8-3 = 8-0

Last night the ACC headed into its five ACC-Big Ten “Challenge” games with a 4-2 lead, needing to win just two more to take the title again. Not content with a small win, the Good Guys went 4-1, administering yet another whupping to our midwestern friends by a total of 8-3.
In the marquee matchup of the night, UNC and Ohio State played a fun, end-to-end game that eventually went the Heels’ way. I was impressed with the way that the Buckeyes played. They were fast and fearless, but part of that was that they were supernaturally hot in the first half. Knowing that his opponent only really went eight deep, Roy Williams had his guys keep the tempo extremely high. That strategy worked in the second half as the Buckeyes finally cooled off and the Baby Heels started seeing more cracks in the OSU defense. As usual, Tyler Hansbrough was the best player on the floor, banging and hustling his way to 21 and 14. As ESPN reminded us though (once or twice), Greg Oden was NOT playing for OSU. If he had been, the Buckeyes not only would have won by at least 50, but Hansbrough and Brandan Wright would likely now be dead. Fortunately for us all, Oden had the good sense to wear a beard and hat because had we been subjected to his full visage over and over and over last night, we’d likely all be mad with fear, just as mortals who peer into the face of a god. Help us all when his wrist heels.

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4-2 ACC

Last night’s games weren’t terribly pretty and they didn’t all work out the ACC’s way, but I’ll take it. The Good Guys went 3-2 to push the overall “Challenge” lead to 4-2. With five more games tonight, the ACC just needs to win two to make it eight for eight in “Challenges” against the Big Ten.
Maryland had the best win last night, knocking off Illinois in Champagne, where they hadn’t lost to a non-conference team in 51 games. Even with the win, the Terps found a lot of things to work on. They blew a large early lead by getting sloppy with the ball and failing to ever block out even once. Fortunately, one of those point guards I’ve talked about, Greivis Vasquez, put the team on his wiry shoulders in the second half and personally secured the win. I’d like to see one of the seniors step up in those situations, but a freshman is better than nobody.
Duke and Georgia Tech both won home games a bit too snuggly. Neither game should have been as close as it was, but a win’s a win, right? I couldn’t watch the Tech game, but Duke looked particularly lost on offense. If Greg Paulus doesn’t get his game together, the Blue Devils are going to struggle at times this year.
FSU got spanked as expected by Wisconsin and Miami blew a golden chance to steal a win from Northwestern. The Hurricanes got the ball down two with almost 13 seconds left. Jack McClinton, who scored 30 jogged up the court, giving the defense time to get set, and then launched a contested 25-footer. He didn’t even think about passing. Stupid. The smart, easy play is to just put your head down and drive to the hoop. They don’t want to foul, so they’ll probably give you an easy layup and possibly a three-point play. If they collapse, kick it out for an open three. Oh well.
The big game tonight is obviously Ohio State at UNC, but I’m pretty excited to see my Cavs visit Purdue. I watched Georgia Tech take apart the Boilermakers with their guard play, so I’m hoping the Cavs can do the same. The other game of interest is Michigan State at Boston College. This is a good chance for the Eagles to get their stuff together.

1-0 ACC

One game down, a one game lead for the ACC. I didn’t realize my TiVo was recording other stuff, so I only saw the last 12 mnutes, but I liked what I saw of NC State beating Michigan. Don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the basketball. NC State looked a bit unsure how to handle their 20-point lead and then they looked extremely tired while the Michigan was incredibly disorganized the whole time. But I did like the Wolfpack’s attitude. They played with joy and moments of creativity, usually when Ben McCauley had the ball. A good team would have punished the Pack for being so dead and having no real point guard, but for now, that was a great win. Wins like that early in a season can do wonders for a team’s confidence. I still don’t think State has the horsepower to make too much noise in the ACC, but they won’t be pushovers.
There should be some better-played games tonight and hopefully the outcomes will continue on the same track that the Wolfpack started on last night.

ACC/Big Ten “Challenge!”

Man, this snuck up on me! I didn’t realize until this morning that the ACC/Big Ten “Challenge” kicks off tonight when NC State travels to Michigan. The ACC has won the “Challenge” each of the first seven years and looks to make it eight for eight this time around. That’s why I put quotes around “Challenge” in the title. Is it really a challenge if one side wins every time? 😉
This year’s games with brief thoughts:

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Wake Forest – ACC Division Champs!

