That silliness ends today.
Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC) which still has a shot at its best season since the ACC was formed, will host N.C. State (3-5, 0-5) today at 4 at Wallace Wade Stadium in a game to be shown on ESPNU.
The matchup is one of two ACC games to be played in the Triangle today, as UNC (2-3, 3-5) will host reeling Virginia (2-7, 0-5) at 12:30 at Kenan Stadium in a game to be shown on WRAL.
N.C. Central (4-5, 2-3 MEAC) will travel to MEAC rival Hampton (3-6, 3-2) at 1 p.m.
The wait is over for fans of ACC women’s basketball.
Yes, the action starts today, with two Triangle teams hitting the court.
No. 12 UNC (29-7 last season), which is picked fourth in the conference, will host Air Force (4-26) at 4:30 p.m. at Carmichael Arena.
Then at 6 N.C. State (17-17), picked ninth, will take on St. Bonaventure (10-19) at Reynolds Coliseum.
Conference favorite and defending champion No. 2 Duke (33-3) will open Sunday at 6 p.m. at No. 9 California (32-4) in a game to be shown on ESPNU.
The Blue Devils return five seniors, all members of the No. 1 recruiting class of four years ago including forward Haley Peters and guards Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston. Also back are junior center Elizabeth Williams, the ACC rookie of the year two seasons ago, and sophomore guard Alexis Jones who was MVP of the ACC Tournament. Joanne P. McCallie’s club also has the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class led by forwards Oderah Chidom and Kendall McCravey-Cooper.
And that’s rarely the case when North Carolina’s most anticipated college football game of the year kicks off.
But when UNC (2-5, 1-3 ACC) visits N.C. State (3-4, 0-4) today at 12:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium in a game to be shown on WRAL, it’s even more of a must-win game than usual on both sides.
The last time both teams came into this one with losing records was in 2007, when Butch Davis and Tom O’Brien was each in his first season at the helm. The loser of this one is going to have to struggle mightily to qualify for a bowl game, while the winner’s position is far, far, far from assured.
The State-Carolina game is not the only Division I game in the Triangle today.
N.C. Central (4-4, 2-2 MEAC) will take on MEAC leader Bethune-Cookman (7-1, 4-0) — ranked No. 12 in the FCS and consensus No. 1 team in Black College polls — at noon at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium in a game to be shown on ESPNews. An upset could help interim head coach Dwayne Foster’s bid to become the Eagles’ head coach next season.
Meanwhile Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC), which will be in a bowl game and has a chance to lay a claim to be the best team in the state for the first time in a generation, is idle until next week’s home game with the Wolfpack.
It shouldn’t be hard since the Blue Devils are 7-6-4 (4-4-3 ACC) and Pitt 4-12-1 (0-11). But Duke had to fight very hard to beat a struggling N.C. State team 1-0 with a second-half goal Thursday night.
Today there will be an extra advantage because of the Senior Day sentimentality, with eight players playing their last home game for the Blue Devils. The game is shown on Fox Sports Carolinas.
Pitt will start freshman goalie Taylor Francis, who played last year at Panther Creek High.
Duke does take care of business this time, scoring half a dozen first-half goals en route to a 6-3 win.
That’s going to be the situation for UNC this afternoon, when the Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3 ACC) host Boston College (3-3, 1-2) at 3:30 p.m. at Kenan Stadium (Fox Sports Carolinas).
If UNC is the victim of an upset, the Tar Heels will have to win all five remaining games to get a sixth win and the bowl trip they missed out on last year because of the NCAA probation.
All six remaining games are winnable, but if the Tar Heels are going to save their season it HAS to start today.
UNC is the only Triangle Division I team at home this weekend. And the two other local ACC teams will be road underdogs.
N.C. Central (3-4, 1-2 MEAC), which is all but out of the MEAC race, will be favored to get to .500 when the Eagles visit Savannah State (1-7, 0-4) at 2 p.m. It’s a must-win game for NCCU interim head coach Dwayne Foster.
Oddly, all three local ACC teams are playing at the same time. Duke (5-2, 1-2), which needs one win to will look to pull off a shocker at No. 14 Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0) in an ESPNU game. Meanwhile N.C. State (3-3, 0-3) will look for its first quality win under Dave Doeren and possibly the national upset of the year in a visit to No. 2 Florida State (6-0, 4-0).
Duke (6-6-4, 3-4-3 ACC) is still on track for an NCAA bid barring some late-season disaster as the Blue Devils host N.C. State (6-11, 1-10) in their annual cancer awareness game. The Blue Devils will wear pink and the “D” in the center circle is also pink as they raise funds for the family of 6-year-old Morgan Blazek of Apex, who is a survivor of the eye cancer retinoblastoma.
The Wolfpack is in its first season under Tim Santoro.
The Blue Devils get one second-half goal against State’s 4-4-2 attack, prevailing 1-0 in the absolute must-win contest.
So even with the addition of a Final Four team to the mix, the Blue Devils still command plenty of respect in the conference.
ACC media day was on Wednesday and Duke was picked to finish first by both the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the coaches, followed by Notre Dame, Maryland and UNC in the top four. N.C. State, under new head coach Wes Moore, was picked 10th.
The Blue Devils, who had the No. 2 recruiting class in the country led by forward Oderah Chidom, placed seniors Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston along with junior Elizabeth Williams on the preseason all-conference team. Blue Devil freshman Kendall McCravey-Cooper was named to the panel’s newcomer watch list.
UNC, deemed to have the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, will begin the season with Hall of Fame head coach Sylvia Hatchell sidelined as she battles her recently diagnosed leukemia. Her career-long top assistant Andrew Calder will coach the Tar Heels in her absence.
Tar Heel sophomore Xylina McDaniel made the all-conference team, while Diamond DeShields is on both newcomer watch lists.
But for UNC, the time to start winning is now. Urgently. Now.
The Tar Heels (1-4, 0-2 ACC) are going to have to win at least five of their last seven games to qualify for a bowl game, and it won’t be an easy task. That stretch run begins tonight at 7:45 at Kenan Stadium, when they host surprisingly good No. 10 Miami (5-0, 1-0) in an opportunity for a major upset — if they play by far their best game of this season.
The UNC-Miami showdown is one of three games involving Triangle squads this weekend. The other two games are Saturday.
N.C. Central (3-3, 1-1 MEAC) will look to get its ship righted when the Eagles host Morgan State (1-5, 1-1) at 2 p.m. at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
Duke (4-2, 0-2 ACC) is on the road at Virginia (2-4, 0-2) for a 3:30 p.m. contest on Fox Sports South, and if the Blue Devils can win it they’ll be on track for a second straight bowl game and their best season since 1994.
N.C. State (3-3, 0-3), which is licking its wounds after back-to-back ACC losses in winnable games, is idle until next Saturday’s trip to Florida State.
The next game will determine whether or not a squad will have a winning record at the halfway point.
And that’s the situation this weekend for the three of the Triangle’s four Division I college football teams who are taking the field in home games.
The answers start coming tonight at 7:45, when N.C. Central (3-2, 1-0 MEAC) hosts S.C. State (4-2, 2-0) at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium in a game to be shown on ESPNU.
And the ACC teams play Saturday, with Duke (3-2) hosting Navy (3-1) at Wallace Wade Stadium at 12:30 on WRAL and N.C. State (3-2, 0-2) entertaining Syracuse (2-3, 0-1 ACC) in the Orange’s first visit to the Triangle as an ACC member at 3:30 on Fox Sports Carolinas.
UNC (1-4, 0-2) has the day off before hosting Miami a week from tonight.