February 29, 2008

Virginia Tech, Wake Forest short on time

MORE BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Upcoming games
Duke at NC State
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech
Virginia at Miami
North Carolina at Boston College
Clemson at Maryland
Wake Forest at Virginia Tech
Florida State at North Carolina
Boston College at Miami
Duke at Virginia
Clemson at Georgia Tech

Best game: Wake Forest at Virginia Tech. The last time these teams met, Wake's Ishmael Smith hit a jumper with 0.6 seconds left to give the Deacons a 77-75 win on Dec. 23. Expect another thrilling finish. The Hokies (17-11, 8-6 ACC), whose freshmen combine to average 35.5 points per game, have won three in a row and moved up to a tie for fourth in the ACC standings with an 8-6 record in league play. But none of their wins has come against a team in the top 50 of the RPI. That's not a problem for the Deacons, whose resume boasts a signature win over Duke. But Wake (16-10, 6-7), led by perhaps the nation's top freshman duo in James Johnson and Jeff Teague, has slipped below .500 in league play after losing to Maryland at home on Thursday.

The pressure is on: Maryland. Going 9-7 in league play might not be enough to get Maryland (18-11, 8-6) into the NCAA Tournament because of a weak non-conference resume. That means the Terps must beat a Clemson team Sunday that has won six of its past eight games, then win their regular-season finale at last-place Virginia - which suddenly looks much tougher after winning its past two games. Wins over the Tigers and Cavaliers would put the Terps at 10-6 in the ACC. The key is getting steady production from senior power forward James Gist. When the veteran plays well, Maryland usually wins. Gist scored 31 points and grabbed 11 boards in the Terps' 74-70 win at Wake Forest on Wednesday. But, in the Terps' last three losses, he has shot just 9-for-30 (30 percent) from the floor.

Upset alert: Virginia over Miami. The Cavaliers are far better than most last-place teams and are playing with some confidence after beating Boston College 79-74 on the road and crushing N.C. State 78-60 at home in their past two games. With tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern time, Miami could be tired. The Hurricanes lost at Clemson on Wednesday.

RPI watch: With 10 of its 12 teams inside the top 100, the ACC remains the top-rated league. Boston College and Virginia are the two not in the top 100. North Carolina and Duke basically switched spots, with the Tar Heels climbing up to third and the Blue Devils slipping to fifth. Clemson continues to climb steadily, moving up to 22nd. Miami (26th), which lost to the Tigers on Wednesday, remains well inside the top 50. Virginia Tech (63rd), Wake Forest (65th) and Maryland (69th) are only separated by six spots.

Key stat: Four ACC players have scored in double-digits in more than 20 consecutive games Virginia's Sean Singletary (47), Florida State's Toney Douglas (31), North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough (28) and Maryland's Greivis Vasquez (22).

Freshman to watch: Clemson appears to have found a reliable point guard, thanks to the quick development of freshman Demontez Stitt. Stitt has done a steady job steering a Tigers offense loaded with weapons while also proving he can score when needed. Stitt went 4-for-5 from the field and scored nine points in 29 minutes without a turnover in the Tigers' 79-69 win over Miami on Wednesday.

Who's hot: Miami's Dwayne Collins is averaging 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in his past three games. Collins shot 72 percent (23-of-32) over that stretch. Virginia Tech's A.D. Vassallo has hit 20 of 22 (90.9 percent) free throws over his past four games. Duke freshman Kyle Singler has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games. North Carolina point guard Quentin Thomas has dished out 21 assists while committing just eight turnovers in his past three games while filling in for the injured Ty Lawson NC State recently made guard Trevor Ferguson a steady part of its rotation, and Ferguson responded by scoring 28 points in his past two games. Ferguson had scored just 13 points this season before the increase in playing time.

Who's not: Florida State's Uche Echefu has hit only one of his past 16 attempts from 3-point range. Georgia Tech's Lewis Clinch is 3-for-19 (15.7 percent) from the floor in his past three games. Wake Forest's Ishmael Smith is 9 of 30 (30.0 percent) from the field over his past four games.

Worth noting: North Carolina has won 11 ACC games four years in a row for the first time in school history. Florida State has won three games in a row in February for the first time since the 1992-93 season. Teams that lead at halftime in ACC games are 60-16 (78.9 percent). NC State guards Gavin Grant and Courtney Fells are the only players on the team to start every game this season. Georgia Tech plays its next three games at home, where the Jackets are 38-23 in ACC play under coach Paul Hewitt.

MORE BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.


Rivals.com is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
Site-specific editorial/photos Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. This website is an officially and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school or team.
About | Advertise with Us | Contact | Privacy Policy | About our Ads | Terms of Service | Copyright/IP policy | Yahoo! Sports - NBC Sports Network

Statistical information 2007 STATS LLC All Rights Reserved.