WCBK

'Anything can happen' at ACC women's tournament

Share This Story

   
 

The Atlantic Coast Conference had to settle one tiebreaker for its women's tournament by flipping a coin.

The games might be that close, too.

The tournament begins Thursday in Greensboro, N.C., and it's shaping up as a much tighter event than it seemed just a few weeks ago.

A top-seeded Duke team that once looked capable of cruising through Greensboro unchecked on its way to a top seed in the NCAA tournament suddenly appears beatable following the loss of perhaps its most irreplaceable player.

The season-ending knee injury to point guard Chelsea Gray - the league leader in both assists and steals - can't help but pull the Blue Devils back closer to the pack and make a four-day tournament with four Top 25 teams a more even affair.

''I've always felt like (at) the ACC tournament,'' Clemson coach Itoro Coleman said, ''anything can happen.''

That was certainly true last year, when the two top seeds were knocked out in the quarterfinals, but it hasn't always been the case.

Not since 1999 has a team other than Duke, Maryland or North Carolina won the tournament, and at least one of them has reached the title game every year since 1992.

Those three are once again the top three seeds - but for a change, other teams during the regular season showed they can beat them, too.

Fourth-seeded Florida State defeated both the Terrapins and Tar Heels, and fifth-seeded Miami last week beat the Blue Devils for the first time in program history.

Now it's up to those schools to prove they can challenge the league's standard-bearers in tournament time. The 23rd-ranked Seminoles have reached the semifinals just twice while the Hurricanes have never advanced past the quarterfinals.

''The reality is it's a brand new season, and seeds don't matter,'' Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. ''That's just how you figure out who plays who.''

The sixth-ranked Blue Devils (27-2) won a league-record 17 ACC games - this was the first season with an 18-game conference schedule - and are 3-1 without Gray. Talented freshman Alexis Jones, who scored a season-best 22 points in the season-ending win over North Carolina, makes the Duke team go and shot-blocking sophomore Elizabeth Williams still patrols the paint.

Yet they find themselves in an uncomfortably familiar situation, because if the opening-round seeds hold, they'll face eighth-seeded North Carolina State in a rematch of last year's quarterfinal won by a Wolfpack team that has pulled at least one upset in each of coach Kellie Harper's previous three seasons.

''I think our players do understand that the tournament is special,'' Harper said. ''I feel like they're starting to get into business mode.''

No. 10 Maryland (23-6) and No. 15 North Carolina (26-5) tied for second place and split their regular-season meetings. Because both teams lost twice to Duke and once to Florida State, the tiebreaker for the No. 2 seed came down to a coin flip won by the Terrapins, who await the Wake Forest-Georgia Tech winner in one of their final ACC tournaments before they for the Big Ten.

And coach Brenda Frese, a two-time champion here, says this is no time for sentimentality.

''We're excited to play against the best competition,'' she said. ''Greensboro does it the best, in my opinion, the way they put their tournament together. ... We just want to come in there and give it our best shot.''

The Tar Heels have won the tournament nine times but have reached the title game just once since reeling off four consecutive titles from 2005-08.

Coach Sylvia Hatchell praised her team's balance because North Carolina made it through the season without having anyone win the league's weekly player of the week award - though Xylina McDaniel, the daughter of former NBA player and coach Xavier McDaniel, did win the ACC's rookie of the year award after leading all freshmen with a 12.4-point scoring average.

''These kids have just competed hard throughout the season, and that's why I think when you look at our team, again, you think, `Well, how have they won all these games?''' Hatchell said. ''But this is one of my favorite teams I've ever had.''

---

Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by


FOX SPORTS Videos

Why is LeSean McCoy practicing blindfolded? Posted: Aug 12, 2014
Donovan McNabb and Mike Garafolo talk Eagles RB 'Shady' McCoy.

Could Richie Incognito get another NFL job? Posted: Aug 12, 2014
Donovan McNabb and Mike Garafolo talk Richie Incognito.

Byron Scott: No Laker Can Beat Me In Horse - @TheBuzzeronFOX Posted: Aug 12, 2014
The Lakers new coach is still pretty confident in his shot. Kobe Bryant might ha...

WCBK Headlines

  • Power Ranking

  • Power Ranking

  • Power Ranking

  • Power Ranking

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Zephyr Florida Gators White DH Fitted Hat http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/21914/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_21000/DS_21914_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Zephyr Florida Gators White DH Fitted Hat
    Zephyr Florida Gators Royal Blue DH Fitted Hat http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/50646/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_50000/DS_50646_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Zephyr Florida Gators Royal Blue DH Fitted Hat
    Ohio State Buckeyes Scrub Top - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/60808/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_60000/FF_60808_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Ohio State Buckeyes Scrub Top - Gray
    Nike Texas Longhorns #7 Burnt Orange Replica Football Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Texas_Longhorns/browse/featuredproduct/62039/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_62000/FF_62039_xl.jpg&w=100 59.95 Nike Texas Longhorns #7 Burnt Orange Replica Football Jersey
    Ohio State Buckeyes Scarlet Scrub Top --- http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/67086/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_67000/FF_67086_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Ohio State Buckeyes Scarlet Scrub Top ---
    Michigan Wolverines Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_Wolverines/browse/featuredproduct/70367/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70367_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Michigan Wolverines Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Florida State Seminoles Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_State_Seminoles/browse/featuredproduct/70625/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70625_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Florida State Seminoles Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Texas Longhorns Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Texas_Longhorns/browse/featuredproduct/70626/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70626_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Texas Longhorns Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Kentucky Wildcats Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Kentucky_Wildcats/browse/featuredproduct/70627/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70627_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Kentucky Wildcats Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Ohio State Buckeyes Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/70628/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70628_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Ohio State Buckeyes Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt