Monday, February 25, 2008

ACC Hoops - Feb 26 - 28

Heels Back in First Place...
Miami Fights its way back onto the NCAA Bubble...
The Turtle - feared no more?

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Six games ago it looked like Duke would run away with the ACC regular season. The Heels had lost Ty Lawson and looked bad in a home-loss to the Blue Devils. Someone forgot to tell the Heels that the regular season was over. Tyler Hansbrough has put Carolina on his back and carried them to first place in the ACC. Quentin Thomas has been steady at the point while playing more meaningful minutes in the last six games than in his three previous seasons combined. Wayne Ellington has once again found his stroke and the Heels as a whole are playing much better defense. What started a disaster has allowed the Heels to develop some much needed depth at guard and put them back into contention for the National Championship.

On February 6 Miami lost to Florida State and fell to 2-6 in the regular season. Instead of becoming this years Clemson, the Hurricanes have won four straight, including wins over Duke and Maryland to get back to .500 in conference play. More importantly, Miami has climbed to 25th in the latest RPI. The Hurricanes need to win three of the next four to finish at 9-7 and pretty much guarantee themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament. Given their RPI, I think Miami can still get in with an 8-8 record.

There are two huge ACC games this week. Unfortunately, only one of them will be televised. It seems the TV gods over at ESPN think we would rather see Florida State - NC State instead of Miami-Clemson. I know that the Greenville-Spartenburg market is not a huge draw, but I suspect a lot of folks in Raleigh/Durham and Tallahassee would rather see Clemson and Miami fight for a first round bye in the ACC Tournament and a chance to solidify their NCAA resumes instead of watching Florida State and NC State jockey for a spot in the NIT.

The other big game this week is Maryland at Wake Forest. Two straight losses suddenly has the turtle in fear of not making it to the NCAA's. Forget the hype after the Carolina win. An RPI of 65 is not going to be enough to get Maryland into the NCAA Tournament with an 8-8 conference record. Wake's 62nd rated RPI is in need of a bit of help as well. Keep in mind the young Deac's have only lost one game at home this season.