This Friday and Saturday, we’ll send off a 2019 ACC Regular season that has been, while fairly chalky for UNC, nothing short of exhilarating across the rest of the conference. Chaos continued at the low-ish end of the standings last night when N.C. State dropped its Senior Night to Georgia Tech, and there’s still a whole lot to be determined as far as the final standings go: Three teams could take the top spot, then 4-7 are all within 2 games of each other. Let’s take a look at how all these teams are trending before the big last weekend.
1. #2 Virginia Cavaliers (27-2, 15-2 ACC)
The only team that Virginia has lost to this regular season, a visit from Louisville pending, is Duke. We’ll see if they can match this kind of performance in the Madness of March (for once), but they’re close to capping off as impressive an ACC season as any in the past several years.
2. #3 UNC Tar Heels (25-5, 15-2)
Miss me with all your takes about UNC’s soft road ACC schedule. I’m sure it’s not the weakest to have ever been drawn up, it necessarily included a trip to Cameron Indoor, and, most importantly, UNC could only beat who was assigned to them. Hey, you know what else UNC hasn’t done since the late ‘00s? It starts with an “s” and ends with a “weep Duke.”
3. #4 Duke Blue Devils (26-4, 14-3)
You know, I do love Coach K basically asking for an excuse for Duke’s recent struggles by saying, “We’ve only been fully healthy for 8 out of 16 conference games.” Those struggles include losing to Virginia Tech. Who’s been down a star starting point guard for the whole of February. Yikes, Mike. Between the loss to VT and a near-loss to Wake Forest, I was tempted to move the Devils down further, but it’s clear who the top 3 in the conference are.
4. #14 Florida State Seminoles (24-6, 12-5)
FSU was down 33-19 at the half to Virginia Tech before completing a thrilling comeback and winning in overtime, so that’s probably enough to move them up here. The ‘Noles are playing pretty good basketball rolling into the postseason.
5. #15 Virginia Tech Hokies (22-7, 11-6)
Even after the collapse against FSU, it must be said that what Buzz Williams has done with a squad missing a really good point guard is nothing short of remarkable. Of course, credit goes to the players for adapting as well. Kerry Blackshear, Jr. should inarguably be first-team All-ACC.
6. Syracuse Orange (19-11, 10-7)
Jim Boeheim’s squad seems to have trouble closing games. The latest benefactor was Virginia, with whom Syracuse hung neck-and-neck for 25 minutes before utterly collapsing. It’s hard to help when you’ve played Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia in your last 4 games, but it can’t feel good to be 1-3 in your last 4 (that win being a blowout of Wake Forest).
7. Louisville Cardinals (19-11, 10-7)
Louisville’s thrashing of Notre Dame was their first win in 4 games and their first comfortable win since before the Duke debacle, so maybe they’re starting to get a little bit un-broken? They still seem to be in position to make the NCAA Tournament.
8. Clemson Tigers (18-12, 8-9)
Wow, are there really only 7 ACC teams that can finish above .500 in conference? That’s a little sad. Before last night, Bracketology people were projecting Clemson as one of the First Four out, though NCSU’s loss (the Pack were considered on the right side of the bubble before that) might push them into the field if they can beat Syracuse to end the season.
9. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (14-17, 6-12)
It does feel wrong to put GT this high given their overall record, but I couldn’t really put them below the team they just beat on their (the opponents’) Senior Night, could I? Speaking of which...
10. N.C. State Wolfpack (20-10, 8-9)
Braxton Beverly has played 66 minutes of the Wolfpack’s last two games, both losses. He’s shot 2/12 from 3 and 0/3 from 2. Blake Harris has twice as many made field goals and as many made threes, on just 8 shots, in his last 36 minutes, and that’s over 4 games for NCSU. Anyways, this last loss has probably ruined the ACC’s bid for 9 teams in the NCAAT barring an insane ACCT run.
11. Boston College Eagles (14-15, 5-12)
Ky Bowman is really good regardless, but if he played like he was going against UNC every night, he’d be an All-American. He put up 23/9/4 on 7/16 shooting from behind the arc and that was while he looked really well defended for most of the game. Good lord.
12. Miami Hurricanes (13-16, 5-12)
This is pretty cool: Ebuka Izundu’s mom was able to make it to Miami from Lagos, Nigeria, to see her son play organized basketball for the first time ever on his Senior Night against Pittsburgh. She hadn’t seen her son in 18 months before that. It’s a heartwarming tale indeed. Even better, the Canes won.
13a. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-18, 4-13)
I’m extremely confused at how Wake Forest was a buzzer-beater tip-in away from beating Duke in Cameron. Heck, I’m still confused at Wake Forest not being the worst team in the conference. Good for them for at least a slight turnaround, though it won’t be enough to save Danny Manning’s job. It’s gotta feel good for the players that they could get something from this season.
13b. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-17, 3-14)
What was a reasonable 4-game losing streak against tough competition is now a slightly less reasonable 6-game losing streak. The competition hasn’t been easy, but being the team that made a broken Louisville team look whole again is... not great. Mike Brey’s team is still miles better than Wake Forest if you look at analytics, but the on-court product doesn’t really match that.
15. Pittsburgh Panthers (12-18, 2-15)
Hey, remember when Jeff Capel had this team looking like an NCAA Tournament appearance contender? Now he’s just spreading the teaching of tripping:
It appears that with the Duke coaching lineage travels the practice of intentionally tripping opponents.— Hoos Place (@HoosPlace) March 3, 2019
Res ipsa loquitur pic.twitter.com/CbPa2cr2Jj
In all seriousness, a rebuild takes time and Capel seems to be on the right track. That’s still bush league, though.
ACC Schedule for March 9th, 2019
|Miami||#15 Virginia Tech||7:00 PM Friday March 8th|
|#14 Florida State||Wake Forest||12:00 PM|
|Notre Dame||Pittsburgh||12:00 PM|
|NC State||Boston College||2:00 PM|
|Louisville||#2 Virginia||4:00 PM|
|#4 Duke||#3 North Carolina||6:00 PM|