ACC Basketball Tournament 2011: Who Needs To Win To Make the Big Dance?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IMarch 9, 2011

ACC Basketball Tournament 2011: Who Needs To Win To Make the Big Dance?

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    GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 12:  Seth Greenberg, head coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies on the sidelines against the University of Miami Hurricanes in their quarterfinal game in the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 12, 2
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    The ACC has had one crazy season.

    It seems like once we got an idea about how good a team was, something crazy would happen. Teams could not stand their own prosperity.

    Many wondered just how good the conference was and how many teams would make it to the Big Dance?

    At one point, the ACC could not be guaranteed more than three teams. However, that next tier has begun to make things rather interesting.

    This ACC tournament will go a long way in determining how the brackets look on Sunday.

    Will the ACC get four, five or six teams?

    This slideshow intends to rank the teams that desperately need wins this weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina. The teams on the bubble may be the focus, but there are also a few teams that are already in that need wins this weekend to either continue the momentum or stop the bleeding.

    Take a look and let the debate begin! Who's in and who's out?

4. Jockeying for Position (UNC and Duke)

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - MARCH 05:  Nolan Smith #2 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts to running into Dexter Strickland #1 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at the Dean E. Smith Center on March 5, 2011 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Stree
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Now, North Carolina and Duke are in no danger of being left out of Selection Sunday. However, this weekend could go a long way in determining how they end up being seeded.

    For Carolina, the momentum is clearly in their favor. The Tar Heels looked like a paper tiger in the beginning of ACC play, nearly losing to Virginia on the road and getting hammered by the Hokies of Virginia Tech before an amazing comeback.

    Carolina has lived on the edge, but they have survived and thrived. Now they are the No. 1 seed and cracked the top ten in the national rankings.

    If Carolina wins the ACC tournament, a team that was knocked out of the polls in the middle of the year could be the top two seed. Not bad for a team that was on the outside looking in just a year ago.

    I have never been a fan of giving coach of the year to one of the top programs of a conference but for the progress made by the Tar Heels this season, Roy Williams deserves it.

    As for Duke, they're heading in the wrong direction. Their record looks impressive, but their play as of late has not.

    The Blue Devils looked lost at the end of the Virginia Tech game. They simply could not run an offense, even when the Hokies continued to give them chances late with missed free throws.

    North Carolina then torched them in the regular season finale.

    As good and as talented as Duke has looked, they have had some eye-opening performances. They cannot afford a similarly poor effort anytime soon or it will cost them a chance at some hardware.

    Duke needs to find its swagger once more, and the ACC tournament is typically the place to start.

3. Boston College Eagles

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    CHESTNUT HILL, MA - FEBRUARY 20:  Reggie Jackson #0 of the Boston College Eagles goes up for two as Will Graves #13  the North Carolina Tar Heels defends on February 20, 2010 at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The Eagles defeated the Tar Heel
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Boston College seems to lie low sometimes in the ACC, but they are making noise at the end of the season.

    The Eagles have some inexplicable losses, but their play as of late has been top notch.

    Over the past three games, Boston College has won by an average of over 16 points. They have swept their fellow bubble partner Virginia Tech and finished with the five seed in the ACC tournament.

    That being said, the last thing Boston College can afford is to blow their positive momentum with a loss to the pitiful Wake Forest Demon Deacons. 

    On one hand, the Eagles beat Wake by double digits just a week ago. However, historically, teams that play each other in the regular season finale and then in the first round of the ACC tournament tend to split the results.

    The Demon Deacons, though, have been so out of sync that it just seems unrealistic. 

    If Boston College loses to Wake Forest, they deserve the NIT. However, even if they lose to Clemson in the second round, the Eagles should get their tickets punched to the big dance.

    Even with a 19-11 record, the worst overall record of all the ACC bubble teams, Boston College has the 28th hardest schedule in the country. They have an RPI of 45, better than Florida State who finished third in the conference.

    Boston College needs to win on Thursday to have a chance, but they will not be sweating it out like the other ACC bubble teams if they do.

2. Virginia Tech Hokies

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    ATLANTA - MARCH 13:  Malcolm Delaney #23 of the Virginia Tech Hokies reacts to play against the North Carolina Tar Heels during day two of the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 13, 2009 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Malcolm Delaney has had an incredible career, but time will tell if he ever gets his chance in the Big Dance.

    Virginia Tech has had some amazing ups and downs this season. Their victory over Duke was momentous, but it seems like the Hokies have yet to recover from that high.

    After Dickie V loudly exclaimed that they were in the tournament, the Hokies proceeded to lay two eggs heading into the ACC tournament. 

    Losing badly is one thing, losing those games to your fellow bubble teams Boston College and Clemson are even worse.

    Virginia Tech upgraded their schedule this season after getting left out last season. Close losses against good teams like Purdue, North Carolina and UNLV do not help the cause.

    Bad losses to Virginia and Georgia Tech hurt the Hokies even more.

    The Oklahoma State and Duke wins are their signature wins, but they have come few and far between with all the opportunities they had. 

    In some ways, this weekend is straight forward. Even coach Greenberg said if the Hokies lose to Georgia Tech in the first round, they are going to the NIT.

    If the Hokies win against the Jackets and then take down Florida State, they are easily into the tournament.

    So what happens in the third scenario? What if the Hokies down an unpredictable Georgia Tech and then lose to Florida State the following day?

    That appears to depend on how the other bubble teams do this weekend. While it might still be enough, Virginia Tech does not need to take that risk.

1. Clemson Tigers

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    BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 19:  The Clemson Tigers mascot performs  during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at HSBC Arena on March 19, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    Clemson is seeded better than both Virginia Tech and Boston College. In fact, they beat both of them in each game they played against them.

    However, their tournament ticket is far from guaranteed at this point.

    The Tigers have a solid record at 20-10, but their 57 RPI and their 74th strength of schedule shows a team right on the cusp of playing their way out with a bad performance this weekend.

    Clemson still needs one more signature win, despite beating the middle tier of the ACC their best out-of-conference win was against Charleston. 

    We may not like it, but this tournament is like a beauty pageant. The eye test is still used and Clemson still lacks that pop and sizzle that the other two bubble teams possess. 

    They have lacked the national exposure of the other two programs and could be that team left out if they lose in their first game against the Boston College/Wake Forest winner.

    If Boston College wins that game, people will view that as essentially a play-in game for the playoffs. 

    Considering just how down the ACC has been this year, can Clemson live off of a 9-7 record built by playing Boston College, Virginia Tech, Duke and Florida State only once?

    Clemson needs one more good win against the Eagles to punch their ticket, otherwise Tiger fans are going to be punching the wall.