Sunday, March 5, 2017

Atlantic Coast Conference tournament preview

This is part 18 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
North Carolina 14-4
Florida St 12-6
Notre Dame 12-6
Louisville 12-6
Duke 11-7
Virginia 11-7
Virginia Tech 10-8
Syracuse 10-8
Miami 10-8
Wake Forest 9-9
Georgia Tech 8-10
Clemson 6-12
North Carolina St 4-14
Pittsburgh 4-14
Boston College 2-16

Tournament format:
All 15 are in Brooklyn.  Double byes for the top 4, single byes for 5-8.  Tuesday March 7 to Saturday March 11.

The matchups:
1) North Carolina vs. 8/9) Syracuse/Miami
4) Louisville vs. 5/12/13) Duke/Clemson/North Carolina St
3) Notre Dame vs. 6/11/14) Virginia/Georgia Tech/Pittsburgh
2) Florida St vs. 7/10/15) Virginia Tech/Wake Forest/Boston College

The stakes:
Let's start with the 1 line.  I think UNC is almost home free.  An ugly loss could change that, but I feel they're solidly ahead of Louisville.  Could a Pac-12 champ run them down?  It's possible, but it's not like any of their resumes are ironclad.  Baylor could be interesting.  I think getting by Lousiville might actually be enough to lock them into the 1 line.

Could Louisville get to the 1 line?  They are lined up with UNC in the semifinals.  A Duke/UNC/FSU or Notre Dame run would add 3 signature wins in a hurry.  It might be a last-minute call if it goes down that way.

Duke, FSU, UND, and Virginia are playing for the 3 line.  As I wrote earlier, I feel like there's a bit of separation with the top 10 resumes, leaving 2 spots on the 3 line relatively open if any of these teams make a big run.  I think for all these teams, the 5 line is the floor and the 3 line is the ceiling.

Other teams in the lockbox:  Miami and VaTech.  Their seed could vary wildly, too many moving parts here to make a good estimate.

To the bubble teams:  Syracuse, Wake, and GaTech.  Syracuse lines up with Miami first.  A win there and they're probably in.  I think.  Maybe.  They'd be vulnerable to getting passed up though.  Obviously a win over UNC too would fix all problems.  Wake has to get BC first (good god, beat BC at least), and then it's VaTech.  It's not the greatest opponent; a win over VT won't lock them into the field.  They'd likely need to get Florida St too to be sure.  They can make it without that FSU win; but it'd be right on the edge.  Georgia Tech I think is a bit more cut and dry.  Pitt/Virginia/Notre Dame; I think they need all 3.

Clemson might be interesting...after NC State they get Duke and Louisville.  If they get all 3, you can make an argument.

Pitt and NC State are too far gone to matter in this tournament.  As for the NIT...Syracuse, Wake, and GT are obviously in there, and Clemson too.  12 postseason teams for the ACC, with a variance of 8-12 in the main one.

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