By Mychal Hunter
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and now that the madness is over I am glad to be back after a relaxing week of not doing a fucking thing.
I was going to do an updated Power Rankings today but they wouldn’t have changed much from last week, hardly any games have been played. I decided to do a preview of tomorrow’s slate which consists of a six games and some pretty juicy match-ups.
Wake Forest at UNC 12:00 ESPN2
This game is funny, Wake Forest is a really talented team but is incapable of beating a team with a pair of balls. I am in full sell mode with the Demon Deacons after that loss to Tennessee in which they looked terrible in the second half. Bryant Crawford has fallen pretty flat in his junior campaign seeing his points, rebounds, assists and eFG% all down from last year despite an increase in his usage rate.
UNC on the other hand bounced back nicely after losing to Wofford at home by defeating Ohio State fairly handily in New Orleans. Which, by the way, why the fuck is that a neutral site game? Anyways, Theo Pinson bounced back from a horrible game against Wofford and Cam Johnson successfully knocked the rust off with a solid 14 point, 5 rebound effort. Johnson spent some time at the four which was about the most predictable thing to happen this past week. Look for that role to increase as Johnson gets all the way back.
On paper this game should be a good one but Danny Manning’s team continues to underwhelm. When I think about the Deacs playing their first conference game, on the road, against a UNC team that just lost their last home game to a SoCon team, I anticipate Wake leaving the auditorium bloody.
Prediction: UNC 80 Wake 67
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame 2:00 ESPNU
At the beginning of the season this might have been the best match-up of the day but now it appears to be The Completely Lost vs The Underwhelming.
To put it gently, Georgia Tech looks completely fucking lost and was a Ben Lammers fueled run away from dropping a game to Coppin State in Atlanta the other night. It should be mentioned that the Jackets only played 7 scholarship players in the game due to injuries but Coppin State came into the game without a win on the season and would have been underdogs to St. Luther’s School for the Blind and Crippled. There is simply no excuse for the Jacket’s play of late.
Notre Dame is the team in the ACC that is the biggest question mark for me right now. I just don’t know what to expect when they step on to the court. Colson, Farrell and Gibbs are a great trio but they need one of Pfleuger, Harvey or Geben to give them something solid as a fourth option. Pflueger is the best option at the moment but is pretty inconsistent to say the least.
If you were to look at the Irish’s offensive and defensive ranks nationwide they actually appear to be a well rounded team. On the flip side Georgia Tech doesn’t play defense like they did last year, ranking 313th in three point percentage allowed, 322nd in personal fouls and they also average more turnovers than assists. While they rank in the top 40 in ppg allowed, they have played a shit schedule. The Irish are easily the best team the Jackets have played so far, Matt Farrell and TJ Gibbs are in for huge games here, expect a homicide like outcome.
Prediction: Notre Dame 92 Georgia Tech 71
Florida State at Duke 2:00pm CBS
This is easily the best game of the day. Can Duke play 40 minutes of defense? Can Florida State keep up/slow down a high powered offense? Does anyone have the defensive chops in the FSU back court to slow down Trevon Duval?
This is the first real game the Blue Devils will play since losing to Boston College. They did come out and destroy Evansville but, well ya know. Duke has an obvious advantage in the front court here as Obiagu is going to have to mark either Bagley or Carter while Cofer matches up against the other. The Blue Devils pose match-up difficulty all over the court for the Seminoles.
One thing I want to see in this game is how Phil Cofer plays. He has been a bright spot for the Seminoles this year but what can he do against ACC level competition? I also want to see CJ Walker play well, which he will need to do if the ‘Noles stand a chance in this one. As anyone who follows this blog knows, I am a big Walker fan but he has played very poorly the last couple weeks. Coming out of the slump won’t be easy, Duval is as prone to defensive play making as he is to taking piss poor shots on offense.
Keep an eye on freshman MJ Walker, who had 15 points in his last game. Coach Hamilton is going to need Walker to score in this one as I don’t expect the ‘Noles to get much from their front court in this one.
