GREENSBORO --If you give a flip about the underlying spirit of the ACC basketball tournament — I'm not saying you should — you better pull for N.C. State and North Carolina to win their games Thursday.
Certainly, you should root for at least one of the two league cornerstones to advance. Otherwise, Friday around Greensboro Coliseum is going to be the basketball equivalent of Passover.
Most of the sports world will just drive by without stopping for a second glance. Regional interest in the games will go the way national interest did about three or four years ago - off the radar.
Even if Wake Forest gets past Miami in Thursday’s first round, the combination of the Deacons and top-seeded Duke won’t be enough to create a juice flow that runs to the core of the ACC experience.
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You can say I'm being a North Carolina centrist and if so, that's fine.
But just step back and and mull this possibility — Duke vs. Boston College, Virginia Tech vs. (worst case) Miami, Maryland vs. Georgia Tech and Florida State vs. Clemson — on Friday for the quarterfinals.
If that lineup of games doesn't have take me out to the golf course written all over it, I’ll spot you two yawns a side.
Brick by brick, the Wolfpack and Tar Heels built this dungeon around themselves, of course. Just for the heck of it, I put the two rosters together and tried to come up with a lineup that might win a couple of games. Here’s what I dug up:
G Javi Gonzalez, State
G Marcus Ginyard, UNC
F Tracy Smith, State
F Deon Thompson, UNC
F Will Graves, UNC
Other than Smith, there's not an all-star candidate in the lot. So Carolina and State can't blame their sorry fates on anyone else, not even the officials.
But that doesn't change the fact that with the tournament back in Greensboro and league honchos praying for the clamor the event once produced, a Friday with the Pack back in Raleigh and the Tar Heels back in Chapel Hill will be void of extensive passion.