Tournament at a glance

March 11, 2004|By Gary Lambrecht

Tournament at a glance

What: 51st Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball tournament

Site: Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum

When: Tonight through Sunday

2002 champion: Duke, which won its fifth consecutive title

2002 favorite: Duke won its first regular-season title outright since 2000, and the Blue Devils are well-equipped to take their sixth straight tournament crown. Led by senior point guard Chris Duhon, Duke lacks depth but has outstanding balance in its starting five. Guards J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing hurt you outside. Forward Shelden Williams hurts you inside. Freshman forward Luol Deng does it everywhere.

Dark horse: With five teams ranked in the top 20 and four losses separating second-place N.C. State from sixth-place Maryland, who isn't a legitimate dark horse? We'll go with fourth seed Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets recently ended Duke's 41-game home winning streak, senior guard Marvin Lewis is shooting as well as he has all season, and junior swingman B.J. Elder can score with anybody. And Tech can run and play defense with anybody.

Player to watch: Wake Forest sophomore guard Justin Gray is on a roll like few ACC players are. He averaged 22.1 points per game in February, and kept on filling up the stat sheet through Wake's two-game skid at the end of the regular season. Gray is fearless, crafty, knows how to get to the free-throw line and has scored at least 20 points in five straight games.

Outlook: Duke's ability to play lights-out defense and perform at a slower tempo has given the Blue Devils a different look this year, although they can still knock an opponent out with a few scoring spurts. But no one looks invincible in this, the last nine-team tournament. N.C. State, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech each have beaten Duke. Wake and Tech have a handful of scoring weapons. N.C. State has the league's most multi-faceted trio in swingman Julius Hodge, three-point shooting forward Marcus Melvin and forward Ilian Evtimov, who can handle the ball and shoot it like a guard. Then there is North Carolina, blessed with the league's top scorer in small forward Rashad McCants and ever-improving sophomore center Sean May. The tournament is Duke's to lose, and no one will be surprised if the Blue Devils fail.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.