Let’s be honest, from Syracuse to Charlottesville down to Tobacco Road, the real holiday season has little to do with Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas lights or menorahs. The true reason we celebrate in ACC country is the start of college basketball season. Each week in this space we’ll take a look at the most interesting and important happenings around the league that made college hoops a national phenomenon.
HOKIES MAKE YOU GO HMMMM: Conference play is rapidly approaching and with each game it gets a little more difficult to figure out where Virginia Tech fits in what figures to be an super competitive ACC race.
The Hokies managed, in the span of a few days, managed to look like a potential Sweet 16 team in a loss then make you wonder if they are even NCAA Tournament caliber with a win.
Perhaps Buzz Williams squad just came out flat Tuesday night against Presbyterian, KenPom.com’s 339th-ranked team. Because after the Hokies spent so much physical and emotional energy Saturday going back and forth with Kentucky in Rupp Arena, the Hokies nearly laid an egg against the Blue Hose before pulling away for an eight-point victory.
Virginia Tech has a nice looking 10-2 record, but not a lot of quality wins. The Hokies certainly have something to prove in ACC play, but they have also shown when they are clicking they will be tough to beat. Tech entered the week as the ACC’s highest scoring team and looked good against UK and in blowing out Washington.
But the Hokies have also had times when they have shown little interest in playing defense. Swing man Nickeil Alexander-Walker is one of the league’s most talented freshmen, but has been predictably inconsistent. The Hokies nearly knocked off Kentucky with next to no production from Alexander-Walker.
If the Canadian import can find a groove in the coming weeks then Virginia Tech would become a very dangerous team.
STUMBLIN’ WRECK: Josh Pastner exceeded expectations in his first season at Georgia Tech, but Year Two is not off to a great start for Pastner and the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech is now 5-5 after getting run off the floor by rival Georgia and other than a victory against Northwestern hasn’t looked particular good even in games it has won. Senior center Ben Lammers hasn’t offered the kind of steadiness a team would hope for from a veteran of his caliber and Pastner is finding out just how difficult it can be to turn a program around in a deep conference.
TOO MANY MINUTES?: Bonzie Colson is awesome. Averaging just a hair under 22 points and 10 rebounds, he’s the kind of player who could carry Notre Dame on a deep run in March.
But at some point it is fair to wonder how far Notre Dame can go without some more front court help for the 6-5 senior who plays like he is 6-9. Colson is averaging 33 minutes per game for the season.
Over the recent four-game stretch that included losses to Ball State and Indiana and a close win over Dartmouth, Colson has averaged more than 38 minutes a night. How long can an undersized power forward handle that kind of workload?
Notre Dame hasn’t looked particularly great since pulling off a dramatic come-from-behind victory against Wichita State last month. Colson sure isn’t to blame, but it might not matter if somebody such as 6-10 senior Martinas Geben can take some of the pressure off the Irish ACC Player of the Year candidate.