Some quick basketball comments of interest:
* Due to the performance of some of our opponents, NC State has crept to #37 in the RPI having played the 27th toughest schedule in America. You can expect that SOS to only get more difficult at State still has four (of eight) games against teams that look NCAA Tournament bound – @ Maryland, vs UNC-CH, vs Duke, vs Clemson.
* Speaking of Clemson…the Tigers won by 31 points at Virginia tonight. That is great for the ACC and potentially for NC State. The conference NEEDS for there to be a couple of bad teams to feed wins to our ’2nd tier’ that I think consists of Clemson, Maryland and NC State. Similarly, I refer you to some comments made in this entry for more clarity on this:
The Atlantic Coast Conference exhibits phenomenal balance across twelve teams and is currently the top rated conference in the RPI. For example, the ACC doesn’t have a team with an RPI currently worse than #86 while the Pac-10 four teams with RPI’s worse than the 12th team in the ACC – Washington, Arizona State, California and Oregon State. You read that correctly. The great Arizona State that the media has been lauding as such a succeess story currently sits at #91 in the RPI, forty spots behind NC State and five spots behind the ACC’s worst team.
The ACC’s balance is fantastic. But after listening to idiots like Doug Gottlieb last night who extolled his unwaivering conviction that the Pac 10 is clearly the best conference in America because it is so difficult “from to to bottom”, I am concerned that the ACC’s depth of balance is not being appreciated by the college basketball community and therefore will ultimately hurt the league’s chances of obtaining our fair share of NCAA Tournament bids.
Therefore, I think that it is imperative that the ACC needs more teams to establish themselves as clear NCAA Tournament teams while creating a more clear differentiation between the haves and the have nots. Basically, it would be better for the conference for some teams to start succeeding at the expense of other teams. For example, it would be particular helpful if Boston College, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest started losing more to NC State, Clemson, Miami, Maryland and Florida State.
* Virginia has gotten so bad that we almost MUST win our game there next weekend to protect our RPI from taking too big of hit. A loss would be really tough on our numbers.
* Fox Sports Jeff Goodman made some interesting comments in this blog entry titled “N.C. STATE BETTER WITHOUT COSTNER?”
Hickson, who went to the foul line 17 times last night (Virginia Tech went just 10), said he has also begun to understand that the NBA will still be there for him and he doesn’t need to push the envelope. “I’m starting to trust my teammates more,” he said. “If our guards make open shots, it’s only going to free me up for shots later in the season.”
* Goodman wrote a blog entry a couple of weeks ago where called NC State the nation’s “biggest disappointment”. We didn’t link to the comments because we thought that they were a tad premature. Additionally, we were particularly perplexed that these comments would come from Goodman without any focus on the loss to injury of Farnold Degand – Not only is/was Degand’s injury very relevant to mitigating labels like ‘diasappointment’, but it was Goodman who wrote a very insightful piece into the value of Degand over the offseason before most other media outlets had ever heard of Degand. In light of Goodman’s obvious understanding of both Degand’s virtues and the point guard situation at NC State one would think that he would be a little more fair and patient in such extreme labels.
* It is obvious that Maryland is making a serious run at being the #3 team in the ACC. Clemson looks okay for the #4 spot, but that is certainly attainable for us as well. The Terps RPI continues to be hurt by their poor early season OOC performance.
* Positioning for the ACC Tournament is key, as we may very well need a ACCT win or 2 to get in due to the difficulty of the remainder of our schedule. We may end up in one of those situations where our RPI is on the bubble, but our total wins are optically a little light around 17 or 18 wins (ECU and UNO continue to haunt us).
* Obviously, a top 4 seed means a bye Thursday. But its also important to fininish no worse than 6th. 5th place gets you the #12 team on Thursday, and slots you against the #4 team on Friday. 6th place gets you the #11 team on Thursday, and slots you against the #3 team on Friday. I think we can beat anyone in the ACCT not named Duke or UNC. Duke and UNC are going to finish #1 and #2, so we need to avoid them early. Therefore, we want to avound finishing 8/9 or 7/10. We need VT to start losing some games. Their schedule is so easy that they could stand in our way of finishing in the top 6, even though we are a better basketball team.
* Got a nice note from a reader the other day stemming from some of our comments after the Wake Forest win,
Man, I’m glad you mentioned the “sudden” ability to win close games. THAT was my No. 2 gripe about Herb Sendek — his teams, reflecting his personality, folded in the final minutes of a tight game. The UConn/Sweet 16 win was remarkable because it was that rare, rare, RARE Herb game when the final play/final shot WORKED — and that was because Julius waved off the TO.
Plus, the switch to the zone late in the second half, which worked. And once again no lead is safe — 12 point deficit to FSU in the first half, 9 point deficit to Wake midway through the 2nd half.