Well it's that magical time of year once again. Yes, the ACC Tournament is back. Some teams can play their way into the Big Dance, some teams can play their way out, and some teams have nothing to lose. Either way, there is a lot of basketball to be played before one of these 12 teams cuts down the net. Let's take a look at the first round.
No. 8 Boston College vs. No. 9 Virginia
What’s at Stake: A chance to get pummeled by Duke in the second round awaits the winner of this game.
Why to Watch: Two teams with nothing to lose. Sylvan Landesburg likely plays his last game as a Cavalier. If you’re a Duke fan you have plenty of reason to watch (not that either team offers that much of a threat to you)
Key Match-ups: Landesburg (17.3 ppg,, 2.9 ast) vs. Reggie Jackson (12.7 ppg, 4.5 ast). Two athletic guards who can score a lot. Boston College’s Joe Trapani may also be matched up against Virginia’s Mike Wood, the only other Cavalier who averages double figures.
Who Wins: I’ll take Boston College. They are much more balanced scoring wise and Virginia likely will have trouble matching up in the paint
No. 5 Wake Forest vs. No. 12 Miami
Time: 2:00 PM
What’s at Stake: Wake Forest’s NCAA tournament bid. Many think the Deacons have punched their ticket, but it would definitely hurt to lose to Miami, a team who has come close in a lot of games but just can’t seem to win.
Why to Watch: To see if Wake coach Dino Gaudio can win a game in the postseason. He got off to a bad start last year losing in their first ACC tourney game as well as the NCAA. He may be in some hot water if his team loses to a struggling Miami squad, especially if such a loss were to keep them from the NCAA Tournament
Key Match-ups: Miami has struggled without Jack McClinton in the lineup, but their leading scorer, Forward Dwayne Collins could prove to be a solid match-up against Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu (15.9 ppg, 10.8 reb). Ish Smith vs. the rest of Miami’s defense should be interesting as well. Can anyone they have stop him from driving the lane?
Who Wins: I’ll take Wake Forest despite the fact that they’ve lost four of their last five. Something in my gut tells me that they win it, probably in a close game
No. 7 Georgia Tech vs. No. 10 North Carolina
Time: 7:00 PM
What’s at Stake: Georgia Tech’s bid to the NCAA Tournament
Why to Watch: UNC has nothing to lose, and even though they have lost to Georgia Tech twice in the regular season, they are loaded with talent. Will they wake up when it matters most?
Key Match-ups: Deon Thompson vs. Derrick Favors. The freshmen sensation vs. the senior who has had a mediocre year. Can Thompson respond to the challenge?
Who Wins: I’ll take North Carolina in the upset. Its hard to beat the same team twice, and even harder to beat them three times. Especially when that team is stocked with blue chippers and coached by Roy Williams.
No. 6 Clemson vs. No. 11 NC State
Time: 9:00 PM
What’s at Stake: Clemson’s hopes at an ACC title
Why to Watch: After last year’s early exit in the tournament, Clemson would like to get back to the ACC Championship game like they did in 2008. Can they get on a roll? NC State always seems to get hot this time of year when they have nothing to lose, can they do it again?
Key Match-ups: State’s Tracy Smith vs. Clemson’s Trevor Booker. Booker got the best of this match-up last time, scoring 20 points against the Wolfpack. But Smith has been a solid player in the post for State and Booker struggled Sunday night in a 6 point performance against a tall Wake team.
Who Wins: I’ll take Clemson here. NC State is the trendy pick this time of year, but the Wolfpack lack the guard play to do enough in the tournament. I think Clemson’s shooting picks up in this game, which will help with its inside-outside game tremendously