On behalf of all ACC Basketball fans, I want to welcome back Wake Forest to ACC Basketball. It's been a few years since WF has been relevant in the conference, but the team is finally headed in the right direction after a double-digit victory over Duke.
The determining factor in this game was twofold, and had to do with the sheer speed of the WF guards:
- Duke's guards couldn't contain WF's guards off the dribble. This lead to Duke picking up a lot of fouls on reach-ins, and failed attempts trying to draw charges. It also led to a lot of open jump shots for WF, since the Duke defense had to help out on the dribbler penetrating to the hoop.
- WF's quickness on defense led to 7 steals, and 21 turnovers altogether
Honestly, I haven't seen a team all year just take it to Duke like WF did, and not back down from it all game. There were two separate occasions where Duke went on one of their patented runs (13-4 run in 1st half, 11-0 in 2nd half), only to have WF counter with a huge run of their own by not going away from their game plan.
The Demon Deacons have now put themselves in position to make a serious run at an invitation to the "Big Dance". If they can just cut down on some sloppy passing there's no doubt in my mind that WF will get back to the tourney.
Runner up: BC ending their losing skid against NC State
After losing 6 straight, Al Skinner might have been one more loss away from pulling a Rick Pitino and saying, "Bill Curley isn't walking through that door. Howard Eisley isn't walking through that door. Malcolm Huckaby isn't walking through that door."
NC State was exposed at the point for what seems like the 757th time this season, as Tyrese Rice saved the day for the Eagles, pouring in 32 points and dishing out 6 dimes. Does any BC fan want to fathom what the team's record would be without Rice?
For most of the year supporters of GT have given the argument: GT's record isn't spectacular, but look at their non-conference slate. They've played a tougher schedule than anyone in the ACC and still have a respectable record.
Well, that's all well and fine, and believe me; I respect the Jackets for playing the likes of Indiana, Kansas, and Vanderbilt. But at a certain point when you don't beat the elite teams, and on top of that you lose home games to bad teams, there's not much left on your resume to brag about. The ‘Jackets added another bad loss to their season exactly last weekend, as for the 2nd time this season, Miami took down GT, and took down their NCAA Tournament hopes with them.
The main cause of defeat was the same source that it's been for GT all season… turnovers. GT committed a whopping 15 in the 1st half alone….Yikes! That amount added to their average of 15.8 turnovers p/game which ranks 10th in the ACC. After the season's over, GT Coach Paul Hewitt won't have to break down much game film to figure out why his team performed at such an average level.
Runner-up: Duke being exposed at Wake
It wasn't so much that Duke lost to WF, but more that they got exposed. WF showed if you take it right at Duke's defense good things can happen. I think Coach K will have to sit down and think about if Greg Paulus should be getting more playing time at PG than Nolan Smith.
ACC Power Rankings
6. Georgia Tech
7. Wake Forest
8. Boston College
9. NC State
12. Florida State
ACC Player of the Year Watch
- Tyler Hansbrough- UNC
- Tyrese Rice- BC
- James Gist- Maryland
- Sean Singletary- Virginia
- K.C. Rivers- Clemson
- Kyle Singler- Duke
- James Johnson- WF
- J.J. Hickson- NC State
- Wayne Ellington- UNC
- Greivis Vasquez- Maryland
Game of the Week: Wake Forest @ UNC 2/24
What a difference a week makes. Just a week ago this game wouldn't even be on the radar as one of the top games, but now WF has shown they can go punch for punch with the best in the ACC.
Now the upstart Deacons must go on the road where they are only 1-8 this season. The key to this matchup will be if UNC PG Ty Lawson is back or not. With Lawson, suddenly the Tar Heels will have the backcourt depth to slow down WF, and the game could get ugly in a hurry. Without Lawson, WF has a chance to hang around against UNC.
Runner-Up: Virginia Tech @ Maryland 2/20
After Wake's big win over Duke, the Demon Deacons have overtaken the Hokies as the 5th team that could receive an invitation to March Madness. With that in mind, VT really has to go on a nice run down the stretch to impress the tournament committee. VT's remaining 5 games are: @ Maryland, vs. GT, vs. BC, vs. WF, and @ Clemson. VT must go 4-1 in this stretch to have any shot of making it to "The Dance".