ACC Men's Basketball Tournament 2011 Schedule, Predictions and Analysis
The 2011 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament is set to get underway, with the prize once again being an automatic berth into the 2011 NCAA tournament. As of this minute, only three ACC schools can feel that they are safely in already.
By winning its final regular season game in the greatest rivalry in all of sports, the University of North Carolina earned the No. 1 seed by annihilating Duke University at home this past Saturday night. It was quite the turnaround for the Tar Heels, who reached another level once Kendall Marshall took over at point guard.
The Tar Heels and Blue Devils are fighting for a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament next week, but both could be looking at a No. 2 seed depending how things play out in the other conference tournaments this weekend.
No. 3 seed Florida State University is the other ACC school that should feel rather comfortable with the odds of hearing its name called on Selection Sunday. The Seminoles hold a few quality wins, including one over Duke. Winning one more game will cement their status, but they should be in as of now.
No. 4 seed Clemson, No. 5 seed Boston College and No. 6 seed Virginia Tech, the ACC's three bubble teams, all remain hopeful that a deep conference tournament run can earn them a bid in the Big Dance starting next week.
However, they may all have to win at least one more game, which could be tough for Clemson since the Tigers received a first-round bye and would most likely play Boston College should the Eagles hold fort and defeat No. 12 seed Wake Forest in the first round. Virginia Tech will play No. 11 seed Georgia Tech in the first round, and that matchup's winner will face Florida State.
No. 7 seed Maryland faces No. 10 seed North Carolina State and No. 8 seed Virginia plays No. 9 seed Miami in the first round as well.
The ACC tournament is back where it belongs this season, in the Greensboro Coliseum, and the action promises to be top notch as usual!
The ACC Tournament features two teams who comprise the greatest rivalry in all of sports. The Midwest will argue that Ohio State vs. Michigan is better in football. Baseball fans will claim that nothing beats watching the Boston Red Sox battle the New York Yankees. Old school NBA fans will say that seeing the Boston Celtic meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals beats everything.
Clearly, they are unaware of the emotion, pride and pageantry in every single North Carolina vs. Duke showdown.
I want to see the Tar Heels and Blue Devils battle it out one more time to determine the ACC Tournament championship. After all, a potential No. 1 seed for the 2011 NCAA Tournament could be at stake.
Yet as many times as these two storied programs enter the conference tournament as the top two seeds, rarely do they meet for a championship. As much as it pains me to predict this, I do not feel that they will both reach this point.
But it is still something I will be hoping takes place.
The ACC Championship Game will take place Sunday afternoon. Both North Carolina and Duke will have to defeat some tough competition to reach this point. I don't care if people say that this is a down year for the conference. You make sure to watch the games that feature some of the most talented freshmen in the country. Watch some of the senior leaders as they prepare to play their final games.
Watch all of that and tell me that this is still a down year for the best conference in college basketball. And if we are fortunate enough to watch North Carolina and Duke battle one more time this season, I guarantee you that nobody will be uttering the phrase down year even once.
If you're looking for a prediction, I see either the 'Heels or 'Devils getting upset before the finals. I could even see both losing. But in the end, it will all come down to the health of Chris Singleton. If he can play and play well, I like the Seminoles to capture the conference tournament. If not, then it is completely wide open.
For more on how North Carolina got to this improbable point, make sure to read Bleacher Report Contributor Rob Kelley as he takes a look at how UNC Wins ACC Championship: How the Tar Heels Capped a Spectacular Turnaround.
The ACC Tournament will feature two of the top teams in the country in North Carolina and Duke. Provided the Tar Heels are able to defeat the teams who get in front of them, could Duke take out possibly Florida State to advance to the finals and set up a dream championship game?
As great as it is to watch the greatest rivalry in all of sports, North Carolina and Duke rarely meet in postseason play, including the ACC Tournament. As nice as it would be to see, the Blue Devils could face a stiff test from the Seminoles, as long as Chris Singleton is on the floor for the underdogs.
Duke met Florida State once already this season, with the Seminoles defending their home court and knocking off the top ranked Blue Devils at the time. It was Duke's first loss of the season.
If the Seminoles can get production out of Derwin Kitchen to go along with a healthy Singleton, there is no reason that they cannot knock off the Blue Devils once again.
Unless Duke can hit their three point shots with consistency. After all, they rely on that aspect of their game more than perhaps any other top team in the nation. They made 11 against Florida State, which in its own is great. They did, however, attempt 35, which is troubling.
For more on Duke's recent struggles, make sure to read Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Mike Kline, as he takes a look at Duke Basketball: What's Wrong with the Blue Devils and Why They Must Win the ACC.
