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Some thoughts on the ACC

On Monday, Coach Gary Williams was asked for his thoughts so far on how the ACC is shaping up as conference play nears. Williams began by saying he couldn't believe Maryland didn't start its ACC schedule for nearly three more weeks (the Terrapins host Florida State on Jan. 10 in their conference opener). He also later said he would prefer to start the conference slate earlier in January, but "I guess there’s bowl games during that time of year so that’s why we’re not playing."

Anyway, here are Williams's thoughts on what he's seen from fellow ACC teams thus far:

"You know, I thought Duke was going to be a different team this year and they are a little bit in terms of more size, but they do have three great perimeter players, so that’s always been the way they’ve played recently," he said. "Carolina, you see it there with their size and everything, how good they can be. Clemson’s played very well. Georgia Tech’s been up and down. That’s the first time I really looked at (N.C.) State last night. So I think it’s pretty even. There’s not a lot to say for maybe one team or another. I think Duke has kind of established themselves as maybe the best team right now and Carolina you would probably put in there second. But other than that, I don’t see any pecking order yet."

Duke is 9-1 with wins over Connecticut and Gonzaga. The Blue Devils' lone loss came at Wisconsin. North Carolina is 9-3 with wins over Ohio State and Michigan State, and losses to Syracuse, Kentucky and Texas.

Later on, Williams was asked whether he'd been surprised by the showing of any particular ACC team so far.

"I think Florida State has played very well with the loss of (guard Toney) Douglas," Williams said. "I thought that guy, he never got the credit that he should have gotten last year. He was as close to an MVP as there could be in the league last year. He was a great leader. I think they’ve made up pretty well for the loss of him. They’ve been in some tough games that they’ve won. The game before last night they beat Auburn in a very close game, so they’re playing pretty well."

Douglas averaged 21.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season while helping lead the Seminoles to 25 wins, their first ACC tournament championship game in program history and an NCAA tournament berth. Florida State is off to an 11-2 start this season.

So those are Williams's thoughts. What are yours? Which ACC teams have you been impressed with so far? Which ACC teams have surprised you, either positively or negatively?

By Steve Yanda  |  December 24, 2009; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Scouting Florida Atlantic


It's early still, but my best guess in tiers:

Tier 1 - Duke
Tier 2 - UNC, Clemson, MD
Tier 3 - WF, FSU, GT, Miami
Tier 4 - BC, VT
Tier 5 - NC St, UVa

What stands out to me about the ACC this year is the wealth of talent and (in some cases) experience in many frontcourts, and the lack of experience in most backcourts. The former could give the Terps problems, but the latter is an advantage. Four of our five guards are upperclassmen, and our fifth one (Mosley) plays like an upperclassman.

The main reason I see FSU, GT, and Miami in a tier below us is their lack of experienced guards, especially PGs. WF could go either way, and Ish Smith is talented, but they lack outside shooting and commit too many turnovers. But potentially, depending on the guard play, what I've called Tiers 2 and 3 could end up being one big tier. It's hard to say at this point.

Also, while I could see UNC separating themselves as the second best (or even best) team, they too have a very inexperienced backcourt aside from Ginyard, and I'm not convinced they are a clear #2 at this point. A lot depends on Larry Drew, IMO, because they still have great size and talent.

Overall, it will be very interesting to see how the conference season plays out. The Terps, with their experienced backcourt and improved frontcourt, could really take advantage of this golden opportunity to win 10+ games in conference. Or they could suffer a major injury, more inconsistency from GV, etc., and end up scratching and clawing for a NCAA bid like last year. I'm still optimistic for the former result.

Posted by: Jeremy76 | December 24, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Terps will finish around .500 in the ACC and come selection sunday we'll all be watching and waiting as the Terps, for yet another year post-championship, are a bubble team.

But NEXT year is the real year when our "stud" recruits come in. Oh wait, wasn't that supposed to be this year? Or last year? Or the year before that?

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | December 24, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

It's early still, but my best guess in tiers:

Tier 1 - Duke
Tier 2 - UNC, Clemson, MD
Tier 3 - WF, FSU, GT, Miami
Tier 4 - BC, VT
Tier 5 - NC St, UVa


Spoken like a true homer, but hey it's Christmas so we can all wish!

Happy holidays

Posted by: restonhoops | December 24, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm a fan, I'm allowed to be a homer :-)

But that is my honest assessment based on what I've seen so far. I gave my justifications. Last year with our lack of outside shooting AND post play, I was pleasantly surprised we made the tourney. This year I will be disappointed if we don't finish with at least a winning record in the ACC. IMO, all the teams I put in Tiers 2 and 3 are pretty close in terms of being talented but with sizable flaws/question marks. I wouldn't be shocked if we finished 2nd in the conference, and I wouldn't be shocked if we finished 8th or 9th. But I suspect we'll be in the 3-5 range.

mcsh*t - here's a little quiz for you since you mentioned "stud recruits". Compare the following:

Player 1 - 14mpg, 6.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 0.7bpg
Player 2 - 22mpg, 8.3ppg, 8.2rpg, 1.0bpg

One of those is Lonny Baxter freshman year, one is Jordan Williams so far this year. Hint: the better line belongs to Williams.

Posted by: Jeremy76 | December 26, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

These are my picks from June when we knew who was returning and who was leaving for the NBA. I'm sticking with them 6 months later.

Gotta go with Duke and NC battling it out at the top. However, neither will dominate the conference. The winner probably has four or five losses and depends on who gets a break with the unbalanced schedule. I still like Scheyer, Singler and Smith, but they don’t strike fear into my heart. UNC will bring in five future NBA players. They will be talented, but stupid. They have some real solid players returning and will be no slouches.

Everybody likes GT because of their sick front court. Prepare to be disappointed. Hewitt can’t coach and you need a back court to succeed in the ACC.

Which brings me to MD. Let’s see. They return 8 of 9 of their top scorers. They return three seniors who started last year (Landon Milbourne, Greivis and Eric Hayes). 2 of 3 seniors are guards. Also returning are 3 other guards (Juniors Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker, and sophomore Sean Mosley). The big question is their incoming freshman bigs, Jordan Williams and James Padgett. I think Jordan Williams will be better than expected. If he blows up, Joe Smith style, then MD fights for the ACC crown. If they flop, then they are scrapping in the middle of the pack. Let’s pick3 or 4 in the ACC. As I said , a deep and experienced back court will make up for a lot of deficiencies.

I like BC. Under the radar. They lose Tyrese Rice, but are still very solid. They will be scrapping in the top half of the ACC along with Clemson and FSU.

Teams that will suck: NC State, UVA, Miami
Team that will almost suck: VA Tech They will get a few upsets, but once again demonstrate an inability to win consistently.

Teams that will be scrapping in the middle of the pack: Clemson, Florida St, Wake


1-2: UNC-Duke(no particular order)

3-7: MD, BC, Fl St, Clemson, Wake (roughly in that order)

8: GT

9: Va Tech

10-12: NC St, UVA, Miami (who cares about the order)

Posted by: larry31 | December 26, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for your predictions. Being on the bubble is still a possibility for MD, but this team has too many seniors to be a bubble team this year. I truly hope and expect that they are better than a "bubble" team.

Posted by: larry31 | December 26, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

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