2011 ACC Tournament Preview

I have no read on this year’s tourney, so my picks will likely end up much more accurate than usual. Tis the way it goes.

1. North Carolina

Realistic Chance to Win? Absolutely. The Holes have gotten fantastic effort from every man on the roster (since Drew II left the building), and Ol’ Roy is a very good tournament coach. Roy certainly answered the question of whether he had lost his fastball in 2010-11, easily winning ACC COY honors. The biggest hurdle is lack of motivation – UNC has a short bench, and Roy would probably rather lose in the semis (provided that preserves a #2 NCAAT seed) and be more rested for later in March.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Boston College has already proven that it can slow the Hole offense to a maddening grind (losing by two in Chapel Hill), and Clemson is another tough, defensive-minded team that could keep the score low. But the toughest obstacle is whether the Holes are motivated to win it. Roy has stated many times that he values the regular season title more. And BC or Clemson will be UNC’s Saturday foe, which is the day Roy would rather lose (if the Holes are to lose at all).

2. Duke

Realistic Chance to Win? Absolutely. Duke is every bit as good as UNC, but much hungrier after stumbling down the stretch (including a humiliating beatdown against their biggest rival). Coach K will be highly motivated to get revenge, and the #1 NCAAT seed that would surely come with cutting down the nets in Greensboro.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Florida State. The Noles might have to close their eyes and pretend they’re in Tallahassee, but they’ve proven capable of playing the Devils without fear. If Chris Singleton plays, he could be enough to disrupt Nolan Smith’s game, and Florida State should dominate Duke in the paint. That said, I would still expect Duke to win, as I would in the final.

3. Florida State

Realistic Chance to Win? Yes. Florida State might be the league’s most consistent team, given their defensive ability and frontcourt depth. They’ve come closer and closer to the brass ring of late, and if anyone is to stop the embarrassing blue title run (13 out of the last 14), the Noles are your best bet.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Perimeter scoring. Singleton may play, but will certainly be rusty. Dulkys is in the middle of a lost season. In the regular season finale, this resulted in losing a big lead (and almost the game) against a lackadasical NC State team that was clearly just playing out the string. Virginia Tech likely awaits on Friday, and the Hokies will be desperate for a win. Duke is also a much more formidable Saturday foe than #1 seed UNC. All said, it would have been better for FSU to be the #4 seed.

4. Clemson

Realistic Chance to Win? A very, very small one. It’s tough to imagine the Tigers winning three games in three days, but Boston College isn’t very good, the Holes could be unmotivated, and the Tigers have a game changing guard (the criminally underrated Demontez Stitt). And once you make the final, anything can happen.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Duke, lack of scoring depth. Anything CAN happen on Sunday, but by far the likeliest outcome would be a loss to Duke. And if Stitt has an off night, the Tigers don’t have enough of a Plan B to beat anyone. OK, other than Wake Forest.

5. Boston College

Realistic Chance to Win? Extreme Longshot. Steve Donahue did a great coaching job in his first year with the Eagles, and has the best computer numbers of any ACC bubble team. They’ve also proven they can hang with UNC as long as they force a grinding tempo. Reggie Jackson was “Mr. October” with the Yankees, and his namesake could similarly serve as “Mr. March” for BC.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Lack of athleticism, over-reliance on the three-point shot. Despite those solid computer numbers, BC doesn’t really pass the eye test. Their second-best player is a transfer from tiny Vermont. Their inside presence is virtually non-existent. Although they face only token Thursday opposition, they still would need to win four games in four days. A perimeter-oriented team will be hard pressed to do that.

6. Virginia Tech

Realistic Chance to Win? Extreme Longshot. This is the last rodeo for seniors Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen. Having an inside-outside combo like that certainly gives the Hokies a puncher’s chance. They also showed an ability to match up very well with the blues in the regular season. Motivation will also be sky high, as they likely need two wins to feel good about their bubble odds.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Consistency and depth. Virginia Tech followed up its signature win against Duke with back-to-back bed shittings against Boston College (at home on senior night, no less) and Clemson. Can a team that frustratingly inconsistent win four games in four days? This becomes increasingly challenging when you have a short bench like the Hokies do. We keep waiting for VT to have that breakout year, and perhaps it just isn’t going to happen.

