ACC PREDICTIONS PREDICTIONS PREDICTIONS!

VT blog Gobbler Country and Furrier4Heisman held a preseason conference poll among ACC bloggers and was kind enough to invite my opinion, despite my recent sporadic-ness-ness-ness. (I will save the explanation for another time, but for now I’ll say life got in the way.) Anyway, here were may predictions:

Atlantic Division

1. Florida State

2. NC State

3. Clemson

4. Wake Forest

5. Maryland

6. Boston College

Florida State has the talent, eventually they have to pull it together, right? State is a team on the rise despite the (temporary?) loss of Nate Irving. I sincerely hope he comes back to haunt running backs’ dreams again…just not our backs. Clemson is still talented, but we don’t know how consistent they are. Wake Forest will take a step back on defense, the key to their success the last three years. Boston College is squarely in rebuilding mode after all they’ve lost.

Coastal Division

1. Virginia Tech

2. Georgia Tech

3. North Carolina

4. Miami

5. Virginia

6. Duke

Last year was the time to pounce on the Coastal Division and step up in Virginia Tech’s rebuilding year. That window is now closed, and now anyone who wants to win this division must go through the Hokies. Georgia Tech’s Success will depend on whether their triple option stand the test of a team getting a second look. I actually predicted that North Carolina can finish as well as 10-2, but they have to beat one or both of the Techs on the road in order to win the division; honestly, I don;t think this team is ready. Miami still needs to show consistency to be placed higher than fourth. Virginia lose too many important players from 2008 and Duke is, well, Duke.

Offensive Player of the Year: Darren Evans, Virginia Tech

Partly because he’s very good and partly to be contrarian. How Gobbler Country let me get away with calling him “Darrell Evans” in the email I sent him, I’ll never know.

Defensive Player of the Year: QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT, UNC.

I have never been more confident of a prediction in my entire life. Ever.

Rookie of the Year: Josh Adams, UNC.

Not knowing much (read: anything about other rookies in the ACC, I decided to stick to what I know. Judging by the pairty in voting in this category, everyone else voted the same way. I think Jamal Womble will have a bigger impact, but I have a hunch Adams will have better stats.

Thanks again to Gobbler Country for holding this poll.

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ACC Roundtable Roundup #2

Would you like to take a survey?

Welcome to the roundup of this week’s ACC Roundtable. Our esteemed panelists for this week are Myself, BC Interruption, Block C, College Game Balls, From Old Virginia, Gobbler Country, and The Legacy x4.

Okay, first things first: could someone please explain what the hell just happened this past Saturday?

The general consensus here is that the events of Saturday are less unexpected than at first glance. Sure, Wake, UNC, and Virginia Tech may have all been ahead in the standings. But, as From Old Virginia points out, those were all conference road games, which are never, ever easy.

BC Interruption sees the reason for the ACC’s “fluctuation” has less to do with the teams themselves and more to do with that the media “is easily distracted by shiny things” and constantly re-assesses the state of the conference from week to week.

College Game Balls, however, may have the best answer of anyone:

Heather Dinich used her Greek Goddess abilities to flip the league on top of its head, again.

Dinich bathes in the schadenfreude emanating from the ACC. Of course, CGB’s statement requires the suspension of disbelief that Ms. Dinich has abilities, is Greek, or is anything close to Godliness.

I happen to be of the belief that what happened last Saturday was less a product of superstition and more a product of the three offenses scoring nineteen combined points in regulation. An extra fourteen, of course, came courtesy of Chris Crane throwing to Hokies.

Block C takes his answer in another direction, answering what happened to Clemson against Georgia Tech. The saga of their beloved Tigers’ season is enough to fill a book. Hopefully, it has a happy ending with a new, smashingly successful coach. Wait, did I just use the word smashing?

Good Maryland, Bad Maryland, we’ve seen a fair share of both in 2008. Good Maryland may be the best team in the ACC, while Bad Maryland could probably lose by 20 to anyone left on their schedule. Which Maryland do we see for the rest of the season and where do you expect the Terps to finish?

