ACC Tournament Preview and Predictions
The ACC Tournament gets underway tomorrow afternoon and there are plenty of story lines to follow. Duke, Notre Dame, and North Carolina look like locks for the NCAA Tournament, but would love to cement their great regular seasons with an ACC Tournament Championship. Wake Forest needs at least one win to guarantee their spot in the NCAA field and would also set up a fantastic quarterfinal against Miami. The 2 Virginia teams need a deep run in the Tournament in order to be in the conversation for the NCAAs, but both teams believe they can win the whole thing when playing at their best. Everyone from the 8 seed and beyond will need to go on an historic run and win it all in order to get to the Big Dance. It should be a great week! Check out my full predictions below.
First Round- Tuesday, March 8
#12 Pitt vs #13 Boston College- 2 PM ACCN
These 2 teams split during the regular season, and both teams are riding a losing streak, but somebody has to win this one. BC has the higher ceiling, so I'm taking the Eagles.
Pick: Boston College 61 - Pitt 57
#10 Clemson vs #15 NC State- 4:30 PM ACCN
Both teams should be motivated in this one to be able to make a run because they both beat 7 seed, Virginia Tech in the regular season, but they have to win this one first. Clemson beat NC State in their only meeting in Raleigh, is riding a 4 game win streak, and PJ Hall is getting healthier. Clemson should handle the Wolfpack.
Pick: Clemson 70 - NC State 62
#11 Louisville vs #14 Georgia Tech- 7 PM ACCN
Louisville beat Georgia Tech in their only meeting this year, but that was on January 2nd, and the Cardinals have lost 14 games since then. Georgia Tech didn't win back-to-back ACC games all year and they're coming off a win over BC over the weekend. Louisville actually showed flashes of being a good basketball team against Virginia on Saturday, and for that reason, I'm taking them in a tight one.
Pick: Louisville 71 - Georgia Tech 68
Second Round- Wednesday, March 9
#8 Florida State vs #9 Syracuse- 12 PM ESPN
These 2 teams split during the regular season with both teams winning on the road. Syracuse has struggled to finish games all year and has lost 4 straight. The new-look Florida State teams seems to be playing much better after losing multiple players to injury in the middle of the year. Look for Matthew Cleveland to carry the Seminoles into the Quarterfinals.
Pick: Florida State 77 - Syracuse 72
#5 Wake Forest vs #13 Boston College- 2:30 PM ESPN
Wake Forest has the Player of the Year and the Coach of the Year. They also beat Boston College by 30 at the end of January and their offense is firing on all cylinders. Look for more of the same in Brooklyn.
Pick: Wake Forest 84 - Boston College 59
#7 Virginia Tech vs #10 Clemson- 7 PM ESPN2
I see Virginia Tech as a team that has the same likelihood to win the entire Tournament as they do to lose their first game. When they're hitting their 3s, they're one of the best teams in the ACC. Clemson just beat the Hokies on Saturday, but that was in Clemson. Before that game, Virginia Tech had won 9 of 10 games. I'll take the Hokies on a neutral floor.
Pick: Virginia Tech 64 - Clemson 58
#6 Virginia vs #11 Louisville- 9:30 PM ESPN2
Virginia swept Louisville in the regular season and has owned the Cardinals lately. Virginia has beaten them 13 times since the 2016 season. Louisville got off to hot starts to open both halves on Saturday, and Virginia still managed to win by double digits. I expect them to win by 10+ this time as well.
Pick: Virginia 68 - Louisville 54
Quarterfinals- Thursday, March 10
#1 Duke vs #8 Florida State- 12 PM ESPN
Florida State was one of the 4 ACC teams to beat Duke this year, but that was when the Noles were at full strength. Duke returned the favor by beating them by 18 in Durham. I expect Duke to win this one in a closer game than their last matchup.
Pick: Duke 84 - Florida State 75
#4 Miami vs #5 Wake Forest- 2:30 PM ESPN2
I really hope we get this matchup, because it should be one of the better games of the entire tournament. Even though the metrics favor the Demon Deacons, Miami swept Wake in the regular season. I'm going to predict Alondes Williams to make a big play late and carry Wake to the Semis in overtime.
Pick: Wake Forest 88 - Miami 85
#2 Notre Dame vs #7 Virginia Tech- 7 PM ESPN2
I feel like Notre Dame is getting absolutely no love heading into the Tournament, but they have been a really solid team for all of conference play. Virginia Tech beat Notre Dame earlier this year in Blacksburg and matchup well with the Irish as long as they can keep Wesley in check. I think the Hokies get hot and move on to the Semis.
Pick: Virginia Tech 71 - Notre Dame 66
#3 North Carolina vs #6 Virginia- 9:30 PM ESPN
I was really liking UVA's chances of making a run to the title before Carolina beat Duke on Saturday and ended up getting the 3 seed. This is just not a good matchup for UVA. They always struggle against stretch bigs like Manek and unless Papi Caffaro plays the game of his life, Bacot will dominate them inside again. UNC won by 16 earlier this year, and it will be more of the same unless the Tar Heels go ice cold from outside.
Pick: North Carolina 70 - Virginia 62
Semifinals- Friday, March 11
#1 Duke vs #5 Wake Forest- 7 PM ESPN/2
Duke swept Wake Forest this year, but the rematch in Cameron ended up being a very tight game. This should be a fun, high scoring game, but I think Wake will run out of gas playing their third game in 3 days.
Pick: Duke 87 - Wake Forest 79
#3 North Carolina vs #7 Virginia Tech- 9:30 PM ESPN/2
Two of the hottest teams in the ACC matching up in the Semifinals with a chance to take on Duke? Yes, please. North Carolina beat the Hokies twice this year by double digits. The last game in Blacksburg was the game where Hubert Davis really started shrinking his bench. The Heels only had a combined 20 bench minutes in that game and that was shrunk down all the way to 14 minutes the other night against Duke. Being only their 2nd game of the tournament, I think UNC will have enough left from their starters to get to the Final.
Pick: North Carolina 71 - Virginia Tech 64
Championship- Saturday, March 12
#1 Duke vs #3 North Carolina- 8:30 PM ESPN
What more could you ask for in the ACC than a rubber match between Carolina and Duke for the ACC Tournament Championship. UNC spoiled Coach K night over the weekend knocking off Duke at Cameron a month after the Blue Devils beat them by 20 in the Chapel Hill. Which North Carolina is going to show up for this one? I expect Duke to get revenge and send Coach K off with one more championship to add to his resume.
Pick: Duke 81 - North Carolina 74