Conference Tournament Preview: ACC
The ACC tournament tips off today once again from the Greensboro Coliseum with Georgia Tech and Boston College beginning the action at noon. Unlike years past, the ACC has had a relatively weak year, which leaves little drama heading into the conference tournament. Duke, UNC, NC State, and Miami appear to be the conference’s only locks for the NCAA tournament, and only Virginia can bolster their résumé enough in the coming days to earn an at-large bid.
The Cavaliers (21-10, 11-7 ACC) picked up a huge win over Maryland last Sunday night that, at the time, appeared to have put them in place for an at-large bid. But a lot has changed since then and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi now has Virginia as the very last team in the tournament. As the 4-seed, they’ll play the winner of NC State and Virginia Tech. The possibility of playing the Wolfpack, a lock for the tournament, would give Virginia that final quality win to secure an at-large spot.
Last year it was Florida State as a 3-seed that surprised the country with their run through the ACC tournament knocking off Duke in the semi-finals and then North Carolina in the championship game. The Miami Hurricanes (24-6, 15-3 ACC) enter as the regular season champions and 1-seed in the tournament. Duke (27-4, 14-4 ACC) enters as the two seed, but after last Saturday’s drumming of the Tar Heels many have the Blue Devils as the favorite heading into the weekend.
A fourth tournament title in the past five seasons for Mike Krzyzewski and company would land Duke a number one seed in the NCAA tournament and most likely send them to the Washington D.C. region.
Four games headline today’s opening round with the most meaningful matchup coming at 7 pm between No. 7 seeded Maryland and No. 10 seeded Wake Forest. The Terps saw their tournament hopes dwindle away following the loss to Virginia and now must win four games in four days to go dancing. A win tonight over the Demon Deacons would setup a clash with Duke, who they knocked off at the Comcast Center back on Feb. 16. Maryland would then have to potentially play North Carolina and Miami in order to win the title.
With such a drastic drop-off in talent between the top three seeds and the rest of the field, don’t expect to see a whole lot of upsets come the weekend. The opening round is completely up for grabs, but come Sunday, look for Duke and Miami to have their rubber match of the year. The Hurricanes dominated the first time they met in a 90-63 victory, but Duke, behind the shooting of Ryan Kelly in his first game returning from injury, took the second game 79-76 in Durham.
Matt Lawrence is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism and economics. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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