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ACC Commissioner John Swofford discusses new scheduling formats

The ACC announced on Friday new scheduling formats that will take effect when Pittsburgh and Syracuse begin league play, officially making the ACC a 14-team conference. Among the changes:

-A nine-game conference schedule in football.
-And an 18-game conference schedule in basketball, in which each of the 14 teams will play twice a year against one permanent partner. Games between permanent partners are only ones that will be guaranteed to happen twice per season. Given that North Carolina’s permanent partner is Duke, that means that in two out of every three seasons North Carolina and N.C. State will play just once during the regular season.

John Swofford, ACC Commissioner, spoke on Friday with The News & Observer about several issues related to the announcement of the new scheduling formats. Here’s the Q-and-A:

UNC dominates N.C. State for 74-55 win

Updated 11:19 p.m.

CHAPEL HILL — It had been eight years since N.C. State entered the Smith Center with as strong of an ACC record as it brought here on Thursday night. After five long, losing seasons in league play, the Wolfpack’s resurgence inspired thoughts that maybe they’d closed some of the margin between them and North Carolina.

But the No. 7 Tar Heels proved otherwise on Thursday during a dominant 74-55 victory that reaffirmed the gap between these programs remains wide. The Heels’ victory was their 11th consecutive in this series, and that stretch of supremacy is UNC’s longest over N.C. State (15-6, 4-2) since the formation of the ACC in 1953.

Gottfried embracing rivalry with UNC

Mark Gottfried’s two predecessors took opposite tacks in their approaches to N.C. State’s grudge match against North Carolina.

Herb Sendek downplayed the significance of the game, stressing it was only 1/16th of the ACC schedule. Sidney Lowe, meanwhile, wore a red blazer to signify how important he thought it was.

Gottfried said Monday that he doesn’t own any red blazers, but he nonetheless embraced the implications of Thursday's meeting between the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels at the Smith Center at 7 p.m. (ESPN).

N.C. State pulls away from Maryland for 79-74 win

RALEIGH – Once again, N.C. State won a game with a collection of players fulfilling their roles, not having just one star individual who carried the rest.

That was the formula N.C. State used in a closer-than-it-looked 79-74 win over Maryland on Sunday night.

And executing this type of game plan set in by first-year coach Mark Gottfried will most likely determined whether the Wolfpack reach their ultimate goal: the NCAA Tournament.

In the ACC opener for both teams, the Wolfpack showed more maturity in the second half. They limited their turnovers. They helped each other on the defensive end. And when it was time to pull away and win the game, the Wolfpack did just that.

N.C. State leads Maryland 36-30 at halftime

RALEIGH – N.C. State leads Maryland 36-30 at halftime in the ACC opener for both teams and coaches Mark Gottfried and Mark Turgeon. Here are a few observations from the first half here at the RBC Center.

-- N.C. State outrebounded Maryland 19-12 in the first half. That’s important for the Wolfpack against Maryland’s 7-foot center Alex Len. Not only are the Wolfpack holding the Terrapins to just one shot, but they are also taking advantage when they run in transition – which included at dunk from forward C.J. Leslie that was the biggest highlight in the first half that brought the home crowd to its feet.

Both Leslie (six rebounds) and forward Richard Howell (two rebounds) have been active on the backboard.

-- Leslie leads the Wolfpack with 12 points. A few of his baskets have come after grabbing offensive rebounds. At times Leslie was too aggressive in turning the ball over two times, but he’s outplaying any big man Maryland puts on him.

-- N.C. State built its lead, and maintained it for much of the first half, on a 5-0 run midway through the half by playing solid defense. The Wolfpack also finished the half well on the defensive end. N.C. State held Maryland scoreless for the final 2:36 left on the clock. The Terrapins have turned the ball over seven times, and some of them were unforced errors.

-- Forward Scott Wood has been sharp coming off screens. Wood started the game making his first three shots. His 3-pointer, coming off a screen, helped stretch Maryland’s defense. He also recorded a block in the first half.

-- This game should stay close throughout the second half as N.C. State’s biggest lead was five. Maryland clearly wants to take time of the clock and go through its offensive sets. When Maryland is passing the ball from side-to-side, the Terrapins have scored. Guard Terrell Stoglin leads Maryland with eight points.

Torian Graham changes his mind on N.C. State again

Torian Graham, one of the top basketball recruits in the country, excited N.C. State fans again today when he announced his commitment to play for the Wolfpack next season. Then, within just a few hours, he decided to change his mind again and pull out of his commitment.

This wasn’t the first time Graham, a 6-foot-4 senior guard from Durham, has reopened his recruitment after initially picking N.C. State.

In August, Graham de-committed from the N.C. State after choosing the school in May, a month after new coach Mark Gottfried was hired.

“Nothing bad happened at State,” Graham said back in August, as the News & Observer has not been able to reach him today. “I felt like I made my decision too fast and didn’t give other colleges a chance to recruit me.”

Last night, a YouTube video surfaced of Graham announcing his decision to pick the Wolfpack.

“I’m going to end up at N.C. State,” Graham said in the video. “At heart, that’s where I’ve always wanted to be.”

Graham, the No. 38 prospect in the country by ESPN, also suggested he was going to N.C. State on his Twitter account this morning.

Graham’s addition would have given N.C. State one of the best recruiting classes for next season.

Already, the Wolfpack have three seniors in Rodney Purvis (16), T.J. Warren (23) and Tyler Lewis (69) who are ranked in the top-100 by ESPN.

N.C. State runs by Elon for an 82-67 victory

RALEIGH – This one wasn’t close or dramatic, but N.C. State fans will take it.

An 82-67 victory over Elon on Friday night in front of a near sellout crowd at Reynolds Coliseum was fueled by a balanced scoring attack and solid defense from the Wolfpack.

Celebrity basketball game set for SSS High

Smithfield-Selma High School will host a celebrity all-star basketball game on Saturday at 8 p.m. The game is expected to feature Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks, former Duke player Nolan Smith, former N.C. State player Damein Wilkins, Jarrett Jack of the New Orleans Hornets, Chuck Ward of the Cary Invasion among others.
Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Call 919-669-0426 for more info or visit the event's Facebook page here

Caps' Battle to walk on at NCSU

Staats Battle, a 6-foot-5 basketball guard at Broughton,  preferred walk-on position on the N.C. State basketball team.

Word of God big men deciding

Joseph Uchebo and Yemi Makanjuola still considering options.

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