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February 16, 2007

ACC Breakdown: UNC stays in spotlight

Weekly ACC Update
Team Conf. Overall
Boston College 9-3 18-7
North Carolina 8-3 22-4
Virginia Tech 8-3 18-7
Virginia 8-3 17-7
Duke 6-6 19-7
Clemson 5-6 19-6
Maryland 5-6 19-7
Georgia Tech 5-6 17-8
Florida State 5-7 17-9
NC State 3-8 13-11
Miami 3-8 10-15
Wake Forest 3-9 12-13
Standings as of 2/15

Best matchup: North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson vs. Boston College point guard Tyrese Rice: Boston College forward Jared Dudley justifiably has earned most of the praise for the Eagles' surprising success, but few point guards in the nation are playing as well as Rice. Lawson has the difficult task Saturday of containing Rice, who has scored at least 20 points in each of his last four games. Then again, Lawson also is on a bit of a roll with 11 assists and only three turnovers in his last two games.

Worst matchup: Miami at Wake Forest: The only thing at stake in this Saturday afternoon matchup of the ACC's two worst teams is a potential NIT berth for the Demon Deacons, a 12-13 team that could still squeak into the "other" tournament by finishing better than .500. Miami (10-15) can forget about any postseason invitation unless it makes an improbable run in the ACC tournament.

The pressure is on: Florida State forward Al Thornton: The injury to Florida State guard Toney Douglas that leaves him out indefinitely puts even more pressure on Thornton to carry the Seminoles. Florida State has lost three consecutive games since its emotional victory at Duke. Thornton has averaged 17.5 points in two games without Douglas after scoring at least 21 points in each of his four previous games.

Upset alert: Maryland at Clemson: This game features two teams going in opposite directions. Maryland has won consecutive games over Duke and North Carolina State to move back into NCAA Tournament contention. Clemson has dropped six of eight and isn't a lock to reach the tournament anymore. One month ago, Maryland beat the visiting Tigers 92-87 to hand Clemson its first loss of the season. Don't be surprised if Maryland wins at Clemson on Sunday to complete the regular-season sweep.

Who's hot: Georgia Tech guard Javaris Crittenton is averaging 22.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.3 steals per game during the Yellow Jackets' four-game winning streak. Crittenton scored a career-high 29 points Tuesday in a 63-57 victory at Florida State. Boston College guard Tyrese Rice has scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games. Duke forward Josh McRoberts has shot 9-for-13 in each of his last two games and is averaging 19 points and 9.5 rebounds during that stretch. Florida State guard Isaiah Swann is averaging 18 points and shooting 57.1 percent (12-of-21) in his last two games. Miami guard Jack McClinton has scored at least 14 points in five consecutive games.

Who's not: Virginia Tech forward Coleman Collins has shot 26.9 percent (7-for-26) in his last four games. Georgia Tech forward Thaddeus Young is shooting 27.3 percent (6-for-22) in his last two games. Florida State guard Jason Rich is shooting 29.2 percent (7-for-24) in his last two games. Rich has scored in double figures just once in his last four outings. North Carolina guard Wayne Ellington has shot 32.4 percent (12 of 37) in his last four games.

Must-see TV: North Carolina at Boston College (ESPN, Saturday, 9 p.m.): This game should help clear the logjam atop the ACC standings. Boston College has a 9-3 conference record and is clinging to a -game lead over North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Virginia. The Eagles and Tar Heels are trying to bounce back from disappointing home losses. North Carolina blew a six-point lead in the last four minutes of regulation Tuesday in an 81-80 overtime loss to Virginia Tech. Boston College trailed by as many as 24 points Wednesday on its way to a 78-70 loss to Duke.

Key stat: Boston College forward Jared Dudley scored just 11 points Wednesday against Duke. The ACC scoring leader barely kept alive his conference-leading streak of 30 consecutive games in which he has scored at least 10 points.

Bench bonus: Michael Drum came off the bench Wednesday and made the game-winning basket with three seconds remaining in Wake Forest's 67-65 upset of Clemson. Miami super sub Jack McClinton scored 18 points Saturday in an 80-65 triumph over North Carolina State.

They said it: "Are they a bad team? Definitely not. They were just struggling." - Boston College forward Jared Dudley after Duke ended a four-game losing streak Wednesday with a 78-70 victory over the Eagles.

Injury update: Florida State guard Toney Douglas is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his right hand. The Seminoles have lost both games Douglas has sat out since the injury.

Worth noting: Georgia Tech's 63-57 victory at Florida State on Tuesday ended the Yellow Jackets' 17-game road losing streak. The Yellow Jackets hadn't won on an opposing team's home floor since beating Miami 76-72 on Feb. 26, 2005. Duke's 78-70 victory over Boston College prevented the Blue Devils from suffering their first five-game losing streak under Mike Krzyzewski. The Duke-Boston College game marked the first time the Blue Devils had played as an unranked team since March 14, 1996. Krzyzewski is one win away from his 700th victory at Duke. He will join North Carolina's Dean Smith, Kentucky's Adolph Rupp, Jim Phelan of Mount St. Mary's, Western Kentucky's Ed Diddle, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, DePaul's Ray Meyer and UTEP's Don Haskins as the only coaches to win 700 games at one school. Virginia Tech's 81-80 overtime victory at North Carolina on Tuesday marked the Hokies' first triumph at Chapel Hill since beating the Tar Heels 81-75 in 1966. Virginia Tech is just the fourth team (other than the Blue Devils and Tar Heels) to win at North Carolina and at Duke in the same season. The last team to do it was Georgia Tech in the 1995-96 season. Wake Forest has now beaten Clemson 16 consecutive times at Joel Coliseum. Clemson hasn't won at Wake Forest since 1990.

Freshman to watch: Wake Forest guard Ishmael Smith. He's not even one of the two best freshman point guards in a conference that features Georgia Tech's Javaris Crittenton and North Carolina's Ty Lawson, but Smith still deserves a little credit. The 5-foot-11 point guard has shown enough toughness to pull down at least six rebounds in four consecutive games. Smith also ranks second in the ACC with 5.7 assists per game.

Something you may have missed: Virginia Tech's 81-80 victory over North Carolina on Tuesday marked the Tar Heels' sixth consecutive overtime loss over the last six years. North Carolina hasn't won in overtime since beating Georgia Tech 74-72 on March 1, 2000. Four of the overtime losses during this streak have come at home.

RPI watch: The ACC entered Thursday's action with nine schools ranked among the top 43 teams in the RPI listings. No. 3 North Carolina and No. 11 Duke are the only ACC representatives in the top 20 of the RPI.

North Carolina and Duke are followed by No. 22 Virginia Tech, No. 26 Boston College, No. 28 Maryland, No. 29 Clemson, No. 33 Florida State, No. 38 Virginia and No. 43 Georgia Tech.

Well outside the top 100 are No. 119 Wake Forest, No. 124 North Carolina State and No. 160 Miami.

More Conference Breakdowns: Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC | Pac-10 | Big East

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