The Wahoos are almost done with their non-conference schedule, sitting at 8-3 with Norfolk State (tonight) and Tennessee (the 30th) remaining. So far, things have been up and down, as a cynical fan would expect:
-Blow out an inferior opponent? Check. (JMU)
-Lose heartbreaker at home by missing free throws after dominating the game? Check. (VCU)
-Easily win road game against name-brand mid major? Check. (Davidson)
-Beat a couple of decent teams in a no-name road tournament? Check. (SMU/Missoui St)
-Save worst offensive performance of Bennett's tenure for most important non-conference game on national TV? Check. (Badgers)
-Follow that up with another embarrassing display on the road? Checkamundo. (Badgers-lite)
-Regroup (sort of) and (sort of) handle another decent mid major in a must-win game? Check. (Purple Badgers)
8-3 is not a bad place to be, especially considering none of the losses were bad ones (unlike last year). Assuming the boys can handle (BEHOLD) the green and gold tonight, they'll make it through the non-conference slate without a disastrous loss - which was essentially the goal. Yes, it would've been nice to have either that VCU or Wisconsin game - both of which were absolutely winnable. However, neither loss, nor the Green Bay one, were too damaging to the tournament resume.
That being said, 8-3 is not as good of a spot as 10-1 or 11-0 would have been (obviously). What it truly means for the team is that the ACC results need to include that many more wins for the team to make the NCAA tournament - and to earn a seed higher than 8/9. Kendall laid out a great RPI update over on the 247 board here. (If you're unable to read it, I'm sure he wont mind posting it on the blog, it's well worth the synopsis).
Basically, unless the team loses tonight, regardless of the Tennessee game, my opinion of the conference games is that 10-8 would put the team squarely on the bubble - and probably on the wrong side of it. 11-7 would absolutely be tournament worthy team - though it might not put us in a favorable position to win more than one game.
Can the team do it? Probably, but certainly not without clearing up some of the mind-boggling issues we've seen in some of the early games: turnovers, terrible shooting, BEYOND terrible free throw shooting, and countless lapses in focus/energy. My brief thoughts towards some solutions: No more Brogdon at the 1. More Atkins all of the time. More Teven Jones spelling London. More pushing for fast break points after stops. And for the love of all that is Orange and Blue, MORE JOE HARRIS SHOOTING THE BALL.
|Greatest picture ever? Or greatestest picture ever?|
@FSU - L
WF - W
@NCSU - W
@Duke - L
FSU - W
UNC - W
VPI - W
@ND - L
@Pitt - L
BC - W
@GT - L
UMD - W
@Clemson - W
@VPI - W
ND - W
Miami - W
Cuse - L
@UMD - W
12-6. Maybe that's unreasonably optimistic, but I think the schedule is favorable. We only play Duke and Syracuse once - teams that are easily the class of the league. I'm unimpressed with most of the middle of the road teams in the league, though I think Pitt, ND, and UNC are probably in tier two, with UVA being the top of tier 3 (for now). The key will be showing well enough against the tier two and three teams, while handling our business against the bottom tier teams. Can they do it? Absolutely - and I think they will. Will I be shocked it they blow it? I'm a Lions and UVA fan. No amount of losing will shock me anymore.
|Don't worry. We're in this together.|