7. Maryland

Realistic Chance to Win? No. The Terps have to like their first matchup, at least. Gary Williams has never lost to Sidney Lowe. But this is another team that lost at home on senior day. Worse than VT, they lost to a very mediocre Virginia squad. Maryland does have the ACC’s best true big man, in Jordan Williams – and a seasoned, solid tournament coach in Sweaty Gary.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Duke, backcourt inconsistency. It’s never a good sign when a guy who more or less didn’t play in the first half-plus of league play becomes your go-to guy. But that’s what happened with “boom or bust” freshman Stoglin. Think Duke is licking their chops to pressure the Terrapin backcourt into countless turnovers on Friday? Yeah, me too.

8. Virginia

Realistic Chance to Win? No. Tony Bennett should be commended for getting his ragtag bunch to 7-9 in the league. But perhaps that says more about the league than it does the Cavaliers. Just playing hard (with very little ACC-caliber talent) is almost enough for .500.

Toughest Obstacle(s): UNC, lack of a primary scorer. Who does UVA look to when they need a big basket? I don’t know, either. First round foe Miami is reeling, but a few random Sammy Zeglinski threes won’t be nearly enough to beat a rested UNC squad on Friday (even if they play at 3/4 speed).

9. Miami

Realistic Chance to Win? No. The Hurricanes fell hard in league play, closing the season with an atrocious performance in Atlanta that almost caused Frank Haith to pull a Bobby Knight. Most years, that’s excusable – but not 2010-11. They do have multiple weapons at guard, and Reggie Johnson is a solid big man. Perhaps they have enough to at least make Roy sweat, if they make it through to Friday.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Poor ballhandling, UNC. A large part of what makes Miami frustrating to watch comes from their inability to protect the ball. This problem hit its apex last Sunday. First round foe Virginia certainly plays consistent defense. So do the Tarheels. That adds up to a two-day trip in Greensboro, at best.

10. NC State

Realistic Chance to Win? No. You all know the story with this Wolfpack team, who has only beaten two halfway decent teams (George Mason, Clemson) all season. They aren’t going to beat four such teams in four days. Especially if the team is as mentally checked out as it was in its last two games. This is likely the last stop on the Sidney Lowe Farewell Tour (barring a CBI invite to buy more time for the coaching search), and Pack fans have mostly moved onto said coaching search mode since January.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Lack of defense, poor coaching, bad draw. Wow, is that ever a perfect storm. Maryland is a bad basketball team, and anyone who plays decent defense should beat them. But State never does that. Even if Lowe were to get his FIRST (and only) win over Sweaty Gary, a hungry Duke team awaits in Round Two. If Duke and State played 100 times, Duke would win 99 – and 90 of those by double digits. Should a miracle happen (and Lowe have his “Bob Wade” moment), State looked pretty bad against Florida State and Virginia Tech in the regular season, too.

11. Georgia Tech

Realistic Chance to Win? No Chance in Hell. The Yellow Jackets play good defense, but they show an appalling lack of basketball IQ on offense. They can play well in random spurts (it will always be a mystery how they smoked UNC by twenty in January), but definitely not four nights in a row. This is also the last stop on the Paul Hewitt Farewell Tour. I wouldn’t bet on another Hewitt/Lowe semifinal brick fest, either.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Frontcourt talent gap and coaching. Georgia Tech is arguably even worse than NC State from a coaching/leadership standpoint. They also have absolutely nothing in the lowpost. If Virginia Tech has any pride and fight left, they should kick GT’s teeth in – and spare us from watching this brutal, clumsy team play anymore this season.

12. Wake Forest

Realistic Chance to Win? No Chance in Hell Times a Billion. Wake Forest is probably the worst ACC team since the 1988-89 Maryland Terrapins. You might remember that Wade’s charges blitzed #1 seed NC State in the first round that year. So, I suppose lightning could strike once, and put Boston College on the wrong side of the bubble. But this Deacon squad is an absolute train wreck.

