NC State can't lose to Virginia today and feel good about their NCAA chances. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)
March Madness is here and how do the ACC bubble teams look?
ESPN’s latest blog update via Joe Lunardi has both Miami and NC State in the “First Four Out.” In his latest full field, he has UNC, Duke and FSU all in the top-4 seeds (1, 2 & 4 respectively) and Virginia in the 8/9 game.
CBS’s Jerry Palm has both ACC teams in the field – Miami firmly in the field and NC State in the First Four.
SI.com’s Andy Glockner says NC State needs two more wins to feel secure, while Miami has to beat FSU as well.
Yahoo’s The Dagger has the Hurricanes just in the NCAAs, but the Wolfpack barely on the bubble – not in the first 8 considered.
Analysis: As I thought I going into the weekend, Miami and NC State need at least two wins – so Wolfpack, beat Virginia, and Miami, beat FSU again to keep feeling good. Even with as optimistic a projection as CBS, the bubble is so volatile that they could both drop out of that one easily with losses today. And frankly…after watching the two struggle through yesterday, I wouldn’t put them in if they lost today either. Earn your way in.
NC State struggled with a stretch of trips to Clemson and Duke and hosting FSU and UNC, but recovering with wins over Miami and at Virginia Tech + two ACC Tournament wins = NCAA Tourney bid? (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi says NC State and Miami need two wins for NCAA chances, and on opposite sides of the bracket, they both have the chance. Duke and UNC are playing for higher goals seeding-wise – FSU and Virginia as well. The rest are just trying to play spoiler, and keep their seasons going a little longer.
My forecast for the long weekend of ACC hoops…
(72-23 on ACC regular season picks)
Game Schedule (Picks in bold)
Day One (March 8)
12:00 (EST)–8) Maryland (6-10, 16-14) vs. 9) Wake Forest (4-12, 13-17)
2:00–5) NC State (9-7, 20-11) vs. 12) Boston College (4-12, 9-21)
7:00–7) Clemson (8-8, 16-14) vs. 10) Virginia Tech (4-12, 15-16)
9:00–6) Miami (9-7, 18-11) vs. 11) Georgia Tech (4-12, 11-19)
Day One Notes: That’s right – FOUR 4-12 teams on day one of your ACC Tournament, quality stuff. The potential upsets are the ones that make sense with the 8/9 and 7/10. Virginia Tech won by two on its home-court against Clemson, and the Tigers vice-versa. Clemson could have some issues there if Tanner Smith’s fall against FSU Sunday keeps his head a little fuzzy all week, but I’m thinking he’ll be solid or his teammates pick him up to advance on.
Maryland and Wake met just once back on Jan. 11 with the Deacs falling just short, 70-64 on the road. The Deacs haven’t won an ACC Tourney game since the 2006-07 season, and after getting throttled 81-67 by BC last year (and just watching Wake Forest period), excuse me if I’m not exactly confident in Jeff Bzdelik’s tournament skills.
Miami put away Georgia Tech with ease in Philips already this season (64-49), and with their NCAA Tournament bid life on the line, shouldn’t have an issue now either.
Day Two (March 9)
12:00–1) UNC (14-2, 27-4) vs. 8) Maryland
2:00–4) Virginia (9-7, 22-8) vs. 5) NC State
7:00–2) Duke (13-3, 26-5) vs. 7) Clemson
9:00–3) Florida State (12-4, 21-9) vs. 6) Miami
Day Two Notes: The Tar Heels struggled with Miami in this game last year, but will have considerably less trouble with the Terps.
In the 4/5’s Cavaliers-Wolfpack showdown, I’m calling for the first upset seeding-wise (though I suspect I won’t be alone here). Their one matchup came down to the wire in Raleigh – Virginia shooting 44.2 percent in a 61-60 win. NC State had 16 offensive rebounds in that game, but couldn’t score on its final possession to pull off the upset. After the brutal four-game gauntlet/losing streak, the Wolfpack might just be turning things around and could use a win here and in the next round for locking up an NCAA bid.
This is Coach K’s element, the ACC Tournament, but Duke escaped Littlejohn with a 73-66 win thanks to one of Andre Dawkins’ occasional big games (24 points off the bench) and 10-of-20 Clemson free throw shooting. Still, this Blue Devils team, despite the UNC disaster, is playing better as a whole then that first meeting and the Tigers need most everything to go right offensively to pull off the upset.
