With the Super Bowl in the rearview 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), Big 10 (Michigan State), the ACC (Duke, Maryland, North Carolina), 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 flexing its ACC muscles again. They're always tough at home, but notice the Blue Devils began this season 6-1 SU/4-2 ATS on the road averaging 85 points per game! Unlike past Duke teams, this is primarily a two-headed attack, led by the remarkable 6-4 J.J. Redick (27 ppg), who leads the ACC in scoring. Redick is a 92.1 percent free throw shooter.
Up front, 6-9, 255-lb Shelden Williams (18 ppg, 9 rpg) leads the team in rebounding and is second in scoring. Most impressive is the team defense at home where Duke allows 58 ppg, starting 11-0 SU, 6-3 ATS at home. Last week's win at Boston College, 83-81, was impressive, as the BC faithful were primed for the first meeting with Duke, but the Blue Devils were up for the challenge. Saturday Duke heads to ACC rival Maryland, always a spirited battle.
North Carolina: So who are these guys? You don't recognize these Tar Heels? Don't worry, you're not alone. Third-year coach Roy Williams had to deal with a mass exodus to the NBA after last season's national championship. While growing pains have been evident, North Carolina has a talented and young team already making waves.
6-9 freshman Tyler Hansbrough (18 ppg, 7.6 rpg), 6-8 junior Reyshawn Terry (12.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and 6-6 David Noel III (11.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg) are blending together nicely. They started just 3-2 SU/ATS on the road, which is common with young teams, but also have packed some bite, going 2-0 SU/ATS as a dog. This is a big week for North Carolina, hosting Duke early in the week, then traveling to Miami Sunday.
NC State: The Wolf Pack was expected to struggle after losing star Julius Hodge, who did everything for this team the last few years. However, the Wolf Pack have been very good behind the one-two punch of 6-9 sophomore Cedric Simmons and senior guard Cameron Bennerman. NC State still likes the uptempo attack, averaging 77 ppg and started 10-6 over the total. They were tantalizingly close to an upset at Duke last month, before the Blue Devils pulled away very late. They also need to play better on the road, and they get the chance this week with games at Miami and at Georgia Tech.
Boston College: For the newcomer to the ACC, the frontcourt duo of Craig Smith (17.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and Jared Dudley (16.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg) haven't been playing at BC for ten straight years, it only seems that way. Smith is third in the ACC in rebounds. The strong front line helps BC lead the ACC in assists and is second in FG% (48%). BC averages 76 ppg and started 11-5 over the total. The Eagles appeared too eager to prove themselves in the ACC, starting 0-3 in conference play before settling down and ripping of 4 straight wins. That run ended last week in a tough 83-81 loss to Duke as a +41/2 home dog. Bettors take note: That made BC 3-0 against the spread as an underdog.
Maryland: Coach Gary Williams has an edge with a tall Maryland frontcourt. They have rebounding depth with 6-9 Nik Caner-Medley (15 ppg, 6 rpg), 6-9 junior Ekene Ibekwe (11 ppg, 6 rpg) and 6-8 Travis Garrison (9 ppg, 6 rpg) according to HealthLineRX. Maryland leads the ACC in scoring (83 ppg) and is second in rebounding. 6-5 junior D.J. Strawberry (4.4 apg) runs the backcourt, but they just lost senior guard Chris McCray (15.2 ppg) for the season (academic suspension). He was the Terrapins second leading scorer. Maryland gets to host Duke this Saturday. It's the annual ACC dogfight between the two, and a revenge spot for the Terrapins, after losing 76-52 at Duke last month.