Toughest Obstacle(s): Ballhandling, shooting, defense, talent, coaching. Basically, everything that could suck about a basketball team sucks with Wake Forest. They are extremely lucky that a weak ACC allowed them to salvage their solitary win. They only really came close one other time (home against an awful Miami team). When a Sidney Lowe-coached team sweeps you by 20+ each game – you’ve got serious, serious problems.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

10-11 Basketball ACC

28 Responses to 2011 ACC Tournament Preview

  1. Prowling Woofie 03/10/2011 at 8:52 AM #

    Good breakdown.

    I think Roiz Boiz might actually care about this year’s tournament, as they may feel slighted over being shut out of the All Conference first team. Whether he cares about it or not, I don’t see his guys letting up this weekend.

    Battle of the Blues, Part III…

    I’m pulling for Duke, in memory of my dad.

  2. fernandopacker 03/10/2011 at 9:54 AM #

    Wow aside from Sid’s first year ,that preview could be of everyone of Sid’s teams.

  3. whitefang 03/10/2011 at 10:01 AM #

    Wouldn’t be nice to actually care that it is ACC tournament time?

  4. tmb81 03/10/2011 at 10:31 AM #

    Correction for you: Our loss to Bob Wade’s Maryland team was in the 1989 ACC tournament.

  5. BJD95 03/10/2011 at 10:54 AM #

    sorry, typo fixed. I’m bad with dates.

  6. jbwbubba 03/10/2011 at 12:05 PM #

    “You might remember that Wade’s charges blitzed #1 seed NC State in the first round that year”

    Ahh, Memories, Wow its been so long just think the soviet union still existed last time the pack was a number one seed.

  7. PoppaJohn 03/10/2011 at 1:32 PM #

    I can’t get up for the ACCT this year, but looking forward to a fun NCAAT. And I will root for any ACC team that is invited, including the blues. I want another ACC win, or at least the F4. I am sick to death of hearing about the Big East is great and how down the ACC is.

  8. PoppaJohn 03/10/2011 at 1:38 PM #

    Hey, I think it’s an honor just to be invited to the ACCT tournament. I think it says a lot about our team and the season they have had.


  9. PackInsider 03/10/2011 at 1:38 PM #

    What the hell happened in Atlanta against Maryland in ’89???? How’d State lose that one?

    I remember V calling it a “Nightmare on Peachtree Street”.

  10. section2chuck 03/10/2011 at 2:08 PM #

    Man, I remember that 1st round loss to Maryland that year…that was a beatdown…our teacher had pulled a TV into the classroom so we could watch the ACCT (I doubt teachers, can do that nowadays), and she would put it over in the corner of the class, and turn the volume down low, so we could at least watch…but I remeber just watching that game, and shaking my head…didnt Bob Wade collapse that evening after that win, and was rushed to the Hosp?

  11. section2chuck 03/10/2011 at 2:13 PM #

    71 to 43…wow

    that’s some NC State stuff for you…we win the 1989 Regular Season title, and then lose on the 1st day of the ACCT, to one of the worst ACC coaches in History…by that margin

    Wasnt that one of the games that came up in “Personal Fouls” as a possible point shaving game? I know the NCAAT 1st round loss to Norm Sloan and UF was one of them….

  12. swamppack 03/10/2011 at 3:42 PM #

    BJD95, thanx for the time and effort put into writing this.

    The tournament this year for me is all about wishing. I’m weak, I have a hard time with enjoying things like they are. I have a hard time facing the tourney nowadays, knowing that the result in the end will be BLUE, dark or light, take your pick.

    I would rather it be dark blue any day than hole blue.

    I WISH State was relevent coming in to the tourney.
    I WISH Xarolina didn’t have a 1% chance to win it
    I WISH another ACC team than the blues would win it.

    Maybe the last wish will come true and make everything all better for a big baby like me.

  13. Wufpacker 03/10/2011 at 3:44 PM #

    Never read personal fouls, but I have my doubts that any points were being shaved in that game. We looked absolutely horrible as a team, not just one or two guys. I don’t know what the line on the game was but I’d venture a guess that it was somewhere in the NCSU minus 8-12….you don’t have to lose by 28 to make sure you don’t cover a spread of 8-12.

