Conference Stock Report

This week the league places five teams in the RPI top-25 and seven teams in the top-50. The down side is the upper middle of the league has been beating up on one another. That has led to a drop in the rankings, at least by the humans. Bracketologist Joe Lunardi still has the league sending eight teams to the big dance. He also has the league getting one of the top-4 seeds.

The Buys

North Carolina (23-2, 9-2): What is there to say? The marquee program in the marquee conference is on a roll. On Wednesday they rolled Duke at their house and then followed it up with a gritty win against a desperate team on their home court. The win over Miami coupled with the losses of Clemson and Duke puts the Heels in the driver's seat for the number one seed in the conference tournament.

NC State (14-9, 4-6): Now healthy, the Wolfpack is starting to play at the level expected before the season. They started the week with a big win over Wake and followed it up by blowing out Georgia Tech. Looking down the schedule, it is not out of the question they finish with eight conference wins. In addition to health, the emergence of forward Tracy Smith has had a big impact. He posted a double-double in the last two games, both wins.

Maryland (16-8, 5-5): Just when it looked like the Terps were done, they bounced back with two important conference wins to get back in the debate. The win over Virginia Tech could be critical down the stretch. The rest of the way is not easy. Four of their final six are against ranked teams and three are on the road. Tonight's game against Clemson could be the key to making the post-season.

Boston College (19-8, 7-5): Losing to Clemson was tough as BC played well enough to win. The good news is they did not let Clemson beat them twice. Instead they came back and beat Duke at home in one of the best games of the season. BC is in a solid position for a tournament bid and remains in the hunt for a bye. With two games at home and two on the road, they should win nine games. Only one opponent, FSU, is a legitimate tournament team.

The Sells

Georgia Tech (10-14, 1-10): The bad news is the losses keep mounting. The good news is the team keeps working hard. "I'm not sure I've been around a team that plays so hard defensively and has nothing to show for it. Usually, when you're putting up these types of numbers defensively, you're among the best in terms of winning percentage," Coach Paul Hewitt. The best news of all is the season will be over in a month.

Duke (20-5, 7-4): This was a rough week for Duke. First they got thumped by rival UNC at home. Then they went on the road and dropped a close one to BC, despite outplaying the Eagles in the first half. "We have to play with a tougher mind than we are right now," Krzyzewski said. "We're not as tough-minded as we have been in the main part of the season. It's like we're a different team."

Virginia Tech (16-78, 6-4): The Hokies have lost three of their last five and fallen to 70th in the RPI. They still have a strong tournament resume, but they have to start winning again. That may be easier said than done. Five of their final six are against tournament teams, three are against ranked teams.

The Holds

Florida State (19-6, 6-4): At 6-and-4, Florida State looks like many teams in the ACC; they are on the bubble. On the other hand, they have an impressive road record, 8-and-3, including wins at Miami and Clemson. The key is their defense. They are the second best in the conference at holding down the opposition and they have held 11 opponents to under 60 points. This week they have two tough games with Miami at home and Virginia Tech on the road. A split and they are in good shape for the post-season.

Miami (15-9, 4-7): Miami has dropped five of their last six games and are close to dropping from tournament consideration. "It is tough," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "Our guys have got to understand, we're so close. We're in every game right to the end." The ‘Canes have a chance to maybe get in the NIT discussion this week. They have FSU on Wednesday and host Boston College on Saturday.

Virginia (8-13, 2-8): Virginia has played a lot of close games this season. Seven of their losses have been by ten or fewer points. They finally broke through last Sunday by beating Clemson at home in overtime. "This win, it's going to help us a lot," said Sylvan Landesberg, who had four rebounds, three assists and three steals. "We needed just one win to push us ahead, and this was it."

Wake Forest (19-4, 6-4): The toughest team to figure out may be the Demon Deacons. Since their 16-win start, they have struggled, winning just three of seven. Last week was emblematic. They lost to NC State then bounced back and clobbered Florida State. The immediate goal for Wake is securing a first round bye in the conference tournament. Five teams are bunched up for three spots. Wake plays two of them. Win those games and they get the bye.

Clemson (20-4, 6-4): Clemson has so far avoided the annual late season collapse. They did, however, lose to a woeful Virginia over the weekend. The good news is the rest of the schedule is not too tough. They get a desperate Maryland tonight and travel to Georgia Tech on Sunday. They have just one ranked team left on their schedule this season.


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