The 2013 ACC tournament will reach its conclusion on Sunday afternoon, and the NCAA tournament will be heavily impacted as a result.
With an upset of the Duke Blue Devils, the Maryland Terrapins may have just punched their ticket to the Big Dance. Finishing 22-11 for the regular season, the team still had something to prove in order to solidify a spot in the tourney. The Terrapins may have done just that with a 83-74 win. Should the selection committee remained unmoved, a win in the semifinals would seal a bid.
You also have a Miami Hurricanes team that could very well propel itself into a No. 1 seed with a tournament championship.
Those are just two of the storylines to watch on Saturday and Sunday. The ACC tournament should prove captivating for college basketball fans.
Here is how the semifinals and title game might unfold.
No. 1 Miami Hurricanes vs. No. 5 NC State Wolfpack
The first game between these two teams went right down to the wire. The Miami Hurricanes eventually came out the victor, 79-78, after Reggie Johnson's tip-in with less than a second left. It's quite amazing the NC State Wolfpack didn't come out with the win; they shot 53.8 percent from the floor and 18-of-21 from the free-throw line. On the other hand, Miami was only 3-of-21 from behind the three-point line.
NC State is a very frustrating team. The Wolfpack have shown a ton of potential and started the season very strong. They ran into trouble when conference play came around and only managed an 11-7 conference record. In addition, NC State is only 1-3 against teams in the AP Top 25.
Miami, on the other hand, is 3-2 against ranked teams and a very strong 10-3 on the road. The Hurricanes get the edge here. They have a very good defense, only surrendering 59.8 points per game to complement their 69.0 points scored per game. The Wolfpack are giving up 69.7 points a game, which is third-worst in the ACC.
C.J. Leslie might have a good game, but it won't be enough to overcome a balanced Miami offense.
Prediction: Miami 80, NC State 69
No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 7 Maryland Terrapins
As many experts have pointed out on various occasions throughout the years, it's incredibly difficult to beat the same team twice. The North Carolina Tar Heels have beaten the Terrapins twice this season by 21 points combined.
Reggie Bullock has been the star player over the two games. He's scored 43 points on 13-of-23 shooting. He also recorded a double-double in the second encounter.
While the Tar Heels were bolstered by strong performances from Bullock, Maryland was absolutely dreadful from three-point range. The Terrapins only shot a combined 4-of-45 from behind he arc. On the season, they only shot 33.4 percent on three-pointers.
North Carolina is on a very strong run, the loss at Duke notwithstanding. The Tar Heels have won seven of their last eight games.
Maryland picked up a huge upset, but they've been so up and down all season. The Terrapins followed up their previous win over the Blue Devils with losses against the Boston College Eagles and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
With an away record of 3-7, the Terrapins will have trouble winning a second game in a row, which is essentially a glorified home game for their opponent. Despite already having won both regular season matchups, the Tar Heels will have enough to advance.
Prediction: North Carolina 75, Maryland 66
No. 1 Miami Hurricanes vs. No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels
Miami has already gotten the better of the Tar Heels twice during the regular season. The Hurricanes won both games rather comfortably.
This could very well be one of the more fun matchups to watch. On one side, you have the Tar Heels, who try to move the ball up court quickly on every possession. On the other is a Hurricanes team that has excelled when slowing the game down.
Over the two regular season games, North Carolina only shot 49-of-125, which is 39.2 percent. That's roughly 52 percentage points below their season. With such a strong defense, it's hard to bet against Miami.
Prediction: Miami 81, North Carolina 73