ACC Tournament 2021: Schedule and Bracket Predictions for Conference Tourney

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 5, 2021

Virginia guard Kihei Clark (0) passes the ball around Miami center Nysier Brooks (3) during an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Charlottesville, Va. (Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress via AP, Pool)
Andrew Shurtleff/Associated Press

The Virginia Cavaliers will enter the men's college basketball postseason as the reigning national champion.

At times during the season, Tony Bennett's team has looked like a squad that could make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. But the Cavaliers have struggled in ACC play lately, leading to the Florida State Seminoles taking over the top of the standings. 

However, the ACC tournament could serve as a chance for Virginia to get things right before it heads to Indianapolis for the Big Dance.

The league is not as strong as it has been in previous seasons, which could pave the way for the top teams to advance to the tournament final in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

If Florida State and Virginia make the final, it would end a 25-year run in which either the Duke Blue Devils or North Carolina Tar Heels have featured in the ACC Championship Game.


ACC Tournament Schedule

All Times ET

First Round: Tuesday, March 9 (2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m.)

Second Round: Wednesday, March 10 (Noon, 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 9 p.m.)

Quarterfinals: Thursday, March 11 (Noon, 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 9 p.m.)

Semifinals: Friday, March 12 (6:30 p.m., 9 p.m.)

Championship: Saturday, March 13 (8:30 p.m.)

Games will be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ACC Network.


Bracket Predictions

Virginia Finds Form In Greensboro

Erin Edgerton/Associated Press

Just as Virginia started to trend upward, it fell back to earth in a blowout loss to Florida State on February 15. Before that defeat, the Cavaliers had reeled off four straight wins to push closer to the national title discussion. 

The second-best team in the ACC proceeded to lose two more games to Duke and the NC State Wolfpack before correcting its form against the depleted Miami Hurricanes. 

If the Cavaliers beat the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday, they could head into Greensboro with some momentum. 

Virginia could use its first two games inside the Greensboro Coliseum to discover additional confidence since the rest of the league has had trouble with consistency. 

The Virginia Tech Hokies have only played four games since February 3. They split those contests with some uninspiring results. Mike Young's team lost to the Pittsburgh Panthers and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and Miami pushed it to overtime. 

The Clemson Tigers are the best of the teams fighting for the No. 6 seed, but they stumbled on the road against the Syracuse Orange on Wednesday and lost to Virginia by 35 points on January 16. 

Virginia's key to shutting down any postseason opponent will be its defense. In its last three victories, it held the opposition to under 52 points. 

Only two teams have scored more than 80 points against the Virginia: Florida State and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. 

If Virginia plays well against the teams beneath it in the ACC standings, it could use those results as a springboard into success in Indianapolis.


Duke, UNC See Championship Game Streak Come To An End

Marta Lavandier/Associated Press

Since 1996, at least one of Duke and North Carolina advanced to the ACC tournament championship game. That streak is in serious jeopardy this season given the poor form of both Tobacco Road rivals. 

Duke is struggling to hang on to the March Madness bubble, as it is 11-10 and just suffered an overtime loss to fellow bubble team Georgia Tech. 

North Carolina has a better overall record at 15-9, but it carries the same amount of ACC wins as its top rival. 

For the Blue Devils or Tar Heels to just qualify for the final, they would have to win three games in three days and potentially eliminate multiple ranked teams. 

Duke and North Carolina have a combined 2-6 record against Top 25 teams. They each have a win over a top-two ACC side, but those results are outliers compared to their overall form. 

An argument can be made that a weak overall league and the desperation of the Blue Devils to make the field of 68 could lead to the streak staying alive, but it is likely that both teams would have to get through Florida State and Virginia to reach the final.

If Duke and UNC fail to reach the title game, it would mark the first time in 25 years that both teams missed out on the championship game. The Tim Duncan-led Wake Forest Demon Deacons defeated Georgia Tech in that final. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.