ACC baseball breakdown at (around the) 1/3 mark

Posted by Brandon Rink on March 29, 2012 under ACC Baseball | Comments are off for this article

Clemson's struggles to a 12-12 record has been one of the more surprising elements of the early ACC season. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

Breaking down the ACC through three series with news and notes…

ACC Standings/Remaining Schedule

ATLANTIC DIVISION (Our preseason picks)

School  Conference        Pct.        Overall Pct.

1) Florida State 8-1          .889        21-4-0   .840 (2)

ACC Series Left: VT, at GT, at BC, Miami, Maryland, at Clemson & NC State.

2) NC State 6-3          .667        17-6-0   .739 (3)

ACC Series Left: Virginia, at Maryland, at Clemson, BC, Duke, at VT & at FSU.

3) Wake Forest 4-5          .444        18-9-0   .667 (4)

ACC Series Left: at UNC, at Virginia, GT, VT, at BC, at Miami & Clemson.

4) Clemson 3-6          .333        12-12-0 .500 (1)

ACC Series Left: Miami, at Duke, NC State, at Maryland, at GT, FSU & at Wake Forest.

5) Maryland 2-7          .222        17-9-0   .654 (5)

ACC Series Left: at BC, NC State, Duke, Clemson, at VT, at FSU & Virginia.

6) Boston College 2-7          .222        10-14-0 .417 (6)

ACC Series Left: Maryland, at VT, FSU, at NC State, Wake Forest, at UNC & Duke.

COASTAL DIVISION (Our preseason picks)

School  Conference        Pct.        Overall Pct.

T-1) Miami 7-2          .778        20-5-0   .800 (3)

ACC Series Left: at Clemson, UNC, at VT, at FSU, Virginia, Wake Forest & at GT.

T-1) UNC 7-2          .778        20-5-0   .800 (1)

ACC Series Left: Wake Forest, at Miami, at Virginia, GT, BC, at Duke & VT.

3) Virginia 6-4        .600        17-8-1   .673 (4)

ACC Series Left: at NC State, Wake Forest, UNC, at Duke, at Miami, GT & at Maryland.

4) GT 4-5          .444        16-10-0 .615 (2)

ACC Series Left: Duke, FSU, at Wake Forest, at UNC, Clemson, at Virginia & Miami.

5) Duke 4-5          .444        11-15-0 .423 (6)

ACC Series Left: at GT, Clemson, at Maryland, Virginia, at NC State, UNC & at BC.

6) VT 2-7          .222        18-9-0   .667 (5)

ACC Series Left: at FSU, BC, Miami, at Wake Forest, Maryland, NC State & at UNC.

ACC Baseball Notes at the 1/3 Mark

  • Preseason Atlantic pick Clemson’s NCAA Tourney chances aren’t looking so hot right now, at 12-12 (3-6 ACC) on the young season. They’ve been swept twice in conference play (home against UNC and at Virginia), and just lost to the 10-17 Presbyterian Blue Hose, 8-4…at home. The Tigers rank 11th in the ACC in team batting average (.269) – which if it keeps dropping in conference play, could be the worst overall performance in 40 years in TigerTown. Inconsistent pitching has also plagued the Tigers, especially in the starting pitching with junior Saturday starter Dominic Leone really struggling, surrendering 18 earned runs in six starts (6.08 ERA) with 19 Ks and 17 BBs. Can they turn it around? The Tigers do host FSU and NC State, but the home-field hasn’t been all too kind (10-6) so far. Clemson has dug a hole that will be hard to climb out of – they have to fight to make to the ACC Tournament right now.
  • Meanwhile, FSU (21-4, 8-1 ACC) is rolling, and half of those 4 losses came against a juggernaut in No. 1 Florida. Not surprisingly, centerfielder James Ramsey is leading the way offensively (.419 BA/9 HRs/27 RBIs), but the pitching staff has performed as well under new pitching coach Mike Bell – 5th in the ACC in team ERA (3.20) with a lights-out reliever in Robert Benincasa (14.2 IP/8 saves/0 Rs allowed/23 Ks-2 BBs) and freshman starter Mike Compton at 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his first six starts. There’s a lot of baseball to go, but they’re in a good spot to stay atop the Atlantic with Clemson’s struggles and NC State traveling to Tallahassee.
  • Is the expected 3-team race in the Coastal down to two? I was high on Georgia Tech (16-10, 4-5 ACC) after underrating them last year, but they’ve struggled outside the friendly confines of Russ Chandler  – losing 2-of-3 to a solid NC State team and 2-of-3 in Chestnut Hill to a BC squad that had lost its previous 11 games. After a breakout 2011 campaign, GT ace righty Buck Farmer has been less than sharp with a 4-2 record and 5.20 ERA – opposing batters hitting .291 off of him. As a staff, Georgia Tech is 11th in ERA. They’ll get a couple series at home to try to lick the wounds, facing Duke this weekend and FSU the next.
  • Much like their Sunshine State rivals, the only blemish on a strong Miami start (20-5, 7-2 ACC) has been a 3-game sweep at home to the No. 1 Gators. Catcher transfer Peter O’Brien has made an immediate impact – hitting .398 with 9 home runs and 31 RBIs. The Hurricanes have one of the top rotations in the ACC with two lefties (Steven Ewing – 3-1, 2.21 ERA; Eric Erickson – 4-2, 3.23 ERA) and righty Eric Whaley (3-1, 2.21 ERA).
  • Preseason ACC pick UNC (20-5, 7-2 ACC) has started about as well you would’ve thought, but will miss star Colin Moran (.389 BA/24 RBIs) for the next few series with a broken hand. The Tar Heels lead the ACC in pitching with lefty Kent Emanuel off to an outstanding start (5-1, 1.38 ERA). They don’t have a lot of room for error in the race for ACC’s No. 1 seed/Coastal crown, as they hit Coral Gables this season, but with that pitching staff, all it takes is a little run support to push the Heels over the top.
  • What do we do with Virginia (17-8-1, 6-4 ACC)? They’ve lost to BC, Liberty (8-0), Wright State and Seton Hall, but swept Clemson and taken 2-of-3 from Virginia Tech…and lost all three at FSU. The Cavaliers have a RPI of 21 at Boyd’s World, so you’d assume they’re a tournament team, and have some winnable series left on the schedule. Ace righty Branden Kline (4-2, 3.10 ERA) has seemed to settle down after a rough start, throwing a complete-game 2-hitter in a win over Clemson last weekend, and the ‘Hoos lead the ACC in team batting by a wide margin (.324 to GT’s .304) with the second-most runs scored (192), most RBIs (184) and least strikeouts (134).
  • With solid out of conference starts, will we see the Deacs, Terps or Hokies in the NCAAs? Maryland and Virginia Tech are both off to 2-7 ACC starts, while Wake has held in there at 4-5. I’d say the Deacs have the best shot, after an inauspicious start (1-4), 15-game winning streak and the 1-5 stretch against FSU and NC State. They’ll need home series wins over GT, VT and Clemson – and to steal a few at Virginia, BC, UNC or Miami to really feel good about their chances. 

ACC in NCAA Tourney Breakdown: Midwest – 1) UNC v. 2) Kansas

Posted by Brandon Rink on March 24, 2012 under ACC Basketball | Comments are off for this article

Did you hear Roy Williams coached at Kansas? Crazy, right? (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

Midwest: (1) UNC vs. (2) Kansas, 5:05 (ET) Sun., CBS, St. Louis, MO

Coaches Tourney Records: UNC – Roy Williams 61-19 (7-4 in the Elite 8); Kansas – Bill Self – 29-12 (1-5 in the Elite 8).

