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ACC Roundup

The ACC Tournament, which in recent years has been pretty predictable, was anything but on opening day, as Tampa got a proper introduction to the art of the possible when it comes to basketball. Florida State beat Clemson by one point, 67-66, Miami shocked Maryland, 67-62, N.C. State knocked off Duke in overtime, 85-80, and Wake Forest survived Georgia Tech in double overtime, 114-112.

What a great day. In fact, this might have been one of the best opening days in the history of the tournament: four games, three overtimes, and a total margin of thirteen points, and three out of four lower seeds advanced (in the Clemson-FSU game, being the 8-9 seeds, it's essentially a toss-up).

In the Wake win, the score itself explains a lot of what happened: neither team defended well. Wake should have won at the end of the first overtime, but they allowed Anthony Morrow to get off a three point shot when trailing by three with time running down. All they had to do was to put him on the line. But it worked out pretty well for Wake, as the Deacs, led by Harvey Hale, put on one of their best performances of the year. It was a tremendously exciting finish, even if the defense was pathetic.

The Wake game ended at nearly 1:00 a.m., but fortunately for the Deacs, they play Virginia Tech in the late game Friday, at 9 p.m.

The Clemson game, almost naturally, ended in controversy. That's just how things have gone for Clemson this year. With time running down, Thornton was supposedly fouled, but we didn't see it. He hit one of two foul shots, with 1.5 seconds remaining, and Clemson missed a desperation shot. But just before all that happened, the Tigers had a backcourt violation. How could they? Things happen, but that was just an awful mistake, like losing your virginity to Clay Aiken.

And while there's no question that we pull for Duke, we'd like to take a couple of minutes and just say how proud we are of State, and how impressed we are with the heart and soul they've shown all year. Sidney Lowe was, to an extent, a gamble of a hire. He's proven to be a tremendous coach, at least for this particular team. You can't project a career based on one season, but the guy has done a remarkable job. Beating UNC and now Duke is part of it, of course, but it's more than that. He's brought excitement back to State in a way that was missing for some time.

But still, that red jacket has to go.

On Friday, the four survivors move on, with Florida State taking on UNC, Miami trying to knock off B.C., State meeting Virginia, and Wake Forest seeing what they have left against Virginia Tech.

Surprisingly enough, we can't really rule any of them out for a second win. Florida State has some pretty good athletes, and Al Thornton is playing brilliantly. Miami showed enormous heart against Maryland, and B.C. is about as thin up front as they are. Virginia's guards present problems for State, but State's inside game presents problems for Virginia as well. And Virginia Tech is erratic enough to offer Wake a shot, too.

All things considered, there's a possibility that this could go down as one of the best tournaments in years. And while everyone says - probably rightly - that winning four games in four days is highly unlikely, here's what we'll call the DBR corollary: if every Thursday team wins on Friday, the four-games-is-too-much theory goes out the window. Unlikely? Absolutely. But Thursday reminded us why this conference, almost uniquely, can summon forth a level of competitive mania which propels it to absolute and unquestioned greatness. Tampa is lucky to have such an amazing show in town. Thursday will go down as a legendary day.