When: March 12-16

Where: Greensboro Coliseum; Greensboro, North Carolina

 

The 2014 ACC Tournament will kick off Wednesday, March 12.  Wake Forest and Notre Dame get the tournament started with the winner moving on to face Pittsburgh on Thursday.  Virginia Tech gets to face off against the only ACC team they were able to beat this season in Miami.  The winner of that game will face NC State.  The opening day will close with Georgia Tech vs. Boston College, the winner will face Clemson.

The only matchup for Thursday that is set is the opening game between Maryland and Florida State.  This should be an interesting game.  Florida State is clinging to whatever NCAA Tournament hopes they have left and could really use a run in the ACC Tournament to help their chances.  Maryland should be fired up to play in their last ACC Tournament before moving on to the Big Ten.

The top four seeds in the ACC Tournament all received a double bye and will not play until Friday.  

Regular season champion Virginia won their first outright league title since the Ralph Sampson Era and look to continue their historic season.  Tony Bennett was named ACC Coach of the Year, but the team could have some added motivation as no player was voted as a First Team All ACC member, a rarity for a league champion.  They await the winner of Maryland/Florida State.

Number two seed Syracuse will face the winner of NC State vs. Miami/Virginia Tech.  Syracuse started the season 25-0, but lost 4 of their last 6 games.  Forward Jerami Grant figures to be ready for the postseason.  His ability to play and contribute will go a long way in determining the success of the Orange.

Duke finished the ACC in third place and will face the winner of Clemson vs. Georgia Tech/Boston College.  Jabari Parker was named the ACC Rookie of the Year and finished second to TJ Warren in Player of the Year voting.  Parker and Rodney Hood have been a dynamic duo for the Blue Devils.  When the offense is clicking, Duke appears to be one of the best teams in the country, with Final Four potential.  However, defensive breakdowns and stretches of cold shooting have given some pause in predicting how far this team can actually go in the tournament.  Their performance in the ACC Tournament could have a big effect on their outlook in the NCAAs.

The fourth seed in the ACC is North Carolina.  The Tarheels started the ACC season 1-4 before reeling off 12 straight wins before losing to Jabari Parker, I mean Duke, in the regular season finale.  Marcus Paige leads the Tarheels and has proven to be one of the most clutch players in the nation.  North Carolina will face the winner of Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest/Notre Dame.

Predictions:  I feel like the top four teams in the conference have really separated themselves from the rest of the league.  It would be very easy to pick the favorites all the way until the semifinals and maybe all the way through the tournament.  Having said that, I do see the potential for a few upsets along the way.

I’ll take NC State to hop on TJ Warren’s back and ride him to a revenge victory over Syracuse on Friday.  I think Maryland has darkhorse potential as well.  I would not be at all surprised if they were to make a run into the semi’s or maybe to the finals.  I won’t pick them that far, though.  I think Virginia will be prepared to get them back for the overtime loss that closed the season.  

I think the Cavaliers find a way to equalize the size advantage of North Carolina and limit Marcus Paige with their stellar defense.  

The potential Duke vs. NC State matchup on Saturday may not sound too appetizing at first, but the possibility of seeing a back and forth battle between TJ Warren and Jabari Parker is the stuff college basketball dreams are made of.  I think Duke moves on to the finals.

I’ll take Duke over Virginia in the finals in a game that could go either way.  The regular season matchup between these two teams ended with a miraculous three pointer by Rasheed Sulaimon and a defensive stand by the Blue Devils.  I think this game would be just as thrilling.

 

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