College Hoops Takes Center Stage

With the Super Bowl in the rear view mirror, the next big event on the sports
stage is college basketball’s season-ending tournaments. Since 1997, college
basketball’s national champion has come from several different conferences: the
Pac 10 (Arizona), SEC (Kentucky and Florida), Big 10 (Michigan State), the ACC
(Duke, Maryland, North Carolina), Nig 12 (Kansas) and the Big East (UConn,
Syracuse). Over the next few weeks, let’s examine some of the top hoop teams in
each conference, starting this week with the ACC.

Duke: Coach Mike
Krzyzewski has another talented team that is just three years removed from a
national title, one that is flexing its ACC muscles again. This is a veteran
team led by 6-10 senior Mason Plumlee (18.4 ppg, 11.3 rpg), and 6-11 senior Ryan
Kelly (12.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) up front, while senior G Seth Curry (16 ppg) runs the
break. They like the uptempo game, 13th in the nation in scoring (80 pg), 21st
in shooting 48% as team.

Duke beat No. 3 Kentucky (75-68) as -4 chalk,
beat No. 2 Louisville (76-71) in pick ‘em and beat No. 4 Ohio State (73-68) as
-6. In a win against the Buckeyes, Duke shot 47% and allowed .338% shooting.
They trailed 31-23 at the half but Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon scored all 17
of his points in the second half.

NC State: The Wolfpack is staying
alive with a frontcourt that is one of the best at offensive rebounding in the
ACC, led by 6-8, 250-pound senior Richard Howell (13 ppg, 11 rpg) and 6-9 junior
C.J. Leslie (15 ppg, 7 rpg). NC State shoots .51% from the field as a team,
third in the nation and they like to run, 79 ppg (9th in country). The Wolfpack
is on a 17-7-1 ATS run.

They lost to Oklahoma State (76-56) as -10
favorite, lost 79-72 at Michigan as a +5 dog, but beat rival Duke (84-76), then
lost two of three at Maryland (51-50) and at Wake (86-84). The Wolfpack is 8-3-1
ATS against the ACC as well as a on a conference run 11-4 over the total.

Miami: Where did these guys come from? Miami is all about defense,
allowing 58.7 ppg in ACC play (third), 36.9% shooting (second) and just 30% from
long range (third) for Coach Jim Larranaga. That’s why they started 12-2 under
the total! The Canes are physical up front, led by 6-5 senior Durand Scott (14.6
ppg), 6-11 senior Kenny Kadji (13 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and 6-10, 250-lb senior Julian
Gamble (6.5 ppg, 5 rpg).

They lost to Florida Gulf Coast (63-51) in
second game, lost to No. 4 Arizona (69-50) and to Indiana State in OT (57-55),
but crushed No. 1 Duke (90-63). Miami held Duke to 29% shooting, 4 of 23 from
3-point land, while shooting 57%. The defeat was the third worst for a No. 1
team. Miami is home this week and has a manageable schedule until a March 2nd
rematch at Duke. Think the Cameron Crazies will be up for it?

Carolina: The Tar Heels have a powerhouse offensive team that is running and
gunning again for Roy Williams, tops in the nation in rebounds and one of the
best scoring teams. It’s a young team with 6-9 sophomore James McAdoo (14.7 ppg,
8 rpg) and 6-7 junior Reggie Bullock (14 ppg, 5.8 rpg), while a pair of guards
average over 4 assists in freshman Marcus Paige and senior Dexter Strickland.

But can they play any defense? Indiana burned them (83-59) as did Butler
(82-71), and Virginia and Miami topped them by slowing the pace down. Despite
all that offense, the under is 25-12 in Tar Heels last 37 road games against a
team with a home winning percentage of greater than .600.

Virginia: The
Cavaliers are getting it done with a terrific one-two punch of 6-8 junior Akil
Mitchell (12 ppg, 9 rpg) and 6-6 junior Joe Harris (15.3 ppg). Virginia plays
good defense, tops in the ACC in points allowed (51 pg), as well as third in
field goal shooting defense (.37%). On offense they are second to Duke, shooting
39.7% from long range. The Cavaliers are 8-0-1 ATS in their last 9 home games
and 24-10 under the total at home. Virginia has beaten North Carolina (61-52)
but has the rematch coming up next week on the road.

Written by Jim Fiest of

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