With three teams in the top seven of the AP Top 25, the ACC is loaded. The conference tournament should be an exciting one.
The tournament will begin on Wednesday at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina.
The top four seeds for this tournament—Virginia (1), Syracuse (2), Duke (3) and UNC (4)—won't have to play until Friday after getting byes for the first two rounds.
Obviously, the location lends an advantage to the teams from North Carolina, but don't look for Syracuse to offer that up as an excuse.
The Tallahassee Democrat's Natalie Pierre passed along this quote from Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim:
Boeheim was asked if he's excited about the ACC tourney being in Greensboro: "I don't care if they play the tournament on the moon."— Natalie Pierre (@Natalie_Pierre) March 9, 2014
This all sets up for a lively environment and a fun tournament. Here are all the vitals you'll need to catch the action.
|Game No.||Date/Time (ET)||Team||Team||TV|
|1||March 12 at 1 p.m.||12 Wake Forest||13 Notre Dame||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|2||March 12 at 3:30 p.m.||10 Miami||15 Virginia Tech||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|3||March 12 at 7 p.m.||11 Georgia Tech||14 Boston College||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|4||March 13 at noon||8 Maryland||9 Florida State||ESPNU/ACC Network|
|5||March 13 at 2 p.m.||5 Pittsburgh||Game 1 Winner||ESPNU/ACC Network|
|6||March 13 at 7 p.m.||7 NC State||Game 2 Winner||ESPNU/ACC Network|
|7||March 13 at 9 p.m.||6 Clemson||Game 3 Winner||ESPNU/ACC Network|
|8||March 14 at noon||1 Virginia||Game 4 Winner||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|9||March 14 at 2 p.m.||4 North Carolina||Game 5 Winner||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|10||March 14 at 7 p.m.||2 Syracuse||Game 6 Winner||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|11||March 14 at 9 p.m.||3 Duke||Game 7 Winner||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|12||March 15 at 1 p.m.||Game 8 Winner||Game 9 Winner||ESPN/ACC Network|
|13||March 15 at 3 p.m.||Game 10 Winner||Game 11 Winner||ESPN/ACC Network|
|14||March 16 at 1 p.m.||Game 12 Winner||Game 13 Winner||ESPN/ACC Network|
PackPride also tweeted the bracket:
Your 2014 ACC Tournament Bracket pic.twitter.com/qAoumgt67L— Pack Pride (@PackPride) March 10, 2014
Championship Game: Virginia vs. Syracuse
Virginia fell to Maryland in overtime in the regular-season closer, and now it will get back to its winning ways.
North Carolina is on Virginia's side of the bracket as the biggest obstacle to the championship game. The lone time the two played this season, Virginia cruised to a 76-61 win.
Who will win the tourney?
That loss dropped the Tar Heels to 1-4 in conference play; they caught fire after that. The Tar Heels began to use more zone on defense, and the offense came together as it adjusted to life without P.J. Hairston. As a result, North Carolina did not lose another game until dropping its regular-season finale against Duke.
Despite the improvements, I still don't think North Carolina matches up particularly well with Virginia. The Cavaliers defense is too tough. Virginia faced few problems navigating conference play in the regular season, and it will cruise into the conference championship game.
Meanwhile, Syracuse closed out the regular season by traveling and destroying Florida State, 74-58.
That was a needed performance after the Orange picked up two consecutive losses, dropping four of the last five, heading into that contest.
The Orange will be eager to prove they've turned around the slump that marred the end of their season and produce a strong effort in this tournament.
Their biggest obstacle to the championship game is Duke.
The two split their two matchups this season, with both teams winning on their home court. Should they meet in this tournament, I'm giving the edge to Syracuse based largely on the fact I expect Jim Boeheim's bunch to be more intent on conference tournament success in an effort to erase the memory of the season-ending slump.
ACC Champion: Virginia
Virginia just destroyed Syracuse, 75-56, on March 1 in the only meeting between the two this season.
I expect Syracuse to give Virginia a better effort should they meet in the championship game, but it still won't be good enough to pull out a victory.
As EyeOnCBB points out, the Cavaliers have work to do to gain a No. 1 seed:
Virginia's loss to Maryland likely drops another team from the No. 1 seed discussion: http://t.co/jwcdST9CJi— Eye on College BBall (@EyeOnCBB) March 9, 2014
This will ensure a motivated effort from Virginia.
The Cavaliers' consistently excellent defense held the Orange to under 36 percent shooting from the floor last game, and it would find similar success in a rematch.