So, it’s still a bit too early for these to actually matter or be accurate, but I like doing it, so here ya go.
Some things became clearer after the ACC/Big10 challenge, while some things became a bit cloudier. One thing is for sure, there is no change at the top of the mountain.
- Duke: There would be no shame in losing to Florida, who looks like the best team in the SEC. However, to be down to that Gator team by 17 in the second half and come back and win? Ha, yeah, Duke is the best team in the ACC. They played down to the competition in The Challenge, only beating Indiana by 10, but they still won. I will worry about them if they continue to lag in the first half of games, but I think as they get more experience you are going to see this machine really start to produce some big time, dominating performances.
- Virginia: I am going to stay with the Cavs here. The win against Wisconsin wasn’t very pretty, but this isn’t a fucking fashion show. Kyle Guy is the…Guy, Isaiah Wilkins is going to stop their opponents best front court player and Ty Jerome is just steady enough to make me confident here. I really wanted to see Jerome, Hunter or Huff step up and be that second scorer, but it looks like it might be Devon Hall who is now averaging 12ppg after averaging 17 the last two. I don’t know why Jay Huff isn’t playing, I can’t find anything about injury. Bennett said he didn’t like the match-up when Huff didn’t play in the first game so maybe that’s it.
- Miami: That was a big win by the Canes going to Minnesota and getting the W. I did not think they would be able to pull it off the way Brown, Newton and Walker are shooting the three, but Dewan Huell was huge, even if his rebounding numbers were not. I would like to see Chris Lykes assist numbers come up a bit and I am dying to see Lonnie Walker IV bust out, but I think that will all come with time. I think this team is just learning how to play together on the perimeter.
- Virginia Tech: Right now the Hokies are probably the funnest team to watch play in the conference. They score the ball in a bunch of different ways, Ahmed Hill and NAW are becoming stars right before our eyes, Kerry Blackshear Jr. is living up to his potential, Chris Clarke and PJ Horne are playing really well at the small ball four. The Justins are scoring and assisting on everything and everyone. The Hokies are averaging 10 triples a game, and 99 points per. They lead the country in field goal percentage, fourth in assists and fifth in free throws made. It really is fun to watch.
- Notre Dame: I was ready to move UVA down a spot after the Irish beat Wichita State. If they could have pulled it off against Michigan State they would have easily been number two. If they hadn’t looked so over-matched against Michigan State I still would have though about it. They need another dude. DJ Harvey is probably that guy, but sometimes you don’t even know he is on the court. Harvey’s development is paramount for Mike Brey’s bunch to make a final four run in my opinion. I am interested to see how they respond to last nights loss. I probably wouldn’t want to be St. Francis right now, or anytime really.
- UNC: The Heels bounced back nicely after an absolutely terrible showing against Michigan State in the PK80, by handling Michigan with relative ease. Cam Johnson was seen shooting around before the game, so fans are hoping his return is near. Johnson is going to be needed to play the small ball four as well, these freshman bigs are not performing well. Brooks looked ok at first, and Manley looked ok recently, but neither is going to be logging heavy minutes in conference play.
- Louisville: “Paging Mr. Snider. Mr. Snider please report to the point guard position.” I was really surprised to see Louisville hang with Purdue in West Lafayette the way the did. Ray Spaulding and VJ King played a whole lot better then I anticipated. In order for this teams success to match its talent though, Quentin Snider has got to get it going, Darius Perry is good, but he is not going to lead this team through the ACC slate.
- NC State: The biggest shock in the conference early on for me is the Wolfpack. I did not think Braxton Beverly was this good, I honestly did not think Al Freeman was this good. I saw nothing from Freeman at Baylor that led me to believe he could be the best player on a winning ACC squad. They have yet to play an ACC game obviously, but this team plays an effective style of defense, and they are deeeeep.
- Syracuse: I was 99% sure these guys were going to lose against Maryland at home. So, naturally Frank Howard comes out and plays the best game of his career. I am not sure if he is as good as he was that night, but he definitely has some talent, and even had a couple triples halfway down in the first half that popped out that would have changed the landscape of that game. If Huerter hadn’t gone bonkers from deep Cuse probably wins that game by double digits. Geno Thorpe left the program today and that is gonna hurt, especially when we get into conference play, but I think Dolezaj can suck up a lot of those minutes. They get Kansas on Saturday in Miami, that is going to tell me a lot.
- FSU: The ‘Noles just couldn’t put Rutgers away the other night. CJ Walker, another one of my preseason breakout picks, had a career game and Phil Cofer continues to shine. It’s hard for me to trust Leonard Hamilton, he really seems to underachieve with a ton of talent. He takes his squad to Gainesville this week to take on the Gators. I don’t expect good things.
- Georgia Tech: The freshman are really starting to impress me. We all know what Ben Lammers is and what to expect. Jose Alvarado is averaging 13 points 5 rebounds and 4 assists per game, along with two steals. He averages as many steals as turnovers. In the last three games, Curtis Haywood II is 8-12 from deep and is averaging 5 rebounds and 4 assists. When Josh Okogie gets back this team is going to be dangerous. They get a buy game tonight against Grambling, before hosting Tennessee on Sunday.
- Clemson: Sorry Tigers fans, I just don’t see you guys beating anyone in front of you. You have the talent to do it, I just don’t trust your coach. It was a nice win over Ohio State on the Buckeyes home floor, but at the end of the season I don’t think that win will be worth a whole lot. Circle December 16th on your calenders, Clemson plays Florida, that is a show me something game. Clemson has the front court talent to give the Gators some trouble, could be a sneaky good game.
- Wake Forest: You can’t struggle at home to beat an Illinois team that hasn’t played anyone and is reliant on freshman guards. This team should be 7-0 without breaking a sweat. I don’t understand why Terrance Thompson is not playing 25 minutes per game, maybe it is conditioning, maybe it’s the dog house. Right now there are nine players averaging at least 11 minutes per game, I think that is too much.
- Boston College: Losing Deontae Hawkins sucks. I have heard it is a knee but I have not seen the extent of the injury reported. The Illinois State transfer was averaging a double double for the Eagles, and is really their only front court threat to score. If they are to play an extended period without him the Eagles become a mid major type of team who is just going to hoist 30 triples per game.
- Pitt: The Panthers narrowly avoided an embarrassing home loss against High Point this week. They did not play in The Challenge, which excludes one ACC each year. Wilson-Frame and Carr do look like players, but if Stallings can’t get some talent in this front court it is never going to matter.