It was a full weekend of games for every ACC team which provides a nice body of evidence from which we can discern which of these teams are living up to expectation early on and which ones need to age a little to be ready for March.
Duke(6-0) Key Wins: Illinois, #11 Marquette, Maui Invitational Champion
It pains me to no end that Duke could not at least provide us with a second season of marginal basketball before returning to form. That does not appear to be the case as the Blue Devils have played extremely well despite their youth. Duke has also been very balanced in terms of who does the scoring. Duke has had four different leading scorers in six games plus Demarcus Nelson is doing all the things you expect a senior to do. Duke plays #20 Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge giving them another test.
Clemson(5-0) Key Wins: at Mississippi State
Clemson is a veteran team and playing with the same tenacity and success they traditionally do against a largely pedestrian out-of-conference schedule. Clemson did go to Mississippi State and win on the road. Outside of that there is not much for the Tigers to hang their hate on at this point and really nothing on their schedule until they play at Alabama then host UNC after the new year.
Miami(5-0) Key Wins: at Providence
And winning at Providence is really in no way impressive. And only beating Morgan State by four while scoring a paltry 55 points is really unimpressive.
North Carolina(5-0) Key Wins: Davidson, BYU, Las Vegas Invitational Champion
UNC has shown they are capable of finishing games and illustrating extreme toughness amid adversity. Ty Lawson’s injury versus BYU is a concern but does not appear so serious as to keep him out long. The chief concern the Heels face is playing consistent defense. Tyler Hansbrough is the focal point of the offense with Wayne Ellington becoming the shooter we thought he could be and Danny Green picking the team up at key moments.
Boston College(4-0) Key Wins: None
BC’s schedule has been one of the weakest in the ACC with all the games at home versus lower tier teams and I am not sure the ACC/B10 Challenge game against Michigan will tell us anything about the Eagles.
Wake Forest(4-0) Key Wins: at Iowa
The question for Wake was how well they handled playing games since the death if Skip Prosser. So far they have looked very serviceable. Granted the schedule has been weak and the wins not as dominant as one would expect but winning at Iowa in the Challenge was a good win.
Virginia(5-1) Key Wins: #17 Arizona
UVa opened up the season with five straight wins, including over #17 Arizona, before dropping the game against Seton Hall which was a surprise. The Pirates had been unimpressive in four previous wins. The Cavs have gotten consistent efforts from Sean Singletary who has been both scoring and distributing the basketball. Mamadi Diane and Adrian Joseph has been the other main contributors on offense with a host of other players chipping in. UVa has some depth but it really comes down to how much Singletary can score and how well he can get others involved.
NC State(4-1) Key Wins: #19 Villanova, Old Spice Classic Champion
The biggest concern for NC State is the guard play and surprisingly the rebounding. With the frontline the Pack boast, it was anticipated rebounding would not be an issue. The loss to New Orleans at home was perplexing, perhaps pointing to the need to work out some serious issues as well as the probability that this team could be prone to lapses. Against Villanova, NCSU shot the ball well and limited Nova’s shooting while pulling out a close game by all rights they should have lost. Credit to the coaching in that respect and someone really should tell Gavin Grant to calm down.
Florida State(5-2) Key Wins: #24 Florida
For some reason FSU can always beat Florida despite losing to such powerhouses as South Florida and Cleveland State. The bottom line for the Seminoles is they have some talented players and a coach who is questionable in game tactics. This makes FSU a bit of an enigma and a team prone to lose games they probably should not which has been a bugaboo for them a few years running now. The result has been missing the NCAA Tournament. The two losses on the record now will not help them come Selection Sunday.
Maryland(4-2) Key Wins: None
Maryland has all sorts of problems on offense. They routinely do not shoot the ball well and the only saving grace they might have is they do limit opponents to poor shooting as well. Maryland other major problem is they turn the ball over at an astounding rate(21.3 per game) which equates to a -5.8 turnover margin. Their wins over certified pastry products are not impressive and while losing to UCLA by 12 is not necessarily horrible losing to Missouri by 14 is not exactly something you want to see from a team that should be running in the middle of the ACC. Illinois will produce a difficult challenge but also an opportunity to right the ship.
Georgia Tech(3-2) Key Wins: Notre Dame
The two losses are a huge problem for GT because they came against low mid-majors and one of them happened in Atlanta. Despite the beginning I would not be surprised to see GT playing better later in the season. There has to be some adjustment to the changes wrought by NBA defections. The Jackets face one of the tougher matchups in the Challenge with Indiana and prolific scorer Eric Gordon.
Virginia Tech(2-2) Key Wins: None
Life after Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon has been very arduous for Seth Greenberg. In defense of the Hokies the two losses came against ranked opponents and they draw Penn State for the Challenge who might be a worse team.