Atlanta represents a rebirth for some, a small death for some, and probably a relief for others.
For Duke and UNC, it's not that big of a deal, although surely everyone wants to win. It's not like they're giving up on the idea.
For Wake, Clemson, Florida State and B.C., winning this would be huge: not only would they be ACC champs, but it would cement their status going into the tourney as nothing else could.Â And among these teams, only Clemson has meaningful experience.Â The rest are quite young.
For Maryland, Miami, and Virginia Tech, itÂ represents a last chance at a bid.Â There's an excellent chance that two wins in Atlanta would get any of the three in.
And for State, well, they've been here before and are the only team ever to play four games in the tournament, and they've done it twice.
Virginia and Georgia Tech will probably not go very far, but if they should win their opening games, the crowd will be behind them, and particularly Virginia:Â they'll sure pick up UNC and Maryland fans, if they're still around (they tend to leave as soon as their team does).Â Odds are they'll lose early and head home to lick their wounds.
We had some fun with Tywon Lawson's toe injury, pointing out that UNC has traditionally had people who (like James Brown being helped off stage every night after being too tired to go on, with Danny Ray putting a cape over his shoulders and solicitously helping the exhausted, broken, hardest working man in show business off stage...until Brown dramatically regained his strength, shook the cape off, and rushed back to the mike) seem to have miraculous recoveries on a frequent basis.
After seeing the same act for decades in Chapel Hill - Jamison might not play!Â Ford is hurt! Kupchack questionable! - only to see the same guys star a night or so after being essentially called cripples by UNC, well, it was no surprise that Lawson played well in Chapel Hill on Sunday.
We were amused to hear Joe Ovies on 850TheBuzz pick this up and run with it, and to hear him get a Monday morning call from UNC's Steve Kirshner, who called in to say that Lawson sincerely was injured.
Now the N&O reports that he's back on crutches.Â All of which tends to suggest that he'll shake off the cape one more time in Atlanta.
Ol' Roy will "guaran-dadgum-tee" ya that he's truly hurting, by the way.
In light of Lawson's winning the ACC Player of The Year Award, Florida State partisans revived the canard that the media is always biased towards the ACC.Â It may be that they're biased towards success, but the actions of John Justus don't help.
Justus, who heads up the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, decided retroactively, on his own, to change a 2007 vote by Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times.Â Stevens had voted to put Hansbrough on the second All-ACC team.
Justus just did it without clearing it with Stevens, but come on: who changes their vote two years after the fact?Â How the hell do you do that anyway?Â It stinks, and FSU has reason to be upset.
So who should be favored in Atlanta?Â Well, it depends. UNC should be the favorite, but without Lawson, they're more vulnerable than they would be otherwise.Â Add in Ol' Roy's disdain for the event, and it's hard to find much excitement.
Incidentally, while Williams likes to portray himself as an honorary member of Mayberry, the guy unquestionably has an edge.Â He showed it in Kansas, when he took after fans and bloggers alike, and basically told people to quit telling him how to do his job (the fact that he was right doesn't lessen the stupidity of saying it).Â And of course there was the famous moment of saying he "didn't give a shit" about North Carolina after losing in the title game.
Back home, he's said he pretty much hates his radio show, dropped the F Bomb in response to a reporter's press conference question, more or less called the ACC Tournament a joke, worn a Kansas logo after getting royally ripped by the Jayhawks in the Final Four, and basically given everyone and anyone who irritates him a metaphorical finger.
Dadgummit, he just wants to be left alone.Â But you may cheer for him if you must.
So if not UNC, who on that side of the bracket?Â If you go with experience, Clemson is a strong candidate.Â They rely on Demontez Stitt and Terrence Oglesby, both sophs, but they're pretty savvy. The rest of the core is upperclassmen and remember, they were pretty close to pulling this off last year.
On the other side of the bracket, we can't see State or Maryland beating Wake unless the young Deacs buckle under the pressure.Â And Duke has to be thinking about the loss to B.C. earlier, assuming that B.C. does take Virginia.Â If both teams make it, that's an epic matchup.Â We usually side with experience, our obvious bias aside, and would likely pick Duke.Â Â Here's why:
in a tight game, in a tournament atmosphere, conservative play becomes a requirement.Â The game slows down and turnovers are increasingly important.Â Duke has done a better job of that than Wake has, and shoots better, overall, than does Wake.Â But it'll be tight.
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