Let’s face it, the ACC isn’t what it’s supposed to be

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Last night the No. 6 Duke Blue Devils took on the Maryland Terrapins, and the nostalgia sparks were flying throughout the Comcast Center.

Not only did it provide flashbacks to one of the fiercest and most underappreciated college rivalries that has since severely tempered itself, a former integral character was honored at halftime to remind us all of how great these matchups once were.

Unless you’re delusional as to the dilution this conference has seen in recent years, then you’ll agree that the ACC is not once what it once was.  Depending on your age, it’s either not the ACC you grew up on or not the ACC you introduced to your kids.

You may even be too young to know how top-to-bottom great the league used to be.

When I was growing up in the late ’90s and early aughts the league was at its prime and Duke was my team. I was one of those fans who had zero affiliation to the school, but was a causality of the overexposure the Blue Devils received from the media. Despite my fandom, I really appreciated and enjoyed the league as a whole.  It looked the best on television and didn’t play second fiddle to its football brethren.

I remember in the weeks leading up to John Feinstein’s March to Madness hardcover release I did a few more rounds of dishes to earn extra allowance money. Two weeks later, I knew every head coach’s and assistant coach’s name. Dave Odom, now a complete afterthought, was like a quasi-superstar to me.   Now, I think that Jeff Bzdelik mans the Wake Forest sidelines.

Today the league somehow manages to get labeled as both top heavy and full of parity.  The Blue Devils and North Carolina have won or shared the last eight league titles with minimal competition. During this span, the aforementioned Terrapins have simply struggled to keep up, North Carolina State hasn’t been able to consistently recruit elite high school talent,  Virginia Tech began building a new part of their campus on The Bubble, and Boston College, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest have become a collection of anonymous athletes.

Florida State, many congratulations are in order for them, but as fantastic as their recent play has been, it  just makes the conference even more confusing. Now the Heels, once National Championship favorites, have major question marks, and Duke just doesn’t have the look of a premier team.

The go-to counter argument here is that top heavy and parity in the ACC is a great year in, oh, the Mountain West. But for the past season and a half the ACC has actually found themselves ranked behind the MWC in conference RPI rankings.  They’ve also taken an inordinate amount of non-conference losses on the chin this season, which is part of an two-year low in wins out of conference since before 1980.

They’ve also lost that dang Big 10 – ACC Challenge the past three years!

Hasn’t a higher level of precedent been set for this “basketball first” BCS conference?

Within the league, yeah, Duke and UNC have almost always been the two most feared predators, but every other team seemed to at least boast one or two scoring threats that could keep games interesting and gyms packed.  Now, famed student sections like the Cameron Crazies are showing up at a decreasing rate year-over-year.  Something about camping out to see your school play middling Clemson on a Sunday night just doesn’t sound appealing.

You can say there is not enough fact to back up the claim this league is not what it once was, but to a man we know that the ACC simply felt different years ago. It provided excitement that generated chatter in school hallways and workplace water coolers every winter morning.

A lot of people used to want to talk about the ACC. Now we just talk about what it used to be.

Nick Fasulo is the manager of Searching for Billy Edelin. Follow him on Twitter @billyedelinSBN.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

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Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.