No one on the panel is particularly optimistic about the Terps for the rest of the season. Currently at 5-2, No one except me expects them to do any better than 8-4, and everyone expects the Bad Terps to show up at least once. Most panelists, like From Old Virginia and The Legacy x4, point out their now-backloaded schedule will keep them from winning more than 3 games. Both Virginia Tech panelists mentioned that the Bad Terps usually show up on the road, while the Good Terps come out of the shell at home. (Hooray for more bad puns!) Most interestingly, Gobbler country discusses Maryland big weakness:

The key for the Terps this year has been their rush defense. If you can run on Maryland, you can beat them handily. But if they stop you from running the ball, things aren’t going to go well for you.

Whatever the case may be, the Roundtable is unanimously bursting Maryland’s Atlantic bubble.

Injuries are a part of college football, but they seem to have ravaged ACC offenses this year. Wake Forest has been without Sam Swank, Clemson is without C.J. Spiller, UNC is without T.J. Yates and Brandon Tate, Virginia Tech is without Kenny Lewis Jr., and NC State is without just about everybody. Which team misses their fallen star(s) most and why?

There seem to be two distinct camps here. Both BC Interruption and College Game Balls say that the conference’s most costly offensive injury is the one to Wake’s Sam Swank, the closest thing to an automatic kicker in college football and a big difference in close games. Which makes sense, until you consider that is reasonable to expect the Wake Forest offense, with all its talent, to score more than one TD in three conference game. Then there’s the factor that Wake’s defense usually keeps them in every game and–

You get the idea.

From old Virginia goes a different direction and points to the gradual loss of staff in Virginia Tech’s offense that has led, in part, to their 110th ranked offense. (And UNC gave up a 14 point lead to it? Yeesh.)  On defense, FoV references the injury to BC linebacker Brian Toal.

With four votes, however, the player whom the panel thinks is missed the most is UNC quarterback T.J. Yates. This completely florred me, not because it isn’t a good answer but because I never expected my conference brethren to have any sympathy toward the injuries of my beloved Tar Heels. Then again, I probably probably shouldn’t confuse sympathy with acknowledgement.

The primary reason seems to be, despite the admirable job that Cam Sexton has done in his stead, that the Heels just plain don’t lose that game of Virginia Tech if Yates had remained healthy. And that’s probably true. But that throws into question all of the other games that followed. Of course, if we have the same 5-2 record but with losses to Miami and Notre Dame instead of those teams from the Commonwealth, we’re probably in much better shape in the conference race.

Last one: the pretty much unanimous division champs were Virginia Tech and Wake Forest last week. Given all the craziness that just happened, give us your updated ACC Championship scenario.

But enough about my team. With two losses to teams ahead of them in the division, it would take a miracle for UNC to win the Costal at this point.

Many panelists (CGB, Gobbler Country, BC Interruption, and The Legacy x4) are opting for homerism and picking their own teams to go to Tampa. Fortunately for them Virginia Tech, Boston College and Georgia Tech are three of the teams in better position to win. Both BC and GT have daunting schedules, though, and the Jackets would lose any tiebreakers with the Hokies. Despite the Terps’ lights-out performance this past Saturday, no one has the guts to put Maryland in the Championship game as of yet (see Question 2). Of all the CG predictions, my own FSU-Miami pick was probably the most ambitious, and while I had reason to defense the pick, it ultimately boiled down to “this conference is crazy”.

In the final tallies, though, it’s 2.5 votes for Georgia Tech, 3.5 vote for Virginia Tech, 1 vote for Miami, 3 votes for Boston College, 2 votes for Florida State, and 2 votes for Wake Forest.

No team won a majority, but the plurality points to a rematch of last year’s championship game between Virginia Tech and Boston College.

You can almost feel the cynicism oozing out of your screen right now.

