By Mychal Hunter
The potential was there to hang some pretty nice pelts on the wall this weekend as the ACC came back from finals to play teams from the SEC, A10, AAC, Big XII and B10. UNC, Virginia, Clemson and Louisville were able to capitalize, while FSU, Notre Dame and NC State all stumbled. For me the losses were far more shocking than the wins, I knew Clemson was going to at least hang with Florida and Louisville is obviously a much more talented team than Memphis. Credit does need to be given to that Memphis team though, they looked a hell of a lot better than I expected. In reality it should no longer be shocking to see a Tubby Smith coached team play well. The man is one of the most underappreciated coaches in the country today.
We will get to all that in a second, let’s first talk about Virginia Tech. That was just bad luck on Saturday. Kentucky had not made double digit triples in a game all season before that game. Hamadou Diallo, the most overrated player in the country, had 6 made triples on the season before that game. He made 4 on the afternoon. The rebounding discrepancy was expected as was Kerry Blackshear fouling out in just 22 minutes of action. If he could have been on the floor for 28-30 minutes like I talked about on Friday. I think this game would have ended very differently. PJ Horne did not play at all which was surprising as Buzz seemed to shorten his rotation up a bit for this game. At the end of the day this loss did little to negatively impact my thoughts on the Hokies, this is a top 25 team.
I may have to give in and accept that Indiana is a decent team but I really don’t believe it. That result on Saturday was more about Notre Dame and their weaknesses being exposed. I touched on the fact that the Irish needed to get something out of DJ Harvey in order for them to succeed and once again on Saturday the freshman scored only 3 points and played 11 minutes. Coach Mike Brey obviously has more confidence in Rex “The Haircut” Pflueger (who went 1-8 from the field) than the five star freshman right now. Someone has to step up and be that fourth guy for ND and at this point I really don’t know who it is going go be.
Oklahoma State and UNCG picking up wins was kind of shocking to me. UNCG played UVA pretty well to open the season but I thought the Wolfpack were starting to put this thing together, then Yurtseven played 13 minutes for whatever reason and the Wolfpack lost. He was not injured to my knowledge. NC State being out rebounded by UNCG is ridiculous and should never happen, Abu played 29 minutes and had a single rebound, three less than Braxton Beverly, that can’t happen. It should also be noted that Markell Johnson has been suspended indefinitely for a code of conduct violation. He was on the bench for the game. Johnson averages 8 points, 6 assists and a couple of steals per game.
FSU losing in Florida was surprising but I should have seen it coming. Leonard Hamilton, no coach does less with more and this year he had me kind of fooled through the first third of the season. CJ Walker had his second bad showing in a row and MJ Walker contributed very little. CJ is now 6 for his last 26 in his last three games and if Trent Forrest has to play 31 minutes in a game I don’t like the Seminoles chances of coming away victorious. It will be interesting to see how the they recover when they play Charleston Southern at home tonight.
Looking at the good results for the conference, Clemson and UNC easily had the most impressive wins taking down Florida and Tennessee. Marcquise Reed was fantastic in the game and Gabe Devoe made a huge corner three towards the end. I thought for sure the Tigers were toast after falling behind by double digits towards the middle of the second half but they played really well down the stretch. Brownell not challenging the refs when they put Elijah Thomas on the free throw line instead of Reed was a bit mind boggling but it all ended up ok. As far as the UNC game, I thought the Tar Heels were going to lose that game the whole way but Kenny Williams, logging his fifth straight game in double digits. Tennessee is a hard nosed team that have impressed me so far this season, though I don’t know if they are top 25 good. Either way, UNC continues to put together a fantastic resume’ before conference play begins.
Louisville looked really good at the start of their game with Memphis, and did not look very good for a stretch and then looked good again in the second half. Quentin Snider had a really nice game for the Cardinals and the front court combination of Spaulding and Mahmoud continues to be impressive. Oh, and Deng Adel can straight up shoot the shit out of the ball.
One of the most surprising things that happened this weekend wasn’t the fact that Virginia won as much as the way they won. I actually took the points at 12.5 thinking that Davidson could at least keep up with the Cavs. The Wildcats put up 80 a game and have one of the premier scorers in division 1 in Peyton Aldridge. Aldridge still played well putting up 20 points but UVA had three guys with 19 or more and scored 80 points en route to blowing out Davidson 80-60. That is only the fourth time in the past season and a half that UVA has hit 80 points. Nigel Johnson led the Cavs with 22 off the bench in 26 minutes. Of note, DeAndre Hunter only played 7 minutes in this game and has seen his minutes decline over the last two games from 22 to 14 and now from 14 to 7.
Georgia Tech snapped their three game losing streak, defeating Florida A&M at home. The biggest news that evening was the return of Coach Josh Pastner’s star wing Josh Okogie, who looked a little rusty but still put up 19 points 4 rebounds and 2 blocks. This is a huge deal for the Yellow Jackets who have not played well in their star sophomores absence and have still yet to play a game with their full compliment of players. Promising wing Curtis Haywood, more affectionately known as “CurtGoneBad” missed the game with a shin injury, it is believed he will not play in the UGA game on Tuesday either.
Miami predictably beat GW in D.C. , but after building a 17 point halftime lead the game was only a 9 point spread at the end. The Hurricanes, who had their main rotation available, still can’t seem to put it together consistently on the offensive end. Bruce Brown played 38 minutes and only had 3 points. I am not positive if his hand injury is still nagging him but it seems likely.
Pittsburgh got a win at home against McNeese State 72-51. I give Pitt a ton of shit on this blog but I must say, I really like Marcus Carr. He is going to be a serious player for that program over his next 3 years. Carr and junior Jared Wilson-Frame will really have to step up now as senior forward Ryan Luther, who averages a double double, will be out a couple of weeks according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette with a stress fracture in his foot.
To put a bow on it Syracuse went to the land of crooks and defeated their hated rival, the Georgetown Hoyas, 86-79 in OT. Battle and Howard both played well, the former scoring 29 points. Oshae Brissett has officially shown me he can shoot now and Syracuse has a chance to be the surprise team in this conference. They have some heavy competition for that moniker as both FSU and NC State are both looking good but having seen all three play a couple times, I think the Orange are probably the best of the trio.
Power Rankings will be back on Friday and then it will probably be radio silence for a almost a week as I am hosting Christmas this year for the first time. So….yeah, I am probably going to be way too drunk to be writing any coherent thoughts.