Sunday, March 6, 2016

ACC conference tournament preview

This is part 17 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
North Carolina 14-4 (25-6)
Virginia 13-5 (24-6)
Miami 13-5 (24-6)
Louisville 12-6 (23-8)
Notre Dame 11-7 (20-10)
Duke 11-7 (22-9)
Virginia Tech 10-8 (18-13)
Clemson 10-8 (17-13)
Pittsburgh 9-9 (20-10)
Syracuse 9-9 (19-12)
Georgia Tech 8-10 (18-13)
Florida St 8-10 (18-12)
North Carolina St 5-13 (15-16)
Wake Forest 2-16 (11-19)
Boston College 0-18 (7-24)

Tournament format:
Everyone but Louisville heads to DC.  It's the double bye format for the top 4 teams, single bye for the next 4.  Tuesday March 8 to Saturday March 12.

The matchups:
1) North Carolina vs. 8/9) Pittsburgh/Syracuse
4) Notre Dame vs. 5/12/13) Duke/Wake Forest/North Carolina St
2) Virginia vs. 7/10) Clemson/Georgia Tech
3) Miami vs. 6/11/14) Virginia Tech/Florida St/Boston College

The stakes:
Let's start with the 1 line.  I think Virginia is on it right now, UNC is on the 2 line, and Miami is probably too far off the pace.  UVa can easily lose that grip if they don't win this tournament though.  You'll have a Big 10 champion, you have the chance that Oklahoma plays up, you have Xavier lurking.  There's many avenues that can result in teams leapfrogging Virginia.  I would suggest beating Miami at the minimum.  UNC has no choice but to get to the final, and even that might not be enough.  In the end, the combined chance of Virginia or UNC getting a 1 seed is very high, but I'm not sure there's room for both.

Miami could get there, but I think they need to beat Virginia and UNC.  Note I didn't say just to win the tourney.  They specifically need to go through UVa and UNC to get to the 1 line.

Duke and Notre Dame are simply playing for seeding lines.

Pitt and Syracuse are the two bubble-ish teams in the conference.  Both are trending safe.  The good news for them?  Neither can absorb a bad loss, because they play each other!  It's a classic win-and-in situation for both.  The loser will still be in pretty good shape.

Florida St has much work to do, and caught a bad break having to play on day one.  They have to win 3 games, the 3rd being Miami, just to get into bubble range, and probably need another win over Virginia to get all the way home.  Georgia Tech is in a similar situation, they need to win out to the final to even think about it, but at least they don't start with a calorie bomb.

Clemson's RPI says it's not a NIT team, but the signature wins say they should.  I have no idea what to do with them.

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