With just a few hours before the tip of the ACC Tournament, here’s hoping everyone can take a few “personal days” to check out the best basketball action of the year. Make sure to click on the blog over the next couple of days as I’ll provide insight, predictions and the occasional witty remark as we crown a champion in the queen city of North Carolina.
All four top seeds in the tourney (North Carolina, Duke, Clemson and Virginia Tech) get a chance to watch some hoops as the remaining eight teams in the conference play into the main bracket on Thursday.
Let’s take a quick look at the opening round matchups of the ACC Tournament:
(8) Wake Forest vs. (9) Florida State
Winning just one of its final five games, Wake Forest travels to Charlotte with more questions than conference wins. Featuring a team without any senior leadership, the Demon Deacons must hit jump shots to keep their postseason tournament hopes alive. On the flip side, Florida State has won four of its last five games and enters the second season as one of the conference’s hottest teams. With three solid senior guards, (Ralph Mims, Jason Rich & Isaiah Swann) look for the ‘Noles to chop down the Deacs in the first round.
Prediction: Florida State 85, Wake Forest 77
(5) Miami vs. (12) N.C. State
Needing a win to lock up a certain NCAA Tournament berth, the bubble boys from Coral Gables look for revenge against a N.C. State team that got a miracle win against the Hurricanes in January. Jack McClinton leads Miami in points per game (17.4) and assists per game (2.6). Watch for McClinton to have a breakout tournament in Charlotte. The worst team in the conference, N.C. State, hasn’t won a game since February 5th. There’s not exactly a tidal wave of momentum for the boys from Raleigh. Expect this one to get out of hand early.
Prediction: Miami 74, N.C. State 59
(7) Georgia Tech vs. (10) Virginia
The most exciting first round matchup gets the primetime treatment it deserves. Playing an erratic and sometimes effective transition game style of ball, Georgia Tech starts the postseason fresh off two conference wins. If this team that hung with North Carolina earlier in the season gets hot, do not count them out for a deep run in the championship. It seems like Virginia spent the entire regular season to play four games that matter in the month of March. Tallying only one win in the month of January, the Cavaliers have the look of an improbable team pulling off a miracle. It’s a shame one of these teams has to lose.
Prediction: Virginia 92, Georgia Tech 88 (OT)
(6) Maryland vs. (11) Boston College
Maryland crawls into the ACC Tournament with zero momentum. In the past week the Terps have gone from NCAA bubble team to falling below a number one seed in the NIT. With only two seniors on the squad and a total lack of focus from their guard play, its very likely that the Terps could be one and done in the ACC Tournament. Then again, Boston College hasn’t won a basketball game since Valentine’s Day. Losers of 12 of their last 13 games, the Eagles need someone to help standout guard Tyrese Rice. It looks like the nightcap of the opening round could be the worst game of the day.
Prediction: Boston College 67, Maryland 62