After reviewing the ACC action of the past week, we find that the Conference continues to produce some of the best basketball in the country.
Undefeated Wake Forest continued its torrid run toward a championship by taking down the touted 11-1 Brigham Young, breaking the Cougars' nation-leading 53-game home court-winning streak.
It is said the late Coach Skip Prosser is the sixth man on the court, guiding the Demon Deacons to success after success this season.
With help like that, the rest of the schools in the ACC may need to go down to the crossroads for assistance. However, we should all wish Wake Forest the best of good fortune, as they continue to overcome the tragic loss of Coach Prosser.
Undefeated Clemson shines with their brilliant defense and cat-quick footwork of the big men. This past week the Tigers tore down their in-state rival, South Carolina, 98-87 in Columbia. Carolina then demonstrated they know how to play as later in the week the Gamecocks upset Baylor in Waco. Icing on an Orange cake, helping the Tiger RPI.
The 14-0 record of Clemson features terrific wins on the road at Illinois, Temple, and Miami as well as South Carolina. The look and swagger of the Tigers smacks of a team that has the weapons, depth, and superb coaching to win the ACC for the first time in history. Last season, Clemson finished second in the ACC, losing in the tourney finals.
Duke, undefeated at home this year, continues to improve with each passing game. Unlike the past two seasons, the Blue Devils have great footwork on defense and have created a defensive thresher capable of going deep into the NCAA tournament.
The improvement of the Blue Devils leads to the obvious possibility of winning the ACC again. Thanks to an improved conditioning program and far superior bench play, Duke has only to run the offense through the inside before looking for three-pointers, to improve upon the record and results of last season.
The 7'1" Brian Zoubek of Duke knows his place defensively and has caused trouble for the 6'8", 6'9", and 6'10" size centers that he has faced this season. The fact that Duke has the winningest ACC coach doesn't hurt either.
Another contender for the ACC Crown is UNC. Tar Heel followers have promoted the idea UNC was the best team in the Conference. A home court loss to Boston College on Sunday night ended the discussion of going undefeated in Conference play.
The Tar Heels won the National Title in 2005 but, they didn't make it to the ACC Championship game that season. UNC lost to Ga Tech in the semi-finals, who then lost to Duke in the ACC Championship.
The same thing happened to Maryland when they won the National Title in 2002. The Terps lost to N.C. State in the semi-finals, and the Wolfpack then lost to Duke in the ACC Championship.
So, we can recognize winning the ACC isn't a prerequisite for winning the NCAA title, and it is obvious the race is still wide-open.
Regarding Maryland, what of the early season "Dark-Horse" candidate of former Auburn Head Coach Sonny Smith? Smith made his name by coaching Charles Barkley and Chuck Person. The man knows talent when he sees it.
The Terrapins boast wins over Michigan and Michigan State, lost only to Georgetown and Gonzaga, and feature one of the most dynamic triple threats in the country in 6'6" Guard Greivis Vasquez who leads Maryland in scoring, rebounding, and assists.
If it were not for the sensational year Wake Forest Guard Jeff Teague is having, Vasquez could be considered the best backcourt player in the ACC along with Tyrese Rice of Boston College. All three are outstanding and prove it on the court.
Ga. Tech, Florida State, and Miami all have outstanding players who can put the team on their back and can carry them to victory on any given night. Achieving consistency will be the challenge for these three talented squads.
Boston College is a balanced and quick team with defensive length inside who benefits from a coach who doesn't just recruit but, actually makes changes during a game to result in victories.
The Eagles' win at UNC, 85-78, compliments an already fine season that includes victories over Iowa, St. John's, and Providence. ACC coaches, known for smelling blood in the water and capitalizing, owe Coach Skinner for exposing Tar Heel weaknesses.
The two teams of the Old Dominion Commonwealth, UVA and Va Tech, have shown glimpses of what could be coming down the road.
Virginia, led by Freshman sensation Sylven Landesberg's 20 points a game, has already knocked off Tech in Atlanta while Hokies of VPI feature a strong and physical team featuring the rebounding of powerful Jeff Allen.
N.C. State, 9-3 on the season, is led by a pair of twin towers in 6'9" upperclassmen Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley who are averaging 29 points and 15 rebounds a game between them. Another dangerous team from Tobacco Road.
In summary, the ACC is loaded with fine teams, capable of giving the Big East or any other conference, a battle for which league is the strongest in America. There are at least three teams in the ACC capable of winning the national championship this year.
The rumor that the ACC is fading, that its era of winning three national titles in the five season period of 2001-2005 represented the high water mark of the Conference, is invalid.
The Big East won three national championships in the 1999-2004 era. Since no league team has won since then has the Big East faded?
Troubling to this writer is reading that voters have an agenda to keep a certain team ranked in a certain position. If playing personal favorites is what the ranking of teams is about, then they should all put the most popular team No. 1 and go home for the evening.
We could just agree that the most popular team should always be ranked as the top team in any Poll. Just dispense with the playing of games, who cares who wins or loses, we know who we like. A frightening concept for a civilized society.
No matter what the likes or dislikes are, the vote should be untainted from the personal prejudices of a voter. Arguably, this will be difficult, as even in the Bleacher Report Top 25 we see inappropriate statements that don't reflect mature, leadership-style reasoning, when discussing "who should be No. 1."
In College Football, we have seen one disaster after another because of voter agenda. We must hope the basketball analysts can find the strength to rise above an agenda. Only then will regular season polls mean anything instead of being modified by RPI rankings during the NCAA tournament selection process.
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