ACC Tournament 2013: Power Ranking Legitimate Contenders for Title

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIMarch 3, 2013

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 02:  Ryan Kelly #34 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates after defeating the Miami Hurricanes 79-76 during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 2, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Identifying the top team in the ACC is almost as hard as picking the top team in the nation. There are four teams in the conference who can reasonably aspire to win the ACC tournament when it begins on March 14.

I've ranked the top five teams in the conference in order of the likelihood that they could win the tournament.


5. North Carolina

North Carolina may be 10-5 in the ACC, but they have feasted on the poor teams in the conference. Their record against the teams spotlighted in this article is just 2-5.

This team is obviously well coached by Roy Williams, but they struggle to score for stretches. They have won five games in a row, but are void of the leadership they need to win big games.

James Michael McAdoo is best suited as a complementary player, but his talent forces him into a leadership role he can't handle.

Even with the tournament taking place in Greensboro, they are the least likely of the top teams to win the conference tournament.


4. N.C. State

On talent alone, the Wolf Pack should be able to play with any team on a nightly basis. On the inside, C.J. Leslie and Richard Powell make N.C. State effective on the offensive and defensive ends.

They combine to average 28 points and 18.7 rebounds per game.

The team also shoots nearly 50 percent from the field and over 40 percent from beyond the arc. The problem with the Wolf Pack is inconsistency on defense. 

They can get lazy as a team, and it leads to putting their opponents on the free-throw line excessively.

Teams average 17 free-throw attempts against N.C. State overall, but in losses, Wolf Pack opponents are getting 22.5 attempts from the line.

When talented teams like the Wolf Pack lose, it is because of little things like sending opponents to the line.


3. Virginia

The Cavaliers have seen some highs and lows, but their win over Duke on Thursday was huge. Joe Harris got the headlines for scoring 36 points in the win, but it was the Cavaliers' defense that deserved the most credit.

They held the Blue Devils to 39.6 percent shooting from the field. It was that factor that primarily led to the win. This is also the reason I have Virginia in the third spot.

The Cavaliers hold teams to just 54 points per game and 38.5 percent shooting from the field. When you defend like that, you can beat any team in the nation.

This is one of those teams that nobody wants to play.


1A. and 1B. Duke and Miami

Yes, the Blue Devils just knocked off Miami on Saturday, and yes Ryan Kelly was on fire, but I'm having a hard time saying they would definitely defeat the Canes at a "neutral" site. 

Greensboro definitely gives the Blue Devils some geographic advantage, but there is nothing like playing them at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Canes destroyed Duke 90-63 in their first meeting, and I'm not so sure they wouldn't knock the Devils off again.

The team has depth on the inside and senior leadership with Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble.

Sophomore point guard Shane Larkin is underrated, and a stabilizing force. This is a really good team and one of my picks to reach the Final Four.

I fully expect to see the Canes and Blue Devils meet in the tournament final, but that game could truly go either way.


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