- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday through Sunday, Georgia Dome, Atlanta


Toney Douglas, Florida State

Douglas is responsible for hauling the young Seminoles to a likely NCAA tournament berth. It will be Florida State’s first NCAA appearance since 1998, and coach Leonard Hamilton might just owe his continued employment to his senior guard. Douglas averaged a league-high 23.1 points in conference games, and he will be a threat to send the Seminoles deep into the weekend.


North Carolina

Depth issues aside, the Tar Heels still have arguably the best starting five in the country. No other team has the combination of a point guard who can push the tempo (Ty Lawson), a ruthless perimeter gunner (Wayne Ellington), a versatile swingman (Danny Green) and a rugged post presence (Tyler Hansbrough), and that’s why North Carolina should win yet another ACC title.



It’s tough to pick a team like Clemson that spent much of the year ranked, so how about the bunch that possessed a player with the potential to go off for 40 points on any night? Guard Jack McClinton makes the Hurricanes dangerous, and if Miami can survive its tournament opener, the senior sharpshooter has a chance to lift his team past top-seeded North Carolina and possibly into the NCAA tournament.



The Terrapins were in this spot even before Saturday’s loss to Virginia. But two wins — including one against second-seeded Wake Forest — might be enough to send Maryland back to the NCAA tournament after a one-year hiatus. Be sure of one thing: The Terps will play their way out of the postseason picture if they don’t collect a couple wins this week.


Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons rose to No. 1 in the country, then scuffled a bit in the middle of the conference schedule. But they closed with six wins in their last seven, with the lone setback coming in a visit to Duke. Wake Forest is long, quick and athletic, and the presence of James Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu causes serious matchup problems for anyone. Oh, and guard Jeff Teague is pretty good, too. A run to the final isn’t a stretch.


Virginia Tech

It wasn’t long ago the Hokies seemed like a sure-fire NCAA tournament team. But a Valentine’s Day loss to Maryland instigated a 1-6 slide to finish the regular season. Granted, much of the closing stretch was brutal, but Virginia Tech was also exposed as a three-man band. If Jeff Allen, Malcolm Delaney or A.D. Vassallo is neutralized, the Hokies probably will go home.


First round, Thursday

(8) Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-9) vs. (9) Miami (18-11, 7-9), noon, Chs. 20, 54

(5) Clemson (23-7, 9-7) vs. (12) Georgia Tech (11-18, 2-14), 2:30, Chs. 20, 54

(7) Maryland (18-12, 7-9) vs. (10) N.C. State (16-13, 6-10), 7, ESPN2

(6) Boston College (21-10, 9-7) vs. (11) Virginia (10-27, 4-12), 9:30, Chs. 20, 54

Quarterfinals, Friday

(1) North Carolina (27-3, 13-3) vs. VT/ Miami, noon, Chs. 20, 54

(4) Florida State (23-8, 10-6) vs. Clemson/GT, 2:30, Chs. 20, 54

(2) Wake Forest (24-5, 11-5) vs. Maryland/N.C. State, 7, Chs. 20, 54

(3) Duke (25-6, 11-5) vs. BC/Virginia, 9:30, Chs. 20, 54

Semifinals, Saturday

Early quarterfinal winners, 1:30, Chs. 20, 54

Late quarterfinal winners, 4, Chs. 20, 54

Final, Sunday

Semifinal winners, 1, Chs. 20, 54

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