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Race for the ACC: Men's Basketball

Each week The Chronicle will take a look at the ACC Men's Basketball standings and update you on who is in position to win the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season crown. Here are the ACC standings as of today:

1. Miami (22-3, 13-0); 2. Duke (23-3, 9-3); 3. North Carolina State (19-7, 8-5); 4. Virginia (18-8, 8-5); 5. North Carolina (18-8, 8-5); 6. Maryland (18-8, 6-7); 7. Florida State (14-12, 6-7); 8. Clemson (13-12, 5-8); 9. Georgia Tech (14-11, 4-9); 10. Boston College (12-14, 4-9); 11. Wake Forest (11-14, 4-9); 12. Virginia Tech (11-14, 2-10).

Is Miami finally showing vulnerability?

Don't look now, but America's darling Hurricanes have an average margin of victory of just four points over their last three games. Now, four points is nothing to be ashamed of if you're facing top-shelf teams like No. 6 Duke, but Miami's opponents have been a supremely disappointing Florida State squad, eighth-place Clemson, and a formidable Virginia club—though the 'Canes were at home in that one. All this is to say that Miami is not as untouchable as it seemed after shellacking then-No. 1 Duke and toppling then-No. 19 N.C. State on the road. With the Blue Devils three games back in the loss column for supremacy in the ACC, Miami will likely win the conference, but they are very beatable come tournament time.

The battle for third in the ACC

After Miami and Duke there is a three-way tie for the third slot in the ACC. N.C. State, Virginia, and North Carolina all sport 8-5 conference records, though the Wolfpack have one more win on the season than the other two schools. The Tar Heels have the toughest road the rest of the way, having dates with both N.C. State and the Blue Devils on the docket, while the Cavaliers have only Duke and the 'Pack have only UNC. Virginia is in desperate need of a change after losing consecutive games last week, and with Georgia Tech up next they should be able to get back in the wins column. The Wolfpack seem the best bet to steal third place now that Lorenzo Brown is healthy and joining N.C. State's potent combination of premier bigs and standout freshmen. However, even though the Wolfpack seem to have a leg-up in the race, conference games are impossible to predict.

What's up with Clemson?

The Tigers are often overlooked when discussing ACC basketball, but Clemson is just one game behind notable programs Florida State and Maryland in the standings. Over the team's last three games, the Tigers have lost by one to N.C. State, beaten Georgia Tech on the road, and fell to Miami by two. With dates against Maryland and North Carolina this week, Clemson can make some noise in the ACC, even though they aren't a candidate for the regular season title nor the NCAA tournament. Led by Devin Booker, the Tigers could soon roar past the Terps and Seminoles in the standings.

Upset Special: Clemson over Maryland

This one is a real gamble, but I convinced myself after writing the above paragraph. Although this team has had a couple of ugly losses—28-point loss at Duke and 37-point loss at Virginia—they also have a lot of well played games. The Tigers have already beaten likely tournament team Virginia, and have fallen just short against N.C. State—twice—and Miami. Maryland is a tough place to play on the road—just ask the Blue Devils—but this could be a trap game for the Terrapins. They already lost a home game against a comparable Florida State team and followed up their big win over Duke with a stinker at Boston College. Alex Len, a likely lottery pick come June, has struggled of late in games where he hasn't played against Wooden Award candidates. The Tigers could very well catch this Maryland team off-guard and steal a big win on the road.


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