Saturday, February 04, 2006

Difficult road

For a pack of ACC teams the second half of league play begins this coming week. Duke and NC State have separated themselves in the standings but a glut of teams follows after them in the standings with 5 teams at either 4-4 or 4-3. In the next two weeks a few teams will separate themselves and some will have easier roads than others. Let's examine the schedules from most difficult to least:

1. North Carolina(4-3): @Duke, Miami, NC State; home vs Duke, Maryland, UVA
Difficult road schedule for the Tarheels separates them from the other teams. Two games against archrival Duke left to play and home dates versus Maryland and Virginia don't make it any easier in Chapel Hill. Projection: 8-8

2. Florida State(4-4): @Duke, NC State, Miami; home vs Duke, Maryland, UVA
The difficult games are the same as UNC but they get to play Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in the final eight. Projection: 7-9

3. Miami(5-3): @ Boston College, Duke, Maryland; home vs NC State, UNC, FSU
The only real breather is Virginia Tech at home. Consecutive road games against Duke and BC don't bode well. Projection: 9-7

4. Maryland(4-3): @NC State, UNC, UVA, FSU; home vs Duke, Miami, UVA
Toughest games are in College Park out of the final eight. No games versus the bottom three teams in the standings left however. Projection: 8-8

5. Virginia(4-4): @ Maryland, FSU, UNC; home vs BC, Maryland
Toughest games mostly at home and two home dates against VT and Wake Forest. Have a stretch of 3 out of 4 games on the road in mid-February. Projection: 8-8

6. Boston College(4-4): @UVA, NC State; home vs Miami
Clearly the best schedule of the middle of the pack teams. Four games against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech set them up nicely as does a home date with Clemson. Four out of the last 6 league games are in Chestnut Hill. Look for the Eagles to make a run going into the ACC Tournament. Projection: 10-6

Media Notes

John Eisenberg from the Baltimore Sun has a fairly accurate article on this disappointing collection of players for Maryland. The observations are spot on for anyone who has watched this group, the core of which is the 2002 and 2003 recruiting classes, the last 3 years. While Gary Williams is still fiery and animated on the sidelines there have been more than a few games this season in which you can sense an element of resignation come over the coach as his team slides into defeat. In past seasons Williams focus and passion would almost rise to maniacal levels during a hard fought game, but lately he's seemed weary, drained and perplexed as he paces the sidelines drenched in perspiration. In watching Williams for the past 16 seasons it is hard to imagine that after all the big games and intense pressure that he seems so dispirited after the tribulations of the last two seasons, but that appears to be the sad reality. With five returning regulars next season it won't truly be a fresh start for Gary Williams but hopefully he'll regain some of his enjoyment for coaching.

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