ACC Tournament 2013: Sleepers That Can Win Conference Title

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2013

Mar 11, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Ian Miller (30) and Florida State Seminoles guard Michael Snaer (21) celebrate after winning 85-82 against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the finals of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There has not been a lot of parity in the ACC tournament in recent years, but this year can be different.

Over the last 16 years, Duke and North Carolina have won all but two titles. However, one of those exceptions was last season, when Florida State shocked many by defeating Duke in the semifinals and North Carolina in the finals to win it all.

Considering that each team at the top is full of flaws, it is certainly possible that this type of run could happen again.

Duke and Miami are far ahead of the pack in the conference standings and are expected to be favored in Greensboro. Even a North Carolina win would not surprise people after the way the team has played in recent weeks.

However, these teams are also capable of making a surprise run to a conference championship in March.


Florida State

It is obvious that this season has been a disappointment for Florida State. The squad was ranked in the Top 25 to start the year, but that only lasted one game after falling to South Alabama.

Losses to Mercer, Auburn, Wake Forest and others continued to show how low things could get.

However, there is still a lot of talent on this team that could play well when the spotlight turns on. Michael Snaer is one of the more clutch players in the country and knows how to hit a big shot with the game on the line. Last year's tournament MVP could get hot again and lead his team on a run.

Additionally, Okaro White has the same type of versatile skill set as Miami's Kenny Kadji that could give teams like Duke trouble.

If these two players show up to play at the ACC tournament, this squad could beat anyone.



By defeating Duke earlier in the month, Maryland showed that it could play with and beat the best teams in the country.

While the home crowd certainly helped, Alex Len played a spectacular game against Mason Plumlee, showing what he can do when he plays well.

If the future NBA lottery pick plays like he did in that game, there are few players that can stop him.

The Terrapins are the fourth-best rebounding team in the nation, usually beating teams on the glass by double digits. This ability to limit extra attempts by opponents helps out the defense, and the additional shots on offense help make up for a high number of turnovers.

All they need is for shots to fall, and they can surprise people on a neutral court.



Virginia often drives opposing teams crazy with its slowed-down pace. However, this allows the team to control the game and make the most of its shots. 

It also gives the Cavaliers a chance to better utilize the outside shooting of Joe Harris, Evan Nolte and Paul Jesperson. They are not going to hit 20 threes per game, but it is devastating when they make one.

When these players are making their shots from behind the arc, Virginia is almost impossible to beat. 

The Cavaliers have not shown much on a neutral court this season, but they showed they can win away from home with a huge road win over Wisconsin. If they can regain this form from earlier in the year, Virginia will be a force in the tournament.