After two days of quality action in the ACC tournament, the top seeds finally enter the fray with a conference title in mind.
Virginia, Syracuse, Duke and North Carolina are surely well rested, but as plenty of tournaments have shown in the past, a complacent top dog is susceptible to an upset by a team that has been in the trenches without rest.
The historic tournament with an infusion of squads from the Big East has lived up to the billing thus far. Here is how the tournament has played out to date, with a look at predictions for a massive Day 3 to follow.
|1||No. 12 Wake Forest, 81||No. 13 Notre Dame, 69|
|2||No. 10 Miami, 57||No. 15 Virginia Tech, 53|
|3||No. 11 Georgia Tech, 73||No. 14 Boston College, 70|
|4||No. 9 Florida State, 67,||No. 8 Maryland, 65|
|5||No. 5 Pittsburgh, 84||No. 12 Wake Forest, 55|
|6||No. 7 NC State, 67||No. 10 Miami, 58|
|7||No. 6 Clemson, 69||No. 11 Georgia Tech, 65|
Schedule and Viewing Guide
*The ACC tournament can be live streamed on ESPN3.
|Game No.||Date/Time (ET)||Team||Team||Prediction||TV|
|8||March 14 at 12 p.m.||No. 1 Virginia||No. 9 Florida State||Virginia 68, Florida State 58||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|9||March 14 at 2 p.m.||No. 4 North Carolina||No. 5 Pittsburgh||North Carolina 70, Pittsburgh 66||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|10||March 14 at 7 p.m.||No. 2 Syracuse||No. 7 NC State||Syracuse 82, NC State 70||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|11||March 14 at 9 p.m.||No. 3 Duke||No. 6 Clemson||Duke 77, Clemson 66||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|Game No.||Date/Time (ET)||Team||Team||TV|
|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 7 p.m.||Game 12 Winner||Game 13 Winner||ESPN/ACC Network|
No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 1 Virginia
It was a great upset win for the No. 9 Florida State Seminoles over the Maryland Terrapins on Day 2, but now Leonard Hamilton's team has a tough task on its hands in the form of No. 1 Virginia.
The Cavaliers swept the Seminoles in ACC play this season, winning each contest comfortably by 12 points.
Which team wins?
Simply put, do not expect much of an upset here. Florida State's Ian Miller posted 17 points to propel the Seminoles over the Terrapins on Day 2—and slammed home the game-winning dunk—but he mustered point totals of six and nine against the Cavaliers in the regular season.
Those Cavaliers, fresh off their first outright regular-season title in 33 years, are now on the prowl for only their second ACC tournament title since 1976. Guard Joe Harris says the team is looking to emulate the other successful teams in the conference that kick it up a notch come tournament time, according to Aaron Beard of the Associated Press, via the Boston Herald:
It seems like the teams that always do well in the postseason, the Dukes and Carolinas, those guys always seem to take a step up when they get into the ACC tournament, the NCAA tournament, whatever it might be. I think that's a step that this program has to take and hopefully we can try to make that stride this year.
It sounds harsh, but a matchup with Florida State is a good way to start. The Cavaliers tout a suffocating defense that has held all but three teams to less than 70 points. The Seminoles simply do not have the firepower to break through, nor an answer for Malcolm Brogdon (12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game).
Prediction: Virginia 68, Florida State 58
No. 4 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Pittsburgh
It was an easy warm-up for the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second round of the ACC tournament, as Lamar Patterson dropped 24 points and an 8-of-13 mark from the field on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to set up a matchup fans around the globe surely want to see.
The two sides met on Feb. 15 in Chapel Hill, where North Carolina was able to use the advantage to secure a 75-71 victory.
Which team wins?
Since then, Pittsburgh has done nothing more than struggle in ACC play before the tournament. It hardly managed to get past Notre Dame and Clemson, while suffering ugly defeats at the hands of Florida State and N.C. State.
In other words, a well-rested Tar Heels team is a dangerous one for the Panthers, momentum over a miserable Wake Forest team or not. North Carolina has a new look after sitting near the bottom of the ACC before it rattled off a 12-1 record to finish the year, as Harold Gutmann of The Herald Sun illustrates:
UNC used a different formula than usual to clinch a top-four seed after a 1-4 start in conference play. The Tar Heels are playing at a slower tempo than at any time in Williams’ 11 seasons, according to college basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy. UNC’s offensive efficiency ranking of 51st in Division I is also the second-worst under Williams, trailing only the NIT-bound team of 2010.
This philosophy already knocked off Pittsburgh once and stands a good chance at doing so once again. The combo of James Michael McAdoo and Marcus Paige will once again be too much to handle for the Panthers.
Prediction: North Carolina 70, Pittsburgh 66