With the regular season wrapping up over the weekend, the highly touted ACC Tournament action will begin this Thursday and oh what a tournament it should be. The University of North Carolina (UNC) and Duke University have the #1 and #2 tournament seeds, and in the AP polls both teams are ranked in the nation’s top ten. UNC is currently ranked #1 in the country, and are the favorites to win the ACC Tourney, while Duke holds the #7 AP spot and looks to avenge an 8 point loss (76-68) to the Tar Heels that they suffered over the weekend.
The top four seeds receive first round buys so along with UNC and Duke, #3 Clemson and #4 Virginia Tech will be watching the first round of games awaiting their opponents for the second round of play on Friday 3/14.
The first round match ups include four games where teams will not only be battling for a chance at the ACC Tournament Championship, but fighting for their NCAA Tournament life. In the #8 vs. #9 game, Wake Forest will take on Florida State. Wake won the only meeting between the two teams this year on the road, logging a 78-70 win on Valentines Day. The winner of this game has the luck of drawing UNC in the 2nd round, so this game may be a clash to just add one more win to an NCAA Tournament resume hoping to boost their chances to get in as a bubble team.
Another opening round match up which may be closer then some believe at first glance is the # 5 vs. # 12 game, with Miami matching up against NC State. Many see Miami as the clear favorite but on Jan. 19th when the two teams met during the regular season, NC State pulled off the upset beating the Hurricanes who were then ranked 21st in the country. The winner of this game will take on Virginia Tech in round two.
In the #7 vs. #10 contest, Georgia Tech battles Virginia in what looks to be another great game. This will be the third meeting of the season for the teams, with each school notching a win thus far. In both games, the visiting team came up victorious so playing at the neutral site might make things interesting. The winner will take on Duke in the second round, whom neither team beat during their regular season.
The final game during the first round of the ACC Tournament will feature #6 Maryland vs. # 11 Boston College. Through the first 16 games of their schedule, BC was 12-4 and looked to be on their way to another NCAA Tournament birth. The Eagles have since dropped 12 of their last 13 games to fall to 13-16 on the season, and now their only hope at the NCAA tourney would be to capture the ACC Tournament championship for an automatic bid. Maryland lost to the Eagles early on in the season (Dec. 9th) when they were still hot, but beat them in early February during the beginning of the BC’s cold spell.
First Round ACC Tournament Predictions:
– Wake Forest over Florida State by 15. Close game in the first half but WF full court pressure defense will cause the Seminoles to leave the reservation for good.
– NC State over Miami by 3. Who isn’t a sucker for the 12 vs. 5 upset? NC State beat the Canes during the regular season and with a great perimeter performance they will do it again in round one of the ACC Tourney.
– Virginia over Georgia Tech by 6. Neither team is playing great basketball right now but both will come out trying to control the flow of the game. Virginia will win that battle, playing an up-tempo style and their fast break will be too much for Georgia Tech’s sluggish defense.
-Maryland over Boston College by 12 – Losers of six straight, the Eagles just can’t remember what its like to win and let the Terrapins kick them while they’re down. Maryland is on the NCAA Tournament bubble and needs this win big time to help their chances.
Round two of the ACC Tournament will be televised on ESPN 2 on Friday March 14th and the tournament Semifinals and Finals will be broadcast on ESPN over the weekend.
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