Adam Gold

Three Triangle teams have a shot at ACC title

Posted March 13, 2013
Updated March 14, 2013

P.J. Hairston (15) reacts to a play during the North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Duke Blue Devils NCAA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2013 in Chapel Hill, NC.

The 60th ACC Tournament starts Thursday at noon at the Greensboro Coliseum amid much consternation regarding available tickets, a lack of atmosphere and a dearth of high-caliber teams vying for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

For the record, improving the last item would almost certainly take care of the previous two, an element that has somehow managed to slip past those who have spent the last 25 years covering this league. Sometimes, I guess, it's just too easy to wax nostalgic about the good 'ol days when everything mattered more, rather than focus on the actual reasons why things aren't what they used to be.

With that said, Triangle fans can root for three of the top five seeded teams in the very best dadgum conference basketball tournament in the world, so let's examine why each of the three "can" and "won't" cut down the nets Sunday afternoon. Hoops Headquarters -- black 2014 ACC Tournament interactive bracket

NC State must link talent, performance

North Carolina State had either a very good, disappointing regular season, or a very disappointing, good first phase of the year. It really depends on your perspective. It's not like the Wolfpack went 7-11, you know. And the die-hards will remind you that three of those losses came without Lorenzo Brown on the floor, so if you adjusted the record to reflect that, State was 11-4 with their full compliment on the court.

N.C. State can win it because, in all honesty, this is still the most talented roster in the league. For that reason, they're still a team that can be the last one standing come Sunday afternoon.

When the mood strikes, Calvin Leslie can be the most dynamic player in the ACC. Lorenzo Brown is one of the best point guards in the country. And, with the likes of Richard Howell inside and Scott Wood outside, it's hard to imagine this team being as beatable as they've been for the last four months. At some point, it becomes about the players, and if State ever reaches that point it will be an absolute joy to behold. vtduke27 Wolfpack prep to face nation's leading scorer

I said it during their game against Connecticut in New York – if this team committed to playing hard defensively and unselfishly on offensive, they have the makings of a national championship contender.

Unfortunately, the spring equinox and the positioning of Saturn in the western sky aren't aligned enough to expect this group to do something they haven't done all year – win four consecutive ACC games. And, considering they have to win four in a row to win this tournament, I'm going to say emphatically that it's not going to happen for this group.

Could it happen? I guess. But so far, this has proven to be a team that simply can't handle success. Every significant victory in conference play was followed up with a loss and a period of less-than-inspiring play.

It's too easy to lay the blame at the feet of Leslie, who seems to be the barometer for how this team is feeling on a day-to-day basis. But let me ask this question: What are the expectations for this team, for this program? All great programs have a certain standard of performance that is demanded.

Whether it's Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Louisville, Kansas, Kentucky, Florida or VCU, it doesn't matter. A certain level of performance – which, in my view, differs from success – is not only expected, but demanded. When that standard isn't met there are consequences.

I could be wrong, but either the standard isn't high enough, or it's been ignored. Regardless, that's a failure of leadership, and until that improves it's hard to fathom the team or this program reaching the levels that Wolfpack fans desire and deserve.

UNC must find proper mix

North Carolina can win their third tournament title in the last seven years because they have become a difficult team to play against. The Duke game notwithstanding, Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo are all excellent offensive players who present serious match up problems for just about every opponent that gets in their way.

It's obvious that the structure of this team doesn't sit well with Roy Williams, and there are some in the media – as well as his own fan base – who have openly questioned why it took him so long to finally put them together. However, for this team to have a chance at relevance they had to put their best players on the floor for as often as possible.

The result turned out to be a team that was not only difficult to guard but one that suddenly became more active and, in turn, much better defensively. Unfortunately, all of the good elements brought on by changing the shape of the rotation also exposed the Tar Heels to the reality that size does matter. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the worst of both worlds awaits UNC. UNC vs Duke Blue Devils put regular season in rear view mirror

Duke, at full strength, is everything the Tar Heels don't want to see: big and skilled with elite perimeter shooters. And as long as the Blue Devils don't get lost on the way to the Greensboro Coliseum on Friday night, Duke is going to be there on Saturday, and I just don't think that this North Carolina team is going to beat THAT Duke team.

