The ACC tourney commenced today as the first round of games featured teams that are separated completely from the bracket. The most noticeable team from the games today was Clemson who won their game vs NC State increasing their win streak to five. This includes wins to bubble teams Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. They will be the teams to watch as well as Virginia as they will all be fighting for their tournament hopes and dreams this weekend.
Before we get into the bubble games and implications let’s talk about Duke. The Blue Devils took a hit when they lost to UNC this past weekend although they are still on the hunt for one seed if someone were to lose in their own respective conference tournament. Duke has had a great year and has a really good chance to take it, especially considering they are the number one seed in the ACC bracket. They will take on the winner of FSU and Syracuse which shouldn’t be an issue. Then they will most likely take on either Wake Forest or Miami. Both of those teams will be much tougher to beat but should be no problem for Duke. After that, it sets up either a rematch vs North Carolina or a game against the Fighting Irish unless some upsets occur. I would be surprised to see Duke drop the game to UNC again making it look almost like a clear path to the ACC title. If Duke can do this I think they should be able to take the one seed especially with Baylor and Kansas having tough paths through a challenging Big 12 to their own respective titles. So if all goes right this weekend Duke should hold the number one seed.
Now here is where things get interesting for this tournament. There are about 3 teams that definitely have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament depending on what goes on during these games. The biggest game for Virginia Tech would be against Clemson Wednesday night at 7. If they can take care of business, they will be in a very good spot to make the Tournament. Although I will say it is not going to be a guaranteed spot. A win in the next round vs Notre Dame would punch their ticket to the Big Dance.
The most interesting matchup to me is the potential game of Miami vs Wake Forest in the quarterfinals of the tournament. This would feature a bubble team that needs a win in order to get into the tourney and a team fighting to avoid getting a double-digit seed. With Wake Forest playing pretty well recently they should be able to have a very competitive team against a Miami team that has played pretty decently throughout the year.
There is also Virginia which is not a team that we are used to seeing in the bubble watch. The Cavs need at least one win in order to push themselves into the bracket conversation. I think two wins for the Cavs will put them pretty close to the bracket. I see the only way for them not to make it with two wins is if there are other upsets that happen in other conferences. So unfortunately for Virginia fans, they will have to be rooting for the favorites or just win the games in the ACC tourney to avoid worrying about Selection Sunday.
Overall this should be one of the more fun ones to watch with so many teams on the bubble and fighting for a chance to just see their names announced on Sunday. We can see a scenario where all three make the tourney and a scenario where none of them makes it. If I had to predict it I think Virginia Tech and Wake Forest would be the teams to get the nod over Virginia. I also think the tournament is for Duke to lose. Don’t count any chaos out just yet, this is just the beginning of March.
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