1. North Carolina [26-3] vs. 9. Clemson [16-14]
Regular Season Meetings: North Carolina 77, (at) Clemson 58, Jan. 19; (at) North Carolina 88, Clemson 56, Feb. 19.
Leading Scorers: Rashad McCants, UNC, 23; Jawad Williams, UNC, 17.
_____ ACC Tournament _____ • An NCAA tournament berth looks unlikely for the Terps after yet another loss to Clemson.
• Michael Wilbon: Maryland has to be one of the biggest disappointments in college basketball this season.
• On Basketball: Clemson's Oliver Purnell has his Tigers by the tail.
• Virginia holds off Miami, 66-65, and advances to the quarterfinals.
• J.R. Reynolds scores a career-high 32 points to keep the Cavs alive.
• N.C. State tops Florida St., 70-54, to set up a rematch with Wake.
• Virginia Tech's Coleman Collins has come back strong from surgery.
• Full-Court Press: News and notes
_____ Friday's Schedule _____ • North Carolina vs. Clemson, Noon
• Va. Tech vs. Ga. Tech, 2:30 p.m.
• Wake Forest vs. N.C. State, 7 p.m.
• Duke vs. Virginia, 9:30 p.m.
_____ Thursday's Results _____ • Clemson 84, Maryland 72
• N.C. State 70, Florida State 54
• Virginia 66, Miami 65
_____ On Our Site _____ • Images from Maryland's loss to Clemson, a defeat that likely keeps the Terps out of the NCAAs for the first time since '93.
• More ACC photos
• Talk about Maryland's loss.
• ACC in D.C.: Dan Steinberg reports from the ACC tournament.
• Where to go: Check out the best places to watch all the action.
• An interactive guide to the hot spots around the MCI Center.
__ Tournament Preview Section __ • The MCI Center plays host to the ACC tournament, considered by some to be the biggest event in college basketball.
• John Feinstein: The tradition of the ACC tournament is what makes it so special.
• Bracket and schedule
• Although he is one of the ACC's best players, Tar Heels freshman Marvin Williams remains humble.
• News Graphic: Freshman who might play big roles this week.
• The improved play of center Eric Williams gives the Demon Deacons a potent inside-outside game.
• Lee Melchionni has taken advantage of increased playing time and given Duke a major boost.
• News Graphic: Tournament information, map and records.
_____ Team Capsules _____ • Clemson
• Florida State
• Georgia Tech
• North Carolina
• North Carolina State
• Virginia Tech
• Wake Forest
Leading Rebounders: Raymond Felton, UNC, 10; Sean May, UNC, 13.
Records in ACC tournament: North Carolina 75-35; Clemson 14-51.
Vs. each other in ACC tournament: North Carolina leads, 12-1.
Back courts: One of Clemson's biggest challenges will be handling North Carolina's pressure with a young group of guards. If Rashad McCants plays today -- he practiced Wednesday after missing the previous four games with an intestinal disorder -- it will give the Tar Heels yet another weapon. In the first meeting, Clemson's guards struggled mightily . Clemson is playing better now, having won five of its last seven games, but it's a tall order to expect sophomore Vernon Hamilton and freshman Cliff Hammonds to be able to contend with Carolina's talent. Tar Heels point guard Raymond Felton is considered by some league coaches the ACC's fastest guard.
Front courts: Sharrod Ford must handle considerable responsibility against Carolina's formidable and versatile front court. The senior has played well in the past against the Tar Heels. In eight games against North Carolina, six as a starter, he has averaged 10 points and six rebounds, while making 35 of 56 shots. He had 27 points and 15 rebounds in two meetings with Carolina's Sean May this season. May and Ford rank second and fourth, respectively, in rebounding in the ACC this season. Maryland Coach Gary Williams said May has the best hands of any big man in the ACC. The fact that Carolina can bring Marvin Williams, an agile 18-year-old freshman, off the bench with success speaks volumes about the Tar Heels' depth.
Coaching/Intangibles: Clemson wouldn't figure to have much of a chance today. After all, the Tigers lost to North Carolina by 19 and 32 points this season. Clemson has won only one of 13 previous meetings in the ACC tournament against North Carolina. That victory came in the first round in 1996, when the Tigers won, 75-73, after Greg Buckner dunked the ball at the buzzer. That 1996 Clemson team advanced to the NCAAs; this year's team is likely headed to the National Invitation Tournament.
-- Eric Prisbell