Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekend Match-up Preview: January 14-15

Things didn't go so well for my mid-week predictions. I missed the last three games on the schedule to drop to 3-3 on the week and 7-5 overall.

I was pretty shocked by both the Clemson and the NC State outcomes. The Pack played its worst game of the season and the Jackets played well, but there's really no excuse for losing that game - especially when you are one of maybe five teams with any NCAA Tournament hopes. Boston College has looked decent in both its ACC games so we either have to chalk that up to nine freshmen improving or the league being really, really bad. I'd go with a little from column A, little from column B.

Just five games this weekend as both Virginia and Miami have the weekend off.

North Carolina at Florida State
Toughest stretch of games that the Heels will face all season - back to back road games at Florida State and Virginia Tech (both of whom still rate fairly well by Pomeroy despite a combined 1-3 record in the league so far). If the Heels are going to lose a game in these next two, I'd bet on this one. The Seminoles have the front court size and depth to cause Carolina problems and the Heels defense doesn't turn teams over enough to take advantage of Florida State's carelessness on offense. The key will probably be the turnovers - if Florida State can get shots on more than 80% of its possessions (so a turnover rate under 20%) then I like their chances. Heels are a 70% favorite on the road and Pomeroy has them by six.

My Prediction: The more I think about this match-up the more I want to pick Florida State. But I can't do it. I do believe it will be a close, low-scoring game by Carolina standards. UNC 72, Florida State 69

NC State at Wake Forest
State fans need to hope that the Pack got its 'what the f***' game out of its system against the Yellow Jackets, because they really can't afford another bad loss. This game would fit in that category. Wake has a weak interior defense that Leslie and Howell should be able to dominate if they can just stay out of foul trouble. Pomeroy gives the Pack a 63% chance of winning and likes them by four.

My Prediction: A Howell double-double and a fairly easy win for the Pack. Wake might make enough shots to keep it close for a while but I think this ends up a double-digit win. Pack 81, Deacons 70

Virginia Tech at Boston College
I would have bet you anything a week ago that the Eagles wouldn't finish better than 2-14 in the league this year. They are halfway to that figure already after knocking off Clemson. I still believe that game was something a fluke - again, we have two months of evidence that BC is all kinds of terrible. That said I do love me some Clifford the Big White Center. As for Virginia Tech, despite their 0-2 start they still have the fourth best RPI in the league but they need to get rolling quickly - that includes dominating this game then knocking off UNC. I don't think that's happening, but I'm not going to bury the Hokies until next week. Pomeroy has Tech as nearly a 90% favorite and likes them by 12.

My Prediction: Clifford the Big White Center has a strong game against Tech's terrible front court but the Hokies finally hit some 3s and win their first conference game. Hokies 65, Eagles 59

Duke at Clemson
I guess its time we sort of admit that Duke isn't a great team this season - at least not in the traditional Duke since. Virginia really forced them to play at their tempo and dragged down the Duke offense enough to make it a close game at the end. I maintain they'll finish 13-3 or so in the league simply because of the schedule, but they are going to struggle on the road against some bad teams. Meanwhile, Clemson is the poster child of the schizophrenic ACC - they blew out Florida State at home and lost to BC on the road. So good luck figuring that team out. Pomeroy has Duke as an 77% favorite and likes them by eight on the road.

My Prediction: Mason Plumlee is such a huge liability on the line at this point that it seems crazy to predict Duke by double digits in any game. Teams can basically come back by hacking Plumlee, who has to be on the court because he's the teams best interior player. Whatever, I hate this Clemson team. Duke 79, Clemson 67.

Georgia Tech at Maryland
The two teams that lean most heavily on a single player - so this is basically the Stoglin vs Rice Jr show. Whoever has the best game wins, because neither team has a supporting cast capable of winning games if the main guy struggles. Pomeroy likes Maryland by a point at home and basically calls the game a coin flip - hard to disagree with that.

My Prediction: Georgia Tech has played above their heads in two straight games. Its regression to the mean time for the Yellow Jackets this weekend on the road. Maryland 72, Tech 65

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