With a slow week in college basketball (and, in particular, the ACC), it is an ideal time to take a look at how ACC teams have fared. With conference play approaching in less than a month, some teams have met expectations, while others have under or over performed based on their preseason expectations.
Boston College: Way Underperform
While expectations were not exactly sky high (or even really ground level) for the Eagles, a 4-5 record with the schedule they have played so far is disappointing. While losses to Baylor and Dayton in the Charleston Classic are not necessarily terrible, the loss to Charleston in the last place game and a week later to Bryant College were quite bad. Losing by 16 to Harvard without their two best players is not a good sign either. BC was able to beat two teams on similar footing as themselves in Auburn and Penn State, which they will hope to build on. Upcoming games against New Hampshire, Providence, Holy Cross, and Dartmouth provide a chance for the Eagles to get some momentum rolling before conference play.
Clemson: Met Expectations
At 5-3, Clemson is about where most expected them to be at this point in the season. The Tigers’ best win is against rival South Carolina by nine points on the road. At this point, none of their three losses are particularly bad, although Purdue looks like they might be in for a long year. Losses to Gonzaga and Arizona were expected, and the Tigers gave ‘Zona a good run for most of the game. Milton Jennings’ suspension has been a setback, as have Bernard Sullivan’s continuing lackluster performances. Clemson’s four remaining non-conference games are Florida A&M, Coastal Carolina, South Carolina State, and The Citadel mean the Tigers should be 9-3 heading into conference play.
Duke: Way Overperform
Most fans of the ACC expected Duke to be a top 10 team this year, but not many expected the Blue Devils to put together an early season quite like this. At 9-0, Duke is currently ranked second in both polls. With injury concerns involving Seth Curry (who has been phenomenal), this is a bit unexpected. They have beaten three top-10 teams in Kentucky (neutral site), Louisville (neutral site), and Ohio State (home). Duke has also taken down three very good teams at neutral sites in Minnesota, VCU, and Temple. Duke gets a bit of a break heading into conference play with Cornell, Elon, Santa Clara, and Davidson all at home. Duke should head into ACC play at 13-0.
Florida State: Way Underperform
The Seminoles have by far been the most disappointing team in the ACC at this point in the season with a 5-4 record. Team leader Michael Snaer has struggled so far, and no one has emerged to pick up the slack for the young team. A season-opening loss to South Alabama proved to be more of a sign-of-things-to-come as opposed to an aberration. After winning the next four games, including solid wins over BYU and St. Joseph’s, the ‘Noles would lose the next three games. The one inexcusable loss in that group was a 61-56 head-scratcher at home to Mercer. Losing to good teams in Minnesota and Florida is nothing to be too ashamed of, but that 25 point loss to the Gators has to hurt. Like most of the ACC, Florida State has a relatively easy schedule heading into conference play. Louisiana-Monroe, Charlotte, Tulsa, and Auburn finish up FSU’s out-of-conference slate.
Georgia Tech- Overperform
Georgia Tech has been one of the pleasant surprises for the ACC in early season play. While they have somewhat overperformed so far at 6-2, they do only have one solid win against St. Mary’s at a neutral site. Losing to Cal in a pre-season tournament and at tenth-ranked Illinois are respectable losses. This is a young team who may add early enrollee Solomon Poole, a consensus top 50 guard, in the next few games. With upcoming games against Alabama St, The Citadel, Fordham, and Chattanooga, the Yellow Jackets stand a good chance at making it to the conference opener at 10-2.
Maryland- Met Expectations
On the surface, Maryland being 9-1 would seem like it deserves an “Exceeds Expectations”, but outside of their opening game they have not played a tough schedule. The Terps lost a close one to a disappointing Kentucky team on a neutral court nut then rattled off nine straight wins. The two wins worth noting during the streak have been at Northwestern by 20 and on a neutral court against George Mason. Alex Len and Dez Wells have been two of the stars early in the season for Maryland. The Terrapins should head into conference play at 12-1 with games against Stony Brook, Delaware St, and IUPUI left.
