In 1974, conferences were only allowed to send one team to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
That left the ACC in a particularly unfortunate position, as two of the best teams in the country, No. 1 North Carolina State and No. 4 Maryland, both played in the ACC.
The Wolfpack and Terrapins eventually played in the ACC championship game, a 103-100 overtime thriller won by NC State, which was led by future high-flying NBA star David Thompson. NC State eventually won the national title against Marquette. Maryland stayed home for the postseason.
These days, that seems inconceivable, especially because the ACC may send a double-digit number of teams to the tournament (ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently projects 10 in the field).
Those 10 are sure thankful that we aren't playing by 1974 NCAA rules anymore, so let's take a look at the schedule, the bracket, the latest odds and some predictions.
ACC Tournament Schedule
|Tuesday, March 7||1||First||No. 13 NC State vs. No. 12 Clemson||Noon||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|Tuesday, March 7||2||First||No. 15 Boston College vs. No. 10 Wake Forest||2 p.m.||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|Tuesday, March 7||3||First||No. 14 Pitt vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech||7 p.m.||ESPNU/ACC Network|
|Wednesday, March 8||4||Second||No. 9 Miami vs. No. 8 Syracuse||Noon||ESPN/ACC Network|
|Wednesday, March 8||5||Second||Game 1 winner vs. No. 5 Duke||2 p.m.||ESPN/ACC Network|
|Wednesday, March 8||6||Second||Game 2 winner vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech||7 p.m.||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|Wednesday, March 8||7||Second||Game 3 winner vs. No. 6 Virginia||9 p.m.||ESPN2/ACC Network|
|Thursday, March 9||8||Quarterfinals||Game 4 winner vs. No. 1 UNC||Noon||ESPN/ACC Network|
|Thursday, March 9||9||Quarterfinals||Game 5 winner vs. No. 4 Louisville||2 p.m.||ESPN/ACC Network|
|Thursday, March 9||10||Quarterfinals||Game 6 winner vs. No. 2 Florida State||7 p.m.||ESPN/ACC Network|
|Thursday, March 9||11||Quarterfinals||Game 7 winner vs. No. 3 Notre Dame||9 p.m.||ESPN/ACC Network|
|Friday, March 10||12||Semifinals||Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner||7 p.m.||ESPN or ESPN2/ACC Network|
|Friday, March 10||13||Semifinals||Game 10 winner vs. Game 11 winner||9 p.m.||ESPN or ESPN2/ACC Network|
|Saturday, March 11||14||Final||Game 12 winner vs. Game 13 winner||9 p.m.||ESPN/ACC Network|
ACC Tournament Bracket
ACC Championship Odds
|North Carolina State||+15000|
Odds on March 6 via OddsShark.
Let's go team-by-team and predict where each school will finish in the ACC tournament.
The Eagles finished in last place and are playing a Wake Forest team that just beat Louisville and Virginia Tech. No more analysis is needed here: They will not make it past the first round.
North Carolina State
Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried, who won at least 22 games in each of his first four seasons and made the Sweet Sixteen twice, is being let go after this year following two rough seasons.
Commentary about college sports being a ruthless "What have you done for me lately?" world should be saved for another time, though. For now, NC State faces a tough draw against Clemson, who still has an outside shot at making the NCAA tournament. The Wolfpack will lose on Day 1.
Don't sleep on Pitt too much, as the Panthers have some impressive wins on their schedule (Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia, Maryland and Marquette). But Pitt scuffled through the ACC regular season with a 4-14 record and lost its last four games, including a bad 67-42 defeat to UVA. The Panthers will lose to Georgia Tech in the first round.
The Tigers will face Duke in the second round. The Blue Devils went toe-to-toe with a future No. 1 seed (UNC) in its own arena on Saturday, so conceivably, a matchup with a team that's probably headed for the NIT should be a win. The Tigers will fight valiantly but lose to Duke.
