By Mychal Hunter
Right now this conference is similar to a 90’s action movie. The plot sucks, you can almost see any twists and turns on the road ahead but the fight scenes are incredible. Sometimes though, those movies had crazy endings that we never saw coming.
What do we know?
We know that Wake Forest is talented. However, we also know that while they have won six straight games, we should not assume that all of their issues have been resolved. The Demon Deacon’s record now stands at 7-4 after a 1-4 start followed by their current six game winning streak. Beating Illinois looked decent at the time but now the Illini sit at 8-5 and are alternating wins and losses. A win at home against UNC-G kicked off this streak and while Francis Alonso and UNC-G are a decent team, Danny Manning’s team should be expected to win that game. The other four teams are Charlotte, who just fired Mark Price. Richmond, whose fan base is quickly turning on once beloved coach Chris Mooney and the remaining two are Army and Coastal Carolina. The Deacons get Tennessee at home this coming Saturday, if they are able to pull that game off it will go a long way to making me a believer.
What else do we know?
We know that Georgia Tech can’t score and that Ben Lammers probably shouldn’t be playing. Last night the Yellow Jackets were torched by Georgia, a team that will be in the bottom tier of the SEC standings at the end of the season. Big Ben really struggled last night both from the field and defensively. His jumper, which is usually pretty consistent from 14-17 feet, has not been there consistently and he is not contesting shots the way that GT fans are accustomed to. The big fella is clearly not 100% and continuing to play him heavy minutes has to be impeding the healing process. Even with Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson back, this team is defined by the their defense and that defense is defined by Ben Lammers. He needs to get healthy. With Wright State and Coppin St coming to town before ACC play it will be interesting to see what Pastner does.
What do we know that we don’t know?
We don’t know how good Notre Dame is. They were able to win last night at home against Dartmouth but the Big Green made it a one possession game with about 4 minutes left if memory serves me correctly. Notre Dame was finally able to put the mid tier Ivy League team away behind a 37 point 11 rebound performance from Bonzie Colson. The senior big man took it into his own hands with under four to go by getting a steal and break away dunk and then caused another turnover again on the next possession. Martinas Geben had a huge put back dunk towards the end and the Irish won by 10. Lack of depth continues to be an issue for Mike Brey’s club as his bench was outscored 32-3. The Irish get one more out of conference game against Southeast Louisiana before ACC play begins, they need to get it together.
We don’t know if FSU can depend on CJ Walker and Phil Cofer during conference play. The senior forward has been phenomenal during his final campaign thus far, scoring double digits in all but three contests. Cj Walker started the season really impressively as well but has really struggled lately, going 9-34 in his last four games. When you take a look at the body of work, FSU has not played a ton of quality teams. The Florida win looked really nice at the time but the Gators are no longer in the top 25. The Seminoles current strength of schedule is 231st, their first four games in league play are @Duke, UNC, @Miami, Louisville. That stretch right there is going to be very revealing. Cofer won’t be able to out-athlete and overpower the front courts during league play and if Walker is struggling during this easy part of the schedule, what is he going to do in CIS and in Corral Gables?
I am probably going to check out UNC tonight when they play Wofford. The outcome is not really in question but I have watched only one Tar Heels game the whole way through. I think the last full game I watched was the Michigan win. I would love to see Cam Johnson play tonight but given the opponent that seems highly unlikely. According to Inside Carolina the junior transfer is close to being back, the Ohio State game might make sense in order to get a good warm up for ACC play but who knows. I don’t. I won’t pretend that I do but I will speculate all day.
In some other games tonight, Duke gets Evansville at home in the Blue Devils first game since their loss to BC. Expect the people in the first 10 rows to leave with blood on their clothes. Louisville is also hosting Albany in what could be a sneaky good game but could also be a beat down of epic proportions if Louisville plays this game like they played the second half of the Memphis game.
Barring anything crazy happening such as ND losing to SE Louisiana, or Fletcher Magee going ballistic in Chapel Hill, the next piece will be up Friday and it will be updated power rankings.