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Oct. 10, 2012
Steve Phillips, Associate Director of Communications for the Atlantic Coast Conference, takes you Beyond the ACCtion. Today's article is all about the build up for the 2012-2013 ACC Basketball season.
Let the Madness begin.
Atlantic Coast Conference basketball teams tip off their seasons the weekend of Nov. 9, but crowd-pleasing moves and slam dunks will be very much in the spotlight later this week.
Four ACC teams will be part of ESPNU's seventh annual Midnight Madness coverage which tips off at 5 p.m. Eastern time on Friday and will continue until midnight. Defending ACC champion Florida State will be one of 14 teams showcased nationally, along with Maryland, North Carolina and NC State.
ESPNU's coverage will be hosted by Dari Nowkhah and include analysis from Jay Bilas, Jalen Rose, Andy Katz and Dick Vitale, along with "whip-around" coverage of highlighted teams from coast-to-coast.
But in addition, opening-night proceedings at Florida State, North Carolina and NC State will be carried live in their entirety via ESPN3. Future ACC members Pittsburgh and Syracuse are also among the seven programs that will be featured on the ESPN3 platform.
ESPN's Katz rated NC State No. 6 in his Preseason Top 25 - highest among ACC teams (UNC checked in at No. 11 and Duke at No. 15). Sporting News' preseason All-America forward C.J. Leslie (14.7 points, 7.1 rebounds per game in 2011-12) anchors the returning cast from last season's NCAA Sweet 16 team. Veteran guard Lorenzo Brown, rugged forward Richard Howell and sharpshooter Scott Wood are also back with the Pack.
Add what appears to be one of the nation's premier freshmen classes in Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis and the preseason love becomes even easier to understand. In addition to the lofty ranking by ESPN, NC State has drawn a No. 9 ranking from the Sporting News and a No. 4 ranking from Blue Ribbon Yearbook.
"The Wolfpack are a preseason favorite in the ACC," Katz declared. "That alone should peak everyone's interest. NC State picked up a huge coup when Rodney Purvis was deemed eligible. There is genuine preseason excitement about this club for the first time in quite a while.''
North Carolina's 2011-12 NCAA Elite Eight squad was seemingly decimated by graduation and early entries to the NBA Draft. But the Tar Heels return a potential budding superstar in sophomore James Michael McAdoo, and return two key backcourt players from knee injuries. Dexter Strickland missed half of last season, and Leslie McDonald sat out the whole year.
The Tar Heels earned a No. 13 preseason rank from The Sporting News and a No. 9 ranking from Blue Ribbon Yearbook.
"The Tar Heels had quite a crew sitting out injured in Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald," Katz said. "This should be the national debut for James Michael McAdoo for those that haven't seen him as a featured player. UNC always has oodles of talent and this season is no different.''
There will be a sense of celebration in the air on Friday night, as Tar Heel head coach Roy Williams has been given a clean bill of health after undergoing surgery in late September. Doctors discovered tumors on each of Williams' kidneys, both of which proved to be benign.
"Once again I want to say how overwhelmed my family and I are by the support and concern of so many former players, members of the Tar Heel family and friends and fellow coaches from around the country," Williams said in a statement released by the school last week. "Saying I'm overwhelmed truly doesn't give justice to how much I appreciate all their thoughts and good wishes. The support has been off the charts."
Katz cautions against sleeping on Florida State, which brought home its first ACC championship last March and returns the 2012 ACC Tournament MVP and a preseason All-America selection in 6-foot-5 senior Michael Snaer. The Seminoles boast a second scoring backcourt scoring threat in Ian Miller and a solid frontcourt presence in 6-foot-8 forward Okaro White.
"(Head coach) Leonard Hamilton continues to profess that he has the most talented and balanced offensive team he has had in Tallahassee," Katz said. "If that's the case, then watch the Seminoles disrupt the Triangle (the area of North Carolina that is home to Duke, UNC and NC State) and win the ACC. It's certainly possible.''
Former Maryland great Len Elmore will be on hand at the Comcast Center to provide commentary as the Terps go through their Friday night opening proceedings. Maryland second-year coach Mark Turgeon returns a solid nucleus of young players who are looking at potential breakout years in 2012-13.
Season tipoff extravaganzas will abound on ACC campuses the next two weekends, and one unique event will take place off campus. The Duke Blue Devils will spend Sunday night in the barracks at the Fort Bragg military base near Fayetteville, N.C. The student-athletes will train with soldiers on the base on Monday prior to holding an afternoon practice at Funk Gym.
"We are excited to have the opportunity to train and practice at Fort Bragg," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, a West Point graduate who served five years as an officer in the U.S. Army. "It will be a unique experience for our guys to go through PT and the obstacle courses. We are looking forward to the training session as well as practicing in front of the military personnel."
ESPNU will cover the practice live from 1-2:30 p.m. on "College Basketball Live: Duke Practice at Fort Bragg." The practice will also be available on ESPN3 and on the WatchESPN app.
Please see below for a schedule of preseason fan-related events scheduled around the ACC as basketball practices get under way.
"Rock the `John'" - Friday, Oct. 19 at Littlejohn Coliseum, 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Free Admission.
"Countdown to Craziness" - Friday, Oct. 19 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 8 pm., Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at GoDuke.com; The Blue-White Scrimmage and other activities that will be carried on-line via The Blue Devil Network
"Seminole Madness" - Friday, Oct. 12 at the Donald L. Tucker Center, 7 p.m. Free Admission. Live coverage streamed on-line via ESPN3 and portions will be televised by ESPNU.
"Jacket Jam" - Sunday, Oct. 21 at the new McCamish Pavilion, 3 p.m. Free admission. Includes both men's and women's teams.
"Maryland Madness" - Friday, Oct. 12 at Comcast Center, 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. Free admission. Includes both men's and women's teams. Portions to be televised by ESPNU and Comcast SpotsNet Mid-Atlantic.
"Late Night With Roy" - Friday, Oct. 12 at the Dean E. Smith Center, 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Free admission. Includes both men's and women's teams. Live coverage streamed on-line via ESPN3 and portions will be televised by ESPNU.
"Primetime With The Pack" - Friday, Oct. 12 at PNC Arena 7 p.m. Free Admission. Doors open at 6 p.m. Live coverage streamed on-line via ESPN3 and portions will be televised by ESPNU.
"Black and Gold Madness" - Saturday, Oct. 13 at Reynolds Gymnasium, 8 pm. Free Admission. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Includes both men's and women's teams. First 500 fans receive a t-shirt.