Thursday, March 10, 2005

ACC Tournament Preview

The ACC had tremendous hype at the start of the season, including billing as the best conference ever. Well, they did not live up to that prediction, although they still have three legitimate championship contenders, as well as a host of bubble teams. 2 teams finished at 8-8, while three finished 7-9.
North Carolina won the conference outright with a great comeback win against Duke the final day of the season. Sean May is becoming the best post player in the country, and Jawad Williams is a very versatile forward. Raymond Felton gets the fast-break rolling, and, if Rashad McCants comes back healthy, the Tar Heels have the most offensive talent in the nation. Wake Forest can beat anyone because of their great guard play, lead by Chris Paul and Justin Gray. Eric Williams has developed into one of the best centers in the nation, and Vytas Danelius seems to be ready to take on a bigger role down the stretch. Duke is not deep and has no point guard. Why are they still on the list for contenders? JJ Redick. Redick is the nation's second best shooter, and, in my opinion, the national player of the year. Daniel Ewing is a great wing scorer, while Shelden Williams is one of the five best centers in America. Georgia Tech can beat anyone in the country if they are playing to their potential. Jarret Jack and BJ Elder lead a deep group of perimeter players. Luke Schenscher needs to start playing like he did in the NCAA Tournament a year ago. North Carolina State is playing like a tournament team lately, and have a player that can take over a game in Julius Hodge. Other players like Ilian Evtimov and Engin Atsur are going to have to step up if the Wolfpack are going to make a run. Maryland has been inconsistent this season, sweeping Duke and getting swept by Clemson. Still, they have a nice duo in John Gilchrist and Nick Caner-Medley. Miami (Fl.) needs to win a few games to get into the NCAA Tournament. Guillermo Diaz and Robert Hite form one of the most underrated backcourts in the nation. Virginia Tech is tough to beat at home, but the ACC Tournament is not played in Blacksburg. If their perimeter players can hit shots, the Hokies could pull an upset.
Prediction: Without Chris Paul for the quarterfinals, I think that NC State is going to pull an upset to face Duke in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, in the other side of the bracket, UNC and Georgia Tech will go against each other in the semi-finals. The Tar Heels, if McCants is healthy, will win and move on to face Duke in the championship. Without Sean Dockery, the Blue Devils have been lacking a point guard and were exposed when the Tar Heels pressed them last Sunday. North Carolina is going to try and pressure Duke again, and will come out of the ACC with the automatic bid and a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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