02/18/09 — Opinion -- Who gets dance invitation for ACC?

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Opinion -- Who gets dance invitation for ACC?

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 18, 2009 1:46 PM

Over the next three weeks sleep may be hard to come by and gray hair could abound for college basketball coaches across the country.

With Selection Sunday less than a month away, here's a look at which Atlantic Coast Conference teams have already punched their ticket to the Big Dance, the teams that have some work to do, those squads that are likely headed to the NIT and clubs' whose dreams of dancing faded long ago.

Break out the dancing shoes

North Carolina (23-2, 9-2 ACC): The class of the ACC, the Tar Heels have won nine straight games after starting 0-2 in conference play. Duke's visit to the Dean Dome on March 8 could be the last true hurdle remaining between Carolina and an ACC regular season title.

Duke (20-5, 7-4): The Blue Devils are locked into the NCAA tournament, but could greatly impact their seeding over the next month. Duke has lost four of its last six games, and still has meetings with Wake Forest and North Carolina on the schedule along with the always difficult ACC tournament.

Wake Forest (19-4, 6-4): Perhaps a product of a young team peaking too early, the Demon Deacons have proven they are capable of playing with the ACC's big boys. If Dino Gaudio can coax the same type of consistency out of his club down the stretch that it exuded early on, Wake could still do plenty of damage come March.

Clemson (21-4, 7-4): The Tigers' tournament resume took a big hit with an overtime loss at Virginia on Sunday. With just one marquee win in a rout of Duke, Clemson can't afford another inexcusable loss between now and Selection Sunday.

Still searching for a date

Florida State (19-6, 6-4): The Seminoles will need to be nearly flawless during the final three weeks and could make a strong statement with a win at Duke on March 3. A couple of victories in the ACC tournament could go a long way to bolstering FSU's tourney chances.

Virginia Tech (16-8, 6-4): Seth Greenberg should find out plenty about his team's tournament credentials on Feb. 25 when it begins a stretch of three straight games against Clemson, Duke and North Carolina.

Boston College (19-8, 7-5): The Eagles' upsets of Duke and North Carolina could help ease the impact of a home loss to Harvard.

NIT bound

Maryland (16-9, 5-6): The Terrapins' bubble may have burst in early January with a home loss to Morgan State. Maryland's struggles probably won't end any time soon as North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest each visit the Comcast Center before the season ends.

N.C. State (14-9, 2-6): N.C. State is just 2-6 away from home and five of those six road losses have come by double digits. Unless 2009 proves to be a turning point, Sydney Lowe's days in Raleigh appear to be numbered.

Miami (15-9, 4-7): Despite having perhaps the league's most fearless player in Jack McClinton, the Hurricanes' tournament hopes were likely erased with three consecutive losses to Virginia Tech, N.C. State and Maryland in late January.

Thanks for playing

Virginia (8-13, 2-8): The Cavaliers have lost nine of 11 after opening ACC play with a win at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech (10-14, 1-10): The good news for Yellow Jackets fans is Paul Hewitt has pieced together a stellar recruiting class for next season. The bad news for Hewitt is he may not be around to coach them.