UNC Has to Stop: F Thomas Robinson (Junior, 6-10 237, 17.5 PPG/11.9 RPG) – While fellow leading-scorer G Tyshawn Taylor has had his share of troubles this tournament, Robinson has shined – posting 15 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. (Bonus player to watch is 7’0 center Jeff Withey, who had a season-high 10 blocks against NC State Friday).

Stat to Watch: Harrison Barnes’ line – Kansas presents a number of problems defensively allowing 61.4 points per game and ranked fourth nationally in field goal percentage defense (38 percent). They held the Wolfpack to 28 percent shooting with ELEVEN blocks Friday. Points in the paint will be much more of an issue here than against Ohio, which means Barnes can’t go 3-for-16 again – he has to hit shots early and often for the wounded Heels to move on to the Final Four.

What I’m Thinking: Last season, the Elite 8 was the end of the road for the Tar Heels and Jayhawks. UNC/Kansas features a frontcourt matchup with big men who typically own the paint on both ends, and the two teams may very well cancel each other out – putting pressure on the guards to step up. UNC’s depth won’t be all that big an issue here as the Jayhawks’ starting-five all played over 30 minutes against NC State. Kansas hasn’t exactly blown away its last two opponents – twin 3-point wins over double-digit seeds’ Purdue and NC State, which you can look at in a couple ways…one, they haven’t played their best and are due for a big game, or they’re just not in a groove right now.

I’ve been trying to convince myself the Tar Heels take this since I picked them to win it all, but UNC without (or with a limited) Kendall Marshall and a pressing Harrison Barnes just isn’t the same team I picked. Tyshawn Taylor has a big game and his Jayhawks edge out another one to eliminate the ACC from the NCAA Tourney.

Pick: Kansas 66-63

2012 NCAA Tourney: Heels or Jayhawks move on?

  • UNC (86%, 6 Votes)
  • Kansas (14%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

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ACC in NCAA Tourney Breakdown: Midwest – 2) Kansas v. 11) NC State

Posted by Brandon Rink on March 22, 2012 under ACC Basketball | Comments are off for this article

Does NC State have one more upset in them to set up a possible Wolfpack-Heels IV? (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

Midwest: (2) Kansas vs. (11) NC State, 10:17 (ET) Fri., TBS, St. Louis, MO

Coaches Tourney Records: NC State – Mark Gottfried 7-7 (1-0 in the Sweet 16); Kansas – Bill Self – 28-12 (5-2 in the Sweet 16).

NC State Has to Stop: F Thomas Robinson (Junior, 6-10 237, 17.5 PPG/11.8 RPG) – Robinson is a part of a duo with senior guard Tyshawn Taylor averaging over 17 points per game, but Purdue was able to stay close in the second round with Robinson going 2-for-12 from the field with 7 of his 11 points coming from the free throw line.

Links: Run the Floor previews it with five reasons the Wolfpack can and can’t pull off the upset. HoopsWorld takes the Wolfpack.

Stat to Watch: Lorenzo Brown’s line – While C.J. Leslie has been outstanding down the stretch, Brown has really picked it up come the NCAA Tourney – averaging 14.5 PPG/7.5 APG/7.5 RPG. The Jayhawks are a 2-seed for a reason, as they do a lot of things right, but if Brown keeps up this production, the Wolfpack has a chance.

What I’m Thinking: Is this where NC State’s luck runs out? (Or more accurately, is there where the Wolfpack can’t perform to the level they have down the stretch?) Kansas has something to prove after a couple seasons in a row of underperforming as a 1-seed (second round and Elite 8 exits), and have dynamic scorers on the perimeter and in the paint with Taylor and Robinson. Bill Self’s Jayhawks are also one of the top defensive teams in the country (allowing 61.5 PPG) with perimeter defense their main weakness. Like I said above, Brown’s surge leading the Wolfpack attack has put them over the top against two higher seeded teams so far, and he’ll have to be on again to make it a third Friday.

Pick: Kansas 70-65

2012 NCAA Tourney: Pack or Jayhawks move on?

  • NC State (60%, 6 Votes)
  • Kansas (40%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 10

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