If you are an enterprising ACC blogger and are interested in joining the roundtable, just send an email with a link to your site. The more panelists, the merrier.

Blogpoll Week 1

Rank Team Delta
1 Southern Cal 2
2 Georgia 1
3 Ohio State 1
4 Missouri 1
5 Oklahoma 1
6 Florida
7 West Virginia
8 Auburn
9 LSU 1
10 Brigham Young 1
11 Texas Tech 1
12 South Florida 1
13 Wisconsin 1
14 Kansas 1
15 Alabama 11
16 Arizona State
17 Texas
18 Wake Forest 2
19 Penn State
20 Oregon 2
21 California 3
22 Clemson 13
23 Fresno State
24 Utah 2
25 East Carolina 1

Dropped Out: Tennessee (#18), Virginia Tech (#21), TCU (#25).

Also Considered: South Carolina, TCU, Central Michigan, UCLA
Clemson and Alabama aside, not much movement.Southern Cal takes the top spot because 1) they absolutely throttled Virginia 52-7, 2) they most likely have the best offensive line in America, and 3) They’re like, 6-deep at the running back position, which has to count for something. Tennessee and Virginia Tech drop out not just because of their losses, but their general ineptitude in the opening games. East Carolina moves up because if they play to the level they are capable of playing, they could win 10 games and the Conference USA title. TCU played well in their MWC opener, and probably should not have dropped out. I just don;t have a place to put them right now.

Carolina Football FACT of The Day: August 1, 2008

Your source for the weird and useless facts about Carolina football.

Fact: Carolina loses by an average of 45 points when introduced on television by Brooks & Dunn. This fact is based on the highly reliable sample size of one, a 52-7 drubbing at the hands of Clemson in 2006. Unfortunately, there’s video proof.

BONUS FACT! Carolina was 0-5 on LF/Raycom in 2007, with losses to UVa, Va. Tech, Wake, NC State and Georgia Tech, 2-2 on the ESPN family of networks, and 2-0 in untelevised games. Prepare your Steve Martin and Doc Walker voodoo dolls accordingly.

Ty Lawson Continues to Set Records for Minutes on Bench With Look of Disappointment

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Best of luck to Ty Lawson and his recovery, because we really, really, really need him. But I can’t get over the look on his face whenever the camera shows him. Meanwhile, Carolina comes away with yet another narrow conference victory, this time 75-74 on the road against Virginia.

UNC vs. Clemson Live Blog

Tonight, the Tar Heels open their ACC play in Littlejohn Coliseum against the #19 Clemson Tigers.

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In addition to being the first conference game of the year, this is one of the first games in which Carolina stands a good chance of losing. Clemson has traditionally been a tough road game to play, and this year’s Tigers team looks to be one of the best in years. To make matters worse, the Heels could be without three of their most important bench players. Bobby Frasor is out for the season with a torn ACl, Alex Stepheson is unavailable tonight due to a family illness, and Quentin Thomas may see little or no playing time due to a sprained ankle. Tonight, one of our greatest strengths could be our weakness. For us to win, Danny Green, Mike Copeland, and Will Graves need to have good performances. in addition, the starting five cannot get into foul trouble.

7:37pm: Duke almost lost to Cornell this afternoon. I would say that such a performance is embarrassing, but I have little moral authority.

7:44 pm: 4-0, Clemson. James Mays strikes first blood, and K.C. Rivers follows with an easy basket inside.

7:46 pm: 4-2, Clemson. After a fast start, both teams seem to be forcing a few shots right now.

7:47 pm: 8-6, UNC. Three baskets in 8 seconds. Oliver Purnell intends to run with the Tar Heels. Given our lack of depth tonight, this might be the time to do it. Hansbrough and Lawson get on the board.

7:49 pm: 10-8, UNC. Ginyard gets an easy basket inside to take the lead, but I’m too distracted by Purnell’s dark orange suit. At least he had the presence of mind not to wear purple.

