Enough with the small conferences, it is time for the big boys to come out and play. The first of the major conferences to tip off their conference tournament will be the Atlantic Coast Conference, or as everyone knows them, the ACC. With a ton of one bid conferences already underway, the ACC will be the first conference that has at least three bids to start things off.
There are six teams that can probably be considered to be locks at this point. Those teams would be UNC, Florida State, Louisville, Duke, Notre Dame and Virginia. Then we have four teams who are firmly on the bubble right now, with Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Miami and Wake Forest all needing a big win. Finally, we have three teams with an outside chance (Clemson, Georgia Tech and Pitt) and two who need to win this if they want any shot of making the NCAA Tournament (NC State and Boston College).
This tournament will have games on all week, starting on Tuesday, March 8th. Wednesday is when things start to get good, but Thursday is the day where all of the big names start. Things will eventually wrap up on Saturday, March 11th, with one of these teams earning their NCAA Tournament bid. You can check out the seedings and bracket below.
(2) Florida State
(3) Notre Dame
(7) Virginia Tech
(10) Wake Forest
(11) Georgia Tech
(13) NC State
(15) Boston College
— 99.9 The Fan (@999TheFan) March 5, 2017
In the first round, we have three games. Those three games will be Clemson vs NC State, Pitt vs Georgia Tech and Wake Forest vs Boston College. I see the winners of those games being Clemson (77-69), Pittsburgh (72-71) and Wake Forest 79-74.
That brings us up to round two. In this round, we will have four matchups, with the next round being the quarterfinals. These four games will pit Syracuse against Miami, Clemson against Duke, Pittsburgh against Virginia and Wake Forest against Virginia Tech. So who comes out on top here? Well I will be taking Miami 73-68, Duke 75-70, Virginia 77-65 and Wake Forest 81-79.
That brings us to the quarterfinals. The first of these four games will see Miami going against the number one UNC Tar Heels. The bubble team, who could be destined for a nine seed in the Big Dance, could be looking at a game against a one seed as their competition in the near future. And if this game is any indication, they will not be ready for that. Give me UNC 80-69.
Up next, Duke takes on Louisville in the game of the day on Wednesday in Brooklyn. This is going to be an extremely fun game to watch, as these two teams match up very closely with one another. Duke does not play quite as good on the defensive side as their opponents, and at the end of the day, that will be the difference. Give me the Louisville Cardinals by the smallest of margins, 74-73.
Now, Virginia takes on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Virginia hit a rough patch late in the season, but they will begin to show their true ability in this game. They play strong defense and know how to create possessions. I think overall both of these teams are a bit overrated. But of the two, I do like Virginia a little more. Give me the Cavaliers, 71-67.
Their next opponents will either be Florida State or Wake Forest. If Wake Forest can pull this one off, they should have done enough to earn a tourney bid. If they lose here, then they are still firmly on the bubble. They have the edge in terms of free throws and three pointers here, so this one is not impossible. However, just because I am not a huge Florida State fan, does not mean I will go against them for no reason. At the end of the day, the Seminoles still have the overall edge, so I am going with them 82-78.
Now we have reached the semifinals. First, we have a battle between two powerhouses, UNC and Louisville. I think both clubs have a legit chance to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. But of the two, one of them stands out as the one who should be able to top their opponent in this one. The Tar Heels are the better club here, and they will emerge with an 82-78 win.
The one surprise team to this point is Virginia. They will be taking on Florida State in this one, with a trip to take on UNC on the line. When looking at things overall, I simply am not overly impressed with the Seminoles. Now Virginia is not perfect, but they still have one of the better defensive teams in the country. That will shine forth here, and the Cavs will once again earn the win, winning 69-67.
So for the ACC title game on Saturday, we have the Tar Heels taking on Virginia. Earlier in the season, UNC pounded Virginia (although Virginia did take the next game). They simply did not look ready to take on Roy Williams’ club in the first go round. After the last game, you better believe they will come in ready for this one. But that will not be enough to overcome the differential in talent that favors Carolina. UNC is simply the better team in this one. So give me North Carolina by the score of 75-67.
So what do you think? Who will emerge from the ACC Tournament with an automatic bid? Will it be the Tar Heels? Maybe the Blue Devils? The Fighting Irish? Or someone else? Will the bubble teams be able to do enough to earn their spot without winning it all? Tell us in the comments!