In 2011, the 3/6 matchup was one of just two upsets the entire ACC Tournament with the Hokies outslugging a 3-seeded ‘Noles team, 52-51. Back in this spot again is FSU, facing a foe (Miami) who drilled them just a little over two weeks ago, 78-62, down center Reggie Johnson. The ‘Canes went to the line 34 times – making 23 free throws, while the Seminoles didn’t even shoot half that (16). But Florida State is coming off shooting 50 percent with 11 3-pointers in an 80-72 Senior Day win over a streaking Clemson team. I really liked the energy of the Seminoles in a game with no seeding or NCAA-bid on the line – with an experienced crew, they’re gunning for an ACC Tournament title and have the talent to pull it off. Stay up for this 9:30ish tip, this just might be the game of the day and possibly the tournament.
Day Three (March 10)
1:00–2) Duke vs. 3) Florida State
3:00–1) UNC vs. 5) NC State
Day Three Notes: Like last year, calling for a chalk-y ACC Tourney with all four in the semis among the top five seeds, but in round three of Duke-FSU, I like the Seminoles to shake things up here. In the Feb. 23 matchup, the Blue Devils clearly played with an edge that Florida State just never matched. After watching the debacle last Saturday, I’m not really sure what to expect from Coach K’s crew in Atlanta and beyond. To a certain extent, FSU shot over their heads in the 76-73 win at Cameron, but Duke hit 13 3-pointers (6 from Dawkins alone) in the Blue Devils’ win in Tallahassee. If the Seminoles can make Duke work a little harder for shots in Atlanta, they take the rubber match in the series. (Written pre-Ryan Kelly injury, but obviously, the ‘Noles chances have increased with him out for the tournament)
With the Heels/Pack matchup, you just never got the feeling NC State could run with UNC in the first two games – maybe close for a little while, but the Roy Williams’ bunch turning it on the second half. Maybe NC State will put together the perfect game, but on a third game in three days vs. one of the best in the country just on day two – don’t like their chances.
Day Four (March 11)
1:00–1) UNC vs. 3) Florida State
Championship Game Notes: Now this is a rematch I think most everybody would like to see. Of course, FSU was led by Deividas Dulkys’ 32 points (8 3-pointers) in a 90-57 beatdown of the Tar Heels at the Tuck on January 14. Beyond raining 3s, the Seminoles also dominated on the boards with 14 offensive rebounds and a 41-33 rebounding edge overall – something you just don’t see against a UNC squad first by far in rebounds per game and rebounding percentage in the ACC. Back then, the Tar Heels were in position for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, and coming off a 88-70 drubbing of Duke in Cameron, they’re back in that place where the Seminoles have a chance to play spoiler once again. This could be a classic, but FSU runs out of gas on their bid to semi-shock-the-world and UNC gets a little revenge en route to a sweep of the ACC regular season and tournament titles.
Who wins the 2012 ACC Tourney?
- NC State (33%, 3 Votes)
- UNC (22%, 2 Votes)
- Clemson (22%, 2 Votes)
- Duke (11%, 1 Votes)
- Virginia (11%, 1 Votes)
- FSU (0%, 0 Votes)
- Miami (0%, 0 Votes)
- 8-12 seed (1%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 9
Clemson is charging hard for that last ACC Tourney bye, but they'll fall somewhere in the middle with a Miami win over BC (pic per OrangeandWhite.com).
Here we go (projection after the picks)…
(67-22 on ACC season picks)
12:00 PM ET – Georgia Tech 64 Wake Forest 59 (Atlanta) – Wake Forest dismissed senior center Ty Walker Fri. before its season finale at Georgia Tech – he played 17 minutes and didn’t score against Duke on Tuesday. With a Senior Day win, the Jackets are looking to play their way out of last place – they actually out-shot Wake 37 to 33 percent from the field in a 59-50 loss at Winston-Salem in mid-February. The Deacs are 4-0 against the bottom-four teams around them, but Georgia Tech gets an inspired effort here to grab ACC win No. 4.
ACC Tourney Fallout: Wake Forest is a 10-seed, Georgia Tech a 11-seed by a three-way 4-12 tie with BC.
2:30 PM ET – Miami 74 Boston College 63 (Coral Gables) – After a misstep in Raliegh, Miami has to close out the season by taking down likely 12-seed BC for their fading NCAA hopes. Without three wins, they’ll fail to reach that 20-win benchmark usually good for a bid, so that means a win here and two in the ACC Tournament, which could be tough depending on where they land. The ‘Canes dominated the Eagles in Chestnut Hill, winning 76-54. With a lot on the line, I’d expect more of the same here.
ACC Tourney Fallout: Miami ties with Virginia at 9-7 for a 5-seed, BC gets rematch with the Hurricanes on Thursday next week as a 12-seed.
