Too soon to believe in Tar Heel upset

Originally Published: November 19, 2004
By Mechelle Voepel | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's note: In this new feature, ESPN.com columnist Mechelle Voepel shares her take on recent hot topics. If you've got a question you'd like Voepel to answer, shoot her an e-mail at mvoepel@kcstar.com.

Can the ACC make a statement in Sunday's Jimmy V Classic?

Well, let's put it this way: I'll believe it when I see it.

North Carolina State, host to the event, faces Tennessee at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2. This will be just the third time these teams have met since 1990; Tennessee won big in 2000 and 2001.

It's the first matchup of Sunday afternoon that's more intriguing, actually. UConn faces North Carolina at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell generally avoids a lot of nonconference challenges. OK, I'm being generous. North Carolina has had way too much talent to have played so relatively few big noncon games in the regular season the last several years.

But a lot of ACC watchers think this season, the Tar Heels can reclaim the top spot in the league. Maybe so, especially if Duke's troubles persist into the ACC season. And as for Sunday's matchup, UConn fans are understandably concerned about point guard problems and how well the Huskies can run their offense.

So can the Heels take advantage of that with all their quickness at guard and overall athleticism? Or will UConn still find a way to be UConn? I'm expecting the latter, but maybe UNC will surprise me.

How about the Ohio State vs. Notre Dame final?

Well, it's a really good season for both those teams to be in Preseason WNIT, which provides an opportunity to play several big games early in the season. And Ohio State and Notre Dame really can benefit from that. Both were thought to be serious contenders this season, and so far they're showing that's indeed the case.

Notre Dame's semifinal victory over Duke reflected both how good the Irish are but also how difficult things are at the moment for the Blue Devils, dealing with injuries and Lindsay Harding's suspension. Ohio State really put the clamps on Arizona in the semifinals. Now, the Buckeyes can test themselves at Notre Dame, which is always a very hard place to win.

News item of note

I saw a story on the Web this week that a McGill University study showed that taking birth control pills might stabilize knee joints and reduce the risk of injuries.

So my first question was, "Where's McGill University?"

It's in Montreal. (OK, so I'm not all that well-versed in Canadian colleges. That's why we have the Internet.) Apparently, doctors at McGill studied 78 female athletes, with 42 taking the birth control pill and 36 not. (And I'm assuming they didn't do the placebo thing here, as that could cause a whole OTHER problem.)

According to this study, the women taking the birth control pills had less displacement and tighter knee joints. If any of you plugged-in athletic trainer/medical types know more about this -- including whether such research has been duplicated or refuted elsewhere -- drop me an e-mail.

Mechelle Voepel is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage.

Mechelle Voepel joined ESPN.com in 1996 and covers women's college hoops, the WNBA, the LPGA, and additional collegiate sports for espnW.

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