Is it possible? Sure. Carolina isn't as bad as they showed last Saturday night at the Smith Center, and there should be some extra motivation from having been embarrassed that way on Senior Night. But, in order for the Heels to still be in Greensboro on Sunday, they're going to need a significant contribution from the Devils.

Injuries could bedevil Duke

With all of that said, Duke is not without their own issues. Defensive reputation and statistics aside, the Blue Devils have had trouble with quick guards – see Durand Scott and Shane Larkin from the University of Miami – and even more trouble with defensive rebounding. Ryan Kelly's return has lessened both of those deficiencies, but it hasn't erased them. They're still vulnerable to teams that can spread the floor and attack off the dribble and expose Duke's rebounding problems.

Duke is also a bit of a ticking bomb. Seth Curry is "improving," but he's still not "healed," according to Mike Krzyzewski. He's practicing more, but his leg is still a concern, and the three games in three days has to have some effect on his performance at some point.

More of a concern has to be the right foot of Kelly. The injury that sidelined him for a month and a half was actually the second of the season and the third when you consider that is the reason he missed the postseason a year ago. Can he survive three games in three days without jeopardizing the rest of March? In my opinion, this is the Devils' greatest area of concern.

Miami is one of the best rebounding teams in the league while Duke, well, isn't. The Hurricanes have the size and quickness to match Duke all over the court. The real difference two weeks ago in Durham was that Ryan Kelly returned from his 13-game injury break as a modern-day Larry Bird. And, while that isn't likely to happen again – though Kelly is shooting a cool 64 percent from 3-point range since December 1 – there is the matter of the rest of the deadly, long-range shooters the Blue Devils have to surround all-ACC center Mason Plumlee.

Miami finished alone in first place for a reason, they're really good. They have more than enough to beat Duke this weekend. I just don't think they will.

43 Comments

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  • jrt0856 Mar 15, 2013

    Make that two teams

  • StunGunn Mar 14, 2013

    View quoted thread



    I have BC, State, FSU and Maryland.

  • StunGunn Mar 14, 2013

    View quoted thread



    I know! As good hearted as Vitale is, and I do believe he is, he needs to hang it up. I can't stand listening to him.

  • carrboroyouth Mar 14, 2013

    View quoted thread



    HEELS!

  • vile garbage Mar 14, 2013

    TAR!!!!

  • 1tarheelgirl Mar 14, 2013

    Great picture Adam....The skies are gonna be light blue this weekend...My team will be on target because they always do good in the ACC Tournaments AND hope that is a rematch of the good ole days of Carolina and State with my TARHEELS the winner....Just hope the Dookies get what is coming to them like last year...a BIG FAT LOST.

    GO HEELS....

  • boolittlek Mar 14, 2013

    View quoted thread



    Unfortunately, Tim ("This place is rocking!") Brant and Tim ("G-Man") Brando aren't any better.

  • JohnFLob Mar 14, 2013

    Don't all 12 teams in the ACC have a shot at the title?

    Is it really news that the 3 triangle teams have a shot at winning the tournament?

    I wish I had a PhD in journalism from Duke or UNC so I could report on these earth shattering events.

  • justabumer Mar 14, 2013

    View quoted thread



    I dropped TWC and signed on with CenturyLink. I save seventy dollars a month and have much better service.

  • swdukegirl Mar 14, 2013

    WRAL...Couldnt you find a better picture to post. Seriously!!!!

More...

