GREENSBORO, N.C. - Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt thinks the winner of this weekend's Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament will be more of a survivor. Maryland coach Gary Williams thinks this weekend will be a fan's dream.
On paper, the ACC's featured gathering at Greensboro Coliseum looks like a special event in this, the league's last nine-team party.
Each of the league's top five seeds is a Top 20 team. Just below them is sixth-seeded Maryland, which has beaten two of them and been involved in countless other close ACC contests. Below the Terps are Florida State and Virginia, which have beaten a combined six Top 20 opponents from the ACC.
Williams thinks today's matchups could be ones for the ages. Each quarterfinal includes at least one ranked team, one of which includes two - No. 14 Georgia Tech and No. 16 North Carolina - in the contest between the league's No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
The other ranked teams are No. 5 Duke, No. 15 Wake Forest and No. 17 N.C. State.
"If I'm a basketball fan, I want to be there on Friday," Williams said. "That might be one of the greatest days ever at the ACC tournament. I want a ticket to that thing."
Said Hewitt, Tech's fourth-year coach: "I knew I was coming into a great league [from Siena], but what I didn't appreciate was how precious these games are, how hard-fought they are. Whoever wins this tournament really will be the last team standing."
Assistants get another look
Maryland assistants Dave Dickerson and Jimmy Patsos have explored chances to leave the program for head-coaching positions in the recent past, and they figure to get more of them again soon.
Dickerson could become a candidate to replace Sherman Dillard at James Madison, where Dickerson spent the 1991-92 season working under former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, before going to Radford as an assistant for four years, then landing at Maryland in 1996.
And a source at Loyola College said Patsos is expected to be a finalist as the school begins its search to replace Scott Hicks, who was hired over Patsos four years ago and recently fired after posting a 16-97 record, including 1-27 this season.
Dickerson, 36, interviewed for head-coaching jobs at College of Charleston two years ago and at Clemson last year. Patsos, 37, in his 13th season under Williams at Maryland, interviewed last year for the head-coaching job at Fordham and turned down an offer to be an assistant at UCLA.
"I'm shocked that I still have the same two assistants after the last couple of years [which include two Final Fours and a national title]," Williams said. "We've had a good run, and Dave Dickerson and Jimmy Patsos have been a big part of it."
Since the tournament's inception in 1954, only four No. 6 seeds have won the title. The last was Georgia Tech in 1993. ... The Terps finished their regular season with a 4-4 league record at home. The only other team that failed to post a winning record at home was last-place Clemson (3-5). ... Maryland ranks 318th out of 326 Division I school in free-throw shooting percentage (.608). ... Maryland has offered a scholarship to Allegany College point guard Sterling Ledbetter, who also is being recruited by Clemson and Florida.