Wake Forest beat Clemson, as really they should, and thus made
the conference race (behind Duke and State anyway) a bit tighter. It was a key
game for Wake, because 5-5 and 14-6 looks a lot better than 4-6 and 13-7.
That gets dangerously close to an NIT-type record.
If you accept the Valvano benchmark, that .500 in the ACC
should get you in, Wake is on the right side of that equation, at least
for now. They're taking a break from the ACC this weekend - sort of - with
Cincinnati in town Saturday. Prosser knows Bob Huggins well, of course, having
played him annually in the big Xavier-Cincinnati game, which is one of the best
rivalry games around. A win would do a lot to help Wake's status in case they
slip some more before bids are announced.
Of this weekend's games, the biggest of course is Duke-State, but in some
ways, the most interesting will be Maryland-UNC. UNC has almost no wiggle
room left - they have to win at home. Maryland, meanwhile, has been quietly
getting it together and can move back to .500 in the conference with the
win. With Clemson visiting Florida State Saturday, and FSU likely to go to
5-6, a loss for UNC would be just about catastrophic. They'd be locked into
sixth place, and the tournament might start slipping away. Remember, this
is the team Jawad Williams called maybe the best in the history of the NCAA.
The best team ever, therefore, is fighting for its life Saturday. We also
expect they'll win. We'll be somewhat shocked if they don't.
is starting to get a lot of attention now for their impressive run in the
conference: while everyone else south of Duke is sitting right around .500, just
under .500, or in the cellar in the cases of Clemson and UVa, State is at 8-2,
and is the only team with a realistic shot at moving past Duke. They get
their first shot at it Sunday when Duke visits the RBC (Reynolds Been Canned)
Duke's intense desire may overcome injuries and illness and
fatigue, but then again, State's pretty fresh, they have some intriguing players
in Evtimov, Engin, and most of all Hodge, and they can shoot damn well. If
it comes down to free throws, State has a decided edge since they lead the
nation in that category.