 

 

  • ACC: Syracuse at NC State

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida at Kentucky

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  • Pac 12: Stanford at Arizona

    Saturday at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NBA: Dallas at Portland

    Tonight at 9:30 on 99.9 The Fan

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    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
ECU 56
TEMPL 70
 
2nd
NCCU 52
NCAT 43
 
Final
DET 4
ATL 6
 
Final
TAM 2
BAL 3
 
Final
PIT 1
NYY 2
 
Final
HOU 6
PHI 3
 
Final
MIA 1
STL 4
 
Final
SFG 8
CHC 6
 
Final
CIN 3
CLE 9
 
Final
CWS 1
LOS 6
 
Final
ANA 3
MIL 2
 
Final
CHC 2
OAK 2
 
Final
SEA 9
SDP 4
 
Final
KAN 5
TEX 4
 
Final
ARI 4
COL 3
 
Final
WAS 5
NYM 4
 
6th
MIN 8
BOS 8
 
8th
BAL 5
TOR 0
 
Half
CHI 48
OKC 50
 
10:30pm Tonight
POR
DAL
Final
MDES 89
MRGST 76
 
Final
SIENA 71
NIAG 54
Final
LEH 62
AMER 68
 
Final
SCAR 74
ARK 78
 
Final
LAF 89
BU 64
 
Final
PETE 63
FAIR 33
 
1st OT
BUCK 84
HC 77
 
Final
UNF 71
LIP 57
 
Final
TENNM 65
MORE 76
 
Final
COL 72
NAVY 62
 
Final
ECU 56
TEMPL 70
 
Final
FATL 62
UAB 59
 
Final
FLGC 62
USCU 63
 
1st OT
CHAR 84
WKENT 86
 
Final
MINN 63
WISC 76
Final
MIZST 48
SILL 55
 
2nd
COPST 73
DELST 83
 
Final
FIU 59
MTST 54
 
2nd
HAMP 53
NORST 63
 
2nd
NCCU 52
NCAT 43
 
2nd
COOK 55
SCST 44
 
2nd
APP 59
TXST 56
 
2nd
GSOUT 68
TXARL 58
 
Half
LAMON 29
UGST 26
 
2nd
ODU 46
MARS 36
 
2nd
TXSA 56
RICE 59
 
Half
FAM 23
SAV 28
 
2nd
LATU 47
SMISS 33
 
1st
JST 25
ALAAM 11
 
1st
GRAM 4
ALAST 14
 
1st
TXSOU 27
ALCOR 17
 
Half
NICST 40
CARK 24
 
Half
TAMCC 46
HOUB 29
 
Half
NARZ 22
PORST 23
 
1st
LAM 10
SHSU 9
 
Half
ARKST 33
SALA 47
 
1st
PVU 11
SOUTH 9
 
1st
LALAF 26
ARKLR 20
 
1st
NO 19
SELA 15
 
9:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
ABCHRIST
 
9:00pm Tonight
MVSU 0
ARKPB 0
 
1st
ARZ 14
CAL 12
 
1st
WASH 6
COL 17
 
1st
WEBER 15
IDAHO 11
 
1st
UCONN 9
MEM 19
 
1st
UTEP 16
UNT 13
 
1st
STEPH 11
NWST 6
 
1st
SUTAH 7
SACST 15
 
1st
DAVID 14
VCU 2
 
1st
IDST 17
EWASH 22
 
1st
QUIN 6
MAR 3
 
1st
BEL 5
EILL 0
 
9:35pm Tonight
DRAK
BRAD
10:00pm Tonight
LBSU
CSNO
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCI
CSFU
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCD
UCR
 
11:00pm Tonight
ARST
STAN
11:00pm Tonight
WASU
UTAH
3rd
BOS 3
CAL 3
 
3rd
WAS 1
MIN 1
 
3rd
PHI 2
STL 1
 
2nd Intermission
FLA 3
DAL 2
 
2nd Intermission
TAM 2
TOR 1
 
2nd
NAS 1
NYI 2
 
1st
ARI 0
VAN 0
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
MON