ACC's Friday the 14th could be boom or bust for Triangle
Posted March 14
Greensboro, N.C. — Saturday in Greensboro Coliseum could be a great day for Triangle basketball fans.
Or it could be a perfectly miserable, totally disgusting experience that might turn Tourney Town – as Greensboro likes to bill itself – into Boot Hill.
The possibilities during today’s ACC Tournament quarterfinals are just that radical from an in-state perspective.
No. 4 seed North Carolina, No. 7 N.C. State and No. 3 Duke all are still in the chase for Sunday’s championship.
But just as fast as 1-2-3, all could be eliminated by the time the Blue Devils and No. 6 Clemson turn out of the lights near midnight. Top seed Virginia and No. 9 Florida State begin the quarterfinals at noon.
Triangle teams were absent from the semifinal round in 1996 in Greensboro, but the overall regional situation was hardly dire since Tim Duncan and Tony Rutland carried Wake Forest to a memorable 75-74 title win over top-seeded Georgia Tech.
In 1990 at Charlotte, only second-seeded Duke survived the quarterfinals. The Blue Devils then were eliminated by Georgia Tech, which then whipped Virginia with ease for the championship.
Duke was the lone Triangle semifinal rep in 1986 (Greensboro) but made the most of it by edging Georgia Tech for the title.
With half the ACC’s eight members for years, obviously odds favored the North Carolina teams in general and the three Triangle schools specifically.
But with the dawn of the 15-team, five-day event this week, the odds are beginning to even out against the locals. Proof of that was found in regular season when for the first time since 2003 and only the second time since 1996, either Duke or Carolina failed to crack the top two seedings spots.
Virginia and No. 2 Syracuse, the Wolfpack’s problem tonight at 7 p.m. (WRAL-TV), ended that streak in Syracuse’s first season as an ACC member.
In fact, there had never been a season in which at least one North Carolina-based team wasn’t one of the top two seeds, and that dates all the way back to the first conference tournament in 1954 in Raleigh.
Early Friday, as fans were busy having breakfast and greeting friends in Greensboro’s Sheraton Hotel, there were splashes of orange and blue (Virginia, Clemson and Syracuse) and even a few newcomers from Pitt in the hotel’s three sweeping lobby areas.
But by far, there was a great deal more Wolfpack red and Carolina sky blue with an ample serving of Duke royal blue woven throughout the human fabric.
Wilson Price, a middle-aged UNC fan from Charlotte, was asked how it might feel in the coliseum Saturday if Virginia and Pitt played in the first semifinal, followed by Syracuse and Clemson in the second?
“Oh my Lord!” he virtually shouted. “I hadn’t even given that the first thought. Wow, that could happen couldn’t it? Heck, I’d probably faint and then run home. This is my 25th ACC and I’d hate like the devil for that to happen. I wouldn’t even wish that on State and Duke.”