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ACC Roundup

The ACC seems to have segmented nicely into three tiers: NCAA candidates
(Duke, Maryland, State, UVa, Wake Forest), NIT candidates (Clemson and FSU) and
give-it-up candidates (UNC and Georgia Tech).

Duke and Maryland
seem fairly secure at this point, and the interesting questions about State,
Virginia and Wake revolve primarily around confidence. State is a young
team, and their confidence could reasonably be up and down. Freshmen have
a tough time about February or so, and the Pack may swoon since they rely on
them so heavily. Virginia and Wake, though, are veteran teams, and
confidence is a very different issue there.

In Virginia's case, they have much to build on, but their season almost went
to crap when the ACC started, and they took two early beatings. But they seem to
be pulling it together and have won 3 straight since then, and are building
again. Good on them.

Wake is a bit harder to figure. The team we saw in Cameron is really,
really talented. Chris Wilcox has as much raw talent as Scott, and Dahntay
Jones and one or two other kids have as much talent as Josh Howard, but not too
many guys are in that league. Both startled us with athleticism in the
Duke-Wake game, and then there's Songaila. He's foul-prone, he pissed off
the refs, and he has some shortcomings, but he's a heck of a big man. We
have always liked Broderick Hicks, and they have two guys who can loosen up the
D for the big guys. We're inclined to agree with Mike DeCourcy, who said
they didn't know how good they can be. Much better than they are now.

State has a major event coming up Wednesday: it's their first appointment on
what Andy Britt of GoHeels.com has taken to calling the Payback Tour.
They'll go into Chapel Hill full of themselves and very confident. But if
they shoot as poorly as they sometimes do, and UNC is as pumped as we suspect
they will be, State could lose. Tech gave them a tough game. UNC,
just on emotion, could do it. And the weird thing is they're so bad
currently, as Ned Barnett said, that losing to them now has a stigma. So
it's a 3 point game with 2 minutes to go. You tighten up, State, you lose.
Students rush the court, glory is reclaimed, and State's hard-earned advance is
pushed back. End of story.

On the other hand, after the immense and thorugh whipping UConn administered,
State could do worse. And they are vastly deeper. And look who is there from
in-state: Scooter Sherrill, Cliff Crawford, Evtimov the Younger - any of them
could help UNC immensely. But they're in red, and that's the end of
it.

UVa put FSU
away Sunday without too much trouble
since most of the margin came from the
free throw line (44-11 - that's a big difference).

Clemson
gave Maryland fits before succumbing 99-90.
We didn't see the game,
but the result sort of reinforces our theory that Maryland can be done in by
quick, mid-sized players. Larry Shyatt was upset early that he started on
the road as much as he did, but they have weathered it ok and get the back side
mostly at home. Clemson has given Duke, Maryland, and State fits,
and the trips to Littlejohn are going to be less fun than a nearsighted
dentist. Yale was a lowpoint, but since then, they beat Tech, beat UVa,
got smoked by Wake, but almost beat State, and gave Maryland a great run.
Now they get FSU (road), UNC, Duke and Tech at home. Duke will be tough,
but if they win the other three, they are 14-8. Duke would be a huge bonus, and
would make them bubble material if they take care of the other business.
Clemson could win 18 games, 20 if things really go well.

Still, the glamour game of the near future, despite UNC's woes, will be State
and Carolina. Can State close the deal? Will UNC sink even
further? We'll know soon.