there was reason to doubt the early-season accomplishments of Wake Forest.

But head coach, Dino Gaudio has built a team ready for the long-haul.

One year removed from taking over after the death of head coach and his longtime friend, Skip Prosser, Gaudio has his boys ready to challenge the perennial favorites of the ACC.

Gaudio brought in a pair of towers – 6’11 Tony Woods and 7′ Ty Walker along with 6’9″ starter, Al-Farouq Amin to compliment a team with a strong backcourt.

The depth showed Sunday night as junior center, Chas McFarland and sophomore, Jeff Teague led the way.

Can the Deacs continue?

Time will tell, but make no mistake Gaudio is the man for the job in Winston-Salem.

There is no coincidence Wake Forest is doing well.  Gaudio followed in the footsteps of legends, Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski, and coached at West Point.  Under Gaudio’s direction Army won their only two Patriot League tournament games in school history.

Unfortunately, Wake and UNC are not scheduled for another contest this season.  Here’s hoping they meet in somewhere in the post-season.

Without a marquee victory Oliver Purnell’s Clemson Tigers have flown under the radar.

The Tigers have gained an early advantage by using multiple defenses thus far.

Purnell’s gang ranks tenth in the country averaging ten picks per game.  It will be interesting to see if Clemson can maintain continued success using a press.

Trevor Booker at 15.4 ppg leads three Tigers in double figures.

K.C. Rivers contributes 14.7 per game and Terrence Oglesby 12.8.

Then there’s the Duke Blue Devils.

Coach K’s team didn’t garner many pre-season lauds.  They haven’t pulled off an impact victory.  And they dropped a game to the upstart Michigan Wolverines.

Make no mistake though the Devils are no pushover.

Kyle Singler leads a group that if is nothing else, they are opportunistic.

Jon Scheyer is capable of stringing together threes.

Gerald Henderson can tussle with the best of them.

And suddenly Brian Zoubek is doing something in the paint.  I wouldn’t exactly call it establishing a post presence, but it is something.

The schedule makers did not shine on Duke.

While UNC and Wake only play each other once in the regular season, Duke gets both on two occasions.

Other Notes:  I wonder how Bruce Pearl does when he visits a horse track?  Do you think he lays down any cash?   ‘Cause trifectas just seem to follow him wherever he goes.

Another night and another barrage of threes – that’s the way of Tennessee Volunteers basketball.  The latest to torch the Vols – Jodie Meeks.

The junior dropped 10 from behind the arc last night en route to establishing a new single-game record at Kentucky with 54 points.

This comes in the wake of Dionte Christmas’s 7 for 14 from longe and 35 points overall.

Gonzaga has lit up Bruce Pearl’s perimeter defense on two occasions.  The Bulldogs have shot a combined 21 for 41 in two wins over Tennessee.

Even Belmont enjoyed success (9 for 22) shooting from long-range against the Vols.

Check this out – last night the Vols actually took more shots from behind the arc than Kentucky.  Yeah, you read that right.  Tennessee took 23 from long range and made a whopping 6.

Kentucky, on the other hand, went 12 for 19.

To make matters worse Kentucky outrebounded Tennessee 37-31.

Note to Coach Pearl – hook your guys up to an echo cardiogram machine and find out if anybody has a heart.

One Response to "ACC full of surprises thus far"

  1. Rey   January 14, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Clemson is fun to watch. Everything seems to be clicking with them defensively. Their full court press is ran with precision and they contyinue to trap near half court. It’s a beautiful thing when teams have this down. Remember when we were at the Temple-Tenn. game? It just seemed like UT never wanted to really spring their traps and close down. Not Clemson — they torment you for 94 feet.

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