The ACC Tournament will be played in the Greensboro Coliseum, which is good news for the Clemson Tigers. Especially if they wind up playing the North Carolina Tar Heels in the semi-finals.
Clemson is 0-55 in Chapel Hill against North Carolina. Granted, they are not a lot better on any court, but if they do indeed meet in the 2011 ACC Tournament, they would have slightly more confidence entering the game.
The Tar Heels swept the season series, highlighted by their 55th straight win at the Dean Smith Center, as well as a two point win at Littlejohn. The Tigers were in both games late.
The Tigers first need to beat the Boston College Eagles (or the Wake Forest Demon Deacons if Clemson's bus does not arrive in time for the game. That is the only way Wake beats BC). If they can get to this point to likely face the Tar Heels, it will be another tough test for the No. 1 seed.
For more on the conference tournament, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Matt Faulconer, as he takes a look at the ACC Basketball Tournament: Ranking the Potential Upsets.
The ACC Tournament will feature many big names, but none may be more important to their team and their NCAA Tournament chances than Chris Singleton, who is still hoping to suit up for the No. 5 seed Florida State Seminoles (21-9, 11-5 ACC).
The 'Noles are looking good for a berth, but they are not guaranteed anything as of yet. They will take on the winner of the Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech game in the first round, but their opponent is irrelevant.
Singleton has missed the past five games with a broken foot. If he is cleared to play, then Florida State becomes a very dangerous team. That will also go over will with the selection committee, as they will want to see something from him before they give the Seminoles an at-large bid.
Without Singleton, Florida State could still win their opening game. They have enough talent. But without him, they will not get past Duke (most likely) in the next round.
If Singleton can play and is healthy, then this team is good enough to win the ACC Tournament. He is that much of a difference maker.
The ACC Tournament features two top 10 teams in the country, and the No. 2 seed Duke Blue Devils (27-4, 13-3 ACC) are entering postseason play with a vengeance.
Much to the chagrin of fans across the country, Duke is not done. The media is questioning if they have what it takes to make another run at the Final Four, but you have to remember that this team may be better than the one that cut down the nets last season.
Duke has the senior leadership in Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Smith was the first ever player to lead the ACC in scoring and assists, while Singler is still an integral part of this team.
They also have Seth Curry to knock down big shots from the outside, and the Plumlee twins give them big minutes inside.
Duke is going to be a very difficult out. There is no chance that they drop their opening game against either Maryland or North Carolina State.
The ACC Tournament is the final chance for a few teams to make one final statement to the selection committee. and one team in dire need of a win is the No. 4 seed Clemson Tigers (20-10, 9-7 ACC).
Clemson earned a first round bye in the tournament by defeating Virginia Tech to close out their regular season. If things play out how I think they will, the Tigers will be facing Boston College, where the winner could hear their name called on Selection Sunday, while the loser may have to head to the NIT.
The Tigers are led by Demontez Stitt, who leads the team in points and assists. They also get some big minutes from Jerai Grant and Devin Booker.
Clemson already defeated Boston College at home once this season, but this game will mean far more. The winner should lock down an NCAA Tournament berth, but the loser will have to really sweat things out this Sunday.
The ACC Tournament will begin the second round with the No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels (24-6, 14-2 ACC) taking on the winner of the Virginia vs. Miami game.
The Tar Heels turned their early season struggles into late season triumph by knocking off Duke to win the ACC regular season championship. You can give a lot of that credit to Kendall Marshall.
Once he took over at point guard, this became an entirely different offense. They all learned to trust each other. Harrison Barnes began to live up to his hype, and John Henson and Tyler Zeller became forces inside.
Although they lost a whiny quitter in February, as well as watching Reggie Bullock go down with a season ending injury a few weeks ago, the Tar Heels won 18 of their final 20 games.
They did have two close games on the road against Virginia and Miami, but they are playing better basketball right now. The 'Heels could start out slowly because they are led by so many freshmen, but North Carolina will advance to the semi-finals by defeating either Virginia or Miami.
The ACC Tournament closes out the first round with the No. 6 seed Virginia Tech Hokies (19-10, 9-7 ACC) looking to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive against the No. 11 seed Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (13-17, 5-11 ACC).
When Virginia Tech beat Duke at home, everyone felt as if they were finally off of that dreaded bubble. Dick Vitale even said that they are in, so go ahead and enjoy the victory and relax.
I don't think he meant to relax on the court, but the Hokies must have taken his advice literally, as they dropped their final two regular season games to Boston College and Clemson. Those were not bad losses, but they may have been games that could have secured a berth for Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament.
Apparently, this team just needs to live on the edge and be a perennial bubble team.
Mark Berman of The Roanoke Times says that one win may not be enough.
"The Hokies need to beat both Georgia Tech and Florida State to feel better about their chances while watching the tournament selection show Sunday," says Berman.
