Sports column: ACC still on top

By Jacob Bressler

With the annual ACC-Big Ten challenge upon us, Midwesterners are reminded once again of the superiority of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Since the rise of North Carolina and Duke as perennial powerhouses, the ACC has been considered by many to be the dominant conference in college basketball.

The ACC has churned out NBA all-stars, legendary coaches and an astronomical amount of Final Four appearances.

Last year’s surprise run by Georgia Tech to the championship game of the NCAA tournament signified the sheer greatness of the conference from top to bottom.

Cities like Chicago, that should be recruiting havens for Big Ten coaches, have been infiltrated by the likes of the Blue Devils, Tar Heels and other ACC power teams.

Chicago products such as Corey Maggette and Sean Dockery have turned their back on the Big Ten and made decisions to go down to Tobacco Road.

The Big Ten gets little respect at the national level, and Coach K lackey Dick Vitale does not believe that there is any college basketball played west of Durham, N.C.

Sorry ESPN, but Vitale never says anything insightful during telecasts and his catch phrases are so overused that “diaper dandy” and “Rolls Royce” should be removed from the English language.

In the current Associated Press poll, the ACC has six ranked teams while the Big Ten only has three.

With the exception of the Illini, this year’s challenge will show once again that the Big Ten has some catching up to do.

Tonight’s showcase match-up pits Duke against Michigan State in a game which features two teams ranked in the top 10.

Michigan State has played a cupcake schedule so far and absolutely nothing can be deciphered about this squad from their shellacking of Nichols State on Saturday.

Tom Izzo has done the best job in the Big Ten of trying to emulate the blueprints of various ACC programs in building a perennial powerhouse.

The Spartans have six solid core players and have been led so far by senior guard Kelvin Torbert, who looks as if he might finally play up to the publicized potential that has shadowed him since his freshman year.

The Blue Devils, meanwhile, are ranked in the top 10 despite a roster that is clearly not as talented as previous ones.

J.J. Redick has always been a little overrated. The guy can’t dribble or play defense and his shot has been inconsistent at times. Luckily for Duke, this could be the year when senior guard Daniel Ewing has his breakout season.

After Illinois, it appears as though the Big Ten does not have a serious national contender. Nonetheless, the conference still boasts certain teams that could surprise some people.

The Michigan Wolverines play Georgia Tech tonight. Tommy Amaker’s squad battled No. 17 Arizona down to the wire in the semifinals of the preseason NIT.

So far this season for the Wolverines, sophomore guard Dion Harris has raised his scoring average from 10 to 17 points a game.

Even though Georgia Tech struggled against Illinois-Chicago, its roster is still stacked and the Yellow Jackets are poised to make another deep run in the tournament. Even with an improved Michigan team, Tech should have no problem handling the Wolverines.

North Carolina will also be too much to handle for a young Indiana team that should improve as the year progresses, thanks to talented freshmen D.J. White and Robert Vaden.

Since their surprising loss to Santa Clara to open the season, the Tar Heels have looked impressive. Rashad McCants might be a head-case off the floor, but the bottom line is that he is one of the premier scorers in the country.

Then there is that little game in Champaign on Wednesday night…

Jacob Bressler is a senior in communications. He can be reached at [email protected]