    Frankly, I remember watching that game and thinking they all looked either sick or stoned. By the end of the game, after having tried pretty much everything he could, Valvano sat on the bench watching with a look of disbelief on his face. I’m sure it was the same look that most NCSU fans had at the time.

    It wasn’t like it is now when we either expect to lose that bad (against good teams) or we expect to be competitive and then lose by that much (against mediocre to poor teams). There was no anger or even apathy….it was just disbelief at what we were seeing.

    IIRC, Maryland did play a pretty good game that day (that’s not to say that had anything to do with Bob Wade). Compared to the rest of the season they played above their heads, but even with that we should have beaten them by 10-15

  14. 61Packer 03/10/2011 at 5:03 PM #

    Being a State fan makes me expect the worst possible scenario. And thusly, I filled my brackets out as such. Got State going to the finals vs UNC, and losing.

    I remember the Bob Wade game talked about above. I think it was a 72-52 blowout; am pretty sure it was by 20 points.

    Nothing good will come out of this tournament. Trust me. Being a Wolfpack fan in March is like that.

  15. 61Packer 03/10/2011 at 5:10 PM #

    For all you Tubby fans out there, Minnesota’s tailspin continues as the Gophers just dropped a 75-65 stinker to Northwestern.

    One final question: If the game on ESPN2 “runs over” past 9 or 9:30 (or whatever time the sports gods deem that the ESPN2 blackout comes back), will we miss seeing the end? Has this problem been fixed?

  16. mwcric 03/10/2011 at 5:40 PM #

    So, with Tubby’s late slide and Big 10 first-round ouster to Northwestern of all teams, can we maybe move past him now? I’d rather take a risk on a young, potential up-and-comer than an old, best days behind him has-been.

  17. swamppack 03/10/2011 at 6:05 PM #

    ^^I’m on-board with that; moving past Tubby that is.

  18. tuckerdorm1983 03/10/2011 at 6:21 PM #

    another beat down. Here is how it goes. Less than 30 pts in the first and probably less than 25. Down at half by at least a dozen. Jordan Williams lights us up. Maryland has lots of uncontested 3 balls and layup and dunks on missed assignments by the pack. Maybe we get close in the second half and maybe even go up by 5 to only choke at the end and lose by 10. Down by 5 with 3 mins to go and down by 10 when it all ends. That is Pack 52 and Twerps 62. That is all.

  19. john of sparta 03/10/2011 at 6:42 PM #

    +1 61packer. that would be the worst.
    the silver medal hurts worse.
    the main rival loss kills.

  20. Wufpacker 03/10/2011 at 6:51 PM #

    While I do understand the draw that some have to Tubby and I do also think he would be a good hire in certain respects, I am not one that is particularly infatuated with him. Losing today to Northwestern isn’t necessarily a reason for that, but watching them play today didn’t do anything to “excite” me about him, either. It was a performance that seemed very uninspired, to say the least.

    There are a lot of other candidates that I would personally prefer, and some of those are up and comers, as you say. Obviously, getting someone who can come in and win ASAP and keep the program (recruiting, etc.) headed in the right direction is the most important thing, but I’d love it if that person had some longevity as well.

  21. eas 03/10/2011 at 8:23 PM #

    Why does painter not play?

  22. gcpack 03/10/2011 at 8:48 PM #

    I wondered too bout Painter.
    It’s halftime & he still has a plastic mold on his left hand. Been like that for a couple of weeks.

  23. 61Packer 03/10/2011 at 8:49 PM #

    good question, eas…………

  24. eas 03/10/2011 at 9:02 PM #

    Even with a banged up hand, he could grab a rebound or 2. Tracy just doesn’t have it with the knee situation. I still think if this team was organized we could be a number 5 team in the ACC.

    Still puzzles me about Painter??? He is not that good but he as good as Vandi IMHO…..

  25. eas 03/10/2011 at 9:51 PM #

    The farewell tour is over. What a horrible game. It was all I could do to stay awake.

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