College Basketball Nation: Mfon Udofia

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

February, 27, 2012
One key player was ruled ineligible. At least one key team likely saw its at-large NCAA tournament hopes snuffed. And once again, it looks as if the ACC regular-season title will come down to the final Duke-North Carolina game, next weekend. This week’s attempt at the ACC power rankings:

1. Duke: The Blue Devils -- who already lost to Miami and Florida State at home this season -- had another close call at Cameron Indoor Stadium, needing overtime to beat Virginia Tech. But their win at FSU last week keeps them right where they want to be: in the hunt for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA and ACC tournaments.

2. North Carolina: ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi said last week the Tar Heels would need to win out to make a case for a top seed in the NCAA tournament. That push continues this week with their home finale against Maryland and a trip to Duke. When will point guard Kendall Marshall set the school record for assists in a season? Stay tuned.

3. Florida State: It was a rough week for the Seminoles. First they lost at home to Duke -- and likely lost their chance at the regular-season ACC title. Then they fell at Miami on Sunday. They’ll try to stop their slide at Virginia next.

4. Virginia: Saturday’s loss to the Tar Heels stung -- not just because of the physical game, myriad of whistles against the Cavs’ big guys or forward Mike Scott's ACC season-low six points. But also because Virginia has now lost three of its last five games.

5. Miami: The Hurricanes beat Florida State on Sunday without center Reggie Johnson, who was declared ineligible by the school after an investigation revealed members of his family took impermissible travel benefits from the former coaching staff. The victory enhanced the Hurricanes' NCAA résumé, but they’re going to need Johnson back to make a stronger push (and case).

6. Clemson: Andre Young's game-winning 3-pointer in overtime against NC State means the Tigers are now 2-8 in games decided by five or fewer points this season. They have now won four out of five games and pushed themselves to .500 in league play. But that still hasn’t made much of a dent in their triple-digit RPI.

7. NC State: Saturday’s overtime loss at Clemson was just the latest defeat to rip at the Wolfpack’s NCAA tournament hopes. An ACC tournament title would give them an automatic bid, but that now is probably the only way they get there after four straight defeats (Duke, Florida State, UNC and Clemson).

8. Maryland: After beating Miami at home last week, the Terps went on the road against a struggling Georgia Tech team and promptly lost. Coach Mark Turgeon summed up his team’s performance at Georgia Tech this way: “I thought we were growing up, but today showed we haven’t grown up all the way,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “We weren’t ready to play.”

9. Virginia Tech: “One or two more rolls went different this year, we’d be a whole different team,” senior guard Dorenzo Hudson told The Washington Post on Saturday after the Hokies lost another close one -- this time at Duke. Enough said.

10. Wake Forest: After Duke comes to town on Tuesday, the Deacs will finish the regular season with a winnable game in Atlanta. After prevailing in two of their last three games, they’d like to continue on a high note.

11. Georgia Tech: After managing only 37 points in a loss to Clemson, the Yellow Jackets beat Maryland by a bucket. “We're real happy,’’ guard Mfon Udofia said, according to The Associated Press. “I always tell the guys, 'Something's going to shake.'"

12. Boston College: The Eagles have now lost 10 of 11 games. The positive: All of those freshmen will be sophomores next season.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.

Conference Power Rankings: ACC

February, 6, 2012
North Carolina rallied, Miami upset and Virginia and Florida State battled. It was quite a weekend for the ACC, and here’s an attempt at this week’s power rankings:

1. North Carolina: Harrison Barnes can star when hurting. Kendall Marshall can play an extended stretch with four fouls. And the Tar Heels can still rally, as they showed by coming back from a nine-point deficit at Maryland. But they’re going to have to get more production from their bench, as their reserves managed only nine points in two games last week.

2. Florida State: Michael Snaer managed only three field goals against Virginia’s defense, but they all came at timely points in the second half. The Seminoles have now won seven in a row -- including beating the three other ranked teams in the ACC -- and remain in the driver’s seat for the league’s regular-season race.

3. Duke: The Blue Devils’ loss to Miami marked their second ACC loss at home. Coach Mike Krzyzewski summed up the problem like this: “A Duke team should play with energy for 40 minutes – or 45,” he said, according to The (Raleigh) News & Observer. “Go outside and look at the banners. There are quite a few of them up there. They were not won without energy, without hunger, with ... complacency, with[out] people really wanting it.”

4. Virginia: The Cavs recorded a season-high 20 turnovers in their loss to Florida State, which they blamed more on their execution than the Seminoles’ defense. Senior Mike Scott continues to impress, as Virginia’s four losses this season have come by a combined 10 points.

5. Miami: It took three overtime periods -- two versus Maryland, one at Duke -- to extend the Hurricanes’ winning streak to four, and in so doing, they’re pushing their way back into the NCAA conversation. Sunday’s win marked Miami’s first at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and only its second win over the Blue Devils since joining the ACC.