Of course you know, I’ve been a Wake Forest football fan forever. So, like my black and gold brethren, I couldn’t have been prouder or more jubilant when my Deacs went up to College Park and smacked the Terrapins around to win the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Drink that and in and swirl it around a bit. Wake Forest. ACC football champions. Quite a rare and unexpected flavor, is it not?
With Boston College’s loss to Miami on Friday, Wake and Maryland knew that the winner of their game would take the division and play Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game. So in a huge game on the road against a worth opponent, Wake Forest did it again. They led Maryland for virtually the whole game. I’m running out of words to describe what the Deacons have been doing this year. “Incredible” just doesn’t do it justice.

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Chuck The Ex

According to the News and Observer, Chuck Amato has been fired at NC State. The news is evidently not official, but N&O cites several unnamed sources. While I used the verb “fired,” the N&O doesn’t quite put it that way, but I seriously doubt that Old Chuck resigned unless it was with a revolver at his temple.
This coaching search should be a hell of a lot of fun. State searches always are, but considering that Carolina just ran a very successful search a few weeks ago, well … I think Lee Fowler is going to be under a hell of a lot of pressure. How will he top Butch Davis? Bill Cowher is a pipe dream. Norm Chow might be as well, and won’t be available for at least five weeks. One name I never really heard in the UNC search, but I think should be near the top of State’s list is Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. That man can coach!
BTW, I learned of this news on my own site from veteran poster Ed-Hoo!
Other Amato fired links:
ESPN
Pack Pride
850 The Blog

ACC Basketball Review – 11/22/2006

I tell you what, it’s a LOT more fun to write about ACC basketball than football and it’s not just because I like hoops better. A couple of weeks into the basketball season and the ACC has already earned more significant non-conference wins than in the entire football season. This is just way more fun.
Thursday, Nov. 16
Duke 75, UNCG 48
Md 92, St. John’s 60
Now, I don’t know how good St. John’s is supposed to be this year (CBS picked them 9th in the 16-team Big East), but I do know this – Holy Crap that was an ass-whupping! Maryland was up 37 points(!!) at the half. That’s what you might expect against Johns Hopkins, not St. John’s, a power conference team.
A bit more about the Terps further down.

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eBay And Email

God, I love Bobby Bowden.

When talking to reporters about how his son Fredo resigned and why, he uncorked this awesome quote:

Because you all ignited it. You listen to eBay and e-mail and all that junk, and you all kept writing about it and that fans it and makes it grow and grow, and it becomes a cancer. That’s why.

That damn eBay!! Sending out those evil messages through the Internets tubes!

Big thanks to NCAA Funhouse for finding that (and read their take; it’s very funny) and Deadspin as well. For that matter, while I’m unwinding the thanks, I originally saw this at the Sports Frog.

Charles In Trouble

What to do about Chuck Amato? What to do?
Now in year 3 PR (post Rivers), it’s clear that NC State is NOT on the verge of greatness. It’s abundantly clear that Chuck has not capitalized on the momentum he built up in his first few years and that the program is no longer the up-and-coming comet it once appeared to be. NC State is not a national power and doesn’t appear to be headed anywhere near there. Worse, with UNC’s hiring of Butch Davis, Wake Forest’s miracle season and ECU’s surprising bowl game run, NC State is possible the fourth hottest program in the state.
Back in the Philip Rivers days, the Wolfpack didn’t quite live up to the outrageous expectations (it may be hard to recall, but many folks were actually and seriously talking about national championships!), but did do quite well. Amato and Rivers whomped Notre Dame (and UNC) in their first year and went 11-3 in year three. Even with a surprisingly mediocre 8-5 in Rivers’ senior year, the Wolfpack’s future looked exceedingly bright. Alumni was rabid, money was rolling in and buildings were going up. Then came the 5-6 season. OK, a little rebuilding was to be expected (although a true Florida State North would go 8-4 in a rebuilding year, right?). Last year, the Pack rebounded slightly, going 7-5 after winning five of their last six.

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