Player of the Week
For everybody's benefit I'll try to get myself through this report without quoting Katy Perry's popular song, but I'm not overly confident in my ability to do so. Here goes nothing... Reggie Jackson is perhaps the most bi-polar player in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and therefore, he is a frequent guest on this ACC blog. He's hot, then he's cold. He's yes, then he's-- dammit! Anyway, he's hot at just the right time for his team. Boston College is on the bubble and not too long ago it looked like they would fall off for good. Jackson was struggling and his team as a result, was struggling as well. Now that Jackson has made a (perhaps temporary) turn for the better, his team is back in the big picture. Boston College won two important road games last week against Virginia and Virginia Tech, in which their leader averaged 22.5 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. As mentioned, his performance is terribly important to the success of the team. Fortunately for the Eagles, their next few games are cake. They'll play the lowly Wake Forest Demon Deacons at home, and then face a likely first round matchup against Wake Forest (again) or Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament.
Though he isn't shooting great percentages or living up to those Kobe Bryant comparisons, Harrison Barnes is certainly proving that he is a special player. As just a freshman, The Black Falcon has perhaps become the most clutch player in the ACC. He drilled the Chris Singleton-less Seminoles with an ice-cold, highly contested, go-ahead triple with just three seconds remaining in their game last Wednesday. His late-game exploits against the likes of Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech and now Florida State are giving him the reputation of a great closer. Robert Horry once said, "Pressure can burst a pipe or pressure can make a diamond." Harrison Barnes is starting to shine. Barnes has averaged 19.5 points a game in the past week, and he'll look to carry that scoring ability over as the Tar Heels host Duke this Saturday. Winner gets the regular season ACC crown. No pressure.
Leslie has had a solid, albeit rocky, freshman season. The North Carolina State team he plays for entered the season with expectations of improvement laced with a cautious doubt. They had the talent, experience and an exciting new recruit in Leslie but they had also been underachieving the last few years. Well they didn't improve this year and Leslie hasn't had the impact that many had hoped he would. On the season, he's put up respectable numbers for a freshman in 11.2 points per game (44% shooting), 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. While those numbers are nothing too bad, it seems he's really starting to tumble as the season winds down. Last week he only averaged 5 points per game (20% shooting), 3 rebounds and 1 block. He's an NBA athlete, but he doesn't really have any standout skill. He isn't likely to play many more games this season and I question whether he's going to stay in school another year. He's a likely first rounder anyway.
Top Five Bubble Teams
1. Florida State - As we approach the ACC tournament, teams look to both build their resume and gain momentum. Florida State is no exception. They'll be expecting to finish the season with a win against the struggling North Carolina State Wolfpack. On an even better note, Coach Leonard Hamilton believes forward Chris Singleton will be back for the postseason. They have a very, very good chance of dancing for the third straight season.
2. Virginia Tech - After a spectacular win against the top-ranked team in the nation, Virginia Tech lost at home against another bubble team in the Boston College Eagles. It's just not poetic if they don't make the tourney, after having their hearts broken repeatedly these last few years. The seniors deserve their day in the Sun! This blogger's pulling for you!
3. Boston College - Their final regular season game is as easy as it gets. The one-win wonder Demon Deacons will come into town and in all likelihood lose by double-digits. The Eagles also boast an edge in RPI and strength of schedule over these other bubble teams. They have a solid chance of making the tournament this year.
4. Clemson - The Clemson Tigers are right in the thick of the bubble discussion. How they fare against bubble-rival Virginia Tech this Saturday will likely determine whether they are one of the "Last Four In" or the "First Four Out".
5. Maryland - Maryland will finish their regular season schedule at home against Virginia. It's a winnable game, but that won't solidify their position as a tourney team this season. At this point, they're a long shot. A great showing in the ACC tournament is vital if they want to dance this year.
Nolan Smith was passed by Kendall Marshall in assists per game. The race is hardly significant, but if Smith finishes on top he'll become the first player in ACC history to finish first in both points and assists... Kyrie Irving continues to make progress with his injury, but it's still unknown if he could return for at least part of the postseason... Terrell Stoglin has continued his hot play. He has averaged 24 points in his last two games. Unfortunately, both resulted in losses... North Carolina reserve, Reggie Bullock, will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury... What other basketball blogger would have the audacity to shamelessly drop a Katy Perry lyric in an attempt for a cheap chuckle? I deserve a medal…
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