ACC Tournament Preview: #1 seeds, NCAA bids on the line in DC
Virginia, North Carolina and Miami are the teams to beat heading into the 2016 ACC Tournament, but a lot can and will happen over the course of 13 games running from noon Tuesday through about 11 p.m. Saturday night.
UVA (24-6, 13-5 ACC) and UNC (25-6, 14-4 ACC) both finished out the regular season ranked in the Top 10 nationally, with Miami (24-6, 13-5 ACC) just outside at #11.
Duke (22-9, 11-7 ACC) and Notre Dame (20-10, 11-7 ACC) could hook up in a Thursday quarterfinal, provided Duke gets past its second-round matchup with the winner of Tuesday’s NC State-Wake Forest game.
We’ll assume that, and then assume that Carolina gets to Friday night, for either a third matchup with Duke or a rematch of the 2015 ACC Tournament final with Notre Dame.
On the other side of the bracket, Virginia gets the winner of Clemson-Georgia Tech, and Miami gets either Virginia Tech, Florida State or Boston College.
Put the ‘Hoos and ‘Canes to Friday, and you could be seeing three teams – UVA, Miami and UNC – playing for #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Down the brackets, there’s an intriguing matchup on Wednesday between eight seed Pitt (20-10, 9-9 ACC) and nine seed Syracuse (19-12, 9-9 ACC). This one could very well be an NCAA play-in game, with the loser sweating bullets all the way through Selection Sunday.
What to Watch For: 2016 ACC Tournament
Does BC finally get one? Boston College (7-24, 0-18 ACC) went winless in ACC play. Tuesday the Eagles get a Florida State team (18-12, 8-10 ACC) that despite being relegated to the play-in round still has faint NCAA Tournament hopes.
An early day on Tuesday: The two games tip at 12 noon and 2:30 p.m., so at least we get to go to bed at a decent hour Tuesday night.
What a way to start the day on Wednesday: The opener on Wednesday has Pitt and Syracuse playing for their NCAA lives. It’s hard to imagine the loser, whoever that is, getting an invite to the Big Dance.
Duke needs to roll on Wednesday: The Six-Man Band gets either Wake Forest or NC State. Whoever it ends up being, you can imagine that Duke would love to wrap things up early to save whatever legs they can for Thursday and Notre Dame.
Big ones Wednesday night: Neither Clemson and Georgia Tech is likely to get an NCAA bid without winning the whole thing here, but whatever hopes either have are contingent upon winning, obviously. That’s your 7 p.m. game, and then at 9:30, we have Virginia Tech most likely against Florida State, and again, neither is likely to get a bid without hoisting the trophy Saturday night, but there is scant hope, and it rides on this one. Should be fun in both cases.
Won’t be a problem filling seats on Thursday: The first session has North Carolina, Notre Dame and likely Duke. The second session has Virginia and Miami. Call in sick to work, and stay up late.
Join us courtside!
Augusta Free Press will be courtside for the tournament, from the opening tip on Tuesday through Saturday’s championship final.
I’ll be live-blogging throughout, with game recaps, analysis and interviews with players and coaches to try to make sense of it all.
It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it, right?
– Column by Chris Graham