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FINAL ACC GAMES TO DECIDE SEEDS

FINAL ACC GAMES TO DECIDE SEEDS

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As the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season enters its final weekend, only one seeding has been determined for next week's championship tournament in Charlotte. Wake Forest will be No. 8 when play begins Friday in the Charlotte Coliseum.

With two games on tap today and two Sunday, there is a good possibility several ties could develop, including one for the top seeding.At 1:30 today, Maryland (5-8, 17-12) hosts Virginia (6-7, 17-9), while 11th-ranked Georgia Tech (7-6, 20-6) entertains No. 20 Clemson (10-3, 23-5) at 4. On Sunday, fifth-ranked Duke (9-4, 23-6) hosts North Carolina (7-6, 18-11) at 2, with Wake Forest (2-11, 11-15) visiting N.C. State (6-7, 18-10) at 4.

Clemson holds first place, a game ahead of Duke, but those two could tie for first if Tech beats Clemson and Duke tops North Carolina. A Tech win would assure the Jackets of no worse than a third place tie.

If Carolina beats Duke and Tech loses to Clemson, those beleaguered Tar Heels would finish third.

Should Tech and Carolina win those two would tie for third, with Clemson finishing first and Duke second.

A four-way tie for three through six at 7-7 could develop if Duke beats North Carolina, Clemson beats Tech, State tops Wake and Virginia beats Maryland.

And should Maryland defeat Virginia and Wake beat N.C. State there could be a three-way deadlock for Nos. 5 to 7 between the Terps, Cavaliers and Wolfpack.

Of course, if State wins and Carolina loses, and Maryland beats Virginia, the Wolfpack and Tar Heels would tie for fourth, Virginia and Maryland would tie for fifth. In that case, State and Carolina would play each other in the first round of the tournament and wouldn't that be something?

Confusing, isn't it?

Draws to break any ties will be made Sunday evening at the ACC office following completion of the N.C. State-Wake Forest game.

In the ACC, ties are nothing new. Last season Duke, Carolina and Virginia tied for second with 9-5 records. In 1985, Tech, Carolina and State tied for first place at 9-5, with Duke and Maryland a game back at 8-6. There have been only three seasons when there were no ties.

What makes this weekend's finale unusual is the fact Clemson is at the top. The Tigers will finish in first - either alone or tied with Duke - for the first time in the school's history. The 20th-ranked Tigers are the league's hottest team, having won eight straight. The Tigers defeated Tech 91-90 in their first meeting.

Tech has lost two of its last three, including an 81-79 setback at North Carolina Wednesday.

The Virginia-Maryland matchup could affect the NCAA tournament as well as the ACC standings.

Until losing at home to Wake Forest Thursday night, the Cavaliers looked like they would be certain of landing an NCAA spot. A loss to Maryland would mean a sub-.500 finish in the league and a 17-10 overall mark heading into the ACC tournament. Those numbers might put the Cavaliers back on the NCAA bubble.

The same can be said of the Terps, who also suffered a severe setback in a loss at Wake Forest last weekend. The Terps would have 18 wins and a 6-8 league mark with a win over the Cavaliers.

It could come down to the loser of today's game being eliminated from the NCAA picture, or it could force one of them to make a strong showing in next week's tournament.

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