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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. 2015 Men's ACC Tournament logo 2015 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!!!!

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
TEX 3
CLE 12
Final
COL 6
CIN 4
Final
MIA 2
PIT 5
Final
CWS 5
TOR 3
Final
KAN 2
NYY 4
Final
BOS 4
MIN 6
Final
PHI 0
NYM 7
Final
SEA 3
TAM 0
Final
SFG 3
MIL 1
Final
DET 3
OAK 2
Final
HOU 4
BAL 5
Final
WAS 3
CHC 0
Final
ARI 3
STL 4
7th
SDP 5
ANA 3
 
7th
ATL 1
LOS 1
 
1:05pm Today
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Today
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Tonight
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Tonight
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Tonight
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Tonight
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Tonight
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Tonight
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
7:05pm Monday
TOR
WAS
 
7:10pm Monday
CHC
MIA
 
7:10pm Monday
MIN
BOS
 
8:10pm Monday
BAL
HOU
 
8:10pm Monday
MIL
STL
 
8:40pm Monday
LOS
COL
 
9:40pm Monday
ATL
ARI
 
10:05pm Monday
TAM
ANA
 
10:10pm Monday
NYM
SDP
 
10:10pm Monday
NYY
SEA
 
10:15pm Monday
PIT
SFG
 
Final
HOU 90
GSW 104
 
9:00pm Friday
GSW
HOU
 
9:00pm Sunday
HOU
GSW
 
Final
ANA 2
CHI 5
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR