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ACC NEWS: JANUARY 28th

 

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ACC News & Notes

by Mike Boone

 

All is again as it should be in college basketball, the ACC has returned to the top of the conference heap. After a two season run when the Big 12 and Big 10 looked to be mounting a serious case to replace the crew from Tobacco Road, the ACC is back. Led by Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech (all of whom have been ranked in the Top 10 this year) the ACC has four teams as good as any in the country on any given night. Add into this mix Maryland who knocked off Florida on the road and giant-killers Florida State and this is a conference with a very legitimate shot at sending six of nine teams to the NCAA tournament this year. The ACC’s return has more to do with maturity than anything else. Both Duke and North Carolina, the conference’s flagship teams, had very young teams last year. This season the kids have grown up as evidenced by J.J. Reddick’s development into his role as college basketball’s most deadly sniper, and Rashard McCants’ growth as the conference’s most complete offensive threat. The addition of a legit post threat at both Duke and UNC (Luol Deng and Sean May) also helped these teams assert themselves on the boards. The difference between the top teams in the conference is post power, which is why Chris Bosh’s early entry into the NBA draft hurt Georgia Tech so much. Imagine if Bosh had stuck around to dominate the post for the Jackets this year.

In other conference news, it looks like Tallahassee is developing into a dangerous road trip after the Noles knocked off Carolina in OT and Wake in the last minute this week. The Seminoles have a tough road trip to Duke Thursday, but if they manage to maintain their momentum they could make some noise in the conference and have a good shot at a tournament bid.

The surprise team so far is an underrated NC State squad, led by Julius Hodge that has a lot to prove if they can beat UNC this week. The Wolfpack could make some noise nationally with a win over the Heels and Maryland in the next week.

North Carolina’s loss to Florida State exposed a chink in the Tar Heels’ armor, a thin bench. The Seminoles went ten deep and were able to run down the Tar Heels during their second half comeback. If Roy Williams can find two or three bench contributors to spell the best starting five in the country, North Carolina is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

As we head into the stretch run of the conference schedule Duke is sitting in the driver’s seat with a 5-0 conference mark, but the rest of the ACC looks like a toss-up. With NC State, Georgia Tech and Florida State at .500 or better in the conference, parity is the word to describe the season to this point. Wake, UNC and Maryland are lurking at 2-3 in the ACC but they’d better find their stride quickly because February is an important month for seeding in the NCAA tournament.

by Mike Boone

 

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