by Patrick Snow
* As Duke put the finishing touches on their 93-84 victory at Maryland Sunday night, it became increasingly clear that the ACC will be a two-horse race this season. Duke and North Carolina are definitely the class of the league and are probably the only two teams with a real shot at the Final Four. Over the past decade, schools like Maryland, Wake Forest, or even Virginia last year have challenged the Big Two for conference and/or national supremacy. In fact, last season in the ACC was all about balance as 9 of the 12 teams finished with conference records between 11-5 (co-champs UNC/UVA) and 7-9. However this season, 9 of the 12 teams already have three conference losses after only 5 or 6 ACC games. The first of the big UNC/Duke contests will take place February 6th in Chapel Hill as both clubs battle for the conference crown and a probable #1 seed in the Big Dance.
* Georgia Tech has won three games in a row, and a lot of credit goes to the suddenly hot Matt Causey. The senior point guard had only scored in double digits once in Tech’s first 16 games, but has tallied 30, 18, and 18 points for Yellow Jackets in the 3 ACC wins. If he can continue being a viable outside threat, look for Paul Hewitt’s club to be a tough opponent down the stretch.
* Virginia got off to a solid start (10-2) in November and December, but the Cavaliers have not enjoyed ’08 as they have gone 1-5 since the calendar changed. With a blowout loss to Xavier and 4 ACC defeats, Dave Leitao is definitely looking for answers. Virginia must take care of business at home if they want to get the season turned around. The Cavs have lost three games this year in the stellar John Paul Jones Arena, where they only lost once all of last season.