ACC race coming down to the wire

Duke got a big win on Saturday against Virginia Tech to stay alive in the race for the conference championship. They host a good Florida State team on Tuesday before their showdown next Sunday at North Carolina. The Tar Heels travel to VT on Wednesday. The Blue Devils are one game back, so a pair of wins to close the regular season would give Duke at least a share of the ACC championship. Most pundits have written Duke off for a #1 seed, but if they were to win out and then win the ACC tournament, they could sneak in as a top seed.

As a basketball fan, it would be great to see Duke beat FSU tomorrow guaranteeing that the Duke/UNC tilt on Sunday is for the conference title. Even if the Tar Heels beat Tech and guarantee themselves at least a share of the ACC title, they won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to slam the door on the Dookies. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils need to be careful not to look past a Florida State team that is 22-7. Duke beat FSU in Tallahassee back in January, so the Seminoles will have revenge on their minds.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN “bracketologist”) says that if the season ended today…

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#3 Duke, #6 Wake trounced on the road

Let’s say you’re sitting in a Vegas sportsbook yesterday afternoon and you decide that you want to get odds on a parlay that has #3 Duke losing to #10 Clemson by 27 points and #6 Wake Forest losing at Miami by the exact same margin. Or let’s just say that you have them both losing by 20-plus. What kind of odds would you be able to get? 100-1? 1,000-1? 10,000-1?

That’s exactly what happened. Clemson slammed Duke, 74-47, while Miami blasted Wake, 79-52. Littlejohn Coliseum is a great home court environment and the Tigers were able to jump all over the Blue Devils, leading from the get-go. It was just one of those nights for Duke when nothing was falling. Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer were a combined 4 of 23 from the field for 12 points. As a team, Duke shot 23% from long range and 31% from the field, and they were rattled by the Tigers’ full court pressure. Trevor Booker was stellar for Clemson, posting 21 points and eight boards, both game highs.

Meanwhile, the Demon Deacons were stymied by Miami’s zone defense en route to a brutal 32% from the field (and just 15% from long range). Jack McClinton had 32 points for the Hurricanes. Miami broke a three-game losing streak with the victory.

North Carolina and Duke sit atop the ACC at 6-2, while Clemson is a half game behind at 5-2. The Tar Heels visit Duke next Wednesday in a game that will determine who is in the driver’s seat in the ACC.

Clemson situation is one fine mess

Clemson TigersThe final seconds hadn’t even run off the clock in the Tigers’ 21-17 defeat at the hands of Georgia Tech, and already Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips could be seen screaming at his coaches down on the sidelines.

Phillips was the one who fired helped Tommy Bowden make his decision to resign earlier this week and replaced him with Dabo Swinney. The move looked like it would pay off when Clemson took a 17-14 lead deep into the fourth quarter, but a late GA Tech touchdown sent Tiger fans home with yet another defeat.

The scene on the sidelines at the end of the game paints an ugly picture for Clemson’s current situation. There’s no doubt Bowden had to be replaced (his own brother said so after it happened), but Phillips and the rest of the big wigs in the program need to realize that change won’t happen overnight.

Although he got way to cute with his play calling on Saturday, Swinney did a nice job rallying the troops in the wake of Bowden’s firing. Given what was said by a couple of the players in the media this week, it appears that the locker room had been divided. But given the circumstances, Swinney kept things in order and deserves a chance to turn the Tigers’ misfortunes around this season.

Or at the very least, deserves the respect of not being lashed at on national television by an AD who should be nowhere near the sidelines at the end of a game. (Although to be fair, nobody knows at this point why Phillips was yelling at his coaches. Maybe he was upset that the concession stand ran out of Diet Coke?)

Tommy Bowden fired as head coach of Clemson

The University of Clemson has fired head coach Tommy Bowden.

Tommy BowdenClemson football coach Tommy Bowden has been fired, South Carolina television station WYFF reports.
Assistant head coach Dabo Swinney will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season, the news station reports.

The Tigers opened with a 34-10 loss to Alabama and are now 3-3 (1-2 in ACC play). Bowden was firmly on the hot seat after a loss to Maryland Sept. 27, and a loss on Thursday to Wake Forest turned up the heat.

Bowden also was questioned over benching staring quarterback Cullen Harper in favor of redshirt freshman Willy Korn.

Bowden signed a contract extension in December that would have kept him at Clemson through 2014. It is believed that Clemson will owe Bowden $4 million after terminating that contract early, but financial details surrounding the coach’s departure were not announced.

Bowden has a 72-45 record at Clemson with eight bowl appearances. The Tigers were No. 9 in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll and were expected to compete for the ACC championship, which would have been their first, in Bowden’s 10th season as coach.

It was bound to happen. Clemson has underachieved under Bowden for years and it was only a matter of time before the program had to make a change. Bowden’s attempt to replace Harper with Korn was a last ditch effort to save his job. What Harper really needs is for his young offensive line to gel and significantly better coaching.

Upsets continue – Navy tops No. 16 Wake Forest 24-17

Navy-Wake ForestFor the second year in a row, Navy pulled off one of best upsets in college football. Last year the Midshipmen beat Notre Dame for the first time in 43 tries, defeating the Irish 46-44 in South Bend. On Saturday, they pulled off an even bigger upset, beating No. 16 Wake Forest 24-17 at BB&T Field.

Wake, who perhaps was looking ahead to its game next week with Clemson, absolutely shot themselves in the foot all game. The Deacons turned the ball over an astonishing six times and mustered only 39 rushing yards. Conversely, Navy ran at will, racking up 294 yards and once they built a 17-0 lead at halftime, they never looked back.

Apparently nobody wants to win the ACC. One would have thought that with their big win last Saturday at Florida State, Wake would have used the momentum to take control of the conference. Instead they lost to an unranked Navy team that picked off four passes and dominated in time of possession, 35:40 to 23:19. Maybe Maryland, who pulled off an upset themselves on Saturday in beating No. 20 Clemson 20-17, can emerge in the Atlantic. But then again, the Terps also lost to Middle Tennessee State earlier this year.

Just a quick note about Navy, the Midshipmen go into virtually every game undersized, outnumbered and often with less overall talent on their roster. But they also have more heart, determination and focus than a lot of their opponents. And their upset over Notre Dame and Wake the past two years proves that.

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