- Winston-Salem Journal: Friday it was confirmed that senior Ty Walker was kicked off Wake Forest’s team for “an unspecified violation of athletics-department rules.” Looking at Walker’s career as a whole, the dismissal isn’t surprising in the least. But it did feel like he turned a page on the court after coming back from a suspension last semester. His mom even flew across the country for his senior night. That’s how I lost the forest through the trees. I’m not going to rip Walker for lack of effort; nor am I going to rip Jeff Bzdelik for the punishment. In the end, it seems like a sad but fitting end to the former five-star recruit’s career.
- Blogger So Dear: Speaking of Wake Forest, this is an honest take on the school’s basketball program, assessing blame where it’s due. I would be a little harsher on Bzdelik for the last couple of years, but I also think he deserves next year to show what he can do with no offcourt distractions and a couple of recruiting classes he brought in himself.
- Atlanta Journal Constitution: The ACC Tournament is back in Atlanta for the sixth time this year. But as Tim Tucker points out, it’s probably going to be more difficult for Atlanta to attract the conference tournament after Pittsburgh and Syracuse deepen the ACC’s footprint in the north. Personally, I’m very happy the conference decided on Philips Arena, which seats just under 20,000 people, instead of the Georgia Dome (where the tournament was supposed to be originally), which has a full capacity of over 70,000 (though that was significantly reduced the two times the ACC Tournament took place there). The bottom line is that this year is Atlanta’s chance to sell the conference on the Philips Arena experience in order to compete with Madison Square Garden or the Verizon Center down the road.
- Fox Sports Florida: The ACC desperately needs Miami and/or NC State to step up this weekend. The conference is looking squarely at four NCAA bids if the Hurricanes and Wolfpack meet early exits. If not for a season sweep of Miami, Mark Gottfried’s squad would be in some serious trouble (and Miami would probably be in a much stronger position for an at-large bid). But the fact is that both teams have very weak resumes and need a good win to push the ACC to five bids.
- Burlington Times-News: I’m officially tired of these articles bemoaning the lost days of a great ACC. The facts are simple: The ACC is down right now, and most of the dip is due to a coincidence that left eight of the 12 member schools looking for new coaches over the last couple of years. That’s it. Combine that with back-to-back titles from Tobacco Road and you have a recipe for the Duke – North Carolina rivalry overshadowing an under-performing league. It’s true that the hype for the rivalry always made other ACC fans cringe, but give the new coaches some time. As they build successful programs, ESPN will give more air time to other schools.
EXTRA: Here’s the ACC Tournament bracket. I think Miami and NC State have very good chances to win two games and Wake Forest has its best chance to win a game for the first time since 2007.