Player of the Week
The Maryland Terrapins don’t figure to be much of a threat in the ACC this season, but sophomore Terrell Stoglin will at least keep them relevant. The 6’1" guard has been absolutely dominating the scoreboard this season, and is leading all ACC players in points per game, averaging 22.4. Stoglin displayed his dominance again this week, scoring 31 points in Maryland’s 78-71 victory over Notre Dame. Though Maryland didn’t project to have a lot of other scoring options this season, the magnitude of Stoglin’s breakout has been surprising to me. He’s nearly doubled his scoring output from a year ago (11.4 points per game in 2010-2011) and established himself as one of the most electric scorers in the nation. If you discount his 0/9 performance against Alabama, Stoglin’s scoring 25.2 points per game, which would be the second highest average in the nation. So if he can continue to perform like he has in the six games this season that he did make a field goal, he might keep the Terps out of the ACC cellar this season.
CJ Leslie has been impressing the nation since his return from a three-game suspension, and until recently, he’s been doing it coming off the bench. NC State’s 6’9" forward started his first game of the season on Sunday, and scored 14 points on 75% shooting. It was the fifth game consecutive game this season that Leslie has scored in double-figures, and the fourth time he’s made at least half of his shots. This is a promising sign for the Wolfpack, as Leslie only managed to shoot 43.3% from the floor a season ago (which is quite poor for a big man). If he can continue to improve his shot-selection (he’s shooting 58.7% this season), the sky is the limit for Leslie, who is more known for his freakish athleticism than his offensive prowess. He’s clearly at his best around the rim, where he displays an uncanny ability to finish plays through contact. The more he operates down there, the better his team will be.
There’s no denying Seth Greenburg’s prized recruit is a nice talent. In fact, he’s having a great season. The versatile forward is averaging 7.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. That is pretty remarkable for a freshman, as he’s already leading a respectable Virginia Tech team in both rebounds and assists. Lately, however, his scoring limitations have presented themselves, and the Hokies are suffering because of them. In his team’s two losses this week, Finney-Smith averaged 4.5 points per game on 33% shooting. His game doesn’t currently revolve around scoring, so this is forgivable, though certainly inconvenient. If he can use his athleticism to finish around the rim better and make open three-point baskets with his solid shooting ability, the Hokies will be a much-better team. If he can get hot by the time conference play starts up, it would give his squad a great third scoring option behind guards Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson.
Top 5 ACC Teams
1. North Carolina – I’m opting to keep UNC at the top of my personal power rankings for a number of reasons. The first being that Roy Williams’ teams all typically seem to improve as the season goes on. Their bench is young and inexperienced now, but I believe it will soon be a major asset. I also think their size advantage over Duke will be devastating when the teams eventually meet in February.
2. Duke – Duke got annihilated by Ohio State last week, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have Final Four-esque talent on the roster. With a trio of sharp-shooting threats on the perimeter, Duke seems like they’re only a consistent post scorer away from seriously challenging for the national title. Can Mason Plumlee step up?
3. Florida State – Florida State went on a three-game losing streak almost immediately after being ranked 20th in the nation. The Seminoles are still a dominant defensive team with the size to compete with anyone, so I think they’re good for a top-three finish in the ACC. Their next test will come against Florida on December 22nd.
4. Virginia – Redshirt returnee Mike Scott has the Virginia Cavaliers playing extremely well on both ends of the court. Their 8-1 record is the highest among all ACC teams. Not all those victories were cheapies either, as Virginia managed to upset the #15 Michigan Wolverines last week…
5. Virginia Tech – If Reggie Johnson comes back healthy, I think Miami finishes top-5. Until then, it’s between North Carolina State and Virginia Tech. Personally, I prefer the Hokies, as the Wolfpack seems prone to falling apart late in games.
The ACC lost the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the third consecutive year, four games to eight … #5 UNC was defeated by #1 Kentucky, after John Henson had his potential game-winning shot blocked by Anthony Davis … Harrison Barnes made 7/11 of his three-pointers this week, and is shooting 47.8% from downtown on the season … After Virginia Tech’s loss on Wednesday against Minnesota, the Big Ten admitted a referee made a mistake when calling a back-court violation on the Hokies in the final 10 seconds of the game … Wake Forest guard CJ Harris made the go-ahead layup with 3.4 seconds remaining to give the Demon Deacons the victory over Nebraska on Wednesday … Durand Scott scored 16 points in a Miami victory over UMass, all of which came from the free-throw line (16/18) …