WALLACE WADE STADIUM/DURHAM Duke resumes its series with Florida State on a perfect afternoon for, well, anything anyone would want to do outdoors.
And everything seems to be pointing in the direction of a possible Duke upset.
It’s the first meeting in four years. Now yes, FSU has won all 16 meetings in the series and has never come closer than 19 points. And David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils (3-2, 1-0 ACC) are on a three-game winning streak while Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles (2-3, 0-2) — which were actually the favorites for the ACC title — have lost three straight.
Still the visitors are 12 ½-point favorites.
And the oddsmakers, as usual, turn out to be right.
On the day Duke radio guy Bob Harris calls his 400th straight game, the Blue Devils get way behind early and can’t get it back in a 41-16 loss.
(This story is not by Mike Potter but by Al Drago, an IndyWeek sports photographer and Elon photojournalist.)
DURHAM/CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM—Duke basketball fans got their first taste of the new season as the Blue Devils hosted their annual “Countdown to Craziness” event Friday evening in a sold-out Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Players entered the court through a stage that resembled a plane, which is fitting considering how much traveling the players have already done. The team played a series of exhibition games on tours in China and Dubai back in August, which they won all four games.
But according to senior Miles Plumlee, it’s good to be back home.
“Seeing the fans out there before, it was unreal," Plumlee said. "I felt like it was a real game. It was just so much fun and it was a great way to get us started for the season."
The team played a Blue-White scrimmage followed by a dunk contest judged by a pair of alumni currently in the NBA, Gerald Henderson and J.J. Redick.
Floridians will be invading the Triangle for a couple of pretty big ACC football games today.
UNC (5-1, 1-1 ACC) will host Miami (2-3, 0-2) at 12:30 at Kenan Stadium, while Duke (3-2, 1-0) will entertain preseason conference favorite Florida State (2-3, 0-2) at 3 p.m. at Wallace Wade.
N.C. State (3-3, 0-2) is idle, waiting for its trip to Virginia a week from today.
The Tar Heels have shaken off the effects of the scandals that have hit the program so hard over the last year and turned into a club that’s not far from the Top 25. A win over the Hurricanes would assure the Tar Heels a bowl berth.
UNC is 8-7 all-time against the Hurricanes and 4-0 in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels are 2 ½-point favorites.
While most coaches view amplified preseason accolades with a combination of fear and contempt, Williams understands and embraces why the Tar Heels are ranked by most the No. 1 team nationally this fall. The blueprint was laid two years ago. Elite talent? Yes. Experience? Yes. Players flirting with the NBA draft, only to pass up a viable shot in the pros to pursue a collegiate title? Yes.
"I think we're going to be a very good basketball team," Williams said during Thursday's media day. "If we can stay healthy and get things going the right way, we're going to be one of those teams that has a chance to win the whole thing."
Harrison Barnes enters his sophomore campaign as arguably the top player in the country.
Barnes’ problems early last season inspired great angst among fans and scathing criticisms from media lashing out at Barnes due to their own excesses — the same people who ridiculously named him a preseason first-team All-American were the first to tab him a bust when he suffered through the typical freshman learning curve — but he finished the year brilliantly and is poised for the honors predicted for him since high school.
He also may hold the distinction as the highest-esteemed NBA prospect in UNC history to reject the draft. Tyler Hansbrough could have exited and become a first-round selection after any of his first three seasons, but scouts never considered him a top-three pick as they did Barnes.
But, a loss to the sixth-seeded Stars this Saturday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park would be especially devastating considering how Carolina arrived at this point. Merely three months ago, this RailHawks squad laid claim to the mantle of most dominant American soccer team. Their record at the midpoint of the 28-game regular season was 12-1-1, including a 10-match winning streak.
Since July 3, the RailHawks’ mediocre mark consists of five wins, eight losses and two draws, including a five-match skid currently gripping the club. Over those five straight losses—the last two being defeats at the hands of NSC Minnesota—the highest-scoring team in the NASL has netted a grand total of one goal and been outshot by a margin of 62 to 35.
RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—Question: When is the fourth game of an 82-game season a must-win? Answer: When you lost the first three games.
The Carolina Hurricanes finally broke through in the win column Wednesday night, assembling their first comprehensive effort of the year. All it took was a nationally televised visit from the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.
Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand scored for the Bruins, who had been publicly called out by coach Claude Julien earlier in the week after a slow start of their own. After cavorting with the Stanley Cup itself at a New England Patriots home game over the weekend, there was even talk of the Bruins possibly being cursed. Once the puck drops on a season, players don’t touch the cup unless they’ve won it. But the Bruins were stuck doing it. The ceremony had been rescheduled from early in the football season, before the hockey season started.
But this game wasn’t about curses. This game was about the Canes—to a man—putting out the kind of intense, 60-minute effort that it will take for this team to capture a playoff berth. Every player on the ice did something worth mentioning.
FSN SOUTH (TV)—The Canes didn't take advantage of their overtime power play. The Capitals, however, capitalized on theirs.
Eric Staal put a forgettable Friday debut behind him, notching two power play goals and an assist. He was stronger in all areas of the ice: backchecking effectively, carrying the puck into the offensive zone with authority, and even holding his own in the faceoff circle.
But Mike Green scored halfway into the overtime period after Jussi Jokinen had notched a late goal to send it there. Nicklas Backstrom had a pair of assists.
CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM/RALEIGH N.C. State will play its final non-conference game of the season at home on a perfect day for football, and the Wolfpack needs to win this one badly.
State (2-3) is on a two-game losing streak and hosts Central Michigan (2-3) of the Mid-American Conference in the schools’ first meeting in football.
For the first time in school history the Wolfpack will don black jerseys and black pants, the jerseys trimmed in pink this time as part of a breast cancer awareness promotion.
Coaches are all wearing pink polo shirts, and the all-female dance team is in pink T-shirts.
State has been bitten badly by the injury bug, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and is hoping to hold on one more week as a favorite before its open date on Oct. 15.
The Wolfpack will play without fullback Taylor Gentry (foot), while linebacker Terrell Manning will return to the fray following his knee surgery of Sept. 19.
After Scotty McCreery presents the National Anthem the Wolfpack takes the lead for good late in the second quarter and builds on it, repelling the Chippewas 38-24.
RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—The Carolina Hurricanes made a lot of changes over the summer. But game No. 1 of this season could have been mistaken for game No. 83 of last season.
Canes-killers Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier both scored in the second period—Lecavalier on a two-man advantage that seemed to break Carolina's spirit—and Tampa's wunderkind Steven Stamkos added two assists. Reigning Calder Trophy-winner Jeff Skinner notched the only goal for the home side to get his second NHL season off to a good start.
The ACC’s two local state universities each have home non-conference football games this week, and they’re in vastly different positions at this point in the season.
Then at 3:30 N.C. State (2-3) will take on Central Michigan (2-3) in the teams’ first meeting. The Wolfpack is an 11-point pick.