Originally created 02/25/03

Tuesday tipoff



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

WHO'S HOT

Clemson. After a 1-6 start in conference play, the Tigers have won four of five ACC games and are tied for fifth in the league. Will a trip to the National Invitation Tournament be enough to save Larry Shyatt's job?

WHO'S NOT

Louisville. The Cardinals have lost three of their past four games, including Saturday's 101-80 drubbing at Cincinnati. Think Kentucky would like a shot at Rick Pitino now?

OVERRATED

The ACC. The recent struggles of Virginia, N.C. State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina have shown this is a down year for the league. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski will cry when the ACC gets just three NCAA Tournament bids, but apart from the Blue Devils, Maryland and Wake Forest, who else deserves to go?

UNDERRATED

Mississippi State. No one should be surprised if the Bulldogs go a long way in March. They're one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, and they've got smart, veteran guards - a nice combination in the NCAAs.

STAT OF THE WEEK

South Carolina has won the rebounding battle in just one of its 12 SEC games. Given the return of 6-foot-10 Tony Kitchings and 6-foot-9 Rolando Howell, nobody would have predicted that before the season.

RANKING THE BIG FOUR

1. Georgia (16-7, 8-4 SEC) ... The Bulldogs can turn up the heat on defense when they want to.

2. Clemson (15-8, 5-7 ACC) ... Guard Edward Scott is averaging 26.2 points in his past four games, shooting 48 percent from the field and 61 percent from 3-point range during the stretch.

3. Georgia Tech (12-11, 5-7 ACC) ... It's not a stretch to say the Yellow Jackets could lose the rest of their regular-season games.

4. South Carolina (11-12, 4-8 SEC) ... It's not a stretch to say the Gamecocks could lose the rest of their regular-season games.

RANKING THE ACC, TOP AND BOTTOM

1. Maryland (17-7, 9-4) ... The Terrapins have beaten North Carolina by a combined 73 points in the Tar Heels' past two trips to College Park.

9. North Carolina (14-12, 4-8) ... If not for a 3-pointer by Melvin Scott with a second remaining in Saturday's 40-point loss at Maryland, the drugging would have equaled the worst in school history - a 43-point defeat to the Lynchburg YMCA in 1915.

RANKING THE SEC, TOP AND BOTTOM

1. Kentucky (22-3, 12-0) ... The last time an SEC team went undefeated in conference play was Kentucky in 1996. The Wildcats also went undefeated in the NCAAs that year, winning the national title.

12. Arkansas (7-16, 2-10) ... The Razorbacks are in danger of having their worst season since 1971-72's 8-18 mark.

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

1. SEC (1)

2. Big 12 (2)

3. ACC (3)

4. Big Ten (4)

5. Big East (5)

6. Mountain West (7)

7. Pac-10 (6)

8. Conference USA (8)

9. Atlantic 10 (9)

10. West Coast Conference (12)

WHAT'S NEXT

Clemson plays at Maryland tonight at 7 p.m. and at Wake Forest on Saturday at 4 p.m.; Georgia plays at Mississippi on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and Kentucky at home Sunday at 4 p.m.; Georgia Tech plays Duke at home Wednesday at 7 p.m. and at North Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m.; South Carolina plays at Florida tonight at 7 p.m. and Vanderbilt at home Saturday at 5 p.m.

THEY SAID IT

"We got beat. Ain't no mystery. Ain't no conspiracy. We just got beat." - North Carolina's Rashad McCants, after Saturday's shellacking at Maryland

-Larry Williams