ACC Tournament 2021: Complete Bracket and Predictions After Regular Season
There was one path for Virginia to claim the ACC regular-season title Saturday: a win over Louisville and a Notre Dame upset win over Florida State. And that's exactly how the day unfolded.
The Cavaliers are the ACC regular-season champions for the third time in four years, and they will be the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament, which gets underway Tuesday. Virginia, Florida State (No. 2 seed), Virginia Tech (No. 3) and Georgia Tech (No. 4) all earned double byes and won't return to action until Thursday's quarterfinals.
Last year's ACC tournament was canceled after the second round because of the coronavirus pandemic. So the tourney title was last awarded in 2019, when Duke won.
Here's a look at the full bracket and schedule for the ACC tournament, followed by some predictions for how it will unfold.
ACC Tournament Bracket, Schedule
Tuesday, March 9
Game 1: No. 12 Pittsburgh vs. No. 13 Miami, 2 p.m. ET, ACC Network
Game 2: No. 10 Duke vs. No. 15 Boston College, 4:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network
Game 3: No. 11 Notre Dame vs. No. 14 Wake Forest, 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network
Wednesday, March 10
Game 4: No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 N.C. State, noon ET, ACC Network
Game 5: No. 5 Clemson vs. Winner of Game 1, 2:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network
Game 6: No. 7 Louisville vs. Winner of Game 2, 6:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network
Game 7: No. 6 North Carolina vs. Winner of Game 3, 9 p.m. ET, ACC Network
Thursday, March 11
Game 8: No. 1 Virginia vs. Winner of Game 4, noon ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Game 9: No. 4 Georgia Tech vs. Winner of Game 5, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Game 10: No. 2 Florida State vs. Winner of Game 6, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Game 11: No. 3 Virginia Tech vs. Winner of Game 7, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Friday, March 12
Game 12: Winner of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 9, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Game 13: Winner of Game 10 vs. Winner of Game 11, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Saturday, March 13
Game 14: Winner of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 13, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Duke Will Lose in 2nd Round to End Its Down Season
This is an unfamiliar position for Duke. Rather than finishing near the top of the ACC regular-season standings, the Blue Devils went 9-9 in conference play, making them the No. 10 seed for the ACC tournament, the lowest they have been since the tourney was first held in 1954.
If Duke is going to win the ACC tournament for the 22nd time, it's going to take five wins, beginning with Tuesday's first-round matchup against No. 15-seeded Boston College. But that also may be the only game the Blue Devils win before their season comes to an end.
While Duke should take down Boston College, which finished last in the ACC regular-season standings with a 2-11 record in conference play, it will face a tough challenge in going up against Louisville, the No. 7 seed which went 8-5 against ACC teams. The Cardinals beat the Blue Devils twice during the regular season, earning a 70-65 victory Jan. 23 and an 80-73 overtime win Feb. 27.
Louisville will beat Duke a third time, and with that, the Blue Devils will end the season at 12-12 with a resume that won't be impressive enough to earn an at-large bid for the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It will be the first time Duke misses the Big Dance since 1995.
North Carolina Reaches Semifinals, Strengthens Tourney Resume
Like Duke, North Carolina hasn't been as strong as it typically is this season. However, the Tar Heels have fared better than the Blue Devils, especially of late, as they earned the No. 6 seed by winning four of their last six regular-season games, a stretch that included victories over Florida State, Louisville and Duke.
With a 16-9 record, North Carolina should be in a position to earn an at-large bid in the NCAA men's basketball tournament as long as it doesn't lose too early in the ACC tourney. It will likely begin the conference tournament by facing Notre Dame, which should beat Wake Forest in the first round.
That will likely be a close second-round game, as North Carolina edged Notre Dame 66-65 on Jan. 2 in the lone regular-season meeting between the teams. But if the Tar Heels beat the Fighting Irish, then they could have the momentum to upset No. 3-seeded Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals.
North Carolina has been aggressive on the boards, leading the ACC with 42.8 rebounds per game in the regular season. And while the Tar Heels won't win the conference tournament, they will use their physicality to pick up a pair of wins, reach the semifinals and convince the March Madness selection committee to invite them to the Big Dance.
Florida State Bounces Back, Makes Run to ACC Tourney Title
Florida State may not have been able to win the ACC regular-season title, but it still has a chance to win the conference tournament. However, the Seminoles will need to bounce back from a tough finish to the regular season to do so.
Florida State lost two of its final three regular-season games, falling to North Carolina and Notre Dame, both on the road. But the Seminoles have proved throughout the season that they are a strong team, and because they are the No. 2 seed, they have until Thursday to prepare for a bounce-back showing.
That time off will help Florida State, which should play better when it returns to the court, leading to its first ACC tournament triumph since 2012. It will do so by beating Virginia for a second time this season in the championship game.
The Seminoles had the top offense in the ACC during the regular season (79.6 points per game), while the Cavaliers had the best defense (59.8 points allowed per game). But when the two teams faced off Feb. 15, Florida State won 81-60.
It will be closer this time, but the Seminoles will still be victorious, winning the tourney title and rebuilding their momentum heading into the NCAA men's basketball tournament.