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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

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh 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.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh 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 GunnyGoesArrrgh

    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 66
BUT 74
Final
ECU 73
HAW 75
Final
DUKE 93
FUR 54
Final
CHA 97
POR 105
Final
NCSU 84
RICH 72
Final
FLA 1
CAR 0
7:00pm Tonight
UNC
UCLA
 
Final
PHI 91
BRK 99
Final
ORL 96
GSW 111
Final
CHA 97
POR 105
Final
CLE 113
WAS 87
Final
DET 98
LAC 104
Final
DAL 109
NYK 102
Final
ATL 115
TOR 126
Final
MIN 86
MIL 103
Final
HOU 102
SAC 89
Final
OKC 97
UTA 82
Final
SAN 106
IND 100
Final
PHO 120
DEN 112
 
4th
LAL 87
MEM 89
 
7:30pm Tonight
TEXAM
LSU
7:30pm Tonight
TEX
TCU
Final
UNC 66
BUT 74
Final
FRES 64
MAR 68
Final
CHAT 61
RMU 46
Final
EMICH 68
ROCH 35
 
Final
MRGST 51
LIB 50
 
Final
HAMP 60
AMER 64
 
Final
BEL 78
DEN 57
Final
UMASS 79
NE 54
Final
JMU 79
SHU 72
 
Final
KNST 84
SAMF 71
 
Final
ECU 73
HAW 75
Final
CHAM 60
MIZZ 74
Final
CCAR 61
LAMON 48
Final
OKLA 75
UCLA 65
Final
ELON 65
UNF 72
 
Final
UWMIL 66
ORU 69
Final
WCU 66
CHIST 61
Final
DUKE 93
FUR 54
Final
BYU 85
PURD 87
Final
EVAN 79
USF 72
Final
COL 71
GTDNS 75
 
Final
VERM 73
BRY 47
 
Final
OSU 91
CAMP 64
Final
LOU 45
CLST 33
Final
UCF 69
DAVID 95
Final
IONA 126
DELST 76
 
Final
OU 78
UGST 83
Final
TOWS 97
GOUCHER 43
 
Final
ND 81
GRAM 54
 
Final
YALE 82
LAF 60
 
Final
GWU 91
LONG 66
 
Final
VT 78
UMO 63
Final
WAKE 83
MNTER 49
 
Final
NAVY 67
PSUHARRIS 42
 
Final
NCSU 84
RICH 72
Final
MINN 61
STJ 70
Final
JVU 69
TRINBAPT 57
 
Final
YOUNG 66
UMKC 63
 
Final
UAB 43
WISC 72
Final
CORN 67
CAN 60
Final
WVU 103
VMI 72
Final
DEP 74
LEH 86
 
Final
UNT 67
MVSU 52
 
Final
MARS 68
MORE 77
 
Final
TCU 74
RAD 50
 
Final
SELA 86
TENT 65
 
Final
SMU 72
TXSOU 59
 
Final
UTAH 85
TXPA 48
Final
LMU 66
UCR 62
 
Final
SCAR 89
UNCA 75
 
Final
SD 86
WAYNEST 69
 
Final
PITT 70
KYST 47
Final
UWGB 59
FLGC 45
 
Final
IOWA 70
NILL 49
 
Final
ORST 69
AUB 71
 
Final
MONT 75
CARROLLMT 52
 
Final
SUTAH 64
EKENT 73
 
Final
NMST 78
FAM 33
 
Final
WYO 65
STET 41
 
Final
EWASH 81
NKENTUCKY 60
 
Final
IDST 57
WLVRN 60
 
Final
GEOR 66
UF 65
 
Final
GONZ 88
UGA 76
 
Final
NIOWA 61
NW 42
 
Final
CAL 72
CPSL 52
 
Final
UCD 77
UTST 70
 
2nd
SDST 51
ARZ 55
 
2nd
NDAK 72
ALAST 58
 
2nd
CSNO 42
PORST 57
 
Half
AKAN 27
PAC 28
 
1st
OKST 40
TULSA 30
 
2:00am Today
COLST
MIZST
12:00pm Today
TENN
SCU
 
12:00pm Today
RMU
LAMON
 
1:00pm Today
BUT
OKLA
 
2:00pm Today
BRO
PEAY
 
2:00pm Today
UTEP
PRIN
 
2:30pm Today
CHAT
CCAR
 
2:30pm Today
RIU
KU
 
3:30pm Today
USCU
FIU
 
3:30pm Today
GEOR
WISC
 
4:00pm Today
USB
LIU
 
4:30pm Today
XAV
SDU
 
5:00pm Tonight
INDST
ILL
 
6:00pm Tonight
WRST
CSFU
 
6:00pm Tonight
STJOE
WKENT
 
6:30pm Tonight
RIDE
MSU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNC
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8:30pm Tonight
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GT
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9:00pm Tonight
PVU
STEPH
 
9:30pm Tonight
MERC
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UF
UAB
 
11:00pm Tonight
WASH
SJST
 
11:59pm Tonight
MEM
BAY
 
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
WASU
 
Final
NYI 3
WAS 2
Final
BUF 1
WIN 2
Final
FLA 1
CAR 0
Final
TAM 4
NYR 3
Final
DET 5
PHI 2
Final
PIT 4
TOR 3
Final
MIN 0
LOS 4
Final
COL 2
CHI 3
 
3rd
SJS 0
CAL 1
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
EDM
 
12:30pm Today
DET
CHI
4:30pm Today
DAL
PHI
8:30pm Tonight
SFX
SEA