Almost all of the preseason hype around the ACC was circling the North Carolina State Wolfpack. The No. 6 team in the nation heading into the season, it was almost crazy to believe that a team not named Duke or North Carolina would be favored to win the conference, but with talent at the guard, forward, and even big man spots, it seemed the Wolfpack had everything necessary to make a serious run in the 2012-13 season.
Well the first week of February is almost over, and a team not named Duke or North Carolina is at the top of the ACC. Sitting at 9-0 in the conference, it’s the Miami (FL) Hurricanes who find themselves the team to beat, not only in the ACC, but maybe in the country.
Even though most college basketball minds thought it was NC State who had the perfect combination of veteran leaders and talented underclassmen, it’s the three-headed senior monster of Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott, and Reggie Johnson mixed with breakout sophomore guard Shane Larkin that have the Hurricanes at 18-3, while the Wolfpack are a disappointing (sort of) 16-6.
In fact, if you look closely at the Hurricanes schedule, the only losses they suffered were against then No. 4 Arizona, in overtime against the hot-and-cold Indiana State, and an aberration of an early season loss to Florida Gulf Coast (hey, Duke lost to Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament last year, this loss wasn’t THAT bad).
While it’s feasible still that Miami wins out in the ACC, it’s almost unbelievable how they’re doing it. The Hurricanes don’t rank in the top-100 in the nation in either scoring or rebounding, and don’t really have a three-point threat aside from Larkin. One thing you can count on, however, is Jim Larranaga’s bunch playing suffocating defense and causing turnovers, as Larkin, Scott, and Kadji are amongst the conference’s best defensive players.
I know that Miami beat North Carolina State at the buzzer when the two teams met, but combining that win with their dismantling of Duke, and it doesn’t seem any team looks quite as good as they do in the ACC.
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