The Atlantic Coast Conference -- training ground for sissies! How I hate to write this true statement. As an avid ACC fan I want to see all the top ACC teams in the postseason NCAA tournament with the Final Four including three Acc teams (Maryland versus Virginia in the final?). But it isn't going to happen as long as game officials enforce "invisible contact" rules. The Virginia-Maryland game last week vividly demonstrates what I mean. When these teams should have been sharpening the same skills they will need in the NCAA tournament, they were instead relearning the same old noncontact style of play that has wiped out ACC teams from any serious move toward the NCAA title the past several seasons. The rest of the country, particularly in the Midwest and Far West, watches a more physical game then we do here in ACC-land. I personally don't like it to get as physical as it often does, but that is the way the game is played in NCAA tournaments and that is the way ACC teams must learn to play during their regular season to be able to compete fairly with schools from other conferences.

What can be done? The use of outside officials for the ACC tournament the past two seasons is a case of too little, too late. It is far past the time when players can learn to play the physical game well; one loss and you are out of the tournament. That chore has to start with the tip-off for the first ACC regular season game. Maybe after another six years or so of watching ACC teams be flowergirls (not even bridesmaids) in the NCAA tournament, league officials will catch on and give us fans a chance to see the best teams make it to the Final Four.

Virginia showed last season that, with a little postseason training, even an ACC team can play tough, as they destroyed Michigan and nipped Minnesota, teams which learned to play physical during the regular season, in the NIT.