7:50 pm: 13-10, Clemson. The Tigers take back the lead thanks to a three from K.C. Rivers. Or “K.C. without the Sunshine Band”, as the FSN announcers called it. Blech.

7:55 pm: 15-14, Clemson. Will Graves and Danny Green are in for Carolina.

Aside from the shot clock violation, the Tigers have yet to turn the ball over.

7:58 pm: 16-15, UNC. Hansbrough hits the jump hook to give UNC the lead. Carolina has played good defense since the first TV timeout, not allowing a field goal in 4 minutes.

8:00 pm: Quentin Thomas is in for Lawson, which is a good sign. Carolina turns the ball over on Q’s second possession, which is a bad sign.

8:03 pm: 16-16. Marcus Ginyard, how do you miss that shot?!?

8:05 pm: Clemson seems to be playing with a higher energy than North Carolina. Luckily for us, the Tigers are missing their free throws.

8:06 pm: 19-18, Clemson. The Tigers hits another three for the lead. Carolina escapes the full court pressure on the ensuing possession, and Deon Thompson hits a shot from the right side.

8:11 pm: 27-22, UNC. Thanks to a few bad possessions from Clemson, Carolina gets some quick baskets in transition to take momentum. The last basket was an Ellington layup.

8:15 pm: 29-23, UNC. Clemson is shooting only 29% from the field, but Carolina’s shots don’t look pretty either.

8:16 pm: 29-29. K.C. Rivers basket, steal, Rivers basket, steal, Cliff Hammonds basket. Within 15 seconds, Clemson has the momentum back. Quentin Thomas is clearly not at full speed yet.

8:21 pm: 31-31. The Heels are playing sloppy right now. In particular, they’re settling for bad shots in transition.

8:24 pm: 36-34, UNC. Ellington hits Carolina’s first three-pointer of the game. Keep in mind, as we near halftime, that only four combined shots have been made from behind the arc thus far.

8;27 pm: 39-38, Clemson. Thompson and Hansbrough have no excuse for allowing Clemson three chances inside. They have to box out and get the rebound.

8:29 pm: 41-38, Clemson. K.C. Rivers hits a shot inside with less than 10 seconds left, and Clemson has just finished a 18-9 run to end the first half. Ty Lawson has played well so far, but Carolina has not gotten the performances they need from Hansbrough or the bench. To win this game, the Heels need to force the ball inside on offense, and seal off the paint on defense.

8:47 pm: 43-42, Clemson. After a dunk by Trevor Booker to start the second half, the Heels get two straight baskets inside from their guards, Marcus Ginyard and Wayne Ellington.

8:49 pm: 48-44, Clemson. Cliff Hammonds cannot be left that open outside. Hammonds makes the Heels pay with a three.

8:50 pm: 52-49, Clemson. Ellington hits Carolina’s only second three pointer of the game, but Booker immediately responds on the other side of the floor, as Carolina continues to play out of sync.

8:54 pm: 54-51, Clemson. Lawson takes advantage of a poor Clemson shot, getting the breakaway layup.

8:56 pm: 56-54, Clemson. Ellington hits another shot from boynd the arc. He’s heating up as the game goes on.

8:57 pm: 58-56, Clemson. Whichever Carolina player’s mom sits behind Roy Williams is wearing wayyyyyyy too much gold jewelry.

8:59 pm: 60-56, Clemson. A nice outside shot by Booker, but it should have never happened. Stitt clearly traveled when he jumped without letting go of the ball.

Hansbrough has yet to play like his usual self tonight.

9:05 pm: 64-58, Clemson. Just as Carolina finally creates an easy basket, the Tigers respond with a three. What is going on with UNC’s defense right now?

9:08 pm: 65-63, Clemson. Ellington gets three from the free throw line.

9:09 pm: 67-63, Clemson. An unbelievable shot by Stitt, and he draws the foul on Lawson. However, he misses the free throw.

