ACC Tournament 2013: Key Players to Watch During Fiery Conference Matchups

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2013

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 05:  Seth Curry #30 of the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 5, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The ACC is one of the best conferences in the NCAA, and it has some equally great players for the fans to watch. This year, with every team in full and fiery rivalry mode, some players could step up more than others in the conference tournament.

The conference is known for having a solid balance of both offense and defense, from Seth Curry's hot shooting to James McAdoo's tough-as-nails defense. This makes each team different in its own right and the games all the more fun to watch.

The 2013 tournament will not only crown a champion for the season, but also potentially have an impact on the NCAA tournament. Some squads are definitely on the tournament bubble, and their performances on the backs of star players could make or break their tourney hopes.

Thus, be they from bubble teams or top contenders, fans should definitely keep their eyes peeled for solid performances from this small handful of ACC studs.

Seth Curry, G, Duke

Like his brother and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen, Seth Curry is a deadly shooter. The senior is tied for the Blue Devils' lead in scoring with 17 points per game and has done an excellent job from beyond the arc this season, making 44 percent of his attempts.

Curry does not have much size at 6'2", 185 pounds, nor is he as fast or as strong a defender or athlete as his brother. Just the same, his shooting touch speaks for itself and if he is left wide open in three-point territory, opposing defenses had better hold their collective breath.

He doesn't have the same type of impact as teammate Mason Plumlee, but Curry is not to be written off. This is his senior season and like most people in his position, he's going to want to go out on top.

That means fans should expect him to go into overdrive in the ACC Tournament, stopping at nothing to give his Blue Devils the trophy.

Richard Howell, F, NC State

The Wolfpack rank fourth in the nation in field goal percentage and 12th in scoring, and a lot of it has to do with the work Howell has done in the paint.

The senior does not have the size of a true big man at 6'8", 257 pounds, but has still managed to average 12.8 points and a team-best 10.7 rebounds per game. He mans that area with authority and, combined with teammate C.J. Leslie, has put North Carolina State in a solid position to return to the NCAA tournament and continually improve under head coach Mark Gottfried.

The only real mark against Howell is, like most big men, his free-throw percentage. This season, he only sank 68 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe.

Just the same, Howell is extremely talented at what he does and is critical to the Wolfpack's hopes in both the big dance and the conference tournament. With a strong showing in this stage, he can definitely improve his team's chances of a favorable draw.

Joe Harris, G, Virginia

The Cavaliers may not be an elite basketball program compared to other ACC schools, but that does not take away from the fact that Harris is one of the most underrated scorers in college hoops now. Blessed with solid size for a shooting guard at 6'6", 223 pounds, the junior averaged 17.1 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field.

From long range, Harris shot an astounding 45 percent.

He isn't the strongest athlete and doesn't have much of a game outside his offense, but keep in mind that Harris scored 36 points against Duke in a victory on Feb. 28. Long story short, the kid can shoot.

Virginia may not be a favorite to win the ACC Tournament, but Harris will certainly ensure that each of the team's games are a fight to the finish.