In Saturday's ACC action, Wake Forest and State renew an ancient ACC rivalry, Georgia Tech visits Maryland, a fading Virginia hits scenic Clemson, and UNC visits Boston College.
No doubt they'll be pleased to welcome Tyler Zeller back to the court. Zeller hasn't played since UNC's win over Virginia Tech on January 10th, and in his absence, UNC has gone 2-8.
Obviously he has minimal influence over the ballhandling issues and with just two career attempts from three point range, he's not exactly the answer for that problem either. But he's a talented, mobile big man, and that can't hurt.
It'll be interesting to see how they use Zeller and Jon Henson together. We've thought all along that the two of them are a natural pair.
Less noticed than UNC's 2-8 string is State's: they haven't beaten anyone outside of Durham (the upset of Duke and a win over NCCU) since January 12th. We'll be surprised if that changes Saturday as Wake is superior at most positions and plays better defense to boot. Brett Friedlander has a question: have they given up? You sure hope not.
The race has taken on a sense of inevitability: Duke, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Wake Forest have separated themselves from the rest, Florida State is reliably tough, Clemson and Georgia Tech can still rise, and everyone else is basically screwed.
As we said, we expect Clemson to win Saturday, but what about the most interesting game, Georgia Tech and Maryland? Normally, we'd take Maryland in a heartbeat, but the Terps are in their fourth game in a week. The Virginia game was rescheduled after being snowed out originally, and the fact that they were down 10 to State may have had something to do with the quick turnaround. It could happen again.
Sean Mosley is still in a slump and Eric Hayes had to get IV fluids against Virginia and was still sick at State. So they're up against it to an extent and normal tired legs may be magnified.
One of the more muted story lines this year has been the disappointing play of Clemson rookie Milton Jennings, but he and his coaches think he's figured it out now.
It's been awhile since we looked at the RPI for the various teams. Duke is fine with #2 overall (Kansas is #1). Wake's in great shape at #11 and Georgia Tech and Clemson are both strong at 29 and 34 respectively. If they end up having to rely on their RPI, though, everyone else is in trouble. Have we ever had an ACC team in second place in February with an RPI of 50? Maryland isn't much better at 42.
By Jeff Sagarin's reckoning, though, the ACC is still the dominant conference.
Joe Lunardi of ESPN sees seven ACC teams in - Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest, FSU, Clemson, and both Techs.
One thing is for sure: with a truly dreadful season, the PAC-10 will be lucky to get two bids, and may get just one. Those bids have to go somewhere.
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