Ballsy Power Rankings


For now, the ACC turns into a two-team race between Duke and Maryland. Wake stumbles, while Clemson munches on some home cooking. Carolina…they lost again.

Who has become the most important player in the ACC? How about 7’1 Brian Zoubek? Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Zoubek has averaged 27 minutes per game, scoring double digit points twice, grabbing 17 rebounds against Maryland and 16 against Virginia Tech. I’m still taking a wait and see attitude before we change the “Big Three” into the “Fantastic Four.” Let’s see what he does away from Cameron against a more elite front line.

At the beginning of the season, most everyone circled the final weekend on their calendar. That’s when North Carolina took on Duke for what should have been the conference title. You can cross off that date. Now five days earlier Duke will be headed to Maryland for what could be the conference title. Of course the Terps have a tougher road to that game, still needing to beat Clemson at home and Virginia Tech on the road to stay within one of Duke.

Ignoring the final 12-point margin, the Hokies actually gave Duke it’s toughest challenge in Durham. Malcolm Delaney actually struggled from the floor, hitting only 5-19, but was able to get to the line, hitting 7-8 from the charity stripe.

Obviously if you’ve been playing attention, this is no surprise. Delaney leads the conference in free throw attempts. He has taken 174 this season, 34 more than Jon Scheyer, who is second in the ACC. In fact, only five players have over 100 for the year.

Nothing like a three-game home stand to clear out the cobwebs. Prior to this home stand, the Tigers had dropped four of five, but have now won three in a row. Of course, Clemson can’t seriously think about getting too far if they can’t get any point production at the point. Tanner Smith, who scored in double figures in 11 of Clemson’s first 19 games, has practically given up on scoring. He’s 1-9 from the field (1-7 from three) in his last three. Worse yet, he has dished out only eight assists, turning it over seven times. You can get away with those numbers at home, but will cost the Tigers on the road.

After riding a four-game winning streak, the Demon Deacons were getting a lot of press and a ton of props. Two road loses has ended all the talk for now. Of course it’s one thing to fall to the Hokies on the road, but NC State at this point in the season, not so good.

I’ve been preaching all year that Wake’s awful outside shooting was going to cost them. In their two defeats, they have hit only 3-28 from three. They were a pathetic 0-12 against the Wolfpack. Remember, this is a team that starts three guards and a future lottery pick at PF.

Are the Seminoles on the bubble? They certainly were 10 days ago, having dropped five of nine, falling to 17-7, but they crushed both Boston College and slumping Virginia to put them back into a “safe” zone. Right now, they’re looking like a No 8 seed. For the Noles, it’s still all about the defense. When they’ve hold their opponents to under 70, they’re 18-1. When the opponent breaks 70, they’re 1-6.

The Yellow Jackets are not looking so hot, sitting a game below .500 in the ACC after allowing not one, but two game-winning shots to Maryland. It’s just been that kind of year outside of Atlanta. Luckily for them, two of their final three are at home against weaker opponents. A 2-1 finish would mean 20 wins. With an RPI of 33 and an SOS at 16, it should be good enough for a 8-9 seed.

Nice win at home against a struggling North Carolina squad, but don’t expect this to go anywhere. The win snapped a rough four-game losing streak. At best, in ten days, the Eagles will face Virginia for a battle for 8th place.

Reality has set in at Virginia, as the Cavaliers have lost five straight. One problem the Cavs don’t have is hitting their free throws. They’re second in the ACC behind only Duke. The problem is, they don’t get to the line nearly enough. They’ve taken only 433 free throws this season. Virginia Tech, who leads the league, has taken 222 more. In Virginia’s last loss to Clemson, they too only seven free throw attempts, as the Tigers committed only six personal fouls.

This is getting pretty embarrassing now. Get this, the last time the Tar Heels beat anyone other than North Carolina State, it was January 10, against Virginia Tech of all teams. However, if Carolina fans want something to hold on to, how about the play of Jon Henson. He looked terrible for almost the entire season, but over the last two weeks, his numbers have been pretty good. He’s averaged just over 9ppg. He’s grabbed 32 rebounds (including a season high 10 boards in a loss to Georgia Tech). He’s also swatted away 12 balls, picking off five steals just for fun.

Somehow they’ve found ways to beat the top half of the ACC (Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech) all at home (Hell, Miami played Duke tough), but if you can’t win on the road, your season is going to end soon. The Canes are 0-6 away from South Beach.

Since this season is over, let’s look ahead. While North Carolina and Duke still get the recruitment headlines, don’t sleep on Coach Lowe. Despite a horrid season, NC State (according to Rivals) has the 11th best class in the country coming in (4th best in the ACC), led by 5-star point guard, Ryan Harrow. According to Jerry Meyer of Rivals, Harrow is the fastest guard coming in next season.