The Yellow Jackets re a bit of an enigma. They blew out North Carolina when the Tar Heels were letting a whiny quitter run the point, and then they forgot how to play basketball.
The team has some very solid scorers and Iman Shumpert and Glen Rice Jr., but they cannot get the job done by themselves.
The Hokies love being on the bubble. A win will not guarantee them a berth, but a loss would all but end their chances. Because of that - as well as Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Green - the Hokies live to play on Friday night.
For more on the Hokies and other bubble teams, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Ben Gibson, as he takes a look at the ACC Basketball Tournament 2011: Who Needs to Win to Make the Big Dance?
The ACC Tournament will begin their evening action with the No. 7 seed Maryland Terrapins (18-13, 7-9 ACC) taking on the No. 10 seed North Carolina State Wolfpack (15-15, 5-11 ACC). Both teams may be playing for pride, but there is still a lot on the line, even if neither looks likely to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland had a chance a couple weeks back, coming off of a big victory against Florida State. They then went on to lose their final three regular season games, including at least two where they would have been the favorites. The Terps are led by Jordan Williams, who is a machine inside. He can score and rebound, and he may be the single reason why this team is even NIT eligible. He is that much of a difference maker.
In fact, in his ACC Tournament preview, Andy Katz of ESPN said that he wouldn't be surprised in Williams "has one, if not two, double-doubles."
North Carolina State is playing for a few things, but an NCAA Tournament berth is not likely to be one of them. The Wolfpack are still hoping to at least reach the NIT, but need one more win to be eligible. More importantly, perhaps, the team is playing for their coach, Sidney Lowe. I'm not sure if anything can save Lowe's job at this point, but his kids will not quit playing for him.
In the end, the Terrapins will come out on top, but it will be a closer game than some may think.
And speaking of job security, check out Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Ben Gibson as he takes a look at the ACC Baskatball Tournament 2011: How Secure is Maryland's Gary Williams?
The ACC Tournament features a handful of bubble teams looking to impress the selection committee, and the Boston College Eagles are the first school to hit the court with that opportunity today.
The Eagles (19-11, 9-7 ACC) will take on the lowest seed in the tournament in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-23, 1-15 ACC). Although experts have told you to pick a couple of No. 12 seeds to knock off the No. 5 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, that does not hold true in conference tournament action.
Boston College is led by Reggie Jackson and Joe Trapani, who are both more than capable of putting up a lot of points on any given night. They can both shoot the three very well, and get some great minutes from Corey Raji.
Andy Katz of ESPN says that Jackson is so talented, that he wouldn't be surprised if "Jackson goes for 30 in a game."
The Eagles don't really have any impressive out of conference wins, but they won their final three ACC games to put themselves in a position to make the NCAA Tournament.
The Demon Deacons are just a bad team. It is not often that anyone can say that about this team, but it is true. Their only conference victory was a five point win over Virginia, but most of their games were not even close.
The Eagles just beat the Deacons within the past week, and it was a blowout. Nothing leads me to think that this game will be any closer. Boston College gets a big win.
For more on Boston College and their tournament chances, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Correspondent Erik Schultz as he previews Boston College vs. Colorado State: Which Makes the NCAA Tournament?
The ACC Tournament tips off with the Virginia Cavaliers (16-14, 7-9 ACC) taking on the Miami Hurricanes (18-16, 6-10 ACC). This is a battle of the eight and nine seed, and both teams have to win the conference tournament to have any chance to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Both, however, are far more likely to wind up NIT bound come Sunday.
If you listen to Andy Katz of ESPN, however, he will tell you that both of these teams can be dangerous.
Katz says "Both of these teams gave UNC problems before succumbing in the final possessions. Whoever wins this game won't be an easy out for North Carolina, even as well as the Heels are playing."
Virginia holds conference wins over Clemson and Virginia Tech, but they also have a lot of bad losses. When leading scorer and rebounder Mike Scott went down for the season before conference play began, he took and tournament chances down with him. Mustapha Farrakhan did everything he could to will this team to victory, but he did not have enough support around him.
Miami beat the teams that they were supposed to this season, but do not hold many quality victories, especially with the ACC suffering through a bit of a down season. Still, they have a couple of viable scoring options in Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott. They also have size inside with Reggie Johnson.
Virginia won four of their final regular season games to finish the season with a winning record. Miami alternated wins and losses in their final eight games, losing most of their games against teams with a better record than them.
Logic would tell you that the Cavaliers should advance to the next round. But this is the ACC Tournament. The Hurricanes survive on solid three point shooting and move on to live another day.
For more on this matchup, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Ben Gibson, as he takes a look at the ACC Basketball Tournament 2011: Revenge on Virginia's Mind Against Miami.