After a lackluster end to the regular season, with North Carolina destroying Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the ACC kicks off its conference tournament to determine who really is the big boy on the block.
Obviously, the two teams that everyone will be watching are North Carolina and Duke. Those two programs met in the finals last season, with the Blue Devils coming out on top.
There is good depth in the conference this year, starting with Florida State, so don't think that the Tar Heels and Blue Devils will have an easy time when the games start.
Where: All Games at Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA
When: March 8-11
First Round—March 8, 2012 (All Games Broadcast on ESPNU and ACC Network, Streaming on ESPN3.com)
Game 1: No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 Wake Forest, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Game 2: No. 5 North Carolina State vs. No. 12 Boston College, 2:00 p.m. EDT
Game 3: No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Game 4: No. 6 Miami vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech, 9:00 p.m. EDT
Quarterfinals—March 9, 2012 (All Games Broadcast on ESPN 2 and ACC Network)
Game 5: No. 1 North Carolina vs. Maryland/Wake Forest Winner, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Game 6: No. 4 Virginia vs. NC State/Boston College Winner, 2:00 p.m. EDT
Game 7: No. 2 Duke vs. Clemson/Virginia Tech Winner, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Game 8: No. 3 Florida State vs. Miami/Georgia Tech Winner, 9:00 p.m. EDT
Semifinals—March 10, 2012 (All Games Broadcast on ESPN and ACC Network)
Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Game 10: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner, 3:00 p.m. EDT (Streaming on ESPN3.com)
Finals—March 11, 2012 (ESPN and ACC Network, Streaming on ESPN3.com)
Game 11: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner
Teams To Watch
Everything starts with the two Tobacco Road teams: Duke and North Carolina.
They have met twice already this season—one was a classic, the other was a slaughter. The Blue Devils and Tar Heels are the class of the conference, and no one else is particularly close.
The Blue Devils are going to go as far as Austin Rivers can carry them. The super frosh has gotten better as the season has gone on, but he did struggle in the final game against North Carolina. He can't let that linger with him in this tournament.
The Tar Heels have proven over the last three weeks that they are the class of the conference. Since that home loss to Duke, they have been steamrolling everyone. Going into enemy territory on Saturday night could have taken its toll on them, but they responded with one of their best all-around games of the year.
Florida State did beat both teams earlier this year, including a 33-point destruction of North Carolina. If the Seminoles are going to conquer the two titans of the ACC, they will have to play with the same intensity and consistency on offense that they do on defense.