Around the ACC: Weekend Provides Surprises

It was a weekend of surprises in ACC basketball.

CJ Harris led the Demon Deacons in an upset over Miami.
CJ Harris led the Demon Deacons in an upset over Miami.

The biggest surprise was Wake Forest’s convincing win over Miami. The Demon Deacons have had several impressive performances at home, including wins against NC State and Virginia as well as a near-upset of Duke.  However, very few gave them a shot of upsetting the undefeated Hurricanes.

Regardless, C.J. Harris led Wake Forest to victory with 23 points. The Deacons shot 54.2% to Miami’s 39.1%, with a similar gap in three-point shooting. Miami’s shooting has dropped off recently, which could be a sign of a disappointing conclusion to what has been a spectacular season to date.

After a 15-of-26 three-point outing against North Carolina, the Hurricanes have made just 15 three pointers in their last four games.  Eight of those came Saturday against Wake Forest, but Miami attempted 21 treys in that game.  They are shooting 27.3% from distance during this four game stretch.  Part of Miami’s dominance has been the ability to combine dangerous shooting from Shane Larkin, Durand Scott, and Kenny Kadji with the inside attack of Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble (along with drives by Larkin and Kadji).

Another surprise was Virginia Tech snapping its nine-game losing skid against Florida State.  Granted, there was little surprising with Erick Green’s performance. The nation’s leading scorer led the Hokies on Sunday with 26 points against the Seminoles.  However, Green receiving assistance in taking the victory was a pleasant addition for Virginia Tech. C.J. Barksdale scored 17 points and collected nine rebounds.  Robert Brown also scored 11 points from the bench, one of his better showings in a season where he has shot 32.3% from the field. Brown’s three-pointer with 15:36 to play in the second half gave Virginia Tech a 42-29 lead that Florida State would not overcome.

Kelly Coming Back?: In other news, Ryan Kelly could be returning to the floor for Duke in the near future. He is expected to return to full practice Tuesday and hopes to be back in action by senior night, which is March 5 against Virginia Tech.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski would love for Kelly to be back by then, if not sooner.  In 2010-2011, the Blue Devils were dominant in non-conference play before Kyrie Irving suffered a toe injury. He was unable to return until the NCAA Tournament, which left Duke adjusting to his arrival during the most crucial stretch of the season and ultimately falling to Arizona.  Of course, Kelly was also sidelined during the postseason for Duke last year, when the Blue Devils lost in the ACC Semifinals to Florida State before suffering an upset loss to Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament.

Kelly arriving in time for senior night would allow for an adjustment period for Duke, as well as a chance for Kelly and his fellow seniors (Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry) to finish the regular season in style.  Ideally for the Blue Devils, they could ease Kelly into action against the Hokies before they will have to challenge North Carolina in the Dean Smith Center. Then, there would be a full week of practice (or necessary rest) before the Blue Devils take the floor in the ACC Tournament.

With that said, it would not be surprising if Kelly tried to come back for Duke’s rematch with Miami this Saturday.  While only Kelly and Duke’s training staff know if that would be in the team’s best interest, it will be tempting for him to return for that contest after the thrashing Duke suffered in Coral Gables with Kelly watching from the sidelines. Coach K says a return this week will not occur,  but it’s still something to watch. After all, Reggie Johnson’s return came against Duke when many assumed he was still sidelined.

This Week’s ACC Power Rankings

1) Duke – How fickle the power rankings can be.  Yes, Duke lost to Maryland a week ago, but they were nothing short of dominant against Virginia Tech and Boston College this week.

2) North Carolina – UNC’s home win against Virginia was much more convincing than Miami’s, and they’ve followed it up with solid outings against Georgia Tech and NC State.

3) Miami – Miami struggled with Virginia (and Clemson before them) before losing to Wake Forest.  Miami can’t panic after a loss that was probably overdue, but they have to start playing better than they have recently.

4) Virginia – The Cavaliers have turned into some kind of offensive juggernaut in February, scoring 80+ against Georgia Tech Sunday to join their loss to UNC and win against Maryland.

5) NC State – The Wolfpack are 3-3 in February, with wins against Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Florida State and losses to Miami, Duke, and North Carolina. They finish with Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Florida State. They’re good, not great, but should finish strong.

6) Maryland – Beat Duke, lose to Boston College, defeat Clemson by double-digits? Sure, Maryland.

7) Wake Forest – It was not a good week for the bottom half of the ACC.  Wake Forest benefits from not playing a mid-week game and upsetting Miami.  Too bad they can’t play all of their games in Winston-Salem.

8) Boston College – Yes, the Eagles were smashed by Duke, but they beat Maryland and have been competitive in the past two weeks. It will be interesting to see how they finish the season with a young team.

9) Clemson – Another team that had the mid-week off.  The Tigers almost upset Miami last Sunday, but struggled on the road against Maryland this weekend.

10) Florida State – This is probably a bit of a drastic drop, but it’s not like the Seminoles had done anything to merit a higher ranking before losing to Virginia Tech.

11) Georgia Tech – Two double-digit losses for the Yellow Jackets this week. They have both NC State and Miami in their last four games, so wins against Maryland or Boston College would be nice.

12) Virginia Tech – At least the losing streak is over.  

1 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I’m not a big fan of the Hurricanes … in anything … but you have to respect the job that Jim Larranaga has done, and they have some great players. More importantly, for ACC fans, a good showing from the Canes in the NCAA tournament would be a nice boost for the league.

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