ACC men

March 09, 2000|By Paul McMullen

When: First round, tonight; second round, tomorrow; semifinals, Saturday; championship, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: Charlotte (N.C.) Coliseum

TV: Ch. 54, ESPN, ESPN2

Radio: Maryland games on WBAL (1090 AM)

Defending champion: Duke

Favorite: Duke expects freshman sixth-man Mike Dunleavy, who's been out with mononucleosis, to be available only for spot duty. But coach Mike Krzyzewski still has enough horses to make it two straight conference titles. Depth won't be as great a concern against the North Carolina-Wake Forest semifinal winner, because the Blue Devils will have a day's rest. Maryland is the only ACC team to beat Duke in the last two seasons, but the Terps keep stumbling in the semifinals.

Dark horse: N.C. State, the sixth seed. If it weren't for North Carolina, the Wolfpack would qualify as the nation's biggest disappointment. Coach Herb Sendek's team was cruising along at 15-4, 5-2 in the ACC until Feb. 6, when it blew a lead at Maryland and crumbled into a seven-game losing streak. N.C. State is getting healthier, and point guard Justin Gainey remembers 1997, when he guided the eighth seed into the championship game.

MVP candidate: Terence Morris. He was the only returning member of last season's All-ACC team and was tabbed as the conference's preseason Player of the Year. Closer scrutiny by opponents and some shooting woes dropped him to the second five on the All-ACC team this time, but he's still one of the nation's premier talents. If Morris, Maryland's quiet man, ever wanted to make a statement, now is the time.

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