7:00 PM ET – UNC 80 Duke 76 (Durham) – Not much on the line here, only an out-right ACC regular season title, 1-seed in ACC Tournament and staying alive for 1-seed NCAA Tournament chances. Duke comes in on a 7-game winning streak – UNC a 6-gamer, since the home loss to the Blue Devils on Austin Rivers’ cold-blooded buzzer-beater. Rivers put on a show in Chapel Hill with 29 points (6-of-10 on 3-pointers), while Harrison Barnes posted 25 and Tyler Zeller had 23 and 11 rebounds. Relatively speaking, Duke hasn’t been a good home team, and UNC hasn’t been a great road team despite their twin 13-2 ACC records (26-4 overall). There’s a lot to like about how the Tar Heels matchup against Duke, but obviously, if Rivers goes off again that could be equalized a second-time.
ACC Tourney Fallout: UNC clinches a 1-seed, Duke a 2-seed.
12:00 PM ET – FSU 64 Clemson 58 (Tallahassee) – Winners of five of their last six, Clemson is charging towards the front going into postseason play with an increasingly better shot at the NIT after struggling through the early part of the season. They face a trip to a team they beat by 20 points in Littlejohn at FSU, who has a little momentum of their own off Ian Miller’s shot to steal one in Charlottesville. The Seminoles will honor six seniors who’ve had their share of ups and downs in Tallahassee, but overall, have put together a pretty strong season. This seems to be a series where the home team wins, but the Tigers have had more success in FSU than the other way around – taking two of the last five at The Tuck. Clemson stands a decent shot at making things interesting in the ACC Tourney bye race here (especially watch turnovers – Clemson is first in turnovers forced and FSU last in turnovers committed in ACC play), but come up just shot.
ACC Tourney Fallout: FSU already clinched a 3-seed, Clemson is right in the middle as a 6-seed.
2:00 PM ET – Virginia 57 Maryland 54 (College Park) – All eyes turn to College Park Sun. as a pack of teams in the middle of the conference eye that last ACC Tourney bye. After heartbreaking losses to FSU and UNC at home, Virginia has to hope they regain that mojo that helped them dominate these same Terps just weeks ago, 71-44 in Charlottesville. Maryland shot 27 percent from the field and Mike Scott put up 25 points in the win. The Cavaliers’ depth is an increasing problem, Malcolm Brogdon (who scored 14 points against Maryland) didn’t play against FSU Thurs. with a foot injury and Assane Sene remains out after the collision way back in the Georgia Tech win. On the other side, Maryland struggled at Chapel Hill like everybody else not named “Duke” to a 88-64 loss coming off the 63-61 defeat in Atlanta. They’ll honor a couple of seniors Sun. and seem to be due for a good game – will Virginia shut them down again?
ACC Tourney Fallout: Virginia holds on to a 4-seed and tourney bye, while Maryland already clinched an 8-seed.
6:00 PM ET – Virginia Tech 63 NC State 59 (Blacksburg) – The ACC’s regular season closes on what could be a very interesting game when it comes to determining that last ACC Tourney bye, and the shuffle at the bottom of the conference for who’s playing who in Atlanta next week. The hard-luck Hokies couldn’t close in Clemson Thurs. despite multiple chances given to them down the stretch, while NC State kept flickering NCAA hopes alive by sweeping the Miami series, 77-73 in Raliegh Wednesday. This is their first meeting of the season, and don’t let the Hokies’ record fool you, they’re solid team. Six-straight Virginia Tech games have either gone to OT or been decided by two points (2-4 in that stretch – h/t HokiesJournal). Just seems like something is bound to go right for them here, leaving NC State’s one hope at the NCAA Tournament being an ACC Tournament title.
ACC Tourney Fallout: NC State slips back to a 7-seed, and Virginia Tech moves up to a 9-seed.
1) UNC vs. 8) Maryland/9) Virginia Tech
2) Duke vs. 7) NC State/10) Wake Forest
3) Florida State vs. 6) Clemson/11) Georgia Tech
4) Virginia vs. 5) Miami/12) Boston College
Day One (March 8)
12:00 (EST)–8) Maryland vs. 9) Virginia Tech
2:00–5) Miami vs. 12) Boston College
7:00–7) NC State vs. 10) Wake Forest
9:00–6) Clemson vs. 11) Georgia Tech
Day Two (March 9)
12:00–1) UNC vs. 8) Maryland/9) Virginia Tech
2:00–4) Virginia vs. 5) Miami/12) Boston College
7:00–2) Duke vs. 7) NC State/10) Wake Forest
9:00–3) Florida State vs. 6) Clemson/11) Georgia Tech