We're about to the midway point of conference play, so let's take a look at how the league is shaking out:
|Duke||110.9 (2)||93.9 (2)||+17.0||6||6|
|Clemson||109.0 (3)||99.8 (7)||+9.2||4||5|
|Va Tech||105.2 (5)||96.3 (5)||+8.9||4||5|
|Maryland||100.2 (8)||94.5 (4)||+5.7||4||5|
|UNC||99.0 (9)||93.8 (1)||+5.2||5||4|
|Ga Tech||100.8 (7)||97.7 (6)||+3.1||3||4|
|FSU||96.8 (11)||94.2 (3)||+2.6||5||4|
|BC||111.1 (1)||112.4 (10)||-1.3||4||3|
|Miami||106.6 (4)||113.0 (11)||-6.4||1||2|
|NCSU||103.2 (6)||112.2 (9)||-9.0||2||2|
|Virginia||98.6 (10)||108.6 (8)||-10.0||2||2|
|Wake||88.3 (12)||118.2 (12)||-29.9||1||0|
(ExpW = expected wins; derived much like this.)
-- No surprise that Duke is alone at the top, but it says here that Clemson and Virginia Tech are neck-and-neck for #2 honors even though they're both stuck in the logjam at 4-3. They've been a bit better than their nearest competition, though it is worth noting that they are a combined 1-3 against UNC and Maryland.
-- Georgia Tech looks surprisingly healthy, but good luck figuring those guys out. All three wins were by 15 points or more, while all four losses came by at least eight points. Either they're on or they're not, I guess.
-- There's no middle ground for ACC defenses this season, and that's one of the stranger things I've seen in a while. Seven teams are holding opponents under a point per possession, which qualifies as good defense. The other five are all the way down at about 1.1 PPP allowed, which qualifies as quite terrible defense.
-- Oh, Wake Forest. The gulf is a vast one. As it stands now, this Wake team owns both the worst offense and the worst defense I've seen since I started tracking these numbers six years ago. Remember that dreadful Georgia Tech offense from a couple of years ago? Those Jackets scored 0.92 points per possession. The worst defense on record belongs to the 2007 Hurricanes team that allowed 1.17 points per possession. The Deacs have both of them on the ropes, though the defensive race could be a tight one. They don't have to improve very much to slide in under that 1.17 figure, and in two months' time I could easily see Anthony Harris and company lighting up their cigars while celebrating a record still intact. Miss you 'round these parts, Tony.
-- Recently I wrote that "this could be the best offense Lowe has ever had at NC State" while lauding the team's ability to avoid turnovers and rebound the basketball. Since then, the offensive rebounding has completely disappeared and State's offense has gone in the tank. Both Clemson and UNC held the Pack under 0.85 points per possession. So that's probably my bad. Rest assured that it won't happen again until the next time.
-- I believe the best way to gauge progress is by examining the year-to-year changes to a team's efficiency margin. State's margins in the Lowe era:
To categorize those numbers: sucked a lot; sucked even more a lot; sucked surprisingly less; sucked a bit more but not a lot; currently sucking a lot. Hard to believe that this year's group could be worse than last year's, but so far that is indeed the case, sad as it is.