- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 15, 2003

Seen and heard yesterday at the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.:
OFF THE BUBBLE N.C. State's 71-65 victory against Georgia Tech should get the Wolfpack into the NCAA tournament. N.C. State was 9-7 in the ACC regular season, and only once has a conference team with a winning mark not been invited.
"We don't know our future right now," forward Marcus Melvin said. "We just have to win basketball games and watch [the selection announcements] on Sunday."
Maryland coach Gary Williams supports N.C. State's worthiness. With Wake Forest, Duke and Maryland already meriting invitations, Williams said the ACC's national reputation should get it a fourth bid.
"We won the national championship the last two years," he said. "Until somebody proves they're a better conference than we are, then I think we should have the right to have four teams in there. Nobody's proven [theyre better]. They've talked about it. They haven't proven it. Big difference."
IT'S A BIRD Wake Forest forward Josh Howard clearly struggled despite a game-high 17 points. The ACC's top player was 7-for-15 from the floor and missed three 3-point attempts, but coach Skip Prosser wouldn't downplay Howard's impact.
"He doesn't dress in a phone booth, but he's the player of the year," Prosser said. "He's carried us so much this year that he started out 7-foot and is now 6-6."
CLOSE BUT … Florida State nearly became the first ninth seed to beat No.1 before Wake Forest pulled ahead with eight minutes remaining. That's when the stunned Demon Deacons fans awakened and the Greensboro Coliseum showed some hometown favoritism. Wake Forest is the closest school to Greensboro, and yellow and black was the predominant color amid smatterings of Carolina blue and red-clad Maryland and N.C. State fans.
Florida State backers were cocky, but they never got the other fans behind them.
GO FOR THE GOLD The day's biggest crowd reaction came during a halftime contest when one fan's halfcourt shot for $1million clanged off the rim. The place went wild. He received $5,000.
EAST MEETS WEST The tournament returned to Greensboro after a three-year hiatus. The surrounding neighborhood is an interesting clash of cultures. Near the Denny's, Hooters and pawn shops are Osaka sushi and Kyoto cuisine restaurants. At least the barbecue joints retained their traditional menu options sliced or minced.
Rick Snider


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