I expect Bagley, Carter, DeLaurier and Bolden to really roll over this Seminole front court. Obiagu is a good player but he does not have the ability to guard any of those guys in space. I am also not a huge believer in Cofer yet but if he plays well in this game there is no denying he is for real.
Prediction: Duke 83 FSU 74
Boston College at Virginia 2:00 ACCNE (watchESPN)
This game could be interesting if Boston College shoots the ball well but nobody else has against Virginia this year (top 40 in both 3pt% against and FG% against) so I would not expect it from the Eagles, especially on the road in John Paul Jones.
Boston College’s biggest deficiency is their lack of front court talent and while Nik Popovic has played admirably, he is not enough to stop Isaiah Wilkins or Mamadi Diakite from hitting the glass and creating second chance opportunities. Popovic will also struggle to provide any offensive production given Isaiah’s prowess on the defensive end.
On the flip side UVA has come to depend on the duo of Kyle Guy and Devon Hall to provide the scoring punch and both seem to be up to the task. Boston College is not a team that will ever be confused with a good perimeter defensive team so I fully expect Virginia to get the win here while leaning on those two. Look for Ty Jerome to continue his solid production and be a solid third scorer in this game, he has played well in the previous two and should be able to take advantage of Eagles matador perimeter defense.
Of course, all of this could be for not if Jerome Robinson, Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman go fucking ballistic from deep, which they have a propensity to do, just ask Duke.
Prediction: UVA 71 BC 65
Miami at Pittsburgh 4:00 ACCNE (watchESPN)
Not going to spend a whole lot of time here, but…
Home court matters and Miami has still yet to put it all together. Add to that the fact that Lonnie Walker IV is nicked up again and you never know what is going to happen.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Pittsburgh is going to win this game but Miami is a team that has started this season looking like they are susceptible to playing down to competition. Bruce Brown needs to come out and blow the roof off the joint and prove he is worthy of all the pre-season praise he received. I have yet to be impressed by him, or this team so far this season.
The absence of Ryan Luther is going to hurt for an already talent starved Panthers team but Marcus Carr and Jared Wilson-Frame have played pretty well in recent weeks. I think this team is starting to gel a little bit and may give the ‘Canes some problems.
Prediction: Miami 61 Pitt 57
North Carolina State at Clemson 4:00 ACCNE (watchESPN)
In a match-up of “pretenders or contenders”, the Wolfpack travel to Clemson for what is probably the most evenly matched game of the day. I would expect the spread to be Clemson (-1.5 to -2.5).
NC State will continue to play without sophomore point guard Markell Johnson, who is currently being investigated for felony assault in Ohio. The Wolfpack are 2-1 without Johnson and freshman Lavar Batts has played pretty well in his absence. Malik Abu finally looked like his old self in the Pack’s recent game against Jacksonville, logging a near double double, which is something NC State desperately needs.
Winners of seven in a row, Clemson has destroyed its last two opponents after squeaking out a quality win over Florida. The Tigers bloodied up a decent UL-Lafayette team a week ago and looked damn good doing it. I am starting to believe in this Clemson team a bit, their starting five is talented and experienced and if freshmen Amir Simms and Clyde Trapp can continue to develop and provide quality minutes, Brad Brownell might be in business.
The match-up I want to see here is Omer Yurtseven and Elijah Thomas, two of the most talented big men in the conference. Yurtseven has been off the court more than on lately but he will be needed in this one if State wants to hang with Clemson on the glass. Thomas, a sometimes one man firestorm of emotion, is the defensive anchor for the Tigers and has 12 blocks in his last three games. I expect the game to be decided in the front court and I really like Grantham and Thomas right now.
Prediction: Clemson 72 NC State 69
Also, I will be expanding this site in the spring to include a message board feature and have decided to start a podcast as well. The first podcast should be out early in 2018 but due to my technical stupidity may come a bit later.
It took me almost two hours to get my mic to work last night for a test so don’t expect miracles.