- Charlotte Observer: What’s plaguing Duke, North Carolina and NC State? The fine beat writers and sports columnists of the Charlotte Observer (and effectively the Raleigh News & Observer) took a shot at pinpointing the issue. What is glaringly obvious is that Duke has the highest ceiling and has been a disappointment to start conference play. Coach K going with hockey-style line changes against Virginia worked like a charm for most of the game, but the Cavaliers’ late run still points to overarching issues. North Carolina has talent, but it’s increasingly clear that the pieces just might not fit correctly there without PJ Hairston. NC State is rebuilding with (unsurprisingly) mixed results. Also a fun fact from Stephen Schramm: “The last time there was an AP basketball poll without Duke and North Carolina was December 28, 1982.”
- Cardiac Hill: Pittsburgh got some horrible news this week as Durand Johnson tore his ACL and will be out for the rest of the season. Johnson was an important offensive option from the bench, as he’s one of the Panthers’ best three-point and free throw shooters. Losing him will likely mean more minutes for Jamel Artis and maybe Chris Jones. I’d certainly like to see Jones get a little more run because he’s been a very efficient scorer in his limited minutes.
- Macon Telegraph: Speaking of Pittsburgh, the Panthers travel to Atlanta today to give Georgia Tech its second chance in as many tries to knock off a new member of the conference. Pitt is a better team than Georgia Tech, but I think the Yellow Jackets have a shot if the can cobble together a decent offensive performance. The key will be locking down Lamar Patterson and the paint, but the big question is whether Chris Bolden has finally found his shot or whether the game against Notre Dame was an aberration.
- Baltimore Sun: Jonathan Graham has been a very pleasant surprise for Mark Turgeon this season, although his playing time is at least partially due to the less pleasant surprise that has been Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell’s collective season. Graham is currently the sparkplug in the post for Maryland. Despite a size disadvantage, he’s been effective and he also brings a toughness that has been missing on the Terrapins’ front line.
- Syracuse Post-Standard: Syracuse is a big draw this season. I wouldn’t go as far to say the Orange are “like the Miami Heat or the Boston Red Sox,” but they’re certainly one of the hotter tickets in most places. That said, the Orange played their first road game at Virginia Tech in front of a half-filled stadium. But I’ll offer a caveat to these numbers: This is the first year ACC fans have had a chance to see Syracuse. Also, better teams sell out faster and more often.
EXTRA: PJ Hairston is slated to join the Texas Legends in the NBA’s D-League.