newsacc tournament wednesday things are starting to get serious down here

ACC Tournament Wednesday: Things are starting to get serious down here

virginia tech acc tournament
Photo: ACC/Jaylynn Nash

Tuesday’s social hour was nice. Today in the Greensboro Coliseum, serious basketball begins for the ACC. And for the second consecutive season, tension abounds as the conference ponders its NCAA Tourney possibilities.

No longer perceived as one of the top two or three conferences in the nation, the league is faced with the sobering fact that entering this season’s conference tourney, only three teams have pinched their post-season ticket.

That’s miles from 2019, when Duke, UNC and Virginia were all NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds.

The two prior seasons, the ACC had nine teams in the Big Dance.

The narrative for last season was quality, not quantity, for the ACC. Despite only five teams in the NCAA Tournament, three schools advanced to the Elite Eight, with Duke and North Carolina making it to the Final Four.

Fast forward to today, the conference is once again looking at the possibility of having fewer of its teams dancing after this weekend.

Regular season co-champions Miami and Virginia, along with Duke, are locks to continue playing after Saturday evening, after that, things get dicey.

Clemson, North Carolina, NC State and Pittsburgh are hopeful, but they have plenty of work to do first.

The Wolfpack and Panthers look solid to make the field; a win or two here would polish each team’s resume a bit.

The Tigers likely need at least a win, while UNC has likely played its way into needing to win the tournament championship to go dancing. Quite the fall for the Tar Heels from being the preseason No.1 team in the nation to playing for their basketball life.

Tuesday’s three winning teams, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Virginia Tech, simply lived to play another game. All three need to win five straight to participate in March Madness.

The narrative about the decline of the ACC Tournament would be hard to argue after ACC Tournament Tuesday, with three not-great basketball games played in a mostly empty building.

Wednesday, the feel around the iconic Greensboro Coliseum begins to change.

Today the stakes are raised significantly, with four games offering teams a chance to play their way into Thursday’s quarterfinals.

By Thursday, almost half of the league is already home. Depending on which teams are still alive, the Coliseum will either return to its past glory, or not.

I attended my first ACC Tournament in 1982. The conference was composed of eight teams, and the tourney was a Friday through Sunday event. The arena was buzzing from the opening tip at noon on Friday untill cutting down the nets on Sunday afternoon. It was a spectacle to behold.

To watch the tournament begin on a Tuesday, and enjoy it, is an acquired taste

At first I viewed it with sadness, reflecting back on the past and an opening round game in a full arena on Friday at noon, a longing of what was.

Then, I thought, just embrace it. Seating was general admission, offering fans a chance to sit closer to the action that they would probably never have had in the regular season. Or the exact opposite, sit in the Bob Uecker seats in the very last row of the upper deck.

You don’t have to be a heavy-hitter on ACC Tournament Tuesday.

The folks that gathered in the Coliseum on Tuesday were the diehards, the invested, part of something greater than simply basketball.

And I was one of them. And will be again today.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.

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