Originally created 02/04/03

Tuesday tipoff



Reviewing and previewing college basketball in the ACC, SEC and elsewhere:

WHO'S HOT

Josh Howard. The senior guard for Wake Forest has made a convincing case for ACC player of the year honors. He scored 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in Sunday's 79-75 win at North Carolina and - after converting a tie-breaking three-point play with 21 seconds left - he deflected Jawad Williams' 3-point attempt with 14 seconds remaining.

WHO'S NOT

North Carolina. The Tar Heels have lost four straight with Wednesday's trip to Duke looming. After winning the Preseason NIT, they seem a good fit for the postseason NIT - not a good thing for coach Matt Doherty.

OVERRATED

Connecticut. The Huskies unearthed a stinker in last week's 95-71 home loss to Boston College. Down 28 points at halftime, they suffered their worst loss ever at Gampel Pavilion.

UNDERRATED

Tennessee. The Volunteers recently pushed Georgia to the edge in Athens, and they pushed Auburn over it last week. Buzz Peterson's boys should be a late-season surprise.

STAT OF THE WEEK

South Carolina shot 57 percent from the field in the first half last week against Kentucky - and was down by 25 points. The Gamecocks ended up shooting 51.9 percent in the 87-69 loss.

RANKING THE BIG FOUR

1. Georgia (13-5, 5-2 SEC) ... Coach Jim Harrick admitted that his team has become too dependent on star wings Ezra Williams and Jarvis Hayes.

2. Georgia Tech (11-7, 4-3 ACC) ... The next three games - at Clemson, Maryland, at N.C. State - will be critical to the Yellow Jackets' NCAA Tournament hopes.

3. Clemson (11-6, 1-6 ACC) ... The Tigers' last three trips to N.C. State have resulted in three losses by an average of 29 points - including Sunday's 78-56 throttling.

4. South Carolina (7-10, 1-6) ... Coach Dave Odom must wonder what might have been had Tim Pickett - now a star guard at Florida State - not been denied entry to South Carolina.

RANKING THE ACC, TOP AND BOTTOM

1. Wake Forest ... The Demon Deacons are stamping themselves as a legitimate Top 10 team.

9. Clemson ... Memo to the school's administration: Good coaches cost money.

RANKING THE SEC, TOP AND BOTTOM

1. Florida ... The Gators, winners of 14 in a row, play at Kentucky tonight. Enough said.

12. South Carolina ... Odom's biggest task from now until the end of the season is convincing his players not to quit on him. Gamecock fans' biggest task is paying to watch this team play.

RANKING THE POWER CONFERENCES, BY RPI
(previous ranking in parentheses)

1. SEC (1)

2. ACC (2)

3. Big 12 (3)

4. Big Ten (4)

5. Big East (5)

6. Mountain West (6)

7. Pac-10 (7)

8. Conference USA (8)

9. Atlantic 10 (9)

10. WAC (10)

WHAT'S NEXT

Clemson plays Georgia Tech at home Wednesday at 7 p.m. and at Duke on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.; Georgia plays at Tennessee on Saturday at 3 p.m.; Georgia Tech visits Clemson on Wednesday and plays Maryland at home Sunday at 1 p.m.; South Carolina plays at Louisiana State on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and visits Vanderbilt on Saturday at 8 p.m.

THEY SAID IT

"Ladies and gentlemen, a reminder: Do not go on the floor after the game." - Florida State's public-address announcer, 10 seconds before the Seminoles shocked Duke and incited a massive on-court celebration by thousands of fans.

-Larry Williams