Conference play in the ACC has been going on for two weeks in earnest, and like always, it looks like it’s going to be another one of those seasons in conference where just about anyone can beat anyone else (except for maybe Wake Forest). While last week there were 4 unbeaten teams in conference play, this week there are none. Perhaps the most surprising (or maybe not) was Florida State’s upset of Duke. Not so much because Florida State did it; they have done it before. But after impressing in Hawaii late in the year, the Seminoles dropped a game to Auburn-reputedly one of the worst teams in Division I basketball-and yet handled the top team in the nation (albeit at home). How did they do it? The Seminoles calling card this season has been defense and the defense hounded the Blue Devils into their worst shooting performance of the season. Couple that with the fact that there was nothing going on inside from the Plumlee brothers, and Duke can be had on nights like those. The question of course is how many of those nights will occur with this team. Florida State’s problems are on the offensive end, and they got just enough to get the better of Duke on that night.
The first of the unbeatens to fall last week was North Carolina State, which lost to Boston College last Tuesday night 75-66. It was a bad week for the Wolfpack as later in the week they also lost to Florida State on Saturday-which cemented an undefeated week for the Seminoles as they showed no letdown after the Duke win. Boston College was the next unbeaten team to fall, as they too lost on Saturday down in Miami to the Hurricanes. The victory gave the Hurricanes their first conference win and removed them from the winless ranks. Finally, the North Carolina Tar Heels fell to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Sunday night-removing the Heels from the unbeaten ranks and the Jackets from the group of teams that hadn’t won a conference game.
Besides Georgia Tech and Miami, Maryland also won a conference game last week by beating Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. With the wins by the Terps, Yellow Jackets and Hurricanes, the Demon Deacons remain the one team without a win in conference play. The week wasn’t all good for the Terrapins though, as they once again lost another chance to claim a significant victory over a highly-touted squad with a loss to Villanova of the Big East on Saturday. The Terps at one point held a 12-point lead, only to falter behind a 19-0 run and lose 74-66. If the Terps had held on and gotten the victory, it would’ve given a tremendous lift to their NCAA tournament hopes.
Right now, there is a three-way tie atop the ACC standings with Duke, Boston College and Florida State all with 3-1 records. Following them are the Tar Heels and a surprising Clemson squad just one-half game behind. Virginia Tech, by splitting it’s two contests last week (losing a close one to the Tar Heels and routing Wake) sits alone behind them at 2-2. Will the conference still be a Duke runaway, or will we see teams beating up each other week after week? Stay tuned to find out.