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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, 10:00 p.m.

    Make that two teams

  • StunGunn Mar 14, 4:42 p.m.

    and not everyone has cable to watch those games on other channels either...and more people... View More

    — Posted by anderson

    The games today are on Channel 5. You don't have some kind of satellite or cable?

    — Posted by ncstateforever

    I have TWC but I know everyone can't afford cable...in fact if TWC keeps raising their prices I... View More

    — Posted by anderson

    I have a satellite with Direct TV. My rates are always going up, but I have to keep paying them... View More

    — Posted by ncstateforever

    I have BC, State, FSU and Maryland.

  • StunGunn Mar 14, 4:37 p.m.

    I heard Vitale will be doing the semis and final. That's awesome, baby.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    i wonder if Bilas will be doing the game with him. i feel sorry for vitale when he has to be... View More

    — Posted by weakened back

    I feel sorry for anyone who has to sit beside Vitale to call the game, his constant blathering... View More

    — Posted by StunGunn

    I remember a sweating, drooling, delerious, bleeting Vitale hanging all over Dan Shulman after a... View More

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    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, 3:32 p.m.

    TAR!!!!

    — Posted by vile garbage

    HEELS!

  • vile garbage Mar 14, 12:46 p.m.

    TAR!!!!

  • 1tarheelgirl Mar 14, 12:34 p.m.

    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, 12:31 p.m.

    I heard Vitale will be doing the semis and final. That's awesome, baby.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    i wonder if Bilas will be doing the game with him. i feel sorry for vitale when he has to be... View More

    — Posted by weakened back

    With any luck Vitale will have laryngitis by Saturday...

    — Posted by Native NC gal

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

  • JohnFLob Mar 14, 12:03 p.m.

    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, 12:01 p.m.

    My only wish is that they would show all the games on WRAL-2 or ESPN. Not EVERYone is so... View More

    — Posted by Scubagirl

    and not everyone has cable to watch those games on other channels either...and more people... View More

    — Posted by anderson

    The games today are on Channel 5. You don't have some kind of satellite or cable?

    — Posted by ncstateforever

    I have TWC but I know everyone can't afford cable...in fact if TWC keeps raising their prices I... View More

    — Posted by anderson

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

  • swdukegirl Mar 14, 11:42 a.m.

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

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UNC 82
OSU 74
2nd
MVSU 30
NCCU 50
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
Final
NYK 90
PHO 99
7:00pm Tonight
NOP
POR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
ATL
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
SAN
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
IND
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
MIL
Final
LALAF 16
NEV 3
4th
UTEP 3
UTST 14
 
2nd
COLST 10
UTAH 24
 
5:45pm Tonight
AFA
WMICH
9:15pm Tonight
BGU
SALABAMA
Final
GEOR 81
CHAR 78
Final
WKENT 67
LOU 76
Final
MICH 51
SMU 62
Final
CIN 47
VCU 68
Final
BSU 77
ABCHRIST 33
 
Final
PROV 85
UMASS 65
Final
AMER 46
MNTER 45
 
Final
UNC 82
OSU 74
Final
IUPUI 71
SALA 65
 
Final
VILL 82
SYR 77
Final
VT 64
CITA 61
Final
DUQ 79
MLOWELL 63
 
Final
FAIR 61
BEL 73
 
Final
YALE 60
GTDNS 64
 
Final
FD 76
DEL 74
 
Final
PSU 73
DREX 68
Final
UNCG 64
ELON 71
 
Final
ILL 62
MIZZ 59
Final
CAMP 90
MONT 64
 
Final
LONG 106
PSUBEAVER 74
 
Final
HOU 63
SCST 71
 
Final
FSU 75
SFLA 62
 
Final
BING 51
BONA 69
 
Final
RUTG 68
RFLSH 73
 
Final
MCNST 69
TOL 83
 
Final
JVU 84
TRUETT 55
 
Final
GT 65
VANDY 60
Final
INDST 56
EILL 60
 
Final
BUT 73
IND 82
Final
STEPH 94
ARTCH 57
 
Final
OREG 83
DELST 70
 
Final
Terriers 61
FATL 56
 
Final
TXARL 89
HPYN 50
 
Final
KU 96
LAF 69
 
Final
ARKST 67
MARS 58
 
Final
MEM 78
ORU 63
 
Final
KNST 53
UMBC 66
 
Final
NW 67
WMICH 61
 
Final
MIZST 65
EMICH 77
 
Final
CHIST 77
STJOE 54
 
2nd
KENT 67
UCLA 27
 
2nd
COC 36
DAVID 45
 
2nd
RIU 34
DET 36
 
2nd
UCR 47
HOUB 34
 
Half
MURST 37
ILLST 42
 
2nd
NWST 62
LALAF 54
 
2nd
WAGN 32
MON 35
 
2nd
MVSU 30
NCCU 50
 
2nd
PITT 42
OU 41
 
2nd
TENNM 41
PBY 30
 
2nd
WYO 37
SOUTH 24
 
2nd
AFA 36
UCD 45
 
2nd
MSST 23
USCU 29
 
1st
JMU 6
HIGH 6
 
1st
TXST 9
HTILL 0
 
1st
DRAK 0
ISU 2
 
1st
SHU 7
UNH 8
 
1st
SCU 11
NE 7
 
1st
MSU 3
TXSOU 2
 
1st
UF 4
WAKE 4
 
5:15pm Tonight
ND
PURD
5:30pm Tonight
SHSU
PVU
 
6:00pm Tonight
AUB
XAV
7:00pm Tonight
AKR
BLUFFTON
 
7:00pm Tonight
DAY
BU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CLMB
HOF
 
7:00pm Tonight
GMAS
IONA
7:00pm Tonight
TOWS
LAS
7:00pm Tonight
MAN
MRGST
 
7:00pm Tonight
CCST
YALE
 
7:00pm Tonight
PEPP
RICH
7:00pm Tonight
MAR
STJOE
7:00pm Tonight
KYST
TEXAM
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
VALPO
 
7:05pm Tonight
UMKC
INCWORD
 
7:30pm Tonight
IDST
CALST
 
7:30pm Tonight
NIOWA
IOWA
7:30pm Tonight
SIUE
UWMIL
 
8:00pm Tonight
TEX
LBSU
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
TXSA
8:30pm Tonight
ARK
SEMIZ
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
JVST
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARST
LEH
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
NMU
 
9:00pm Tonight
WASH
OKLA
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
STED
 
9:00pm Tonight
WEBER
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
BST
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
CPSL
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
PORT
MNTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSNO
TAMCC
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
SDKST
 
11:00pm Tonight
BYU
STAN
11:30pm Tonight
UNLV
UTAH
2nd
LOS 1
ARI 2
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
COL
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
FLA
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
MON
OTT
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
PHI
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
TAM
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
WAS
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
NAS
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
STL
2nd
WAS 10
PHI 7
 
8:25pm Tonight
SFX
SDC