ACC Weekend Notes

It was an interesting weekend in the ACC, with the first two conference games, two teams heading out west to play tough opponents and two games against tough Big 12 opponents. The two farthest travelers, Georgia Tech and NC State each lost to Gonzaga and Washington, respectively. Neither loss was terribly surprising as both of those teams are good and it’s just tough go that far for a game and play at your best.
For the Wolfpack, it was particularly unsurprising, as State seems to have problems every year with non-conference opponents. It’s not really December if the Pack isn’t losing ugly to someone like UMass or Temple. In fairness, they played well enough to win this game, but still lost. The biggest problem is that the Huskies are really the only good team NC State has played. It’s hard to really know where the Wolfpack stands right now.
In the two conference games, Carolina went up and baptized Virginia Tech in the cold waters of the ACC cellar. The only really interesting thing about this game is that the Tar Heels won by 34 points while getting only three points from Rashad McCants. That says either really good things about UNC or really bad things about the Hokies. Probably both, actually. For Carolina, it worked out much better than the last time they played their first game against a football school newly added to the conference. If you remember, Florida State came into Chapel Hill and upset the Heels behind Sam Cassell, Doug Edwards and Charlie Ward. It was after that game that Cassell gave his famous “whine and cheese” quote about the somnolent Carolina fans.
In the other ACC game yesterday, Florida State nearly pulled off what to me would have been a huge upset. The Seminoles have been terrible this year so to get a win in College Park would have been stunning. I think Maryland has been underachieving a bit so far this year as well, but I never figured this game would be close. Hopefully it indicates that Leonard Hamilton is finally getting through to this team. He really can’t point to a lack of talent any more, as his team has as many big-time recruits as any team in the conference outside of the Triangle. Instead I think it just shows that his team is wildly inconsistent, the mark of a poorly-coached, but talented squad. I guess you could say similar things about Maryland, but I know they aren’t poorly coached.
In the mini ACC – Big 12 Challenge (yeah, yeah, I’m getting a little carried away with this stuff), the ACC won 2-0. Wake Forest nipped Texas 89-88 in a damn good game and Duke took a little post-exams nap before coming back to beat Oklahoma 78-67. Both wins were good wins against the type of teams you see in the second or third round of the NCAA tourney. Actually, Texas could go even further than that. The Big 12 has an impressive collection of coaches, so it’s always good to see the ACC play those teams and win.
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