Even if this is a North Carolina site not talking about the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in general, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, would be the wrong thing to do, especially with only four teams in according to Joe Lunardi and a pair on the outside of the proverbial bubble. The top seeds, meaning #1 Carolina, #2 Duke, #3 Florida State and #4 Virginia, are going to be taking a bye on Thursday, the first day of action, while the rest of the field will be in Philips Arena playing for a chance to advance to the second round and a shot to move advance even further into the tourney. Below I will put down the Day One match ups, with times and who I see winning each of them, and then tonight (or tomorrow morning) I will give you how I see Day Two going, so on and so forth, until I give you who I believe will win it all in the end.
The first game on Day One will have No. 8 Maryland (16-14 ~ 6-10 in the ACC) and No. 9 Wake Forest (13-17 ~ 4-12 in the ACC) going at it, with tip off at noon. While neither of these teams are anywhere near the proverbila March Madness bubble this game won’t be as close as the seeding indicates as Maryland is probably more or less the 8th strongest team in the conference, which is nothing to be overwhelmed by, but is a lot stronger than Wake, which is probably the last or second to last strongest squad in the ACC. The key to this game will be Terrell Stoglin, who will go for over 20 points and Wake won’t have a solution to stop him or an answer to keep up with him. With the win Maryland will then face off against North Carolina at noon on Friday, marking the third meeting of the season between schools. In the previous two games the Terps lost at home by the final of 83 to 74 and in Chapel Hill by the final tally of 88 to 64.
In the second of the afternoon match ups it’s going to be No. 5 N.C. State (20-11 ~ 9-7 in the ACC) and No. 12 Boston College (9-21 ~ 4-12 in the ACC). This game should tip off at 2:00 p.m. EST, but as usual in tournaments it will be a bit later as they have to wait for the first game to be over and give time for the teams to warm up. Speaking of warming up I do think this is going to be a glorified practice for the Wolfpack and they will have no problem what so ever taking care of the Eagles. I see N.C. State winning this one by about a dozen points. BC will keep it close only because they will hit more trifectas than their opponents, but in the end, because of the talent they have and most of all cause they need to win if they want to have a chance at going to the NCAA Tournament instead of the NIT, the Pack is going to take this one. The next day State will face off against Virginia, with the game also starting at 2:00 p.m. EST. A win in that second game might just put them into the tournament.
In the night cap we first have No. 7 Clemson (16-14 ~ 8-8 in the ACC) vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech (11-19 ~ 4-12 in the ACC), with start time being at 7:00 p.m. EST. For these two teams the big dance is something they will not see unless they win out, but I am sure this is going to be one of those games where getting another shot at a top dog in the conference is worth fighting for as it will be their national title type game. This should be a close game from the beginning until the end, with the Tigers winning it by less than five points in a game that is not decided until the final minutes. The free throw shooting will be crucial and if Clemson was to miss more than I think they might just be in for an upset. With the win Clemson will get to take on Duke the following night, once again at the same time.
And the final game of the evening, which will start about half hour after the end of the Clemson/Va Tech game, is No. 6 Miami (18-19 ~ 9-7 in the ACC) versus. No. 11 Georgia Tech (11-19 ~ 4-12 in the ACC). This game means a lot more to the `Canes that it does to their opponents, and that will show in the outcome. I see Miami not just winning, but dominating this match up by a comfortable margin of 20 points, if not more. The firepower of the threes will help Miami control the game and Ga Tech won’t have an answer for the many trifectas hit against them. But for this squad the true test will be if they can win another game to have a 20 win season and a .500 record, which means Miami playing, and defeating, Florida State the following night. Only then would the Hurricanes have a shot at being in March Madness.