It's finally over.
The doldrums of the season — the period from December to February that makes the season seem to drag out— is done.
Now it's March" and No. 2 North Carolina's 7 p.m. game today at Virginia Tech marks the official beginning of the final sprint to the NCAA tournament.
""I think you have the dog days of the season — that ‘Golly-bum" this is a long season' — and college basketball is really a long season coach Roy Williams said Monday during his weekly ACC teleconference.
But when you get down to tournament time or the last week" I do think the excitement builds again on how you're going to finish.""
And standing in the Tar Heels' path toward a share of their 27th ACC regular season title is a Va. Tech squad desperate for another resume-building win.
At 17-11 and 7-7 in conference" the Hokies are the picture-perfect bubble team. They have notable wins — at then-No. 1 Wake Forest at then-No. 12 Clemson and at Miami.
But they recently added a damning loss and could be seeing their NCAA stock drop. Va. Tech lost to Virginia — their in-state rival and the ACC's 11th ranked team — and has lost four out of its past five games.
Still" it's the Hokies' Senior Night and they must know that a victory against UNC probably would solidify their tournament status.
""Going to Virginia Tech on Wednesday night will be a huge challenge for us"" Williams said.
And the Hokies have the talent to take down the Tar Heels — much like they did twice in 2007.
Virginia Tech almost did it a third time, falling 68-66 in the ACC Tournament semifinals only after a Tyler Hansbrough jumper with 0.8 seconds left.
This year's squad offers an improved sophomore Malcolm Delaney and growth from senior A.D. Vassallo — in that pair, the Hokies have scorers capable of exploding for a big night. The duo averages more than 36 combined points a game.
They've really got a good basketball club" Williams said. They're fighting for NCAA possibilities and they should be a NCAA team in my mind" completely. But it will be a big challenge for us.""
Contact the Sports Editor