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ACC Doesn’t Just Rule College Basketball – It Is The Dominant Force Entering The NCAA Tournament

Men’s College Basketball The final Associated Press men’s college basketball poll leading into the NCAA Tournament simply shows what we all knew (or should have known) – nobody competes...

Men’s College Basketball

The final Associated Press men’s college basketball poll leading into the NCAA Tournament simply shows what we all knew (or should have known) – nobody competes with or like the Atlantic Coast Conference.

In the poll released Monday, following the conference tournaments and ahead of the Big Dance, Duke ranked No. 1, with Virginia right behind and North Carolina in third place. It is believed to be the first time a conference placed three teams among the top three. And all three are No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Face it, the best rivalry in American sports is Duke and North Carolina in men’s hoop. Neighbors in North Carolina, they compete so evenly that every meeting is a dramatic event buoyed by two rosters of future NBA stars.

Virginia maintains a steady, conservative presence. It lacks the flash of its ACC pals, but consistently grinds out wins.

For more ACC depth, there’s Florida State. The Seminoles finished 10th in the poll after reaching the ACC tournament championship game and falling to Duke. Many of the TV hoop analysts say FSU can make an impact in the NCAAs. Four in the top 10. Not too bad.

Duke, of course, will draw a huge share of the attention from here on out with the presence of freshmen Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. Williamson’s return from a knee injury spurred the Blue Devils to the ACC title and a leap from No. 5 overall to No. 1 in the AP poll.

If form holds in the NCAAs, Duke would be meeting No. 5 Michigan State in the Elite Eight. There are many games to be played before that happens, but MSU might well have belonged on that top line as a No. 1 seed after beating Michigan for the Big Ten title. Will the Spartans measure up against the Blue Devils?

We will know when (and if) it happens. Until then, hail the ACC. Great players, great coaches, great rivalries. And maybe some great days ahead in March Madness.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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