Sunday, December 05, 2010

Virginia Might Be Better Than We Think

Virginia 57, Virginia Tech 54
Virginia is a team that has been decimated by players that have left or been booted off the team, as well as a series of bad injuries. It's a complete rebuilding job. There's no question that they are the least talented team in the ACC (Boston College, their only competitor for that crown, do have Reggie Jackson, a legitimate ACC star). But Tony Bennett is one of the best coaches in the nation, and he's made his Virginia squad a scrappy, tough, fundamentally sound team. This upset follows the upset of Minnesota, and they don't have any bad losses yet. It's not a Tournament resume, and I still strongly doubt that Virginia will be able to actually make the Tournament in the end, but they're clearly never going to be a pushover this season. For Virginia Tech, this is a crushing loss. They fall to 4-4 with their best win coming against Oklahoma State. Games against Penn State and Mississippi State are the best they have before beginning ACC play. With the ACC down, it's hard to see Virginia Tech making the NCAA Tournament with anything less than a 10-6 ACC record. Surely any realistic path to ten wins involved a win over Virginia at home. They have a lot of ground to make up now.

South Carolina 64, Clemson 60
Clemson's shooters really struggled in this rivalry game, hitting only 3-for-16 behind the arc. It's not too surprising to see them struggle from deep, but they also couldn't shoot in the paint, something that is typically a strength for them. Jerai Grant and Devin Booker shot a combined 3-for-11, and that's not going to cut it. They also struggled defensively in the paint, allowing South Carolina's big men to feast all day (their starting frontcourt combined to shoot 12-for-20). This is a nice win for a South Carolina team that has really been under the radar because of a cupcake schedule. They lost to Michigan State, the only team they've played so far likely to finish in the RPI Top 100. They jump back in the deep end on December 18th at Ohio State, but then only have a home game against Boston College before beginning SEC play. Clemson falls to 5-3 with their best win coming against Seton Hall, and a loss against Michigan that might potentially be an RPI 100+ loss. They open ACC play next Sunday desperately in need of a quality win. Don't sleep on a December 22nd game at College of Charleston also.

Temple 64, Maryland 61
I already thought that Temple has been a step ahead of the rest of the Atlantic Ten, and this very nice win reaffirms that belief. Juan Fernandez had an off night offensively for Temple, but the Owls can beat teams with the quality of Maryland on defense and rebounding alone. Terrell Stoglin did play well off the bench for Maryland (16 points on 12 shots from the field), but their other freshman guard (Pe'Shon Howard) still hasn't even scored in double digits since his supposed coming out party against College of Charleston a month ago. Jordan Williams has been fantastic, but Maryland needs more consistent guard production. Other than that win over College of Charleston, their only other good win was a blowout at Penn State. They will play Villanova in January, but otherwise will not be tested again out-of-conference. Temple is only 5-2, but it's been against a solid schedule and they've got wins over Georgia and Seton Hall to go with this win over Maryland. They will play Georgetown on Thursday night, and also have games against Villanova and Duke ahead. A win over one of those elite teams would go a long way toward another strong NCAA Tournament seed.

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