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Barry Jacobs On Stepping Out Of Conference

Loading an early-season schedule with heavyweight opponents may not be entirely wise, especially for teams dominated by underclassmen. November and December are a time for experimentation and discovery, and young squads certainly require plenty of both.

Long Mid-Season Breaks Enjoyed By ACC Teams in 2011
School Pre-Break Break End
BC 2/12M 2/19@NC
C 1/12GT(W)* 1/18@NC(L)
FS 1/22BC(W) 1/29@C
2/12V 2/19@WF
Mia 1/8@C 1/15BC(W)
NC 1/18C 1/26Mia(W)
NS 2/5@D 2/13@WF
V 1/8NC 1/15@D(L)
2/5@Mia 2/12@FS
VT 2/5@BC 2/13GT
WF 1/22D 1/29V
* Game moved from Jan. 11 due to inclement weather.

Yet once league play begins, and good teams have coalesced, it's the rare coach who willingly ventures outside the ACC to face a formidable nonconference opponent.

This season only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Maryland's Gary Williams dared schedule big-time games after the first week of the 2011 calendar year. The Terrapins lost decisively at Villanova on January 15. Duke faces two high-profile opponents, St. John's in New York on Jan. 30 and Temple in Durham on Feb. 23.

Counting those contests, ACC teams had seven games outside the league after early January. Virginia Tech fattened up against Longwood on Jan. 22 and Maryland plays the Lancers on Feb. 9. Georgia Tech and Miami take mid-February breaks against UT Chattanooga and UNC Greensboro, respectively.

Most ACC coaches took advantage of a breather during league play, using a week off to presumably work out kinks, knots, and other blockages. So far Clemson and Virginia emerged from hiatus and lost, the Tigers at North Carolina and the Cavaliers at Duke. The Tar Heels, on the other hand, went off-line for eight days and came back on Jan. 26 to beat Miami, which earlier beat Boston College after its break.

Virginia has another week-long rest stop coming up, apparently hoping for better luck the second time. Florida State, currently between assignments, also enjoys a pair of tuneup interludes.