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January 13, 2011, 10:14 AM ET
Duke’s fall, Clemson’s historically insane shooting

by John Gasaway

Congratulations to Florida State, 66-61 winners over No. 1-ranked and previously unbeaten Duke last night in Tallahassee. The Blue Devils will still win the ACC and don’t be “stunned” if a 1-seed still happens, but an Illinois-in-2005-variety ”Can they run the table?” thrill ride lasting into March is now off the table. 

Of course losing to an inferior opponent on the road in conference play is practically a requirement for any eventual national champion. Just to (re-)touch a few bases here….

On February 26, 2006, Florida lost on the road to Alabama, a team that barely made the NCAA tournament as a 10-seed. 

On February 24, 2007, Florida lost on the road to LSU, a team that didn’t even make the NCAA tournament.

On February 23, 2008, Kansas lost on the road to Oklahoma State, a team that didn’t even make the NCAA tournament.

On February 21, 2009, North Carolina lost on the road to Maryland, a team that barely made the tournament as a 10-seed.

And of course on January 20, 2010, Duke lost on the road to North Carolina State, a team that didn’t even make the NCAA tournament.

None of which means this year’s Duke team is now a lock to win the national championship because they lost last night. But don’t bury the Blue Devils just yet.

So to me the really shocking event in the ACC last night was Clemson’s 87-62 win at home over Georgia Tech. In that game the Tigers shot better from the field than any team has in a major-conference game for at least six years. When I wrote about Illinois’ historically insane shooting on Monday, little did I think I would need to update both the history and the insanity just three days later.

What is with 2010-11?
Best effective FG percentages, 2006 through January 12, 2011
Major-conference games only

                                                 eFG%
1.  Clemson (vs. Georgia Tech, Jan. 12, 2011)    83.3
2.  Illinois (vs. Northwestern, Jan. 6, 2011)    80.7
3.  West Virginia (vs. Rutgers, Jan. 31, 2007)   80.4
4.  Illinois (@ Iowa, Dec. 29, 2010)             80.2
5.  Arizona (vs. Stanford, March 7, 2009)        80.0
6.  UCLA (vs. Arizona State, Dec. 31, 2009)      78.6
7.  Iowa (vs. Michigan, Feb. 4, 2006)            78.6
8.  NC State (vs. Florida State, Feb. 15, 2006)  78.4
9.  NC State (vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 18, 2007)  78.1
10. Ohio State (@ Indiana, Dec. 31, 2010)        77.6
 

Brad Brownell’s team shot 16-of-25 on their twos and 11-of-14 on their threes. Nor are the Tiger alone in the increasingly crowded “Accurate in or near calendar 2011″ club. As seen here, four of the ten best shooting performances in major-conference play over the past five-plus seasons have taken place within the last 15 days. No, I have no idea why. But the next time an announcer bemoans the “lost art of shooting” it is your solemn duty to roll your eyes.

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