6. NC State: Scott Wood made six 3-pointers in the Pack’s victory against Wake Forest. Most notably, he did it in his home arena, the RBC Center -- although he told The News & Observer he prefers playing on the road. "Anytime you have fans talking trash, it raises your game."

7. Maryland: The Terps gave the Tar Heels all they could handle on Saturday, even leading by as many as nine points in the second half before UNC rallied. Guard Terrell Stoglin continues to lead the ACC in scoring, but Maryland has now lost five of its past six games.

8. Clemson: The Tigers lost both their games last week and also lost forward Milton Jennings, who was suspended for the second time this season, this time for academic reasons. He’s out indefinitely, meaning the Tigers lose an average of 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

9. Virginia Tech: The Hokies -- who had had six of their previous eight ACC games decided by four or fewer points -- finally won a close one when it beat Clemson 67-65. But they squandered a 17-point and lead and needed the Tigers to miss a shot at the end to survive.

10. Wake Forest: It was a tough week for the Deacons, who lost to two in-state foes -- UNC and NC State. That extended their losing streak to four.

11. Georgia Tech: Glen Rice Jr. scored three points in the final minute to help his team beat Boston College and snap a six-game losing streak. “Everybody in the locker room right now is going crazy,” Tech guard Mfon Udofia told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the game.

12. Boston College: The Eagles have now lost six in a row -- the last two by a combined nine points -- and things don’t get any easier with Florida State coming to town on Wednesday.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.

Half: North Carolina 34, Georgia Tech 24

March, 11, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Some halftime thoughts:

We’re halfway to our third straight upset in the ACC tournament first round. The 10th-seeded Tar Heels are outscrapping the seventh-seeded Yellow Jackets, following a trend started by No. 9 Virginia (which beat No. 8 Boston College) and continued by No. 12 Miami (which beat No. 5 Wake Forest).

What the Tar Heels lacked in elegance that half, they made up for in effort. After falling behind 13-7, they went on a 17-0 run that was spurred by an assault on the offensive glass. Carolina outrebounded the Jackets 26-18 for the half behind an energetic half from John Henson (four rebounds), Tyler Zeller (five) and Deon Thompson (five).

In the first half, Georgia Tech got another in a series of sketchy performances from its backcourt. Brian Oliver, Iman Shumpert and Mfon Udofia were a combined 0-for-9 from the field, and Tech was 2-of-11 from 3-point range.

Tech’s big men, Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, need more shots. They got a combined six in the first half, though they did get to the foul line for eight of Tech’s nine free throws in the half.

There are thousands of empty seats in the Greensboro Coliseum, a solid indicator that the Carolina fans have largely given up this team. Those seats normally would be filled with powder blue.

Gottlieb on GT's upset of Duke

January, 9, 2010
Some thoughts from Georgia Tech's upset of Duke:

Few teams have the inside talent of Georgia Tech. That tandem of Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors proved to be too tough for Duke. For Tech, this win was huge. Plenty of people jumped off the bandwagon after the Yellow Jackets lost to Georgia in Athens. Newsflash: Georgia Tech ALWAYS loses to Georgia in Athens. Even Lethal Weapon Three (the 1990 Final Four team) lost there.

Bobby Cremins never won in Athens, so it was not as bad a loss as some would make you believe. The big key for Georgia Tech was that it used Lawal extensively late in the game. At times the Tech guards have been selfish in clutch situations. In this case, Lawal was the focal point of the offense, which is the right thing to do -- Iman Shumpert is kind of just "another guy" and Derrick Favors rarely sees the ball at the block.

Tech got some huge free throws from freshman Mfon Udofia and "only" turned it over 15 times. It's a good start for the Yellow Jackets as we continue to search for a consistent challenger to Duke for the conference title.

Speaking of the Blue Devils, Jon Scheyer continues to seemingly do everything right while Kyle Singler struggles. Tech used longer, bigger defenders on Scheyer and that slowed him some, but he still went for 25. Meanwhile, Singler seems to be a little uncomfortable on the perimeter still as his passing is just OK and he does not have the first step to create space for himself. The result is a lot of contested jumpers off stepback moves and the 2-for-13 shooting speaks for itself.

In terms of professional prospects Scheyer is probably not an NBA player, but his Jewish faith allows him to get an Israeli passport and he would be one of the most coveted players EVER for a team like Maccabi Tel Aviv. Singler on the other hand -- and I love his overall offensive repertoire -- is kind of a tweener, but he has 20 more games to show improved guard play. Nolan Smith tweaked his ankle today. The Devils are not deep in the backcourt, so an injury would be problematic. By the way, Duke has now lost five of its last seven conference road games and are 0-2 overall on the road this season.

The Blue Devils are still very solid, but they do not have any legit inside scoring with Singler on the wing and they cannot have one of their big three have a bad game offensively if they want to win on the road.