- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2007

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — One question of ACC relevance was answered at the Smith Center on Tuesday night; another of national importance might have been created.

The former is a matter of figuring out who should be on the all-ACC team, and conveniently enough the six best candidates double as the league’s leading scorers. It doesn’t always work that way and usually shouldn’t, but a case can be made for this group over the rest of the conference.

Boston College’s Jared Dudley and Florida State’s Al Thornton are no-brainers. They are terrific talents who might be among the 10 most valuable players among the top 50 or 60 teams nationally.

That leaves three spots for North Carolina center Tyler Hansbrough, Virginia’s backcourt of J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary, and Virginia Tech guard Zabian Dowdell. And after watching Dowdell insinuate himself into countless scoring opportunities against Carolina, it is tough to ignore him.

He scored a career-high 33 points, a plenty gaudy number, but it was how he scored them that mattered. When the Hokies couldn’t buy a basket in the second half, he methodically worked his way to the foul line, where he scored 17 points. (Hansbrough, it should be noted, was 14-for-18 on his free throws in a similar performance).

Barring a collapse, the final all-conference spot will probably come down to one of the Virginia guards, because Dowdell has simply meant too much to the Hokies to ignore.

Meanwhile, Carolina followed a breathtaking performance against Wake Forest with an outing riddled with impatience. Whatever the reason, the Tar Heels didn’t play terribly well (with an assist from Virginia Tech), and it was their second muddled game in two weeks. None of the other legitimate national title contenders — Florida, Ohio State, UCLA, Wisconsin and Kansas — have faced that problem in the last month.

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