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Caulton Tudor

ACC's October optimism was so last year

Posted January 3, 2014
Updated January 5, 2014

— ACC basketball practices began with predictions that up to eight or nine league teams would land NCAA Tournament bids. So much for October optimism.

As the conference regular-season schedule pops into full bloom this weekend, only five of the new-look 15 teams are comfortably positioned to reach the NCAA.

If bids went out today – rather than March 16 – Syracuse (13-0) would be a No. 1 regional seed, Duke (11-2) a No. 2 or 3, UNC (10-3) and No. 3 or 4 and Pittsburgh (12-1) a No. 6 or 7. Everyone else either is a long shot or on the bubble. That list that includes perceived preseason locks Notre Dame (9-4), Virginia (9-4) and Maryland (9-5).

The back stories:

Notre Dame’s status changed in large part when preseason all-ACC pick Jerian Grant (6-5, Sr.) became academically ineligible after averaging 19 points through the first 12 games.

But in reality, the Irish were failing to meet expectations even before Grant was scratched from the roster. An 83-70 loss to visiting Indiana State on Nov. 11 was the first clue, but a 73-69 loss to North Dakota State was even more telling.

The Irish will play their first conference game Saturday against Duke, but they may not have the usual home-court emotional edge in the Edmund Joyce Center. Second semester classes don’t start until Jan. 8, and very few of the school’s 8,300 or so undergraduates reside in the South Bend area. Even those from Chicago, roughly 100 miles west of campus, may find the driving conditions challenging as a result of a heavy winter storm.

Virginia’s preseason all-conference pick – senior guard Joe Harris – is averaging a relatively modest 11.1 points, shooting a disappointing 62.5 percent on free throws and barely has more assists (28) than turnovers (23). Harris suffered a left-foot stress fracture in late June, and it’s still not clear that he’s completely comfortable.  But entering Saturday’s game at Florida State (9-3), something obviously is out of sync. In 35 games last season, Harris averaged 16.3 points and converted 74 percent of his free throws.

Pack could benefit from schedule quirk

N.C. State (10-3) has an opportunity to upgrade its resume immediately. The Wolfpack will host Pitt on Saturday (noon), visit Notre Dame on Wednesday (9 p.m.) and return to face Virginia on Saturday, Jan. 11, (5 p.m.) in PNC Arena. If State wins two of the three, the seasonal outlook suddenly would be much brighter.

Home wins in January will be must for Mark Gottfried’s third team. For starters, State’s league schedule is arguably the most difficult in the conference, and starting with a Feb. 1 trip to Carolina, the Pack will have only one home game (vs. Wake Forest Feb. 11) before getting the return game against the Tar Heels on Feb. 26.

With the rapid, widespread expansion, ACC schedules will be quirky forever. But State this season really drew a strange hand. Beginning with Maryland on Jan. 20, the Pack is scheduled for three home games, then two away, one home and then three straight on the road. It, no doubt, will be a wild winter ride.

Carolina’s opener at Wake (10-3) on Sunday (8 p.m.) should give both sides a quick reading on their composure. Wake is 9-0 at home, although there has not been a high-profile win. The Deacons were reasonably effective much of the way in an 87-78 loss against Kansas in November and have displayed isolated moments of improvement over Jeff Bzdelik’s first three teams.

After going 8-24, 13-18 and 13-18, Bzdelik needs a good league start in a bad way.

The Tar Heels have had the nation’s most eventful early season – 13 games marked by stunning performance extremes, the permanent loss of P.J. Hairston, the return of Leslie McDonald and a personnel chemistry that may continue to be completely unpredictable all season.

For Roy Williams and his generally young team, every road game probably will be an venture into mystery. He won’t have to wait very long to find out for certain.

13 Comments

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  • aprince27 Jan 6, 2014

    View quoted thread



    you're gonna hate it more when the tournament moves to MSG. Face it, the Big East teams coming in are going to change how the ACC thinks. And the ACC traditionalists are going to do nothing but throw fits.

    These are teams that want to win their conference and their conference tournament.

  • StunGunn Jan 3, 2014

    Let the games begin!

    Wake seems to have improved over the past few seasons, and last year Duke escaped the Joel with a five-point win, so I expect the Heels to be tested there on Sunday.

    Duke and Syracuse will be the teams to beat in the ACC, but the Heels will be tough as well, depending on which team shows up (I'm hoping the one that beat Michigan State, L'Ville, and Kentucky).

  • vt94hokies Jan 3, 2014

    It's too early to pick teams other than those playing some legiminate schools. Just about all have winning records right now. But you have to look at the top programs across the landscape too. I could probably pick the lower teams vs the top half teams right now. Some teams always improve and surprise. UVA hasn't shown their billing, nor has ND. WF and VT dragging up the rear again.

  • evadbbat Jan 3, 2014

    I liked the eight team conference.

  • jmdog37 Jan 3, 2014

    go wolfpack!!!!!

  • heelsgrad 1988 Jan 3, 2014

    Tudor is soooo yesteryear!

  • cjw6105 Jan 3, 2014

    They'll care when I, along with season ticket holders in other ACC fan bases, quit buying tickets.

    Nobody owns me, let alone the team I currently support.

  • jmcdow2792 Jan 3, 2014

    One thing for sure. We will no the answer to a lot of these questions starting tomorrow and getting clearer ever day for the next few weeks. Nothing like playing the games to answer the speculation.

  • unc70 Jan 3, 2014

    My previous post should read:

    Most likely 1-2 or 0-3.

    (You can't edit posts under some of the columns.)

  • unc70 Jan 3, 2014

    That article is certainly putting the positive spin on the challenge to State the next two weeks. Yes, two wins would be a great conference start, but the odds are really against that. Only about even odds of getting a win at all. Odds are probably around 5% of getting two wins. Most likely 1-2 or 2-3.

    As for State's conference future SOS, it is in currently in the middle -- well behind Wake or Maryland, though much stronger than Duke which has the weakest future SOS.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
TEX 3
CLE 12
Final
COL 6
CIN 4
Final
MIA 2
PIT 5
Final
CWS 5
TOR 3
Final
KAN 2
NYY 4
Final
BOS 4
MIN 6
Final
PHI 0
NYM 7
Final
SEA 3
TAM 0
Final
SFG 3
MIL 1
Final
DET 3
OAK 2
Final
HOU 4
BAL 5
Final
WAS 3
CHC 0
Final
ARI 3
STL 4
7th
SDP 5
ANA 3
 
7th
ATL 1
LOS 1
 
1:05pm Today
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Today
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Tonight
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Tonight
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Tonight
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Tonight
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Tonight
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Tonight
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
7:05pm Monday
TOR
WAS
 
7:10pm Monday
CHC
MIA
 
7:10pm Monday
MIN
BOS
 
8:10pm Monday
BAL
HOU
 
8:10pm Monday
MIL
STL
 
8:40pm Monday
LOS
COL
 
9:40pm Monday
ATL
ARI
 
10:05pm Monday
TAM
ANA
 
10:10pm Monday
NYM
SDP
 
10:10pm Monday
NYY
SEA
 
10:15pm Monday
PIT
SFG
 
Final
HOU 90
GSW 104
 
9:00pm Friday
GSW
HOU
 
9:00pm Sunday
HOU
GSW
 
Final
ANA 2
CHI 5
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR