Saturday, March 21, 2009

Then there were three

The ACC absolutely laid an ostrich sized egg last night. Wake Forest, Florida State and Boston College all lost to lower seeds and in the case of BC and Wake not even by close margins. I thought the Eagles would lose to a very athletic USC squad that is playing its best basketball of the season but the collapses of FSU and Wake were somewhat shocking. We all know Lenard Hamilton couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag but losing to a middling team with very little talent like Wisconsin is embarrassing. Four of the five most talented players on the floor in that game were probably on FSU and they had a commanding halftime lead yet Hamilton still found a way to squander what should have been a resounding victory. Buster Sports has an apt description of the end of the game for FSU and Hamilton's futile efforts to extricate himself from that proverbial paper bag. I almost picture Hamilton picking up his white board and drawing a hoop with a ball going through via dashes and announcing to his dumb struck players, "that's the plan, got it?"

I'm not sure what to make of Dino Gaudio. It is probably still to early to judge him as a coach although the early returns are not impressive. I thought he did a good job of guiding him team last season to a 7-9 record but this year, with far superior talent, his team flopped. Forward James Johnson might just be Wake's version of Brandon Costner, talented but too taken with his own abilities to play within the confines of a system if Wake even has a system on offense. The offensive possessions that Wake had when Cleveland State stumbled and let the lead get into single digits were textbook examples of guys who all thought they were already playing in the NBA. There was no off ball movement and the dribbler either chucked a bad outside shot or tried to drive into the teeth of the defense. I think it was clear that the Deacons quit about half way through the 2nd half. Disgraceful performance by all but a handful of players on that team. Who knows what will happen in the off season with the NBA draft but I doubt the Demon Deacons of next fall will resemble this bunch and that might not be a bad thing.

So after the first round of the NCAA Tournament the only three ACC teams remaining are Duke, North Carolina and little old Maryland. Many fans made a point of mocking the Big Ten and even challenging the Big East's supposed supremacy but it has been the ACC that has fallen on its face in this tournament. It is true that teams like Illinois and West Virginia also went out unceremoniously in the first round but out of all the major conferences, save the horrible SEC, the league that has looked the most fraudulent is the Atlantic Coast Conference.

With a first round victory over a higher seed already in the bank I think Maryland is playing with house money at this point. They are very capable of giving Memphis a game because they are playing loose and with low expectations. Memphis is the "should have been a one seed" team that almost had a colossal bracket killing collapse against Cal State Northridge. I think it is likely that the magic run by Maryland will end today but with Gary Williams and Greivis Vasquez the Terps always have a chance no matter what the talent imbalance.

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