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Thursday Items

-- Matt @ Statistically Speaking has posted a nice pre-season breakdown of the ACC:

Normally a team that was statistically better than only Duke and loses as many starters as NC State would be in for a long season. But the Wolfpack do have some trends in their favor going into 2008. Their turnover margin of -16 was among the worst (116th) in the nation. It’s unlikely to be as horrendous this season. The Pack can also thank the scheduling gods for their fantastic conference home schedule. Boston College, Florida State, Wake Forest, and Miami all come to Raleigh.

Of course, we all thought that about the turnover margin last year, too. In the most optimistic prediction I've seen so far, Matt picks us to finish 2nd in the Atlantic with a 5-3 record. He crazy. (Like a fox, hopefully.)

-- Tech Sideline has also previewed the Wolfpack. Included is the essential "Guys who could play at Virginia Tech" section.

-- Steve Spurrier spoke with Go Gamecocks The Magazine (Go Gamecocks The Lunchbox! Go Gamecocks The Flamethrower!). He does not offer the most optimistic view of the quarterback situation:

But our quarterbacks need a lot of coaching. If Tommy Beecher’s going to come around, then I’ve got to really invest a lot of time with him. And see if we can’t try to get a quarterback that’s, shoot, a guy that can maybe be all-conference someday. I’ve had a whole bunch of all-conference quarterbacks. Haven’t had one at South Carolina yet. So hopefully maybe Beecher or whoever can develop.

-- Mike DeCourcy calls us winners at the NBA draft withdrawal deadline:

N.C. State. In the sports biz, we call this addition by subtraction. With J.J. Hickson and the Pack, the term one-and-done took on an entirely different meaning. N.C. State was a growing team before he arrived, a dysfunctional team with him in the lineup. Yes, he averaged 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds. And with him, State finished 4-12 in the ACC.

This should become a familiar off-season refrain. Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner are going to play better next season, there's no doubt about that, which should improve the team overall. But I suppose that rather than chalking it up to regression to the mean, it'll be because Hickson's no longer on the roster.

-- Best of luck to Clayton Shunick, who has signed a contract with the Reds.