Friday, March 21 2014 7:28 AM EDT2014-03-21 11:28:45 GMT
RALEIGH, NC (WMBF) - This week, Coastal Carolina joins Duke, Virginia, Tennessee and several other big name schools at PNC Arena for a weekend of games as the NCAA Tournament is off and running. TomorrowMore >>
Chants take the floor for a practice in Raleigh before taking on top-seeded Virginia Friday night.More >>
(RNN) - Welcome to the annual ACC mixer, everybody. We see there are some new faces this season.
Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, the PPPollsters wish you all nothing but the best going forward. Even though it's your first season here, we think of you as equals. It's one big, happy family here as far as we're concerned.
Why don't you three take a look around? There are plenty of soda pops and sandwiches in that room over there.
(Waits for them to leave, gathers other teams)
OK, something has to be done about those guys. The Big East transfers are 5-1 so far, and 'Cuse and Pitt are sitting at the top of the league. This is our ACC! You're not going to let these newcomers take over in their first year, right?
Not the enthusiasm we were hoping for. That's fine, we prepared for this. Maybe some motivational speakers will light that competitive fire - here's one now.
William Wallace: They make take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!!
Too intense. They're taking neither lives nor freedom. Next.
FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Too abstract. And the Orange's 2-3 zone is pretty scary. Next.
Too … Seriously, why is that guy still calling games? He's terrible. If he's not whining about bad calls/no calls, he's dropping insights that make John Madden sound deep.
Now Duke, you've been a standard bearer for this conference - maybe it's time to step up. But you also have been avoiding rebounds like you're allergic this year. You know there aren't bees in the basketball, right?
There aren't bees in the basketball, we promise. And Carolina, you're so good at getting to the free throw line, but you have to make some of them, too.
(UNC tries to dip chip, completely misses bowl)
Case in point.
Wake, Clemson, FSU, NC State - you have lots of potential, even if you don't have recent success to back it up. And we believe every team here can give these tenderfoots a run for their money when they step on the floor.
So the question is: who's ready to be a leader? Anyone? Hey, aren't we missing somebody?
11 points, 13 rebounds Jan. 4 at Florida State (W 62-50)
The Wahoos' "star player," Joe Harris, got injured early in the matchup with the 'Noles, and he didn't play the rest of the night. With him gone, they went out and had their best game of the year.
Here's our take: Harris had been pressing after a breakout junior year, and that led to indecision when he had the ball. Meanwhile, the rest of the team stood around waiting for him to take over.
Without Harris as a crutch, the team became more active and effective. In particular, Mitchell started looking to make more plays on offense, which resulted in a season-best total in points and rebounds.
The success carried over even when Harris returned, as UVA whipped Wake Forest on Wednesday. After a disappointing start, this team finally looks as good as we expected them to be.
1a. Lamar Patterson, Pitt Panthers
22 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals Jan. 4 at NC State (W 74-62)
Pitt got its first-ever ACC victory in impressive fashion when it walked out of the Wolfpack's den with the W. This team may not jump of the screen at people, but it is proficient in what it does - defense, rebounding and playing smart.
Lamar has made the kind of jump in his senior year that comes from working his tail off in the offseason. We thought his scoring might drop with the upgrade in competition, but he's improved upon his 17.3 average in two games against the conference.
He's never going to win a foot race, and at 6'5, he's not tall enough to dominate the post, but he's a cerebral player that picks his spots and plays hard both ways. He's also a great passer and not prone to making mistakes. Basically, a perfect fit for coach Jamie Dixon's team.
3. Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia Cavaliers
14 points, six assists, two steals, two 3-pointers Wednesday vs. Wake Forest (W 74-51)
Malcolm was another beneficiary of the Cavaliers opening up the offense. He and the rest of the gang were nearly perfect against a Wake team riding high off a big win, forcing turnovers and getting easy baskets in transition.
4. Durand Johnson, Pitt Panthers
17 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals Monday vs. Maryland (W 79-59)
The sophomore provides instant offense off the bench, and he scalded the Terps in only 23 minutes of play. Durand is an extremely confident shooter from long range, and he does not ignore an opportunity to put the ball through the hoop.
5. Eric Atkins, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
19 points, 11 assists Jan. 4 vs. Duke (W 79-77)
A week ago, we said Eric needed to keep lighting it up to keep ND out of a complete tailspin. We also said Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo was a classic film, so consider the source.
The senior has played terrific ball, and the Irish shocked everybody by toppling the Blue Devils. They still appear to be a contender despite the loss of leading scorer Jerian Grant.
6. Erik Swoope, Miami Hurricanes
14 points, four rebounds, two steals Wednesday at North Carolina (W 63-57)
The 'Canes struggled through the first half of the season, so a lot of us thought it was a fluke when they held Syracuse to 49 points, 25 below its season average, in their ACC opener. Nope, turns out these guys are playing really good defense since switching to a matchup zone strategy - UNC's output was 20 below its season average.
Swoope averages only about 10 minutes a game, but he got extra time Wednesday when teammates got into foul trouble. He responded by beating defenders to the rim several times for dunks and layups, and made some great plays on defense, too.
This is a guy who is not going pro, has already got his undergrad degree and rarely plays many minutes. He's on that team because he loves it, so it's easy to root for him.
7. Codi Miller-McIntyre, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
12 points, four assists, two rebounds Sunday vs. North Carolina (W 73-67)
The Demon Deacons needed a win to hang their top hat on, so a conference kickoff with the Tar Heels was welcome. CMM made some nice plays with his shooting and passing on offense, but it was his stellar defense on UNC leading scorer Marcus Paige that made the biggest difference.
8. Jordan Vandenberg, NC State Wolfpack
Four points, 11 rebounds, two blocks Tuesday at Notre Dame (W 77-70)
At 7'1" and 245 pounds, the senior has some surprisingly quick moves around the basket. He grabbed a season-best 11 boards, swatted a pair of shots, altered a few others and made one really nice putback slam as the 'Pack cooled off Notre Dame and picked up a big win on the road.
9. Devon Bookert, Florida State Seminoles
10 points, two rebounds Thursday at Clemson (W 56-41)
It's not always about what someone does so much as when they do it. Bookert caused a couple of turnovers and scored his team's first eight points to start the second half, putting a close game out of reach.
10. C.J. Fair, Syracuse Orange
15 points, six rebounds Jan. 4 vs. Miami (W 49-44)
C.J. Fair played a leading part in the comeback against the 'Canes, much like the role he took leading them back from an 18-point deficit a few weeks back against Villanova. This team has the ability to blow teams away when things are clicking, but its best attribute could be that it doesn't panic when things go wrong.
The old school ACC teams shouldn't be too disappointed if Syracuse walks away with the championship in its inaugural season in the league. It may well be cutting down more nets come NCAA tournament time, too.
Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
Who will win the ACC?
Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:
Need something to help you get through two weeks of March Madness? Try playing Basketball Cliche Bingo. Mark off the words or phrases that are overused during each game of the tourney.More >>
Don't like basketball? Need something to help you get through two weeks of March Madness? Try playing Basketball Cliche Bingo. Mark off the words or phrases that are overused during each game of the tournament.More >>