A couple of days ago I was asked to be part of an ACC Round Table by Clark over at the ACC & SEC Blog with a few other ACC Bloggers. With the Terps flying high, I can’t talk enough ACC Basketball right now. So here are my answers to his questions. After reading it I kind of sound like a homer, but I really would be shocked if my predictions on some of these things don’t come to fruition.
1. The national perception is that the ACC is down this year. Duke has been in the top 10 all year, but no one else has come close. Does the conference deserve this reputation? Why or Why not?
You can look at this two ways. First you could say the conference is down since there aren’t a couple of teams in the top 5 or 10 like so many years in the past. The other way to look at it, and the way I see it, is the conference is not down. There are a lot of good teams, not necessarily great teams, but good teams that could make some noise in March. I don’t think they are the top conference this year, but top to bottom, I don’t think it is down.
2. Does Duke have what it takes to make a run to a National Championship? Why or Why not?
This year, I think you could say yes, because of the parity in the entire NCAA. The reason they might come up short is because they get so much of their scoring from the outside, and really don’t run any offense through the bigs. The bigs get their points off offensive rebounds, and that can be effective, but all it takes is for one off night from one or two of Scheyer, Smith, or Singler and they could be out of it in a flash. I do expect them to make a little deeper run this year.
3. We know Duke and Maryland are in, but who else gets in from the ACC? Will we see any surprises on Selection Sunday?
In my mind Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech are in, for now. Wake is likely in, and Georgia Tech could be the x-factor come Selection Sunday. If they can beat UNC and Maryland in the ACC Tournament they will be a lock. If they only beat UNC, they are going to be sweating it out. All that said, so many bubble teams are shooting themselves in the foot, they might get in anyway, but if I was a fan, I would feel better with a couple more wins. A bad loss here or there for someone like Virginia Tech, and they might move from in to on the bubble, but ultimately I think they get in. I am really interested in seeing how the selection committee deals with a non conference schedule strength of over 300. If they don’t get in, there is no doubt that will be why.
4. What is the biggest surprise of the season (good or bad)?
I think the biggest surprise for me as a Maryland fan is the play of Jordan Williams and in turn the Terps tie for the ACC Title. There is no coincidence the Terps have gotten on a roll as the quality of Williams’ play has increased. Without his play, the Terps are a solid team, but all of this talk of making a deep tournament run is not warranted.
At the start of the season I really thought the Terps could be a top 4 team. Who would have predicted Carolina would be having the type of year they are having? I also expected Wake and Clemson to be a little more consistent, so I guess you could say I was surprised they didn’t finish a little higher.
5. A couple of teams have had disappointing seasons. Whose seat is the hottest?
I think Sidney Lowe has got to have the hottest seat. It isn’t just this year that the Red Coats have been bottom feeders in the ACC since he was brought in. If they weren’t happy with Herb Sendek, you have to imagine Sidney Lowe is not going please the Wolf Pack faithful. Does the win over Duke buy him another year? Maybe. That certainly has been the biggest win in the program under him and maybe they want to see if he can build on it next year.
6. Who is your player and coach of the year? Why?
For Player of the Year I am going to go with Greivis Vasquez. I think he deserves it over Scheyer because he has less of a supporting cast. Scheyer may be one of three Duke players who wind up one of the three all conference teams. I don’t foresee anyone other than Vasquez on the list for the Terps. In my mind if you take Scheyer off Duke, they are still a pretty good team. If you take Vasquez off the Terps, well, I am not ready to think about what next year might be like!
Coach of the year has to go to Gary Williams. I don’t want to sound like a homer here, but the fact the Terps were picked to finish 5th in the conference, and they tied for first is enough for me. I think his defensive game plans this year have been great. They have done a very good job keeping the opposing teams stars in check for the most part.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach K wins it though. As much as I despise everything Duke and K, you have to give him credit that he finds ways to win based on what he has. His teams change every year, and this year was no exception. They have gone from being a dribble drive and kickout team, to more of a motion offense team. Still, my feeling is Gary deserves it over him.