N.C. State's incentive in large supply today

RPI, revenge factor on top of list against Wake


ACC Tournament

March 11, 2005|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - With Maryland turning off the Division I men's basketball committee that will select at-large teams, can the Atlantic Coast Conference still put five in the NCAA tournament?

Few bubble teams have as great an opportunity to strengthen their Rating Percentage Index today as North Carolina State, which faces Wake Forest in the featured quarterfinal as the ACC tournament continues today at MCI Center.

Wake Forest has been penciled in as a likely No. 1 seed by most bracketologists, and a Wolfpack victory could boost its RPI from the 70s to one in the 50s, which would be much more palatable to the selection committee. Likewise, Miami can probably lock up a berth with an upset of Duke in the day's nightcap.

If it doesn't have enough incentive, N.C. State also will be looking to avenge Sunday's home loss to the Demon Deacons. Before he hit the game-winning shot, All-ACC guard Chris Paul hit Julius Hodge in the groin. He'll serve a one-game suspension for the act today.

Paul is definitely out, and N.C. State figures to have to play again without senior center Jordan Collins, a DeMatha grad who's out with a separated shoulder.

Top-seeded North Carolina, meanwhile, figures to try to get through today's quarterfinal against Clemson without Rashad McCants, who last played Feb. 19 in a rout of the Tigers. McCants missed four games with an intestinal disorder, but returned to practice Tuesday.

Motivation for Clemson

Clemson felt taken for granted heading into the ACC tournament, especially by Maryland fans who ignored two regular-season losses to the Tigers and planned a pep rally last night in anticipation of a matchup today against North Carolina.

"We heard the pep rally is at 8:30," said Clemson freshman forward Cheyenne Moore, who produced eight big points off the bench. "We're going to try to go, but we have to figure out where it is."

Informed of Clemson's motivation, Maryland coach Gary Williams said, "This isn't high school, you know," but the fact is, four of the first eight in the Tigers' rotation were playing prep ball a year ago.

Moore lists his hometown as Baltimore, but he was born in North Dakota and attended middle school in Delaware before attending a series of prep schools, including West Nottingham Academy in Cecil County, where he teamed with Connecticut center Josh Boone.

It was Clemson's first three-game sweep of an ACC opponent since 1993-94, when it took advantage of N.C. State.

Hamilton returns to MCI

Florida State's first-round loss to N.C. State marked the first MCI Center appearance for Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton since a losing, short-lived stint as the Washington Wizards' coach in 2000-01. Hamilton had built a Sweet 16 team at Miami before trying the NBA.

"I've always cherished the opportunities I had," said Hamilton, whose three-year record with the Seminoles is 45-48. "I'm very happy where I am."

Hamilton isn't the only ACC coach familiar with the region.

Two assistants, Florida State's Mike Jaskulski and Miami's Michael Hunt, trade stories of their tenures as head coach at Towson.

The Wake Forest staff includes Jeff Battle, who assisted Skip Prosser at Loyola in 1993-94, and Dino Gaudio, who later was the Greyhounds' head coach.

That's the ticket

Did the ACC tournament become a buyer's market when Maryland lost in the opening round to Clemson?

By the way things looked later in the afternoon outside MCI Center, the novelty of the tournament being played outside North Carolina outweighed the depression that set in among many Terrapins fans after their team lost.

While Jay Heckman of Baltimore dumped his tickets for last night's game for $15 - less than half the face value of $32.50 - he was still undecided about what he was going to do with the tickets for the rest of the tournament.

"I'll probably go over to College Park and see if I can sell them," said Heckman, a 2004 graduate. "The loss really changes things. Everyone was psyched up. Now they don't care."

Louie Andrakakos of Rockville said he'd probably sell his tickets, except for one slight problem. "Because my girlfriend likes Duke, I have to keep them," he said.

Another damper on the ticket-scalping possibilities was the presence of police officers. Unlike typical ACC tournaments in Greensboro, N.C., where fans can be seen in the parking lots doing business, many were trying to conduct their transactions out of sight of the law.

"I'm standing back here because I don't want to get arrested," said Robert Currin, a North Carolina fan from Chapel Hill.

Traffic snarled

Yesterday morning's traffic served as an advertisement for the Washington Metro system. With construction shrinking in-bound New York Avenue to a single lane at one point, it took some fans nearly an hour to drive four miles, locate parking and make their way to MCI Center.

Sun staff writer Don Markus contributed to this article.

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