February 1, 2008

Duke, North Carolina set to meet again

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UPCOMING GAMES
Saturday
Maryland at Georgia Tech
Virginia at Virginia Tech
Miami at Duke
Boston College at Clemson
Sunday
Wake Forest at NC State
North Carolina at Florida State
Tuesday
Virginia Tech at NC State
Wednesday
Maryland at Boston College
Georgia Tech at Wake Forest
Florida State at Miami
Duke at North Carolina
Thursday
Clemson at Virginia

Best matchup: No. 3 Duke at No. 4 North Carolina. This is a rivalry many consider one of the best in sports. The latest Duke-Carolina showdown will have plenty of hype, and deservedly so. North Carolina (20-1, 5-1 ACC) boasts a national player of the year candidate in veteran big man Tyler Hansbrough. Duke (18-1, 6-0) boasts one of the nation's top backcourts with a deep bevy of dangerous 3-point shooters. A Duke win would give the Blue Devils a two-game lead over the Tar Heels and put them in control in the ACC race. The Tar Heels have won four of the last five meetings with their rivals, including three in a row.

The pressure is on: Florida State. The Seminoles (13-9, 2-5) are reeling after losing five of their last six games, slipping to 11th place in the league standings and seeing their RPI plummet to 75th. Next up is a visit from North Carolina (the Seminoles have lost their last six meeting with the Tar Heels), followed by a road trip to Miami. Losses in both games would give the 'Noles little chance of landing any kind of postseason bid.

Upset alert: Virginia over Virginia Tech. The Hokies have risen to fourth place with a 4-3 record in league play, but they are lucky not to be in the bottom half of the ACC standings. Two of their league wins came in overtime � including a 70-69 triumph at Virginia on Jan. 16 � and another was by one-point in regulation. The last-place Cavaliers (11-8, 1-5) suffered two league losses in overtime and another by two points in regulation. Look for this rematch between in-state rivals to come down to the final seconds again.

RPI watch: The ACC is the only league with two teams in the top five with North Carolina at No. 3 and Duke at No. 5. ... Miami has moved to 39th despite a 2-4 record in league play. ... Georgia Tech, which was once as low as 101st, has risen to 55th. ... Virginia Tech has slipped to 66th due largely to losses to Penn State (152nd) and Old Dominion (163rd). ... Virginia has dipped to 113th. The Cavaliers are the only team in the league outside the top 100.

Key stat: The ACC is the only conference in which every team has a winning record.

Freshman to watch: If Georgia Tech power forward Gani Lawal continues to play like he has of late, the Jackets will keep climbing up the ACC standings. In road wins over N.C. State and Virginia, the 6-foot-8 Lawal averaged 14 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. Lawal scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked a career-high five shots against the Wolfpack, then scored 15 points, hauled in six boards and added two more blocks against the Cavaliers.

Who's hot: Georgia Tech's Matt Causey has come off the bench to make 10 of 20 (50.0 percent) 3-pointers over his last two games. ... Wake Forest's Jeff Teague is averaging 12.2 ppg over his last 11 games after averaging 7.5 ppg over his first eight games. ... Duke's DeMarcus Nelson is shooting 54.9 percent from the floor in ACC games. ... Virginia Tech's J.T. Thompson is shooting 71.4 percent (15-of-21) from the field over his last three games.

Who's not: North Carolina's Danny Green has gone 11-for-35 (31.4 percent) from the field over his last three games and 2-for-13 (15.3 percent) from beyond the arc over his last four games. ... Miami's James Dews has gone 2-for-12 (16.6 percent) from 3-point range over his last four games.

Worth noting: Eighteen of the first 34 ACC games (53 percent) have been decided by three or fewer points or in overtime. ... Miami's Jack McClinton is trying to become the first player to lead the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage twice. McClinton currently leads the league at 46.0 percent. ... Wake Forest is riding a league-high 16-game home winning streak. ... Maryland leads the league with 7.1 blocked shots a game and is on pace to break the league record of 6.7 per game set by the 2003-04 Terps. ... Virginia's Sean Singletary has scored 10 or more points in 40 consecutive games. Florida State's Toney Douglas has the next longest streak in the league at 24 games in a row.

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Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.



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