By Rob Clough
Parsing The Week's Results: The big news this week came out of Durham. Chelsea Gray stepped on Wake Forest's Dearica Hamby and came down very wrong on her knee, dislocating her kneecap. On Tuesday, Duke reported in a carefully worded release that Gray would be out for the rest of the 2012-13 campaign, with surgery pending to to correct the dislocation. No ACL or MCL damage was mentioned, but for a Duke team that was cruising toward a fourth consecutive regular season title, and was the prohibitive favorite in the ACC tournament, losing their point guard and potential ACC player of the year suddenly brings them much closer to the rest of the pack. At the time of the injury Gray was leading the Blue Devils comeback against a highly motivated Wake squad, and Tricia Liston took over, scoring 29 points to continue the Blue Devils' 20-year mastery over the Deacs (39 straight victories). Earlier in the week, Duke easily crushed a slightly intimidated Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg. Duke has four games left in the ACC, three of which are against ranked opponents. Their two-game lead over Maryland is starting to look a bit tenuous, especially with a trip to College Park looming Sunday.
Indeed, Maryland is in good shape to catch up, especially since UNC just faltered (see below for more on both teams). Florida State didn't help themselves in their loss to a motivated NC State squad, as Kody Burke had 26 points and the Noles just just 37% from the field. Star guard Alexa Deluzio particularly struggled against the Pack, going 0-7 from the field. FSU is a team that's relied on its offense the whole season, and when a couple of key cogs don't shoot well, they are vulnerable -- especially against an opponent with skilled size. UNC easily crushed that same Wake team that gave Duke fits, but then gave up 80 points to the Noles, one of Carolina's worst defensive showings of the season. In a statistical oddity, it was also their first loss of the season by fewer than ten points.
In other games, Miami quietly took care of business against Boston College to solidify their fifth place standing, and Clemson came from behind to win a battle between ACC also-rans against Virginia Tech. That loss will probably cement the Hokies as the last place team in the league come seeding time for the ACC tournament. I predict that the current standings in the ACC will likely hold for the ACC tournament overall.
Best Win: Florida State, 80, UNC 73. The Noles caught a break in that starting UNC center Waltiea Rolle was sick and played just 17 minutes. That neutralized the Heels' frontcourt edge, which had allowed them to comfortably defeat the Noles just a few days earlier. The other key to the game was that FSU's ballhandling allowed them to withstand UNC's pressure, especially when the Noles hit a few shots and took a late lead. Unlike the Heels' other comebacks, UNC's pressure wasn't effective -- FSU's guards handled it. This is a major win for FSU's resume' in the NCAA tournament with regard to seeding, especially after their unexpected loss to NC State.
Worst Loss: Georgia Tech 79, NC State 70. It's one thing to lose to a mediocre ACC team (one coming off a loss to Virginia Tech, no less). It's quite another to lose in that fashion hosting the Play4Kay game on Kay Yow Court in Reynolds Coliseum. Star forward Kody Burke somehow ended up with 0 points against a team without a real frontcourt player. This turns Kellie Harper's coaching hot seat temperature up another 50 degrees or so. After an inspiring win over Florida State, this was a major step back for the Wolfpack.
Trending Up: Maryland. After demolishing Clemson with little fuss, the Terps not only crushed a good Virginia team on the road, they even got seven minutes out of injured forward Tierney Pfirman. If she can return from her dislocated kneecap to get back into their regular rotation by the end of the season, the Terps will be in much better shape for the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
Trending Down: Virginia. This was an absolutely brutal week for Virginia's NCAA tourney chances. First, they were beaten by double digits by a bad Boston College team, a contest in which Virginia was unable to crack the 50 point mark. UVa's four starting perimeter players combined for 9-46 shooting (20%) against a slow team that can give up open looks from three. The Hoos followed that up by meekly surrendering to Maryland at home, scoring just 44 points. To add injury to insult, starting guard Kelsey Wolfe (one of the ACC's most improved players) went down with a knee injury and is likely done for the year. The Hoos desperately need quality wins, and soon, or the they will surely be in the WNIT.
Surprise Player Of The Week: Myisha Goodwin-Coleman, NC State. With a career-high 30 points and 9 three-pointers, MGC was the only redeeming factor in NC State's loss to Georgia Tech. Armed with one of the most baffling head-fakes in the ACC, the diminutive guard still manages to get her shot off against nearly anyone.
Stat Of the Week: RPI. The Ratings Percentage Index is one of many factors the NCAA committee considers when selecting one of its 33 at-large bids. Strength of schedule, record over the last ten games, road record and record vs other top teams are also very important. That said, RPI is a useful kind of shorthand that takes a number of these factors into account. Let's take a look at the ACC teams, their current RPI and (per RealTimeRPI.com on 2/19/2013) and where they might wind up:
Duke: RPI # 9, Strength of Schedule #64. Duke has the lowest Strength of Schedule (SOS) of any team in the RPI top 15, which is why they're ranked low relative to their record. Duke will have a chance to boost this down the stretch with games against #10 Maryland, #17 UNC, #19 Florida State, and #53 Miami, plus there's the possibility of facing more of those teams again in the ACC tournament. Duke is a solid 2 seed with an outside chance of a 1, but the loss of Gray could knock them all the way down to a 3 seed if they don't respond well.
Maryland: RPI #10, SOS #31. The Terps are likely headed to a 3 seed, unless they managed to tie Duke for the ACC regular season title and then win the tournament. They can certainly do it, but winning three games in three days for this short-handed bunch will be a challenge.
UNC: RPI #17, SOS #54. Losing to FSU might mean dropping to a 5 seed, but they have chances to boost their profile with a game against Duke and the ACC tournament, where they usually tend to play well.
FSU: RPI #21, SOS #41. This is a classic 5 seed, and getting that big win over UNC really helped their cause. Beating Duke could push them up to a 4.
Miami: RPI #53, SOS #58. This is very much a bubble team that needs a signature win (a home date with suddenly vulnerable Duke could be the one) to separate themselves from a large pack of tourney pretenders. By my estimation, there are seven potential bid-stealing conferences; that is, seven leagues that have one team good enough to get into the NCAA tourney without winning their conference tourney. Each could wipe out one of seven at-large bids for power conference teams, and the Canes are quite likely to be one of those teams in such jeopardy.
Virginia: RPI #68, SOS #57. Virginia's current profile is that of a typical WNIT team. There are some good wins but no great ones. There are a few bad losses, and there are injury issues. Barring a miracle run in the ACC tournament, the ACC will get four teams in the NCAA tourney and might get five.
Three Games To Watch (2/20 -2/26/2013):
If you enjoy our weekly Digest, please consider supporting our work with a site membership for just $10. It includes our 49 page league preview and much more. The Digest will return on Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 with our final regular season entry.
The ACC Women's Basketball Digest and ACCWBBDigest.com are published by DWHoops. Website Contents are Copyright ©
2012-2015 DWHOOPS.COM (Orin A. Day, Durham, NC, USA.),
All Rights Reserved.
Website Contents are Copyright ©
2012-2015 DWHOOPS.COM (Orin A. Day, Durham, NC, USA.),
All Rights Reserved.