Miami- Met Expectations
This has been a strange early season for the 6-1 Hurricanes. Losing to Florida Gulf Coast by 12 in the second game of the season was inexcusable. However, two weeks later, the Canes beat 13th ranked Michigan State in the ACC/B1G Challenge. A win against UMass is the only other win that sticks out on Miami’s resume. Having point guard Durand Scott back for the last four games has made a world of difference for the Hurricanes. Unlike the rest of the ACC teams, Miami has some intriguing non-conference games remaining. Games at UCF, at Hawaii, and home against LaSalle should be good warm-ups for ACC play.
North Carolina- Underperform
For the first time in the last few years, expectations were not extremely high for the Tar Heels. But, UNC has struggled against the two good teams they have played. Many expected a cakewalk in the Maui Invitational for Roy Williams’ squad, but Butler handled Carolina in the semifinals. A week later, the Heels were dismantled on the road against number one Indiana. Beyond those games, North Carolina has not faced much competition, but credit to them for taking care of business scare-free against those opponents and get to 7-2. Two of the Tar Heels’ remaining non-coonference games are against a struggling Texas team, and a scary UNLV team. If they can navigate this stretch at 4-0, the Heels will have some solid momentum heading into January.
NC State- Underperform
At 6-2, the Wolfpack have not exactly been terrible this year. However, a 20 point loss to Oklahoma State in the final of the Puerto Rico Tipoff was a huge disappointment after taking down Penn State and UMass in the first two rounds. The Pack then had to come from behind to beat UNC-Asheville in Raleigh by two just five days later. NC State traveled to Ann Arbor and lost a competitive game, 79-72, to a very good Michigan team. The Pack have recovered nicely with two wins, including one over UConn in New York, and look to continue that role with four relatively easy games out of their next five. A good test from Stanford on Tuesday will show if the team has made a comeback from their early season setbacks.
Virginia- Met Expectations
The Cavaliers came very close to earning an “Overperform”, but the loss to Delaware is too much to overcome combined with a loss to a Paul Hewitt-coached George Mason team. Wins at Wisconsin and at home (in one of the ugliest games of the year) against Tennessee brought the Cavs back to level expectations at 8-2. Joe Harris is becoming a star in the ACC despite his team’s mind-bendingly slow play. The ‘Hoos close out the non-conference slate with home games against Morgan St, Old Dominion, and Wofford before starting ACC play with North Carolina.
Virginia Tech- Way Overperform
The Hokies have been perhaps the best surprise for the ACC early in the season. At 8-1 with wins over a decent Iowa team and an Oklahoma St team that crushed NC State, the Hokies are looking good with their short bench. VT’s only loss of the season was a one-point defeat on the road at West Virginia. Many expected Virginia Tech to struggle in the first season under former assistant James Johnson, but he has rallied the troops and has them playing top-notch basketball. Erick Green was expected to be a star this year, but averaging over 24 points per game is worthy of All-American attention. The Hokies’ three remaining non-conference games are home dates with Georgia Southern and Bradley, and an away game at BYU. Virginia Tech could be a surprising 11-1 or 10-2 heading into conference play.
Wake Forest- Underperform
Expectations were not ever high for this team, but many did expect some tangible progress with some new talent coming in to help Travis McKie and CJ Harris. The Demon Deacons have struggled early this season in losses to Iona, Nebraska, Richmond, and Seton Hall. Throw in a loss to UConn, and the Deacs are 4-5 with no good wins. Wake did beat a Mercer team that took down Florida State this year, but that’s stretching it to find a silver lining. With one or two more wins at this point, I would have the Deacs meeting expectations, but they just have not shown much. Upcoming games against Furman and UNC-Greensboro should get Jeff Bzdelik’s team back over .500. A January 2nd game at home against Xavier gives Wake a chance to prove themselves before opening conference play with Duke.