02/25/11 — Stevens: ACC's 'bubble' teams have work to do

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Stevens: ACC's 'bubble' teams have work to do

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 25, 2011 1:47 PM

College basketball's selection Sunday is filled with gut-wrenching anticipation, controversy, disappointment and reward.

Fans of the Atlantic Coast Conference shouldn't expect March 13 to go down as a banner day in the history of one of the nation's most-storied conferences.

The following is a look at the ACC's potential NCAA tournament teams:

Locked in

No. 1 Duke (26-2)

The Blue Devils (12-1 ACC) are in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and an ACC regular-season championship.

Senior guard Nolan Smith is averaging 21.7 points per game and is in the thick of the national player of the year conversation. Transfer Seth Curry has averaged 12 points over the last eight games to provide an additional scoring threat.

A home date with Clemson, and trips to Virginia Tech and North Carolina remain for Duke on the regular-season schedule.

The lingering questions about the availability of injured freshman guard Kyrie Irving and the lack of a dominant physical presence on the interior continue to go unanswered for the Blue Devils.

No. 19 UNC (21-6)

The Tar Heels (11-2 ACC) appeared to have rebounded from the loss at Duke and the departure of point guard Larry Drew from the program. That was before Carolina nearly blew a 15-point lead at home, while scoring just 48 points in Saturday's win over Boston College.

Tyler Zeller continues to lead the Tar Heels in scoring at 14 points a game while North Carolina lacks a consistent scorer in the back court. The Tar Heels are shooting 31 percent from 3-point range.

Carolina has home games with Maryland and Duke, a visit to Florida State remaining on its schedule.

Work left to do

Florida State (19-8)

Chris Singleton's season-ending injury was a big blow for Seminoles.

Florida State has a resume bolstering win over Duke and a decent RPI of 48. The Seminoles' only bad loss was at Auburn. At 9-4 in the ACC, Florida State is relatively safe barring a late collapse and a poor showing in the conference tournament.

Clemson (18-9)

The Tigers lack a signature win.

Losses to Old Dominion and N.C. State are black marks on Clemson's tournament resume. Home games with Wake Forest and Virginia Tech are "must" wins and a win at Duke would be huge.

Without a deep run at the ACC tournament, the Tigers may be left on the outside looking in.

Virginia Tech (18-8)

The Hokies have two wins over Maryland and one victory over Florida State. They also have two losses to Virginia, a loss to Georgia Tech and are just 1-5 against teams in the RPI top 50.

Knocking off Duke on Saturday night in Blacksburg could solidify Virginia Tech's tournament chances. With one of the conference's best scorers in Malcolm Delaney, the Hokies could be dangerous in the ACC tournament.