ACC Hoops Living Up to the Hype
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An Atlantic Coast Conference slate of games like this still sounds funny:
- Duke vs Notre Dame tonight;
- North Carolina vs Syracuse last Monday: and
- Louisville vs Virginia twice in one month.
When it comes to hoops, this league is stronger than ever with the new additions. Teams like Georgia Tech (0-7), Virginia Tech (0-6), Wake Forest (1-6), and Florida State (2-5) have fallen out of contention early and -- with powerhouse programs being added -- may never recruit well enough in the ACC again to make a difference.
Virginia, which won both the regular season and post-season ACC championships last season, is out in front again with a 7-0 league record and a 19-0 overall mark. The Cavaliers will be tested in their next four games, as coach Tony Bennett's team hosts Duke, travels to North Carolina, hosts Louisville, and then travels to North Carolina State. Such is life in the ACC.
Notre Dame has a 7-1 league record, thanks to nail-biting wins over North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Miami, and most recently, North Carolina State. The Irish, led by Jerian Grant, hope to keep it going tonight at home against Duke, which could be a classic.
North Carolina, after their come-from-behind win over Syracuse, is all of a sudden 7-1 in the league with wins over NC State and Louisville. As noted, the Tar Heels have won 11 of 12, with their only league loss being that 71-70 heartbreaker at home against Notre Dame.
The Tar Heels are followed by Duke and Louisville at 4-2, both of whom could easily win the national championship. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski won Game No 1000 on Sunday, and the Blue Devils expect to keep the momentum going this week when they play at Notre Dame and Virginia. Louisville has already lost to North Carolina and Duke in the conference and will be looking for revenge against UNC on Saturday after blowing the first game against the Tar Heels earlier this month.
Syracuse and North Carolina State are good teams, but they're mediocre in the ACC this season. The same could be said for Pitt and Clemson. All four of these squads need to play better to make the NCAA tournament.
That'll be a challenge, however, as every game in the ACC is a battle, winning streaks will likely be rare, and while the standings indicate otherwise right now, whoever emerges as champion will have to do more than cut a swath through Tobacco Road.