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As The Race Heats Up...

The conference race is taking shape and it's not a pretty picture right now
at UNC. The Heels,
after losing to FSU,
are now mired in sixth place, or at least that's
where they are placed. A lot depends on the various tie breaking scenarios and
who beat whom and so on, but ESPN puts them in sixth.

They're looking up at Maryland, Florida State, Uva, State, and Duke

There aren't a lot of breaks coming up either, so UNC will have to make their
own luck.

Next up - Maryland at home, a team which hits most of UNC's weaknesses with
ballhandling and so forth, then at an improving Tech (we missed Tech when
we discussed schedules before), then Duke, a should-win at Clemson, then State
at State, who will be in a surly mood after the previous loss to UNC, and who is
surging anyway, then Wake, UVa, to FSU in a very winnable game, Sunday's game
aside, then at Maryland, Tech at home and Duke, in Dean's phrase, at Duke.

There are a lot of tough games there even if UNC catches fire.

Wake has a tough hole to dig out of, UVa has a good shot at winning
most of their remaining games, and the team we'd focus on is Maryland.

Maryland visits a wounded UNC on Wednesday, then FSU, then UVa at home.
Then they get Duke and State, home and away, respectively. If they pull a
3-2 split from that, they'll be 5-5 in the ACC and 16-7 overall. They have
a non-con with Temple, and if they can pull that they're at 17 wins. Then Tech
at home, at Wake, at Clemson, UNC at home, FSU, and UVa. Our money (as if)
says Maryland wins 21 games regular season and joins Duke, State, and Uva in
getting bids. UNC will be very much on the bubble if that happens, but
they can still turn it around.

Clemson of course is
history this season;
their only hope is to be a spoiler somewhere. As
if injuries weren't enough, they have, pardon the term, a
defecting Lithuanian.
played without Terence Morris
and still crushed the Tigers.

As far as UNC goes, Art Chansky is beginning to pick up on the idea that a
solid athletics program is not a birthright.
It takes hard work,
dedication, and some luck. The notion that UNC is somehow blessed by God,
as typified the old bumper sticker "if God is not a Tar Heel then why is
the sky Carolina Blue," has taken a severe beating of late. A Duke fan said
of UNC that "humility can't be learned in a book, and even if it's mean
it's no less true. This has been a humbling year at UNC. To us, the
worst part of it is that Dean Smith built his program on loyalty and the sense
of outrage among fans is pushing the concept of the UNC family back slowly but
surely. It's been a tough year, but Gut's not an idiot nor an
incompetent. It's just been one thing after another.

By the way, one of the coolest things in the UNC-FSU game today was watching
Haywood, who is huge, trying to outmuscle Nigel Dixon, who, at around 400 lbs,
is immovable.

By contrast, State continues to grow,
putting Tech away
in a game they might have lost last year.

In fact, if we had to lay money down, it would be a tough choice between Duke
and State for the title,and UVa isn't far behind. We know better than to
bet against K, but State has a wider margin for error since they have such nice
depth. It could be the difference and likely would in the tourney, were it
held today.