The ACC conference tournament is set to commence on March 12 from the Greensboro Coliseum. Although the North Carolina Tar Heels will enjoy the friendliness of home-court advantage, they have a rough road ahead to take home the tournament title.
Four of the ACC's teams are ranked within the top 15 in the nation, with Virginia and Duke boasting top-10 squads. Conference play was tight over the regular season, as nine of the ACC's 15 teams finished with a .500 record or better.
Taking all of that into consideration, the ACC conference tournament figures to be one of the most highly contested events during March Madness.
Virginia looks to be the favorite entering tournament play. The Cavaliers finished the regular season with an impressive 16-2 conference record. They lost a close contest to Duke earlier in the year, but the big surprise came in the team's season finale, as they were defeated by unranked Maryland in overtime by a score of 75-69.
The Cavaliers generally have a very stout defense, but it just didn't show up against the Terrapins. Virginia forward Anthony Gill expanded on the defense's struggles, per the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
I was surprised how our defense didn't execute like we should have down the stretch. We are a defensive team, but we made it too easy for them. They're a good team, but we just slipped up. ... I feel like we just need to get back in practice and just get back to what we know -- and that's defense and not letting people penetrate.
Those kind of mistakes can lead to early departures from tournament action. If the Cavaliers cannot right the ship, plenty of other teams are more than capable of going the distance.
One such team is Duke.
During the final stretch of the season, the Blue Devils had many up-and-down moments. However, one thing that continued to shine through for this team was its resilience.
After a defeat at the hands of North Carolina on Feb. 20, Duke came right back to beat No. 1 Syracuse in its following game. Later, Duke slipped up again, as Wake Forest upset the Blue Devils by a score of 82-72.
But just like it had before, Duke regained momentum and finished the season in style, crushing the Tar Heels to the tune of a 93-81 score.
That was a huge win for the Blue Devils, as they now enter the ACC tournament with some great momentum and a high level of confidence.
Syracuse cannot be counted out either. After finishing the regular season with a 14-4 conference record, the Orange are set to make some noise in the tournament.
This team has been unpredictable this season, as it beat Duke once and Pittsburgh twice this year but faltered toward the end of the season, losing to unranked Boston College and Georgia Tech. Syracuse doesn't have much momentum at the moment, but a win in the early rounds of the tournament could give this dangerous team a head of steam.
The Tar Heels held a great 12-game winning streak over the last half of the season, but after a blowout loss at the hands of Duke in the season finale, their confidence may be shot.
They do have the pleasure of playing in Greensboro, but the competition will be difficult to get through—even with the home-court advantage.
Pittsburgh and Clemson could also be dark horses entering the contest, as each won at least 10 conference games during the regular season.
The ACC is a conference packed with talent, which should make this tournament all the more enjoyable for spectators. Let's take a look at the tournament schedule and all the necessary viewing information to ensure that not a single moment of this action-packed tournament is missed.
|ACC Conference Tournament Schedule|
|Time (ET)||Team 1||Team 2||TV Info|
|Wed., March 12|
|1 p.m.||No. 12 Wake Forest||No. 13 Notre Dame||ESPN2|
|3:30 p.m.||No. 10 Miami||No. 15 Virginia Tech||ESPN2|
|7 p.m.||No. 11 Georgia Tech||No. 14 Boston College||ESPN2|
|Thurs., March 13|
|12 p.m.||No. 8 Maryland||No. 9 Florida State||ESPN|
|2 p.m.||No. 5 Pittsburgh||Game 1 Winner||ESPN|
|7 p.m.||No. 7 NC State||Game 2 Winner||ESPN|
|9 p.m.||No. 6 Clemson||Game 3 Winner||ESPN|
|Fri., March 14|
|12 p.m.||No. 1 Virginia||Game 4 Winner||ESPN|
|2 p.m.||No. 4 North Carolina||Game 5 winner||ESPN|
|7 p.m.||No. 2 Syracuse||Game 6 Winner||ESPN|
|9 p.m.||No. 3 Duke||Game 7 Winner||ESPN|
|Sat., March 15|
|1 p.m.||Game 8 Winner||Game 9 Winner||ESPN|
|3 p.m.||Game 10 Winner||Game 11 Winner||ESPN|
|Sun., March 16|
|1 p.m.||Game 12 Winner||Game 13 Winner||ESPN|
The ACC tournament can be live streamed on ESPN3.
Full tournament bracket can be viewed at TheACC.com.