This year's ACC tournament begins on Thursday in Greensboro with a four-game first-round slate. While only fifth-seeded North Carolina State has a winning record in conference games among the eight schools playing on Thursday, they all posted winning records in out-of-conference play this season.
And in a conference that has seen its share of close games this season, it shouldn't be a surprise if more than one game ends with the lower seed on top.
Thursday's first game features eighth seed Boston College up against ninth seed Georgia Tech. It's about as even of a matchup as we'll see all tournament, as the teams finished conference play only one game apart. But the Yellow Jackets will also be motivated to avenge a regular-season ending 74-72 loss to the Eagles last Saturday, the teams' only meeting so far.
Georgia Tech had led the majority of the game until BC made a late comeback, sealing the victory in the final seconds with a three-pointer from Chris Bolden and a Patrick Heckmann free throw. Regardless, the fact that the Yellow Jackets only lost the game in its final moments suggests that they can hang tough with the Eagles.
The second game of Thursday afternoon features 12th seed Virginia Tech taking on fifth seed North Carolina State for only the second time all season. But if the first game of the season series is any indication, the Hokies should have a chance to win.
On February 16, Virginia Tech rallied in the final 10 seconds to force overtime against the Wolfpack, tying the game at 78 and weathering a last-second three-point attempt from NC State's Lorenzo Brown. The Hokies led 84-83 with under two minutes left in overtime before free throws allowed the Wolfpack to pull away. Regardless, the up-and-down nature of the game suggests that a disciplined Virginia Tech squad could have a few surprises in store.
As the 11th seed, Clemson isn't expected to do much in this year's tournament. They only posted a 5-13 conference record, matching them up with sixth seed Florida State in the final game of Thursday night. But that may have been the best-case scenario for them, as the Tigers kept things close both times they played the Seminoles this season.
On January 5 at Clemson, the Tigers kept cutting into Florida State's lead in the second half of the game. Forward Milton Jennings hit a three-pointer with 4.5 seconds left to cut the Seminoles' lead to three, but a pair of foul shots gave FSU a 71-66 victory. On January 24, Florida State had to come from behind, as Michael Snaer hit the game-winning three-pointer as time expired to secure a 60-57 victory. Neither was a particularly convincing victory, meaning Clemson just may have a chance.
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