We're a month into conference play and few teams if any have really solidified where they'll end up in the standings. Right now the teams that sit atop the conference standings are Duke (5-2), Maryland (4-2), and Virginia (4-2) but this will probably look different in the next few weeks. Regardless, most of the teams in the conference have completed their non conference schedule so it's an ideal time to look at the teams that have a shot to Dance in March.
Before this take a look at former (I think, I hear he now might be coming back) Minnesota freshman Royce White's "last interview." Bizarre? Absolutely.
(please don't watch all of this, you'll want your time back)
ESPN Super 60 (Class of 2011) shooting guard Trevor Cooney can do it all. He's being recruited by several ACC Schools (Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, Maryland, etc). The big time guard is terrific shooter and has big time ups to match. This is the best dunk I've seen all season.
NCAA Tournament Chances
#9 Duke (17-4, 5-2 RPI: 5, SOS: 6)
The ninth ranked team in the country is coming off of a drubbing at the hands of Georgetown but are still in pretty good position to secure a tournament bid, whether it be by winning the ACC tournament or getting an at large bid. 17-4 at the beginning of February is a great place to be and the Dukies have a quality win over a ranked opponent #13 Gonzaga, which they beat by over 30 in MSG earlier this season. At this point the Blue Devils will be playing for position. Currently Coach K has the team atop the ACC standings and if they finish here by season's end they should at least secure a #2 see.
IN or NOT: IN
#19 Georgia Tech (16-5, 4-3 RPI: 26, SOS: 20)
The Yellow Jackets have lived up expectations thus far this season. The 16th ranked team came into the year with a lot of hype largely due to the return of power forward Gani Lawal and incoming Mickey D's All American Derrick Favors. The duo has the Jackets third in the conference in rebounding and they've just man handled opponents down low thus far. The RPI and SOS are high enough that they should have no problem making the tournament barring a monumental collapse. The Jackets signature wins have come against 9th ranked Duke at home and against George Mason. They'll have several opportunities for more as well as they have to go on the road to face Duke, Wake, Maryland, and Clemson.
IN or NOT: IN
Maryland (14-6, 4-2 RPI: 50, SOS: 40)
The Terrapins have played very well as of late and honestly have played decently all year long. Their only issue is that they don't have a signature win to date. They've been all the teams they were supposed to beat and even blew out a few (Boston College in Chestnut Hill to be specific) but it's hard to say if this will be enough. The terps will probably have to finish in the top 4 in the ACC to secure a tournament bid and that probably means they need to win at least 9 games, which is very doable for this squad. The two senior starters in the back court have combined to average 28 points and 9 dimes per game. Not many other back courts in the nation, much less the ACC, will be able to match this. Gary and the gang shouldn't have to sweat out Selection Sunday if they keep up this strong play.
IN or NOT: IN
Wake Forest (14-5, 4-3 RPI: 20, SOS: 21)
Wake, per the norm under Coach Dino Gaudio, has played great defense (4th in ACC, 10th nationally in field goal % defense) this season and its the main reason they are headed for the tournament yet again. They own a big time National win over a tough Gonzaga team winning by 2 out in Spokane. Al Farouq Aminu is possibly the biggest mismatch in college basketball and they are tough when he gets going. Aminu's 16 points and conference leading 11 boards a night give the Deac's a chance in every game. Wake should easily make the tournament due to their resume. Being in the RPI top 20 will bode well for them come Selection Sunday.
DANCE OR K(NIT): DANCIN'
Oliver Purnell's team has hit a snag recently losing 3 out of the last 4 but some of those loses have been without 3 year starter Demontez Stitt running the point guard spot. Tough for many teams to win without their floor leader so the rough patch might just be a blip in the radar. Clemson's issues seem to stem from the fact that they have issues in the half court. This could be an issue as the season goes on. Clemson should be good at home the rest of the way (FSU, Miami, UVA, GT)as their home crowd and that press really stifle teams. The true test will be on the road as the Tigers have half of their remaining 8 games on the road. They'll need to go at least 5-3 down the stretch to solidify their tournament bid.
DANCE OR K(NIT): DANCE
The Seminoles have had a good season thus far but outside of the two wins against Georgia Tech don't have a resume win. This shouldn't be a problem though as the Seminoles will simply need to take care of business to get a tournament bid. Wake Forest is probably the best team they'll see during their last 9 games so as long as they can get enough from Chris Singleton and Solomon Alibi to cover up the deficiencies in the back court they'll be fine. These two combined for 27 points and 16 boards in their 4 point win over BC on the road this past Saturday. If Mickey D's All American Michael Snaer (10 points against BC, 1/30) can continue to play at a high level they should be fine on Selection Sunday.
DANCE OR K(NIT): DANCIN'
Very tough team to call. First year head coach Tony Bennett has successfully implemented his style on the program and the results have been better than anyone could have imagined. The Cavs play a slow deliberate style and effective lane protection defense. Although the Cavaliers have impressive wins at home against Georgia Tech and on the road in Chapel Hill the total resume doesn't add up to a tournament bid. Bad out of conferences losses to Auburn on the road and Penn State at home don't help their cause. They'll need to finish up at least 7-3 in their last 10 to be in a good position to for the post season and that's just not realistic for this team. If big time sophomore two guard Sylven Landesberg (29 on the road against UNC, 1/31) gets hot down the stretch who knows but the lack of athleticism on the roster will rear its head at some point.
DANCE OR K(NIT): NITTIN'
The Tar Heels have had a really rough stretch of late. Carolina has lost 4 of its last 5 games and it doesn't seem like this team doesn't seem to be able to stop anyone from scoring. The Heels have a really difficult time getting back on defense and their lackluster effort has reflected in their conference ranking. They rank 10th in the conference in both field goal % defense and 3 pt field goal % defense. They've got 10 games left to turn this season around but 6 of these games are on the road. They should get 6th man Tyler Zeller back in the low block and he should help ease some of these scoring droughts. I wouldn't be surprised if his minutes sky rocket once he returns bc he's probably Roy's most consistent low block scorer.
DANCE OR K(NIT): NIT
The Hokies have exceeded expectations thus far as they've beaten the teams they are supposed to be. Point guard Malcolm Delaney leads the conference in scoring at almost 20 a night and the rest of the team is very athletic. They play a very intense brand of defense and it should be tough to beat down the stretch as long as Delaney stays healthy. Unfortunately for Seth Greenberg's gang their RPI rank is pretty low and their last 10 games will be difficult. If they can continue to get stellar play from two guard Dorenzo Hudson (13 pgg) they have a shot to dance but in all likelihood they will drop too many games down the stretch.
DANCE OR K(NIT): NIT
ACC Ballers' Dunk of the Week:
Corey Raji getting big on Clemson....