Thursday, January 20, 2005

Basketball’s talking heads want to make sure you understand you are being treated to a season of hallowed hoops. Analysts Dukie V., Jay Biased and Billy PACCker want to make sure you realize just how special times are in the conference that invented basketball.

Have you faced Tobacco Road, dropped to your knees and paid homage to the ACC yet today? Have you embraced your inner Krzyzewski, channeled some Chapel Hill, memorized Chris Paul’s stats and counted the conference’s contributions to the latest mock draft? You’ll regret your sloth come March, when the ACC sends four squads to St. Louis. It’s destiny, my friend — a Final Fourgone conclusion.

Forget that the top two teams in the nation come from the Big Ten (No.1 Illinois) and Big 12 (No.2 Kansas).

Forget that the ACC is 1-5 against the Big East. Who cares if teams that finished 12th (Georgetown) and 14th (St. John’s) in the Big East last season throttled ACC basement counterparts Clemson (75-60) and N.C. State (63-45) earlier this season?

Forget that the team sandwiched between the Hoyas and Red Storm last season, a hapless bunch from Miami (14-16, 4-12 Big East), stepped into the ACC this season and suddenly became competitive. Some might see the ‘Canes’ instant impact (12-4, 3-2 ACC) as a relative indictment of The Chosen League, but experts know this kind of shocking improvement is simply what can happen when you associate yourself with true greatness.

Forget that the ACC had the same number of ranked teams this week (four) as the Big 12, Big Ten and Big East. Everybody knows the ACC beats itself up from within more than other leagues. Unlike, say, the Big East, where you have a handful of gimme games, there are no layups in the ACC — no Miamis and Virginia Techs. … Well, you know what I mean.

It’s not worth listening to prattle about George Washington’s 101-92 victory over Maryland, or the fact the Colonials and Hoyas are the only two local teams who can boast top 25 scalps this season. The Terps are in the ACC, and as such, are de facto superior. Besides, the ACC isn’t a local phenomenon; it’s national, practically international.

And the bottom line is that the ACC has quality at the top like no other league — four great teams in No.3 Wake Forest, No.4 Duke, No.6 North Carolina and No.12 Georgia Tech.

Don’t waste time nitpicking that Wake Forest was mauled by Illinois (91-73). Pay no attention to the Demon Deacons’ thin frontcourt and indifferent-though-talented center (Eric Williams). Disregard their recent loss at Florida State; unlike in other conferences, the ACC doesn’t just hand out road wins.

Don’t mock a Duke team that actually starts stiffus tragicus Shavlik Randolph when he’s healthy.

Don’t say Georgia Tech is 0-3 against ranked teams and hasn’t beaten a team in the top 35 of the latest RPI.

Don’t waste time arguing the Tar Heels are the ACC’s only truly great team. You’d know better if you watched ESPN.

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