9:10 pm: 67-65, Clemson. Oglesby misses the three, and the Heels get an all-too-easy layup on the other end. I would ask for more three point attempts on Clemson’s part, but Rivers just hit another one to make it 70-65, Clemson.

9:15 pm: 72-69, Clemson. Carolina continues to keep it close on offense, but their defense is letting too many inside baskets through.

9:16 pm: Just what we need: a turnover during a favorable transition situation.

9:18 pm: Hansbrough is currently being neutralized, and no one other than Ellington is hitting outside shots. For the Tar Heels, this could be a nightmare scenario.

9:20 pm: 74-69, Clemson. Potter hits a shot from 15 feet, as no one challenges the jumper. Tyler Hansbrough still has yet to score a point in this half.

9:22 pm: 74-70, Clemson. Hansbrough finally gets on the board, making one of two free throws. With Four minutes left in this game and no sign of Tyler, Carolina is in serious trouble, as Clemson is beating the Tar heels at their own transition game.

9:27 pm: 77-70, Clemson, 3:32 left. Time to officially begin freaking out.

9:28 pm: 79-74, Clemson, 2:45 left. Don’t let the current rebound stats fool you. Clemson has dominated the boards when it has mattered most. If not for Clemson’s poor free throw shooting, this game would already be over.

9:31 pm: 81-77, Clemson, 2:20 left. Ellington keep us within reach, but Carolina has to take a stand in the paint on both sides of the court.

9:34 pm: 81-80, Clemson, 1:37 left. OOHHHHHHH!!! What a shot by Danny Green! He makes them pay for the missed free throw on the other end, and this game is not over yet.

9:35 pm: :59.2 left. Good job by Hansbrough to get the rebound on defense when it matters most, and he draws the foul, with the chance to take the lead for UNC at the line.

9:37 pm: 81-81, :47.8 left. Hansbrough hits one of two to tie, and then he draws the offensive foul.

9:40 pm: :24.1 left. Clemson confuses lawson with the zone defense, and Roy is forced to take a timeout.

9:41 pm: :13.7 left. Good defense by Clemson, but WAYNE ELLINGTON, WHAT THE HELL KIND OF A SHOT WAS THAT?!? Now we have to hope for a defensive stop.

9:42 pm: Clemson gets three chances, but they can’t make it! Good defense by UNC, who didn’t allow an easy shot, and we’re going to overtime.

9:45 pm: 81-81 (OT). A huge loss for the Tigers, as Trevor Booker fouls out. Unfortunately, Carolina can’t take immediate advantage, as Hansbrough misses both free throws.

9:48 pm: 83-82, UNC. Ellington hits two free throws to…finally…give Carolina its firs lead in a long time. Ellington has a whopping 31 points in this game.

9:50 pm: 84-83, Clemson, 2:31 left. Hansbrough missteps in the paint, and James Mays gets the dunk inside to give Clemson the lead. What’s even more frustrating is that David Potter is single-handedly destroying us on the glass.

9:56 pm: 86-85, Clemson, :49.4 left. If UNC loses this game, it will be because they were outscored 25-6 in points off turnovers.

9:57 pm: 87-86, UNC, :30 left. Lawson hits two free throws to take back the lead.

9:58 pm: :13.9 left. Danny Green commits a cheap foul, his 5th, on Stitt, who is Clemson’s best free throw shooter.

9:59 pm: 88-87, Clemson, :13.9 left. Stitt his the free throws, and Clemson has the lead again.

10:03 pm, :00.4 left. OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!!! What a shot by Wayne Ellington! That is the clutch shot to end all clutch shots, as the raucous Littlejohn Coliseum falls silent.

10:05 pm: Clemson throws the inbound pass out of bounds, Carolina lets the time expire, and they hold on to win 90-88 on Ellington’s huge buzzer-beating shot. A clutch shot by Ellington, who had 36 points in the game, but many of Carolina’s true weaknesses were revealed in this game. Still, Wayne has truly established himself as a go-to player in the perimeter.