ACC forecast: Devils still skating

Originally Published: January 10, 2005
By Mechelle Voepel | Special to ESPN.com

OK, it's not funny ... there are all those people who now have to deal with their insurance agents, and folks who were stranded at their jobs, and embarrassed weather forecasters who had to apologize ...

But can you believe an inch of snow basically brought Raleigh, N.C., to its knees this week? OK, I know it froze over, and the streets were quite hazardous, and people who live there aren't accustomed to driving when you really shouldn't be driving. (Hint: Go really slow. No, go slower than that. I said, "Go slower!" Oh, never mind. Just stay away from your car.)

Kay Yow
Kay Yow's return should have the Wolfpack in the ACC hunt.
However, even a blizzard couldn't have stopped coach Kay Yow. It was great to see her back on the sidelines for North Carolina State. In the past few months, Yow has dealt with health issues, including a recurrence of breast cancer. She decided to enter a nutritional modification program that she hopes will bolster her immune system. That caused her to miss two games, but Thursday she was running the show again for the Wolfpack, which beat Miami 73-59.

Yow is a gem in collegiate athletics, as much a true educator as a basketball coach. And she's one of those people who is liked and respected by everyone in the sport. But Yow dislikes having any attention on her, and prefers the talk be about her team. The Wolfpack is there in the middle of the ACC, along with Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Standing in second place right now in the league is Florida State. Leading the way is Duke again, ranked No. 1 and doing it once more with just eight active players, as was the case in 2002 when the Blue Devils went to the Final Four.

Because so many of the ACC teams are NCAA Tournament contenders, pretty much every game has important implications. And this Sunday and Monday, there are some noteworthy matchups that will be televised.

On Sunday, N.C. State at Maryland is the ACC game of the week at 1 p.m. ET. Those are telecast on Comcast Sports Net, FSN South, Sunshine and wherever else they might show up. You know the drill if you have the DirecTV sports package: Just flip around until you find what you're looking for.

While you're doing that sometime, you might also run into the 13-episode "reality" show called: "Maryland Women's Basketball: Under the Shell," produced by Maryland alum and former NFL place-kicker Jess Atkinson. The show airs each Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on Comcast, and then re-airs at different times and on different stations. Go to the Terps' Website and click on the "Under the Shell" logo for a complete schedule. It's a well-done and innovative program.

On Monday, the ACC game of the week is Florida State at Virginia Tech at 7 on the regional sports networks ... and then there's a conflict as Duke meets North Carolina at 7:30 on ESPN2. This is why they invented the "previous channel" button on your remote control, though.

After beating North Carolina on Thursday in overtime, surely Florida State will make it into the national rankings this coming week. Of course, I thought the Seminoles were shoe-ins last week, too, but now they really should be. Virginia Tech has spent some time in the polls this season, and this has the makings of a very good game.

Monique Currie
Monique Currie is the first player in ACC history to tally more than 2,000 points, 800 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals.
As for Duke-Carolina ... OK, it's Duke-Carolina. But the Blue Devils have won the last 12 matchups in a row between the schools, and 15 of the last 16. Duke has virtually turned this into the ACC's version of the so-called Tennessee-Vanderbilt "rivalry" (cough) in the SEC.

Many predicted that this season, the tables would finally turn in North Carolina's favor against Duke, and there's no doubt the Heels have a lot of talent. But whether they translate that into toppling Duke is once again the question.

In many of the Heels-Devils games, it has been as if Duke was just waiting for an inevitable stretch of North Carolina flipping out: throwing away the ball and rushing shots and helping the Blue Devils add to their "charges taken" statistic.

UNC fans probably have watched a lot of these matchups with the Blue Devils and shouted to the Heels the same advice as mentioned above for North Carolina drivers facing that inch of snow: Slow down.

Other times, Duke has made a key play at just the right time to permanently take momentum. And then, the Heels also have just run into some bad bounces and bad luck (like when you're going 2 mph on ice and still slide into something).

But even if the "forecast" might call for another Duke victory, it bears repeating that the women's hoops Doppler radar nationwide has been sketchy this season. It has been hard to see a lot of what might be coming.

Mechelle Voepel of the Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage. E-mail her at mvoepel@kcstar.com.

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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