Welcome back to the pack Duke.
Duke and UNC are tied: Anyone see that one coming? Well perhaps the first loss to Wake Forest which in turn really setup the second loss. Such the travails of the ACC schedule where unlike other conferences there are no nights off. Miami ran Duke for 30 minutes then made every effort to blow the game assuring us that there will never, ever be a basketball IQ discussion during a Miami game. The loss dropped Duke back to 10-2 and tied with UNC who beat NCSU like the red headed little brother they are. The Devils now find relief in the schedule with their annual beatdown of St. Johns but larger questions remain such as discussed by Stewart Mandel in this excellent article at SI.com. The basic premise is Duke gets overvalued during the first three months of the season due to a weak schedule and then in February they basically begin buckling due in part to the rigors of the ACC schedule. Mandel also points out that while Duke is stocked with considerable talent it is not necessarily NBA talent which tends to be a tell-tell sign of national title viability. So Duke is looking at a historical trend which does not bode well for them moving forward here.
NCSU Has No Heart: The other side of the UNC win on Wednesday is the complete surrender of the Wolfpack in the second half in a game which should have inspired their most passionate performance. The seminal moment in the game came with around six minutes left when Marcus Ginyard dribbled around a Tyler Hansbrough screen near midcourt and found a wide open lane all the way to the basket. Ginyard went in completely untouched without much movement from the Wolfpack defenders. I am not sure what Sidney Lowe can do to change this team’s attitude but it sends a cold shiver down my spine to think what Roy would have done to the five players on the floor had they allowed an opposing player to come off a screen and drive 40 feet to the hoop for a dunk. I am not sure they could check the blue team in fast enough to satiate his rage over a lapse in effort of the magnitude. The problem for Lowe is I am not sure Roy’s system of justice would matter. NCSU players strike me as passive in nature which is really not surprising considering Herb Sendek recruited most of them.
Clemson and Maryland Apparently Missed the Point: Both teams had a chance to either stay on pace or if the other one loss gain control of third place with a buffer between them and the rest of the ACC. Instead MD and Clemson fall back could end up battling with Wake Forest and Virginia Tech for spots 3-6.
Miami Looking to Validate the 14-1 Start: Miami was left for dead a few weeks back but with the win over Duke they regained confidence and viability for the NCAA Tournament, especially with the RPI at 28. For the Hurricanes the schedule breaks down this way: Maryland, at Clemson, UVa, BC and at FSU. 3-2 in the stretch is doable and 4-1 even more so if they can win at home versus Maryland. The former would give Miami an 8-8 mark in the ACC and full bubble residency. If they get to 9-7 in the ACC and manage a couple of wins in the ACC Tournament, the Hurricanes might dance as well.
When It Rains: They cancel games. A leaky roof in Atlanta forced the game to be postponed for a latter date. Both teams are out of the NCAA Tournament picture so in many ways I am trying to figure out in anyone cares what these teams do.