Saturday is a great day for ACC fans, because conference play starts in
earnest: Wake goes to Clemson, Virginia Tech travels to Tallahassee, UVa heads
to Hotlanta, and Maryland journeys to Chapel Hill.
Rationally, one would say: Wake, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and UNC.
Of course, the ACC is almost always irrational, so betting on the favorites
doesn't always work.
For instance, as vulnerable as UVa seems now, Tech may be equally
susceptible. They've at times been rudderless this season, and without B.J.
Elder (hamstring), their offense could lose focus.
Wake should beat Clemson, but Clemson showed a lot of gumption at Duke, and
playing at Littlejohn is always brutal. Skip Prosser knows Oliver Purnell well,
having coached against him often in the A-10. Wake has let up a few times
this year, notably against the Illini and Elon. If they bring that
attitude to Littlejohn, they're doomed.
Florida State seems to be coming around, finally, and since Miami is
exceeding expectations, Tech is probably the weak sister as of now. Plus
FSU has a lot of size to use against the smaller Hokies.
But the really interesting conference game today is likely UNC-Maryland, as
UNC's payback tour will likely start in earnest.
UNC fans have suffered over the past several years as the Heels have fallen
on hard times. Bill Guthridge, though a sound (if conservative) game
coach, recruited terribly, and while Matt Doherty was a tireless recruiter, he
was, by all accounts, a disaster everywhere else.
UNC fans have been saving it up, and now, in the immortal words of Maria
McKee, they're going to let it fly.
The sense of frustration extends to the players. Sean May had a terrible game
against Maryland last year, and he is ready for a bit of redemption. Raymond
Felton got tired of hearing he couldn't shoot and learned how to do it.
Rashad McCants is even onboard. UNC is motivated and quite dangerous, and
if Maryland doesn't run into a buzz saw, we'll be surprised.
On the other hand, Maryland loves to run, and typically, when Gary's teams
have been dominant, it's been when they run. Remember that astonishing
performance a few years ago against UCLA?
It's going to be a fun day in the ACC, and we'll learn a lot about everyone,
but specifically, perhaps, most about UVa (whether they're going to roll over
again or not), Florida State (have they arrived?), and Maryland (no great inside
game, but can manic defense and a running game help them beat UNC?) It's
going to be great!!
- A fast challenge
- Hokies hope King can help in Cassell
football, hello roundball
shuffling Yellow Jackets' deck
Williams providing quiet leadership
is wary of new-look Tigers
know there is no time to relax