There will be a ton of talent on display during the ACC tournament quarterfinals.
With Virginia, North Carolina, Syracuse and Duke all in action, it’s very possible we could be getting a glimpse of one or two of this year’s Final Four participants. The conference is that good this season.
But before they can think about the NCAA tournament, teams will have to first navigate through the ACC tournament.
Here are the quarterfinals matchups on tap for Friday:
|12 p.m. ET||No. 1 Virginia (64) vs. No. 9 Florida State (51)|
|2:30 p.m. ET||No. 4 UNC vs. No. 5 Pittsburgh|
|7 p.m. ET||No. 2 Syracuse vs. No. 7 NC State|
|9 p.m. ET||No. 3 Duke vs. No. 6 Clemson|
T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
It doesn’t get much better than Warren in terms of talent in this tournament.
The sophomore forward has been fantastic this season, helping carry the Wolfpack to several wins single-handedly. In 31 games, he has averaged 24.8 points and 7.1 rebounds on 53.1 percent shooting.
For his efforts, Warren was recognized as the surprise choice for ACC Player of the Year.
But if that wasn’t impressive enough, the Durham, N.C., native has been on an offensive tear in recent weeks. He has averaged 32.3 points over his last six games while netting at least 20 points in 15 consecutive games.
With North Carolina State pretty much needing to win the ACC tournament to earn an invite to the Big Dance, expect Warren to take his game to another level against Syracuse on Friday. After all, his 23 points nearly helped the Wolfpack upset the Orange back on Feb. 15, 56-55.
The opportunity for revenge is certainly on Warren’s mind leading up to this one.
“That was a tough (loss),” he said, per Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Benedict. “It lingered with us. I’ve been looking forward to playing them again.”
In other words, Warren is ready to breakout.
Jabari Parker, Duke
When isn’t Parker must-see TV?
The freshman forward has excelled this season, looking like a man amongst boys. In 31 games, he’s averaged 19.2 points and 9.0 rebounds on 48.7 percent shooting while breaking several school records in the process.
Not surprisingly, Parker was named the ACC Freshman of the Year.
Coming off a 30-point, 11-rebound effort against North Carolina in a 93-81 win, the Chicago, Ill., native will be coming in hot. He will also have the added motivation in knowing that Clemson embarrassed the Blue Devils, 72-59, the last time these two met.
With ACC Defensive Player of the Year K.J. McDaniels on the other side, Parker will have to earn his points—he only netted 15 on 5-of-13 shooting against the Tigers on Jan. 11.
It will be interesting to see how Parker approaches the matchup this time around.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Fair was a large part of the Orange’s early-season success.
The senior forward has produced night in and night out. In 31 games, he has averaged 16.9 points and 6.2 rebounds on 44.1 percent shooting.
Fair’s play has him listed as a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award.
But his confidence and leadership is what keeps him going and keeps Syracuse winning. As The Post-Standard’s Mike Waters notes, Fair has high expectations for the team:
Syracuse's C.J. Fair: Anything short of Final Four would be a disappointment | http://t.co/8UNZri1bkX— Syracuse Basketball (@syrbasketball) March 13, 2014
With four losses in their last six games, the Orange will have to straighten things out. More importantly, Fair will have to take control of the game.
Especially against a North Carolina State team that packs a punch—Fair scored 11 points on just 5-of-16 shooting the first time these two met.
Can Fair help Syracuse realize their potential or will he allow the team to stumble its way into the NCAA tournament?
Unless otherwise noted, all stats, rankings and RIP/SOS information are courtesy of ESPN.com.