The Yellow Jackets get a very hard draw against UVA in the second round. The Cavaliers have the No. 1 defense in the nation per the Ken Pomeroy rankings and sit fifth overall. UVA may have finished sixth in the ACC, but if not for some close losses at the end of regulation and in overtime, they could have been second and fought UNC for first.
Like Clemson, Georgia Tech goes to the NIT because of a tough second-round matchup.
Wake is starting to gain a little mojo after a great week featuring a win over No. 8 Louisville at home and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Head coach Danny Manning has done a great job with that program, and sophomore forward John Collins has arguably played better than anyone else in the ACC down the stretch (he scored at least 20 points in 12 straight games from January 18 through March 1).
Collins will lead Wake to another win over the Hokies, securing an NCAA tournament berth in the process.
New York is a home away from home for Syracuse, which has a giant fanbase in the city. The Orange will pack the Barclays Center and make it feel like the Carrier Dome. That advantage won't be enough to beat a team like UNC, but against Miami, that should help them advance past the second round.
Speaking of UNC, it is too strong for 'Cuse, whom the Tar Heels would face in the quarterfinals. The Tar Heels led the Orange for over 39 minutes in a dominant 85-68 win earlier this season, thanks in part to a 44-24 rebounding advantage.
Expect a similar result this time around.
Flip a coin to decide the Louisville-Duke quarterfinal matchup, which should be one of the best conference tournament games in the country this week if it happens.
Duke was very sloppy with the ball when these two teams played in January, committing 18 turnovers in a 78-69 loss at the KFC Yum! Center.
This time, expect Duke to be a little more careful. However, expect Louisville's tough defense (sixth in the nation, per the Ken Pomeroy rankings) to make a key stop down the stretch and lead the Cardinals to a very close win.
The Demon Deacons have a young star and future NBA draft pick in John Collins, but Florida State has its own superstar and future NBA draft pick in Dwayne Bacon, who averages 16.9 points per game. He scored 23 when these two teams played in December, which resulted in a 88-72 FSU win.
The deficit won't be as vast this time around, but Bacon will make a few clutch shots down the stretch to hold off Wake, which will still make the NCAA tournament.
If a team can't shoot three-pointers against UVA's Pack Line defense (see a good tutorial here), then it's a recipe for disaster. That was the case when Notre Dame played UVA this season, as the Fighting Irish shot just 3-of-18 from deep in a 71-54 home loss in South Bend.
It's doubtful that Notre Dame shoots that poorly from beyond the arc again, but UVA's defense will be too strong for the Fighting Irish again, and the Cavaliers will advance to the semifinal round.
The Cardinals are a very good team, but the UNC Tar Heels are going to be an incredibly tough out for any team in the postseason this year.
Not only do they possess the best rebounding differential in the nation (13.0), but they also have four upperclassmen who average at least 11.9 points per game. Those two keys will be the difference for deep ACC and NCAA tournament runs.
Expect them to be the difference in a semifinal matchup against Louisville as well.
Much like Louisville, picking FSU to lose in the semifinals isn't so much an indictment on FSU as it is an endorsement for UVA. The Cavaliers defense is just that good.
Bacon poured in 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting in a 60-58 win over UVA this year (the rest of the Seminoles scored 31 points on 9-of-31 shooting).
The guess here is that stat line is not duplicated again in March and that UVA finds a way to shut him down.
UVA and UNC
That leaves a final between Virginia and North Carolina, which would be a rematch of last year's conference championship. UNC won last year's game, 61-57, and expect a similar result this time.
North Carolina split its two games with UVA this season. Its loss was particularly ugly, a 53-43 in Charlottesville.
However, don't expect two things that happened in that game to occur again.
One, UVA only committed four turnovers. That would be an incredible stat against some of the worst teams in Division I, let alone UNC (UVA, for the record, is second in the country in fewest turnovers with 9.6).
Second, UNC shot only 35.4 percent from the field, including just 25 percent (4-of-16) from three-point range. That's not likely to happen again.
UVA is a very good team and should make a deep run in this year's NCAA tournament, but UNC is one of the best five teams in the country and should win the conference title.