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January 24, 2007

SCS.comConference play in the ACC has started up, and there have already been some big-time games and upsets. Many teams are panning out just the way everyone thought they would, but there are a few who have exceeded expectations. Likewise, there are a few that have not fared as well as most people thought. Who would have guessed that Virginia Tech would be as dominant as they have been so far? Even with a loss at home to North Carolina, Clemson has shown that they arenít going to sit back and let people run over them. Duke has barely hung on except for their win against NC State, and speaking of the Wolfpack, they have shown spots of talent and team work, but canít seem to put it together. Maryland also seems to be just on the verge of good wins and tough losses. With all of this said, here is a look at the matchups in the ACC this week.

There are three games in the ACC on Wednesday one of which could be a blowout, one that could be very good, and one that has the potential to be very ugly. UNC gets things started as they travel to Wake Forest to play Skip Prosserís young team. It seems that Wake has some talent, but not nearly enough to put a dent in their ACC schedule. If Roy Williams has his team fired up, this one could get ugly in a hurry.

Virginia and NC State also meet on Wednesday. This is the game that could potentially be very ugly. We have seen that when everything is clicking for NC State, they donít look that bad. But everything has to be going right for them for this to be the case. Virginia has played some nasty basketball recently, and while State has shown that they can play good hoops, they have also shown (courtesy of Duke) that they can stink it up just like Virginia. This game is in Raleigh and the NC State crowd is always a good one, so I look for State to come out on top.

The really good game on Wednesday might be Georgia Tech and Maryland. Although I donít think I would want to play for him, Gary Williams continues to show that he is one of the great coaches in college basketball. He doesnít have the most talented team by far in the ACC, but so far they have shown that they are going to compete every game and that they are planning on being one of the 64 chosen at the end of the season.

Likewise, Paul Hewittís young team looks to bring it every time they hit the court. Thaddeus Young is an awesome player, and as he continues to mature, he will be the next big thing for Tech. I think the winner of this game depends on who wants it more. Both teams are similar in the amount of talent they have and in the type of aggressive, come-and-get-it coaching style that they go by. In the end, I give the edge to Georgia Tech, but it will be close, maybe even needing overtime.

I believe that the best game of the week will be on Thursday in Durham. Clemson was the team being talked about throughout the nation for a few weeks, as they went on a 17-0 run in non-conference play. Now that they have played a few ACC games, theyíve tasted defeat and donít have to worry about the undefeated target being on their back.

Everybody knows that the stadium in Durham will be loud and hot, but Virginia Tech has shown that it is not impossible to come off of Coach K Court with a win. Clemson also has the tools to do it. I would imagine that they wouldnít want anything more than to spoil the Cameron Crazies' night with an upset win. If Clemson can learn from their two losses and then put them behind them, I see the Tigers coming out with a very close win. If not, look for the Dukies to once again have the home court advantage and beat the Tigers.

To wrap the week up, there are only two games on Saturday, one of which may be a non-conference thriller. First, Wake Forest will travel to Florida State. As the season goes along, it doesnít look to get any easier for Wake. They will have to find moral victories often because an outright win isnít going to be seen on a consistent basis for the Demon Deacons. The Seminoles will take this game as preparation for their next contest against Maryland.

The big game involving an ACC team over the weekend will be UNC at Arizona. The 'Cats will play Arizona State earlier in the week, while UNC will have already rolled over Wake Forest. For UNC, the Wake Forest game may not help prepare the Tar Heels for what they will find in Tucson. Although this is not one of Arizonaís more dominating teams, Lute Olsen always has him team ready to play and always seems to be where you want your team to be at the end of the season. This will be one of the tougher games that the Heels have played so far this season.

Even though Arizona has lost their last three and possibly their last four after playing Arizona State, they will make a few runs and compete with UNC throughout the game. But in the end, there are very few teams that will be able to keep up with Carolina for forty minutes, and Arizona will not be one that can. UNC comes out with a victory and an enjoyable long plane ride home.

So thatís it for this week. A lot of exciting matchups and possible outcomes that could change the look of the ACC happen this week. Donít miss it.

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