Is Virginia the new king? Maryland the new doormat? And Duke the darkhorse?
These and other Atlantic Coast Conference questions may be partly answered after a full slate of games Saturday.
Maryland lost to Duke for the first time at home in seven seasons, 88-78. And unless the 12th - and 15th-ranked Terps cultivate some floor leadership and a knack for defense, their 9-2 record could worsen quickly. Changes are expected in Lefty Driesell's lineup against 7-3 Wake Forest here at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Thirteenth-ranked Virginia risks the ACC's only unbeaten overall record against second-ranked North Carolina at Charlottesville.
Virginia used its bruising defense and neophyte backcourt to beat Wake Forest, 67-60. For a ninth straight victory the Cavs will have to contain Phil Ford and Mike O'Koren who have led the Tar Heels to an 11-1 record, including a 79-77 overtime verdict at Clemson.
Maryland's defense will have a chance to introduce itself against Wake, which has an awesome inside threat in Rod Griffin (20 points per game) and streak-shooting guard Frank Johnson, who averages 16 points a game.
Lefty has hinted that he might change his lineup, a postloss ritual, but he did not specify who might be replaced. He worked nine players on the first team today.
For the first time his team was outrebounded by Duke on Wednesday but defense remains his need. That could mean more of John Bilney at forward. Larry Gibson has slumped dramatically since being benched for Mike Davis, and Lawrence Boston made mistakes at inopportune times against Duke.
Only Al King at small forward and Billy Bryant at guard seem good starting bets.
Maryland desperately needs cohesion on the floor, but none has emerged. King and point guard Grey Manning, both freshmen, may be too young to provide it. Jo Jo Hunter is too quiet, Bryant too easy-poing, and the rest play in and out too often.
King seems the logical candidate to spread his savvy. He is well-liked, court smart and could be the answer once he feels completely comfortable in his new situation.
Duke (9-2) looks for another victory on the road as North Carolina State's first conference opponent. Clemson hosts South Carolina in nonconference action.
The Virginia-UNC matchup is the most intriguing of the week. The Cavs, with Tulane transfer Tom Hicks at point guard and the much-recruited Louisville freshman Jeff Lamp at the other guard, run a disciplined, sometimes meager offense, but make up for it on defense.
"The real key to this game is that the two teams will want to do different things," said Virginia coach Terry Holland. "UNC will want to run and play faster than we will. The team that can establish what it wants to do should have the edge. And bascially, that's a backcourt responsibility."
The biggest burden rests with Hicks, who draws the double chore of setting Virginia's calm, offensive tempo and guarding All-America Ford.
"It's important for us to control Ford," said Holland. "He does such a good job penetrating and setting up scoring opportunities for them that we want to force him to shoot from outside, if at all."
Holland's other headache is O'Koren, the play-everywhere forward hustler O'Koren may meet his match in 6-9 March Iavaroni, who held ACC player of the year Griffin to 14 points.
Other men's games show Hartford Community College (4-5) at Montgomery-Rockville (5-2), 2 p.m., University of Maryland-Baltimore County (6-2) at Navy (7-4), 3:15; Charles Community College vs. Montgomery-Takoma Park (2-4) at Blair High, 8; St. John's, N.Y., (9-3) at Georgetown (9-2), 8; Catholic (4-6) and American (7-5) in Fairfield tournament 7 and 9; Rutgers-Camden (6-5) vs. University of District of Columbia (2-3) at Dunbar High, 8; and Southeastern (5-5) at Roanoke, 8.
In women's basketball undefeated Navy (3-0) takes on Western Maryland at 1 p.m. Saturday in Annapolis. Howard is on the road today for a 4 p.m. game at William Patterson College in Wayne, N.J.