It’s a Valentine’s Day tradition to run out at the last minute to get your better half a card and a dozen red roses.

At least in my case, it is.

But regardless of whether you’re an early planner or an 11½th-hour procrastinator, Feb. 14 is a day that’s all about love.

In keeping with that tradition, here is 1 thing that I love about each of the ACC’s 15 basketball programs:

Boston College

I love that the Eagles have the most appropriately named low post player in the league. I also love that coach Earl Grant’s team is much better when Quinten Post is in the lineup. The 7-foot senior is averaging 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds since returning to action against Syracuse on New Year’s Eve. He’s been even better of late, scoring 20 or more points in 5 of his past 7 games while helping BC to a 4-3 record in those games. 


If you’re an old school dinosaur like me, you have to love the fact that Brad Brownell has put together a successful season with a core of homegrown players who have been in the program for their entire careers. Forward Hunter Tyson, who has emerged as a legitimate ACC Player of the Year candidate by averaging nearly a double-double, is a graduate student in his 5th season as a Tiger. Star center PJ Hall and point guard Chase Hunter are both juniors in their 3rd season with the program. The trio has helped Clemson exceed both its overall and conference win totals from last year with 3 weeks remaining in the regular season.


I love what I’ve seen from Jon Scheyer in his 1st season as Mike Krzyzewski’s successor. No, the Blue Devils have not exactly lived up to their usually lofty preseason expectations. But they’ve shown steady growth and still have yet to reach their ceiling. Considering the fact that they’ve only played 10 games this season with all their scholarship players available because of injury, their situation could be much worse if not for their young coach’s ability to react and improvise. Scheyer still has plenty of room for growth as a coach. But he’s clearly not intimidated by the challenge of replacing the best in the business.

Florida State

This one might come under the category of inside baseball, since there’s not much to love about the way things have gone for the Seminoles this season. But the thing I love most about Florida State basketball at this moment is that its personable, hard-working publicist Chuck Walsh is finally being recognized for a career or dedication and great work. He’s been named by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association as its 2023 winner of the Katha Quinn Award for “special service to the USBWA and sportswriters who cover college basketball.”

Georgia Tech

Like Florida State, the Yellow Jackets are struggling near the bottom of the ACC standings and heading for a losing season. But despite that, I love the fact that they continue to play hard and battle down to the wire, even against teams that are far superior to them. They had both NC State and Wake Forest on the ropes, both on the road, before losing close decisions in the final minutes. Sandwiched around those games is a 2-point win against Notre Dame, earned on a putback by Lance Terry at the buzzer. There’s hope for a strong finish with all but 1 of the 6 remaining regular season games coming against teams in the bottom half of the league.


As bad as things are in the present for the Cardinals as they slog through a dismal 3-22 (1-13) season in Kenny Payne’s coaching debut, you have to love what Payne and his staff are doing for the future. Even though they lost out on legacy recruit and top national prospect DJ Wagner to rival Kentucky, Louisville has already off to a strong start for 2023 by signing a pair of 4-star prospects – wings Kaleb Glenn and Curtis Williams, the top-rated player in Michigan.


I love that coach Jim Larrañaga is finally starting to get the respect he’s earned. The Hurricanes coach is 1 of 9 1st-time nominees on the ballot this year for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Larrañaga has long been underappreciated for his accomplishments, including a Final 4 appearance with George Mason and 8 20-win seasons in his 12 years at Miami. This year’s team has already reached that plateau and is in the running for its 2nd ACC regular season title.

North Carolina

It’s been said that love makes the world go ‘round. That may or may not be the case. But for Hubert Davis’ team: As Love goes, so do the Tar Heels. But beyond point guard Caleb Love and his streaky shooting touch, I love that someone finally appears to have stepped up to become a leader for this UNC team. Armando Bacot is unquestionably the Tar Heels’ best player. But last week at Wake Forest, he became the forceful presence off the court they’ve been sorely lacking. The book is still out on whether Bacot’s verbal kick in the pants in Winston-Salem will be the turning point that helps UNC save its season. But at least now there seems to be hope.

NC State

I love the joy and energy with which Terquavion Smith, DJ Burns, Jarkel Joiner and their teammates are playing. This Pack of Wolves has done more than just save Kevin Keatts’ job and put themselves on the doorstep of an NCAA Tournament bid for the 1st time since 2018, they’ve succeeded in bringing back a frustrated fan base and breathed some badly needed life back into a proud program coming off its worst season in program history.

Notre Dame

Mike Brey says he seriously considered calling it quits on the flight home from the NCAA Sweet 16 in San Diego last spring. But he chose to return to coach the Irish this season out of loyalty to the 5 5th-year seniors on his roster. Now that he’s announced his decision to leave at the end of the season, I love the fact that Notre Dame’s administration is allowing him to take part in the process of selecting his successor.


Jeff Capel may only still be the Panthers coach today because of a prohibitive $15 million buyout that will drop to only $5 million at the end of this season. But whatever the reason he’s still around, I love the way the former Duke point guard has risen to the occasion and put together by far the best team of his 5-season tenure at Pitt. Capel’s skillful use of the transfer portal and the leadership to help overcome the loss of his team’s top freshman recruit and best returning player have put Pitt squarely in the hunt for both an NCAA Tournament bid and an ACC regular season championship. 


I love that curmudgeonly coach Jim Boeheim continues to give columnists such as myself plenty of fodder to write about. If nothing else, the 78-year-old Hall of Famer is doing a great job of deflecting attention from the fact that his team needs a miracle to get back into the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year. On a personal note, I also love that the Orange has a player named Judah Mintz, which also happens to be the name of my parents’ rabbi.


Though I’m not a big fan of the Cavaliers’ style, I love how both their players and fans have bought into it. I also love how effective Tony Bennett’s team is when it’s executing at the top of its game. UVA’s ability to impose its will on opponents with their deliberate style and relentless pack line defense, especially at home, is uncanny. This year’s team is even more dangerous than most because of the addition of a solid offensive presence throughout its lineup and off the bench.

Virginia Tech

I love the way the Hokies have battled back from a 7-game ACC losing streak to put themselves back onto the NCAA Tournament bubble. Tech is a different team now that Hunter Cattoor has returned from a 4-game injury absence. And with 2 straight 30-point performances, transfer big man Grant Basile has taken over as the Hokies’ 1st offensive option both inside and out. Because of their late run to the ACC Tournament title a year ago, they remain a dangerous team in spite of their record.

Wake Forest

There are a lot of things to love about the Deacons. They play hard, they’re entertaining and they’ve created a noticeable buzz among a fan base that had become apathetic after more than a decade of losing. Most of all though, I love what Coach Steve Forbes has brought to the rest of the league. Not only has he rebuilt Wake’s program with his creative use of the transfer portal, he has injected a badly needed dose of personality and humor into the ACC’s coaching ranks. It’s an element that’s needed now more than ever with the imminent departure of Notre Dame’s Brey.

One final Valentine

With 3 games on the ACC schedule this Feb. 14, it’s only appropriate that Ted Valentine should work 1 of them. Say what you want about TV Teddy. He’s overly dramatic and he loves attention. But he’s also 1 of the most respected officials in the country by the coaches. And that’s something to love, no matter how much we love to complain about him.