ACC Tournament Preview
The Atlantic Coast Conference has always been one of the better basketball conferences since its inception. Some even compare it to the SEC in college football. When you take a look at the conference before their tournament gets underway this Tuesday, you cant do anything else but ask yourself what exactly happened? Before the season, the ACC looked like one of the stronger conferences in the country.
Looking at it now, Louisville isn’t eligible for the postseason, Duke lacks a lot of depth needed for deep postseason runs and Notre Dame isn’t nearly as good as everyone thought they might be. Then you’re left with your top 3: North Carolina, Miami, and Virginia, which don’t get me wrong is a great top 3, but I can’t help but leave this regular season feeling disappointed in this conference thinking about what it could have been. In my opinion I see four out of a possible 15 teams with a great chance of taking home the conference championship. So without further ado, lets break down the ACC.
First lets start with the teams that will probably be making early exits out of the tournament. Boston College, Wake Forest, NC State, Florida State and Georgia Tech all are expected to be either eliminated in their opening game or be eliminated by whoever they face the following day. One game I’ll be very interested to look at will be Pitt versus Syracuse. On one hand, you look at Pitt who started their season red hot winning 14 of their first 15. After that however, they really couldn’t beat any of the better teams in their conference until late in the season when they defeated Duke. Even after that victory, they dropped two consecutive games to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
Now after being a sure thing for the tournament, they now have to fight for their tournament lives against a Syracuse team, who even though the season may not have gone the way they wanted, can still make the tournament with a win over the Panthers. I think Pitt edges Syracuse in a close game, but unfortunately for the Panthers, they run into the ACC regular season champion North Carolina Tar Heels the following day, which probably ends their ACC tournament.
If you’re looking for your contenders in this tournament, look no further than these four teams, UNC, Miami, Virginia and Duke.
Starting off with Duke, they don’t have the depth for a big time run in the NCAA tournament, but with a coach like Mike Krzyzewski and a big 3 like Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram, and Luke Kennard, this team can be very dangerous and can find themselves in the ACC title game.
Miami is an interesting team in which nobody really expected them to rise up and take the two seed in this tournament. But looking deeper into this team, they are a very well rounded team. They get great guard play out of Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan and they play great defense, only allowing 66.1 ppg. They also are 5-2 against top 25 teams proving they can beat the best.
Which leaves us with just Virginia and North Carolina, both teams I believe we will see playing Saturday night for the ACC title and a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Virginia prides itself on defense, giving up only 59.6 ppg, good enough for second best in the country. On offense, you look no further then Malcolm Brogdon, who is shooting close to 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the three-point line. Virginia is a tough team to beat and North Carolina knows that, losing the only meeting of the two teams 79-74.
North Carolina however, is incredibly gifted offensively; averaging 82.9 ppg and averaging close to 20 assists a game. Led by Brice Johnson, who has been nearly unstoppable this season with the ball in his hands, the Tar Heels have posted some very impressive victories against No. 2 Maryland, No. 22 UCLA and completely eviscerating Miami 96-71. I believe the missing key to this team, however, is Marcus Paige, who has gotten into a little bit of a shooting slump. If he can break that, him along with Johnson should be nearly unstoppable.
So to finish this off, Virginia and UNC will meet up in the championship game Saturday, but expect the Cavaliers to come out on top. While the regular season might not have been what we expected, tournament season usually doesn’t disappoint.
Carson Brown is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.