He's amused Cam Newton. He's been insulted by Charles Barkley.
He's interviewed Matthew McConaughey. And he's taken on Big Blue Nation. It's time for The Drive with Josh Graham. Welcome to a Monday Drive WSJS News Talk Sports for the Triad. Where it's Black Monday in the NFL and we've already seen two coaches on the chopping block.
Cliff Kingsbury in Arizona. Not much of a surprise. Lovey Smith in Houston, meanwhile. Given how much of a clown show that organization's been, maybe it shouldn't have surprised me, but after one year, that's what we're doing? Tough.
In Charlotte, it's far from grim because their Black Monday happened two months ago. And since that day, Steve Wilks has given the season meaning and he closed things out with the last second win in New Orleans yesterday. Ultimately, what happens next is going to be David Tapper's decision. Figuring out if there was enough meaning extracted from this year that Wilks should keep on doing what he's doing.
If he should have the interim tag removed. However, once the hiring process is complete, and they're going to be thorough and interview a lot of people, I'm predicting it's going to be Wilks at the end of the rainbow. And really, it shouldn't be a difficult decision for Tapper.
Let's hit this from a few different angles. If you want to start with competitiveness, in the end, is this guy going to be a winner for you? Wilks is the only hire that would not require a complete overhaul by the Carolina Panthers. If you get Jim Harbaugh, if you get Sean Payton, those are the two biggest names on the board. I don't think Carolina can get either of those guys. But hypothetically, if they could, they still have to bring in a completely different staff.
You'd have to learn new offenses and defenses. And in year one, if they won six games and finished 6-11, you'd probably hear people saying, you know what, for year one, that's not that bad. Matt Rule, he only won five in each of his first two seasons. Six, we can deal with that. Steve Wilks won six games in twelve games.
Six out of twelve. And he did it taking over a 1-4 team. And he did it without having a full coaching staff. He did it without getting to choose who his coaches would be.
It's in the middle of the season. He didn't have any say on the roster, the type of players he was. He was just dictating his personality, his style onto the roster that's there, hoping that it would resonate.
And it did. That's an amazing job that he did. David Tepper said it would take an amazing job. An incredible job was the word I think he used.
And what he did was nothing short of incredible. He's already started to build an identity for this team. And that can just continue.
You don't have to uproot. You can give this season meaning if you choose to give it meaning. If you choose to go in a different direction, then you're saying, we're just going to start completely anew, which means this season was a complete throwaway. It doesn't have to be that way if you should hire Steve Wilks. So that's the competitive side of it.
From a business perspective, there would be no sell necessary. Not to the fan base, your customers, many of whom want to see Steve Wilks be the guy. David Tepper's human. He was embarrassed by what happened in Rock Hill. He's been embarrassed by the fact he hasn't had a winning season since taking over the team and it's now been five seasons he's been the owner. You don't think he wants to do something that's popular? You don't think a guy who has the ego that he has is bothered by the fact that his fans can't stand him? He cares what people think. He cares what his customers think. That matters. If you don't think it does, it does.
I hate to break it to you. And also nationally speaking, everybody talks about diversity and hiring and these types of things are not enough black head coaches. Here's a guy who's deserving who got screwed over a few years ago by Arizona. You want to be the guy who's lambasted across the league by not hiring the hometown guy who's deserving in a black man?
Do you want to be that guy, David Tepper? So from a sell standpoint, you don't have to sell it to anybody. You'll be celebrated by your fan base. You'll be celebrated by the entire National Football League. And you wouldn't have to sell it to Steve Wilks either. Jim Harbaugh, you'd have to give him the farm. Oh, you get to pick the parts. You get to have a say in all the personnel decisions. It'd probably have to be the Matt Rule contract. Here's seven years. Hopefully it works.
Same thing for Sean Payton. For Wilks, you wouldn't have to do any of that. Hey, you want the job? Absolutely I want the job. I want to keep doing what I'm already doing. I live here.
I'm from here. You don't have to give him a seven year contract. It doesn't have to be one of those things where you feel pressured from a financial perspective. Ah, we've got to keep this guy in place because we gave him seven years. Give him a four or five year contract. See where you're at in two years.
If it doesn't work, you can make a move then. But Wilks has deserved the chance to keep coaching. Find me a better fit on the board than Steve Wilks.
That's the word that you're going to hear all over the place. Who's the best fit in Arizona? Who's the best fit in Houston?
Who's the best fit in Charlotte? You could not build in a factory a better fit for this organization than Steve Wilks. He's a defensive coach. This is a defensive roster. I'm fine with the defensive coach leading the way. And when you think about the history of the Carolina Panthers, you think about Ron Rivera, defensive coach. John Fox, defensive coach. Their best players, Julius Pepper, Sam Mills.
A statue out front. You think about the defensive side of the ball. Luke Kuechly. Steve Wilks understands that. And if you don't believe that Steve Wilks understands that, here he was in his exit interview.
His exit press conference earlier today. Sending one last message to the fans and probably, this is the secret part, probably to David Tepper as well. In order for us to be able to try to accomplish what we need to accomplish, we need to go back to our old mantra, which is keep pounding. And I think that's what you saw those guys do. They kept pounding throughout the process. And you know, when Sam Mills gave us that phrase, those words, they still resonate. And that's what we're all about. And that's what you saw those guys do. We kept pounding until the end.
Don't overthink this. He's from Charlotte. He's coached here.
When it was at its best, he's done a good job. You said if he did an incredible job, he'd get it. He'd be able to get the interim tack removed.
That's what he did. This should not be a difficult decision. Let's go to Tim in Clemens. Okay, Tim, let's start out the week right.
You're the first caller of the week. What do you got on Steve Wilks? Jim Harbaugh took a team to the Super Bowl.
Okay. And Steve Wilks is not. If you enjoy mediocrity, Steve Wilks is your man. Let me ask you this. If you want a team that will compete for conference championships and possibly going to a Super Bowl and winning it, Harbaugh is the man.
Let me ask you this. Is just getting to the Super Bowl now getting credit for winning Super Bowls? If the goal is to win Super Bowls, let me ask you that.
I'm being honest. Do you want me to go through the list of coaches who have lost Super Bowls now and we should just hire those guys over Steve Wilks? Well, let me tell you, it'd be better than the last five years of this disaster that David Tepper has been a part of. I personally would have kept the coach that he fired, the first one.
Yeah. Well, it should be noted, Steve Wilks is a Ron Rivera guy and it all fell apart for Ron Rivera when Steve Wilks left. When Ron Rivera was good, the great years Ron Rivera had, Steve Wilks was on the staff.
When it wasn't good, Steve Wilks wasn't there. Is that a coincidence? There's a whole lot of difference between being the head coach and a coordinator. Yeah. So, okay. Let's say Jim Harbaugh says no. Then what? Then you hired Steve Wilks, I guess. Okay. I can deal with that.
Thank you for the call, Tim. I would not be upset. I would not be fuming if they hired Jim Harbaugh. Even if they hired Shane Steichen, that's the only assistant you could talk me into. But if it's B enemy, if it's a defensive coach, if it's Frank Reich, I will have problems.
The only two men I won't have issue with. Tim, you're right to say Jim Harbaugh has a pretty good resume. That would not be a bad hire for Carolina.
You can try for it if you'd like. That's not a wrong way to think. But saying Steve Wilks is just embracing mediocrity if you hire him, that's where I'll push back. I'll push back on that. If you prefer Jim Harbaugh, fine. That's a fair argument. Not going to push against that. But saying that Steve Wilks is embracing mediocrity, that's the problem.
That's what I disagree with. Tonight, college football's national championship. And it shouldn't be much of a game, right? Georgia should win big.
TCU is incredibly fortunate just to be in this position. But that does not mean the game won't be interesting. It doesn't mean it won't be meaningful. Because a dog's win will be a crowning achievement for the new king of college football, Kirby Smart.
And it goes back to something I was told a long time ago. Given how much turnover we see in college sports, winning a title is really hard. Winning back-to-back is almost impossible. And even in that sport, where it always seems like the same teams win, there's only been one true repeat back-to-back champ in college football the last 25 years, and it happened about a decade ago. It was Nick Saban, winning at Alabama in 10 and 11. Kirby Smart was an assistant for that. Is that a coincidence?
I don't know. You had a split national championship in 2004 with USC involved, and they won it in 2003. That's why I say true back-to-back titles. It doesn't happen that often. And if Georgia does it tonight, that would be a big deal.
The timing of this feels pretty important. Saban's 71 years old, a couple months shy of being the oldest coach in college football. He missed the playoff this year. Dabo, he's missed the playoff in consecutive years now. Who else has won a title in college football?
Jimbo Fisher? How'd things go in college station this year? So those are the active coaches that have won a national title in addition to Kirby Smart.
And Kirby, it just seems like is lapping everybody right now. Georgia's gonna win big. TCU barely got past Michigan. Probably should have lost the game if Michigan wasn't so sloppy. Georgia, I don't even care to cover. I don't even care what the number is.
I think they're going to cover it. Who should I go to real quickly here? This is Sir Twa in Greensboro. Sir Twa! How are you doing, Sir Twa in Greensboro? Good afternoon, Josh Graham. I'm doing great. How about you, man?
Man, it's good to hear from you. What do you think about Steve Wilks? So I couldn't disagree more with the previous caller and I couldn't agree more with your points about Steve Wilks.
It's not a hard sell. We don't need to overthink it. And if there's someone who embodies the identity of what Carolina Panthers football should be, it's Steve Wilks. My question is the offense.
What are we going to do? Are we going to keep in McAdoo? And if we do, I think the bearing of the offense is what's more crucial. We know Steve Wilks can put together not only a competent defense, but a league-leading, league-winning, league-dominant defense. We know he can do that. Let's just get an offensive coordinator and let's not overthink this.
That's all. We don't need to overthink it. There's a lot of fancy names out there, but we have a good foundation. We have picks to improve where we can and where we need to. And if we need someone who can oversee the team, I couldn't agree more with you, man. I think Steve Wilks is a dead-on fit for this. And I won't overthink who the offensive coordinator should be either. Thanks for the call, Sir Twa from Greensboro. I mentioned the Houston Texans.
Their staff just got fired down there. The offensive coordinator, pretty good name. He was a guy who turned down the Panthers last year because of the unsteady situation with Matt Rule, Pep Hamilton.
Just like Steve Wilks, a West Charlotte High School alum. So just keep that name in the back of your mind as we move forward in the process. Mark this down as something I didn't think we'd be talking about in 2023 or when we first launched this show in 2018. J. Billis going back and forth with B. Dot talking about his pajamas.
Didn't have that on my bingo board for 2023. Glad it happened, though. Dan Shulman and Billis were talking about it on the broadcast, too.
And the reason why he was wearing pajamas was because it was an 1130 tip. We'll talk more about the Tar Heels in about 10 minutes. Billis says he's never worked an ACC game that started before noon. That wasn't the NCAA tournament. Ted Valentine told me he has never worked a game that started before noon. Steve Kirschner, who is North Carolina's SID, told me that he's never seen a North Carolina home game that started before noon.
So I thought that was interesting. We'll get to the Tar Heels in a bit. If you have thoughts on Steve Wilkes, 336-777-1600, it seems a lot of you do on social media or on our stream, Twitter at Josh Graham Radio or excuse me, at WSJS Radio. The Drive with Josh Graham on YouTube or on Twitch.
You can chime in that way. But let's take a quick break from the Panthers for a second and get to Graham's grades grading the rest of the National Football League. Every week is a test for your favorite sports teams.
We don't need no education. Who passed the test? If one of y'all says some silly ass name. Who dropped a ball? I don't know. Josh Graham has the answers. I think you're very condescending and a know-it-all.
Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone. Time for Graham's Grades. K through F final Graham's Grades of the regular season. Let's start with the very good of what we saw.
Hey. Obviously is the Buffalo Bills. That opening kickoff was why sports are special.
Exemplified that. The scene Josh Allen with the flag running out there that had number three on it in honor of DeMar Hamlin. They returned the kickback. It's exactly three years and three months since the last time the Buffalo Bills had a kickoff return for a touchdown. And they had two of them in the same game. It just doesn't get any better than that. That was the best thing I saw this weekend.
B. The Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a win. And your division champs game for both Jacksonville and the Tennessee Titans. Not the greatest outing for former Panther Dennis Daley, who was playing left tackle for the Titans and getting cooked on a play that ended up being the game winning defensive touchdown. Fun game to watch.
A lot of weird stuff happened in it. The Jaguars. Red hot. They've won six of their last seven games going into the playoff. C. The Miami Dolphins. You win it home against the Jets to clinch a playoff bird. But it's eleven to six. Boy vey.
And it's a C because. Congratulations, Skylar Thompson and company. But nobody wants to watch you in the playoffs. We'd much rather watch Pittsburgh, who won a ton in a row just to continue the run of Mike Tomlin. Not having a losing season in Pittsburgh. Sixteen seasons. None of them are losing seasons. They finished with a winning record at nine and eight.
They are hotter than the Miami Dolphins were. So it's a C for us, but also the game. Eleven to six.
D. The Houston Texans. They went for two. To get the number two pick. They.
Really what they should have done. Rather than try to tie the game against the Colts, just take a knee. On the extra point. On the two point try.
Take a knee. To secure the number one pick in the draft. Part of me thinks Lovey Smith knew. Lovey Smith knew that there was a chance he was going to get fired. After this game regardless.
So he went out with double middle fingers to his bosses. Oh, we're going to go for two in a game that's only meaningful if we win it. Because we will not have the number one pick in the draft.
Good luck to the next guy. You get the number two pick, not the number one pick. F. The Green Bay Packers.
It has to be them. You're at home. You win and you're in. And the team you're playing, because Seattle won just hours before the game. Or really minutes before the game. Had nothing to play for at that point. They weren't going to make the playoffs.
You lose to that team. Aaron Rodgers, last pass, potentially is a Packer. Is an interception and Detroit closes things out. That's the F performance of the weekend. I think it's the fourth time that Rodgers had a situation the last week of the season.
He had to win in order to clinch a playoff berth. First time he's lost. That's warranted of an F grade. That's Graham's Grades for this week. Haven't really even had a chance to say hi to W.D. Will Dalton, the executive producer of this show. Steve Forbes is going to join us today.
It is. 5.30. Make sure you're around for that. Next hour we've got Wake Basketball tickets to give away. Speaking of ACC Hoops. Three ACC teams ranked in the top 25 today. Virginia, Miami, and Duke. Clemson still not in the top 25.
What do they have to do? They're 13-3. They're in first place in the ACC. The only team that's unbeaten in conference play at 5-0.
They're still left out. Not good enough to be number one in the ACC in January apparently. Coming up though. Staying in ACC basketball. Something we saw from North Carolina Saturday. That we didn't see from them at all during their title run.
Keep it here on The Drive. We'll circle back to tonight's national championship matchup in just a bit. TCU and Georgia. And get back to the NFL. Quick note. DeMar Hamlin just announced on social media. He is leaving the Cincinnati hospital. He is getting set to fly back to Buffalo.
Tonight marks one week since he had that scary episode. And what a week it's been that has a happy ending. Buffalo yesterday winning big in honor of DeMar.
And DeMar being able to go home. The Panthers deciding whether or not Steve Wilks is going to be the guy. Expect that hire to really ramp up this week. With Shane Steichen being off Philadelphia having a bye week this week.
Available to interview. Jim Harbaugh having to make some decisions. Probably going to be more difficult for him to leave.
Given the news we learned in the last couple of hours. Blake Corum who was a Heisman candidate. His running back. He announced he's coming back to Michigan along with JJ McCarthy. That's a national title contender that he's sitting on in Ann Arbor.
But your thoughts on that matter are welcome at 336-777-1600. If you wanted to be skeptical about this North Carolina basketball team though. You could easily say. Who's replaced Brady Manning? And simply point to Pete Nance and say he's not Brady.
And that's fair. However on Saturday morning against Notre Dame. Pete Nance missed the game. And North Carolina still won it by a ton. I think they won by 18 points in the Smith Center. They did that without Nance.
Ask yourself this question. Could last year's North Carolina team have absorbed the loss of any of those starters? And beaten anybody in the ACC by 20?
Probably not. North Carolina has the depth that it did not have last season. That was one of the bigger questions we had about this team going into the year. And it looks like North Carolina has achieved what it set out to in building some depth beyond its starting five. Last year they only played five and a half guys.
During the tournament run. And I say five and a half because the starters averaged 30 a game. And really nobody else averaged more than 10 minutes. I think Puff Johnson sat at 10.4 minutes a game. So it might be Puff.
If it's not Puff. Here's Dontre Stiles when Manning gets thrown out of the Baylor game. It was five and a half guys that they played with. They almost won the title.
Give them credit. But it's not really sustainable to try and win without having any help from your bench. North Carolina started Seth Trimble in Pete Nance's place. That was his first career start.
He's a freshman. Puff Johnson had a career high 11 points in the game. Even absorbed a kick in the head by Cormac Ryan. I resisted every urge in the postgame to drop a Frank Sinatra reference.
Because if W.D. doesn't even get it. I doubt nobody in that locker room would get it either. Yeah I think you made a smart move there.
Ain't that a kick in the head. Trimble played well. And defensively he really adds something when he's in games. Puff Johnson. He adds some size. Perfect guy that you can bring off the bench to spell Armando Vega or Pete Nance if you need to.
Armando! So that's seven. You have the starting five. And then that's two more guys coming off the bench. That might already make you a better basketball team than you were last year. Even though we acknowledge none of the three guys that they added. Pete Nance, Seth Trimble and more emergence from Puff Johnson. Or as good as Brady Manik was. But their impact in some probably is as impactful as Brady is. And who knows.
You can add an eighth. Jalen Washington. What if he continues to progress? Walker Kessler style and emerges in February or early March as being one of the guys you could throw in there. Demarco Dunn was great spelling some of the guards. I'm more skeptical about him because you know you got Trimble, you know you got Caleb and RJ in the tournament. Are you really going to be taking minutes away from those guys and giving them to Demarco Dunn?
Don't really know about that. I wouldn't be so optimistic. Jalen Washington to me is the most interesting piece to see if he could become the eighth guy in the rotation. But North Carolina, they have depth that they didn't have last year. So I wanted to put it to Hubert. How do you feel about your bench and your overall rotation relative to last year as you move forward in the ACC?
And this is what he said. There were two games last year where I felt like we were tired. And it was not the reason why we lost.
It was the Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament and the Kansas International Championship game. And I just, for us to be the best team that we, for us to become, we have to have depth and we have to have guys that can come off the bench and give us consistent minutes. I think the cool thing about our team, it can come in many different directions.
Whether it's Seth, whether it's Puff Johnson, that's a good asset to have as you maneuver through things in conference play. On Twitter at WSJS radio, if you want in, as I mentioned tonight, national championship game, Georgia TCU. If TCU won tonight, they would be the most unlikely champion in college football history, even more than BYU winning in 1984. It was a totally different time. No playoff, no BCS. The champion was the team that ended up number one in the poll. And after beating a meager Michigan team in the holiday bowl in 84, BYU ended up number one because they didn't know who else to put there. That's kind of surprising. That's kind of where you go in that sport for the most surprising champ.
This would top that. Think about it. TCU was five and seven last year. They parted ways with the most important man in their program's history, their greatest coach in Gary Patterson, who felt like he was there forever. He's the reason why they're not in a mid-major conference right now and instead in the Big 12. And in the first year without him, Sonny Dyches is on the job, fired by Cal last year. Sonny Dyches comes in and takes them to the national championship.
Now, there's some precedent for quick turnarounds. I think it was year two for Bob Stoops in 2000 when he did it. But that's at Oklahoma.
And there's a difference between year two at Oklahoma than year one at TCU. The quarterback, Max Duggan, he wasn't the starter week one for TCU. He was beaten out in spring ball and in summer. The only reason he played is because the starter got hurt in the third quarter of game one. And Duggan came in, looked pretty good, led two touchdown drives as soon as he came in.
So he got another start. And then he kept winning. And he won a bunch of tight games.
I think they've had six or seven, maybe possibly eight games decided by one possession this year. He finished second in the Heisman voting. And if he got it to the end zone in the Big 12 championship game and they won that to be undefeated, he might have beaten out Caleb Williams.
There's a chance that could have happened. Max Duggan being a Heisman winner. And now they've got the defending champs, because of course they do. You're the most unlikely college football playoff national title participant, and now you're facing the defending champs? The best team in college football? The team that's been the best team all throughout the year?
They're 12 and a half point dogs. That's the same spread the New York Giants were facing the New England Patriots in the 2007 Super Bowl. When the Patriots were undefeated and nobody gave the Giants a chance, the David Tyree catch happened, followed by the Plaxico Burress play to put the Giants in front. But if we're going to limit it to college sports, it would be perhaps the greatest college sports champion, the most surprising at least. And I say that recognizing what that puts them in the conversation of, or what that puts TCU in the conversation of. It's NC State beating Houston in 1983 before the tournament expanded. And in the first year of tournament expansion, the 64, Villanova shooting what, 78% beating Patrick Ewing in Georgetown his final year in 1985?
It's a long time ago. We haven't had something like this in such a long time that qualifies this type of way, but that's what it would be if TCU wins. So even though in Graham's gambling, which went one and one so far this week, we've got Georgia, we've got Georgia minus 12 and a half secretly going to be rooting for TCU along with the rest of America to pull off one of the greatest upsets we've seen on this stage, if not the greatest.
Simply acclaimed on the way, ranking the top 10 teams in the ACC as we do each week. The Carolina Panthers, the big story of the day, the 2022 season is in the books. They went on a game winning field goal yesterday. And that win was a perfectly Carolina Panthers win. And it was on brand for Steve Wilks the way that they've played during the entire season. You knew they weren't going to lay down.
They didn't lay down when they were one and four. Why wouldn't they play hard in their final regular season game playing for their coach? And they had to overcome the loss of players. Carolina didn't make any excuses after losing Christian McCaffrey. They just ran the ball better after losing their best player. They didn't make excuses after losing Dante Jackson. They didn't make excuses after losing J.C. Horn. And yesterday they lost both their starting guards.
The O-line largely stayed healthy this entire year with the exception of about three quarters of the way in. You lose Pat Elflein and have to insert Bradley Bozeman. But you lose Christensen and Austin Corbett. And you're still able, you lose Deontay Foreman too who was ejected from the game.
And you still figure out a way to win? You overcome Sam Darnold? Darnold threw two picks. Darnold threw for 43 yards.
Forty-three. And Carolina still won it. And the guy who won it for you is the kicker that everybody wanted you to cut after he missed a chip shot in overtime and missed the longer PAT after the DJ Moore helmet situation in Atlanta, Eddie Pinero.
He stood by him. He hit every kick after that game. And it's fitting he's the one that win it to bring Steve Wilks to a 6-6 record.
That was on brand for Wilks and really cool to see for the Carolina Panthers. Now let's rank ACC basketball teams. It's fitting that we only do ten here because I only see ten teams at this point as we chat with you on, what, January 9th? Teams that could end up getting an NCAA tournament at large bid.
Eleven through fifteen I'm out on. And you can rank them in whatever order you please. Louisville is dead last.
We get that. But Boston College, Georgia Tech, Boston College, ranking those teams. Florida State, I'll leave that to you. Notre Dame who's not good, good luck.
You can have them. The top ten is critically acclaimed. And we start with number ten. Syracuse. Hung with Virginia. Nearly won the game.
Fell short. Still ten and six on the season though. And they had some drama at Louisville last week.
Won the game though. Beat Boston College before that. Syracuse, Boston College, they're the number ten team.
You can't, they're like a roach. You can't kill Jim Boeheim. You can't kill these ACC, you can't say that they're out of the NCAA tournament hunt. They're going to be on the bubble.
That's just what they do. Syracuse is at ten. Number nine, Virginia Tech. They've lost four in a row now.
Now, they're not losing to terrible teams. You lose to Clemson. NC State. You lose to Wake Forest. Well, I guess Boston College isn't great. Boston College.
But that was on the road in Chestnut Hill. Virginia Tech, it's not great that they got run off their home floor by NC State in the first half. And they needed Darius Maddox to hit a billion threes in order to make that tight at the end. But they're still without Hunter Couture. Mike Young's still a great coach. We know they've got the goods.
It's only a matter of time. They start playing good basketball again and they're out of conference schedules good enough that they should get the benefit of the doubt when tourney time comes around. Number eight, NC State. They win at Virginia Tech. Back to back quad ones. They blow out Duke by 24 in Raleigh. 13-4 ACC team.
We talked about it with the pack. They needed those quad ones. It was elusive at Miami. That's the next team they're going to play.
No midweek game. Miami going to Raleigh this Saturday. They couldn't beat Kansas in the battle for Atlantis.
Not a lot of opportunities for quad ones. The last two, NC State capitalized on it and they're in a pretty good spot right now. Number seven, Wake Forest Demon Deacons. They beat Duke. They beat Virginia Tech. They beat Wisconsin on the road. They probably should have beaten North Carolina last week. They had a great opportunity to win that game.
And they tested themselves out of conference. I like what the Deacs have done. I like the way Damari Monsanto is playing. It's kind of crazy to think that Damari has... He's tied for third in three point attempts in the ACC right now. Only two guys have more attempts and one of those two players is not Caleb Love. Damari is the ultimate heat check guy.
When the game got tight against Louisville and they needed somebody to make a shot, he canned back to back threes to allow for Wake Forest to win that game. Number six, Duke. They aren't 100 percent. It was ugly. That last 30 seconds was an abomination by both teams in B.C. or Boston College. But they're missing Jeremy Roach and that's important.
And Derek Lively and Tariq Whitehead. They are still progressing. They're far from being finished products.
Question is, when will they be? And will it be soon enough for Duke to realize their potential? They still have great wins and they're ranked in the top 25 today at number 24. They probably still have the largest upside of the highest upside of any team in the ACC.
It will give them some benefit of the doubt here. Number five, North Carolina. They don't have any bad losses. There isn't the game where they got run out of the building. Indiana was probably the closest to that. But Armando Bacot was hurt in the game. Virginia Tech, he didn't play in that game either. But North Carolina still made that competitive. That's the four game losing streak. You could have won against Alabama. You could have won many of those games. Pittsburgh, you had the second half lead. But given what we know about Pittsburgh now, that's not a terrible loss either. And the Tar Heels, one big against Notre Dame, one against Wake Forest as well. This is a really good basketball team. And again, I'll say it, there are not ten teams in the ACC in March.
I will take over North Carolina. But you've got to have to prove it. You've got to prove it in order to be ranked high and critically acclaimed. Right now they're at number five.
Number four. Pitt, they lost their first ACC game on Saturday. It was Clemson who is the only other ACC team that was unbeaten in conference play going into Saturday. The wins against Virginia and North Carolina, they're going to hold up. They went on the road and beat NC State.
That's going to hold up as a quad one win too. They've been such a great story in the ACC this year. And I'd argue still the best story in the ACC thus far.
Number three. Clemson, game's got to matter. And Clemson Tigers won that game and they won it on the road. They blew out NC State by 14 a couple of games ago. They beat Virginia Tech too. I really like this Clemson team. I like Chase Hunter. P.J. Hall looks like an all-ACC player.
He's been around the block a few times. Clemson deserves to be in the spot and they deserve to be ranked. It's amazing that a team that is standing alone through five or six games at ACC play, number one in the ACC and not ranked as one of the 25 best teams. It's a joke. They didn't play a great out of conference. I understand that. But they've beaten the teams that are in front of them and five of them have come from the best conference in basketball.
Number two. Got Miami here. The Canes slipped up against Georgia Tech. But after that, they bounced back, got into the win column. They've got Boston College this week.
They should have no problems with that. I was on the road where they beat Georgia Tech. The win against Virginia validated them to me. The NC State wins a pretty good one now. That counts as a quad one technically since NC State is ranked just behind Carolina in the net ranking at number 28. The Rutgers wins a really good one that they have. Love this Canes team just with the guards they have.
A little concerned about the size when you start looking at matchups when tournament time arrives. But this is an Elite Eight team from last year with a great future Hall of Fame coach, Jim Larranaga, and did a great job in adding to the transfer portal, too. The Canes have gotten it done on the floor. Number one. 13-2, the Canes on the season so far. Virginia's number one. Virginia, they lost at Pittsburgh. They lost at Miami. There aren't any bad losses on Virginia's resume right now. They lost to Houston in a game they probably should have won. Houston's back at number one in the AP poll today.
We were riding on the Hoos going into the year, and we are staying on the Hoos bandwagon. And congratulations to Tony Bennett for passing the great Terry Holland on the Virginia all-time career wins list. He is number one, Terry Holland, who, after coaching it, coached at Davidson for a little while, but best known for coaching Ralph Sampson and leading Virginia to their first ACC title in the mid-'70s. I know he's dealing with health problems right now, but Terry's one of the greatest gentlemen in the history of the ACC. He was the first AD that I got to know when I was in college working at ECU. He was East Carolina's director of athletics. Great man. Because of his health, he wasn't able to be in the building in Charlottesville when they recognized him. But a classy speech on Tony Bennett's part after the game, and Terry's wife, Ann, was able to be there. So I was happy to see that Ann made it. And you can't find a classier guy to surpass Terry Holland on the career wins list than Tony Bennett.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-11 01:33:54 / 2023-01-11 01:50:02 / 16