GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Not long after top-seeded Duke escaped with an 80-76 quarterfinal win over a Miami team that botched its final opportunities at an upset, Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski was already talking about tomorrow's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title game.
In the past 20 seasons, only five times has a team won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and gone on to win the conference tournament.
"This is not an easy thing to win, especially after winning the regular season," Krzyzewski said. "Hardly anybody has won the regular season and the tournament. That combination is not one many people have been able to get over the last 20 years. Our guys know that, and it would be a heck of an accomplishment."
Actually, hardly anybody but Duke has done it. The Blue Devils earned both titles in 1986, 1992, 1999 and 2000. Wake Forest won both in 1995.
Those schools will face each other at 1:30 p.m. today in the first semifinal game.
"They have a stupendous record in this tournament," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said of the Blue Devils. "We hope we honor them by playing to our potential. Duke makes you do that in order to even have a chance of winning."
Duke, which closed out the regular season with losses to Florida State and North Carolina, still finished atop the conference standings with a 14-2 record.
Miami's loss, meanwhile, extended the failure of any expansion team to win more than a single game in the ACC tournament since Florida State joined in 1992.
N.C. State down, out
North Carolina State will head into the NCAA tournament on a four-game losing streak after yesterday's 82-71 loss to Wake Forest.
"It's a new season starting next week," said senior Ilian Evtimov, who returned to the lineup yesterday after having not practiced since Feb. 14 because of a foot sprain. "Everyone is going to be 0-0. It's one and done, and if we have the right mind-set, we're going to advance."
No. 12 Wake Forest is just the second bottom seed in 53 years to win two games in the same ACC tournament. The last team to do so was seventh-seeded Virginia in 1977.
'Hounds in town
The last time Jimmy Patsos and Matt Kovarik were at the Greensboro Coliseum, they were cutting down the nets in celebration of the Terps' ACC championship.
Yesterday, the former Maryland assistants were dressed in suits and sitting at the end of press row, watching N.C. State crumble against Wake Forest.
Kovarik, who is in his second season as an assistant to Patsos at Loyola, is a student at Maryland's law school in Baltimore and couldn't miss classes Thursday.
The Greyhounds' coaches arrived yesterday at the tournament, which is in Kovarik's hometown of Greensboro. They couldn't stay to watch the Terps play against Boston College, though, because of a nearby recruiting trip.
Williams vs. BC
Maryland coach Gary Williams is only the second man to coach in the ACC tournament against a school at which he previously worked. Williams was head coach at Boston College from 1982 to 1986. Former North Carolina coach Frank McGuire faced the Tar Heels in the tournament as head coach of South Carolina in 1968 and 1971. Coincidentally, Williams passed McGuire's 142 ACC wins earlier this season and finished the regular season with 147.