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ACC Roundup

You don't often see a Saturday in the ACC where every game has a 20 point victory margin, but that's pretty much what happened this time out. True, UNC's win was by 16 (77-61), but UNC had a 20 point lead and it was effectively a 20 point win. Tech was never in that game.

The surprising thing was that UNC's defense carried the day much more than their vaunted offense. Tech likes to run an offense predicated on chaos created by their defense, but the chaos was caused by UNC's.

Javaris Crittenton at times was forced to take the ball nearly to halfcourt. The pressure was that oppressive. He got a major education Saturday night.

On the bench, Paul Hewitt looked helpless. His body language was capitulatory and resigned, much like the play of his team.

When his system works, Tech is an exciting team. But when it doesn't, much like Maryland, another team predicated on causing (and thriving on) chaos, Tech has few answers. Certainly they had none Saturday.

Yet as thoroughly as Tech was whipped, we couldn't help but be struck by something about UNC. On any number of occasions, they were simply undisciplined on offense. We realize that Dean Smith and Roy Williams have different approaches, and that Williams pushes fast offense as much as anyone this side of Paul Westhead, but there were times that UNC shot far too quickly and passed somewhat recklessly. Smith's teams were as disciplined as any teams in the history of the game. Ol' Roy has a spectacular bunch of talent, but at some point they're going to run into a stubborn foe, a UCLA or Oklahoma State or the like, and in a slower, pressure-filled half-court game, that lack of discipline may cost them.

Miami lost to Florida State, 86-67, and B.C. lost to Clemson, 74-54. Given the personnel losses both teams have suffered, they are forgivable losses, although the coaches will not agree.

Boston College only played seven guys and are paying a heavy price for Sean Williams' and Akida McClean's lack of responsibility. On the other hand, as we told you some time ago, B.C. has had some serious discipline issues and no one is ultimately responsible other than Al Skinner. He has recruited a number of guys who have had character issues and it has cost B.C. It's costing them now on the court, but it's not the sort of thing you'd expect to see at a Catholic school, and that's costing them in a different regard.

Miami has about a quarter of the team injured and the frontcourt is decimated, so no great surprise there either. But Florida State wisely capitalized, and suddenly they're in a great position. They've moved to seventh place in the conference; more importantly, their schedule is distinctly accommodating. FSU plays B.C. next, where Jared Dudley just put in 40 minutes on a foot with a stress fracture. After that comes Wake, then Maryland at home. Duke and Clemson follow on the road, but then they get Georgia Tech, UVa, Maryland, State, and Miami to close it out. They have a reasonable shot at 10 wins, and obviously should get a bid if they make that.

Sunday's ACC action sees Wake Forest at Virginia and Maryland at Virginia Tech. At the rate things are going for Wake, they'll be very lucky to make the NIT and we'd be very surprised if they won Sunday. The other game is much more critical, and for both teams.

Virginia Tech can stake a claim to second place if they win; Maryland will fall into the cellar at 1-4, and things will start looking grim for the Terps if that happens. Maryland still has games with Georgia Tech, FSU twice, Wake, UVa, Duke twice, State twice, Clemson, and UNC.

This team has flaws, but it's not pathetic and it probably doesn't belong where it is in the standings. But teams make their own fortunes, and Maryland is no exception. It's often silly to make too much out of one game, and Maryland has had its back to the wall before. But this game is absolutely critical to Maryland. Unfortunately, it's just as key to Virginia Tech if not more so. This is their chance to stake a major claim to conference supremacy. They're still an erratic team, but they have some guts. It should be a great one, if only for the intensity both teams should bring.

Apparently the cutbacks at the Herald-Sun now extend to the headline writers, who paired these headlines on the sports page: