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ACC showdown will be intense

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Jan. 14, 2005
What an incredible matchup down in the Triangle on Saturday! North Carolina, riding a 14-game win streak, meets Wake Forest. Both teams are 14-1 and the lead in the ACC is on the line. Anyone who follows college basketball is excited about this match-up.

Chris Paul
Chris Paul will be one of many stars on display Saturday.
The game features several legitimate NBA first-rounders. Start with North Carolina's talented trio of Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants, who should be stars at the next level. Chris Paul is a lock to be a star in the pros. Writer Dan Wetzel had a great analogy, calling Paul a combination of Allen Iverson and Shane Battier; Iverson on the floor, Battier off of it.

This game should have incredible intensity. These teams split last season, with the road team winning both times. Wake Forest's win was a 119-114 classic overtime thriller, while the Tar Heels won at Winston-Salem, 79-73. Three-point shooting is one key this time around. The Demon Deacons have been on fire on trifectas lately. Justin Gray had made 14 of his 23 attempts in ACC play. Paul is 17-of-24 over his last eight games.

Watch the inside matchup of May vs. Eric Williams. Last year May posted double-doubles in both games vs. Wake Forest. In Wake's win last season, Williams had 24 points and eight rebounds.

Two of the best backcourts square off. Paul and Gray can stretch the defense shooting from long distance. Felton and McCants will be fired up for this challenge.

There are underrated players who will have a role in this contest. Jamaal Levy is a solid defender and rebounder, a very aggressive, active player. Jawad Williams has been North Carolina's leading scorer as five Tar Heels are averaging in double figures. North Carolina has an explosive group coming off the bench, including Marvelous Marvin Williams, the magnificent diaper dandy who will eventually become a superstar. He provides athleticism and a spark. Then throw in David Noel, Reyshawn Terry, Melvin Scott, Jackie Manuel and Quentin Thomas and this is quite a group.

Wake Forest has Kyle Visser as a solid backup to Eric Williams in the post. Trent Strickland handles many intangibles and Taron Downey gives them an experienced guard who can often excel in the three-guard alignment.

This is going to be a special afternoon. Brad Nessler, Doris Burke and I are ecstatic to sit on courtside and broadcast on ABC for this mega-matchup. Media members from all over will be at this game, like New York Daily News writer Dick "Hoops" Weiss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Vahe Gregorian and many reporters from the Triangle. It is always fun to spend time with those writers because of their passion. It is so unique to feel the emotion and soak in the environment.

Joel Coliseum will be rocking and rolling. Roy Williams vs. Skip Prosser on the sidelines, Eric Williams vs. Sean May in the post, Raymond Felton vs. Chris Paul at the point, Rashad McCants vs. Justin Gray, Jawad Williams vs. Jamaal Levy WOW! Let's get it on.

The sad part is these teams meet only once during the regular season since the ACC expanded. That's a real shame, but let's enjoy this classic confrontation.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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