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Need a reason to watch the ACC this year?

Hi, my name is John. And I'm addicted to college basketball.

Tragically, this addiction is not something that occurred over night. It goes back years, to 1982, when North Carolina defeated Georgetown in the NCAA Championship game on a last-minute shot by some freshman named Michael Jordan. Whatever happened to that kid?

Anyhow, there's something about the ACC that makes it more compelling than all the other conferences. Maybe it's the history of dominant teams, legendary players and coaches, or the idea that fans are willing to camp out for hours on end just to be in the building with some guy named Krzyzewski.

With the high hopes among Virginia fans this year, and the much-awaited end to Duke's dominance, I'm more excited about this season than ever before. Here are the Top 10 reasons why, and if you're not an ACC fan, why the last season of the millenium would be a fine time to get hooked:

10. New York, New York: What would the ACC be like without the crew from the Big Apple? Pete Gillen has been the life of the party at each of the last two Operation Basketball media conferences.

There's also the growing tradition of New York City point guards in the Conference, beginning with Stephon Marbury and continuing with Ed Cota and first-year Cavalier Majestic Mapp. Let's just hope Mapp avoids Cota's problem of foot-in-mouth disease.

9. The Chop stops here: After watching Florida State dominate the ACC in both football and baseball, I have to say it does my heart good to find at least one sport the Seminoles can't dominant. That's too bad for Ron Hale, the most underrated player in the league.

8. Ramblin' Wrecked: I don't know what's more interesting: that Georgia Tech continues to have lofty expectations thrust upon them in every preseason, or that Bobby Cremins always can blame it on Dion Glover when the Yellow Jackets don't follow through. Two years ago, it was because Glover was too unseasoned to lead Tech to the promised land. Last year, Glover tore his ACL. This year he went pro. Sheesh.

7. Walk this way: In the ACC, where blue-chip prospects are far more common than a well-orchestrated zone defense, there's not much the average Joe can identify with. That's why it's so great when some of the teams place walk-ons on their roster.

Virginia gave hope to all us regular guys last year, when they pulled a slew of guys off the street and put them in uniform. While most hardly saw any game time, Josh Hare, Jason Dowling and Cade Lemcke all made the cut for this year's squad.

6. Hold the Curry: I'm not going to make light of the Achilles injury that ended Ronald Curry's football season and squashed his hoops year before it could begin. Nope. I'm above it. Let's just hope Virginia fans will still show up when the Tar Heels come to town.

5. Soap opera names: Duke definitely led the league last year with Shane, Elton and Trajan. But Virginia's recruiting class helped the Cavs take the lead: "But Stephane, I can't marry you! I'm in love with Majestic!"

4. Terence Morris: Talk about finding a diamond in the rough. Morris did an end run around the summer all-star camps and has established himself as the best player in the ACC. He went against the wishes of his parents and didn't declare for the NBA Draft. By mid-January, the rest of the ACC will be wishing he listened to Mama.

3. Willie Dersch: Dersch has taken a lot of abuse during his career. It's nice he'll enjoy a good year to round out his time as a Cavalier, even if his minutes might decrease.

2. Rivalries: Duke can't stand North Carolina. The Wolfpack loathes the Tar Heels. You always can throw out the records when Virginia and the Heels go at it. I guess this means that one thing all the ACC teams can agree on is that everybody hates Carolina.

1. Virginia downs Duke!: Okay, maybe that hasn't happened just yet. But I refuse the notion that I can graduate from the University without the men's basketball defeating Duke even once. Coach Gillen, my birthday is Dec. 28. If the Cavaliers could knock off the Devils Jan. 5, that'd make one heck of a belated birthday present.


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