Jan 17, 2001 3:00 AM

The Atlantic Coast Conference is the country’s most powerful conference every year, but the gap between the Tobacco Trio, along with mighty Maryland and the rest of the nation, appears to be getting even wider.

The matchups between the conference’s top four probably guarantee several Top Ten meetings as well as the possibility of a couple of upsets, such as Georgia Tech’s home win over Wake Forest last Saturday night. A meeting between the Demon Decons and Terrapins is set for this Wednesday. Duke’s obvious strength has been witnessed in several double-digit covers this year. Carolina’s sudden surge has everyone marking their calendars for the first meeting of the neighbors, which comes up Feb. 1. The Blue Devils also meet Maryland for the first time on Jan. 27.


WISCONSIN 57, Iowa 53 ”” The Badgers’ OT loss to Michigan State was their first cover in seven outings. They’re 2-7 as a favorite. The Hawkeyes are 2-0 as a road dog in conference after the win over Purdue.

DUKE 100, Boston College 70 ”” No letup, it seems, with the Devils. They’re 4-1 as a home favorite after blitzing Virginia. B.C. is 2-0 as a road dog and covered most of late, except a pair to Miami.

KENTUCKY 79, Tennessee 77 ”” UT squandered a big lead and failed for the first time in seven outings Saturday at home against South Carolina. The Wildcats opened the conference season with a pair of wins, but failed to cover doubles to Georgia and the Gamecocks.


NORTH CAROLINA 78, Clemson 64 ”” The Tigers are 0-2 as conference road dogs, getting doubles at Duke and at home against Maryland. The Heels are rolling, but just 3-4 as a home favorite, although all three covers came at close to this price.

MARYLAND 80, Wake Forest 76 ”” The Deacons lost the first two on the conference, getting the number, however, in the thriller against North Carolina. The Terps have failed both conference games, going over both times, at home as favorites.

STANFORD 89, California 66 ”” The Bears, 3-1 as road dogs, have covered five straight, including four in conference. The Cardinal split against the number at home against the Oregon schools in the first roles as home favorites, but beat Cal by 51 here last year.


OHIO STATE 84, Michigan 70 ”” Wolverines are 0-3 as road dogs, including the first two conference games getting doubles at Purdue and Illinois. The Buckeyes have failed three straight conference games, including home failures against Penn State and Minnesota.

MEMPHIS 72, St. Louis 69 ”” Billikens have won and covered three straight, including road win at Charlotte on Saturday. The Tigers have also covered three straight on the board, but they lost in this role in a pre-holiday conference home game against Southern Miss.

ARIZONA 84, Southern Cal 74 ”” SC can’t be trusted in any role except double-digit favorite, failing its only road effort in the UCLA loss as a dog for the first time this season. The Wildcats refocused in Washington, getting the money twice for the first time in seven games.


Duke 90, GEORGIA TECH 78 ”” Duke failed this similar role against N.C. State, but it’s still 8-5 laying the number this season. Tech has covered three straight and seven of its last eight on the board, going 2-1 as a home favorite and going over in all three home totals.

ARIZONA 87, UCLA 77 ”” Bruins have five straight covers, including a win at Purdue in their only road dog role, but this is their first on the conference road. Wildcats are 2-5 as a home favorite, but beat the Bruins by 15 here last year.

MISSISSIPPI 75, Kentucky 73 ”” Ole Miss seemed to be keeping their steady improve intact until the collapse against Georgia last Saturday. These Wildcats covered their only road dog role in the Michigan State game, but lost to Georgia Tech in a non-conference similar role.

Temple 70, DEPAUL 65 -- The Owls returned after getting away from the tough pre-season schedule, but failed to get the doubles against Fordham for their first failure in six games. Demons have been one of the worst teams against the number (2-9 ATS).

VIRGINIA 88, Missouri 79 ”” Tigers are 3-0 as road dogs and 3-1 in their last four non-conference games, going over in six of eight big board totals. Cavs have failed four straight, all in conference, but covered three board non-conference games prior.

Southern Cal 75, ARIZONA STATE 71 ”” Trojans entered the week 0-3 against the number on the road. Sun Devils are off to a 0-4 spread start in conference, but won here rather handily against USC last year.