The ACC tournament represents the last chance for some teams to improve their seeding and set up a deep run in the NCAA tournament. For others, it represents their final chance just to have their ticket punched to get into the Big Dance.
Whatever the case may be, some teams enter the ACC tournament with big stakes on the line.
College basketball is all about momentum. Whoever has Uncle Mo on their side when the NCAA tournament starts is the one that will have the best shot to be dancing into April. Gaining that momentum all starts with a strong showing in the conference tournament.
These teams will need to be at their very best to get the most out of this season.
The Canes are in no danger of falling out of the tournament. They're locked in and should be no lower than a No. 4 seed regardless of what they do the rest of the season.
However, they run the risk of entering the tournament ice cold. After winning 14 straight from Jan. 2 to Feb. 19, the Canes' momentum has come to a screeching halt. They were handed their first conference loss at Wake Forest and have lost three of their last four since the impressive streak.
The losses have been close so they are still playing at a high level, but there are kinks to work out before taking on the field of 68.
The Hurricanes get one more regular-season game against Clemson to figure things out but that alone won't be enough. Miami needs to put together a good run to show the committee that they are worthy of a high seed and can handle the pressure of being a favorite during the madness.
Unlike the Hurricanes, the Cavaliers will be fighting for their tournament life.
After scoring a huge win at home against Duke, it appeared the Cavaliers had pretty much reserved their spot in the Big Dance. Since then, they've lost back-to-back games on the road against Boston College and Florida State. Those aren't the kind of losses that the selection committee will take lightly.
A final regular-season game against Maryland looms, but it's the ACC tournament that could ultimately determine the Cavaliers' fate.
They have all of the pieces to put together a good run. They've proved they can play with anyone in the conference with wins over North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina State. Now they have to show they can do it in crunch time.
With a 6-6 record in their last 12 games and only two wins over RPI top 50 teams, the Terps aren't exactly on fire.
All that being said, the Terps are on Joe Lunardi's list of "next four teams out," which means that they are still within striking distance to make it in the field. However, if they drop their final game against Virginia or make an early exit in the ACC tournament, they can book their ticket for the NIT.
The Terrapins' current lack of signature wins would be their undoing if Selection Sunday were this weekend. However, that can be remedied by pulling a few upsets in the ACC tournament.
Maryland needs a big performance in the conference tournament more than any other team because it will be on the outside looking in if it goes one-and-done.
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