2008-09 Around the ACC: March 2, 2009

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Things are starting to clear up in the ACC. Five teams are locks for the NCAA tournament, one more is very close to being a lock, and three others are fighting for their postseason lives. March Madness is here, and teams are leaving everything on the court.

Team Conf. Overall

11-3 25-3

10-4 24-5

Wake Forest
9-5 22-5

Florida State
9-5 22-7

8-6 22-6

Boston College
8-6 20-9

7-7 18-10

Virginia Tech
7-7 17-11

6-8 16-10

NC State
5-9 15-12

3-11 9-16

Georgia Tech
1-13 10-17

#2 North Carolina (25-3, 11-3, #3 RPI)

After losing at Maryland on February 21, UNC took the week off and then took their aggression out on Georgia Tech 104-74 on Saturday afternoon. If the Tar Heels win out, they’ll be the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament. They are also fighting for the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.

Behind Tyler Hansbrough, the Tar Heels are an offensive juggernaut. They have scored over 100 points in two of their last five games. Hansbrough could repeat as ACC Player of the Year, and point guard Ty Lawson is playing at a very high level as well. This is a well balanced lineup, and they are deeper now that Tyler Zeller is back from an injury.

UNC plays at Virginia Tech on Wednesday, and they host Duke in the final game of the regular season next weekend.

Up Next: at Virginia Tech (March 4), Duke (March 8)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament lock

#7 Duke (24-5, 10-4, #2 RPI)

Duke was slumping, but they came back this week with two huge road wins. First they knocked off Maryland 78-67 in College Park, and then they defeated Virginia Tech 72-65 in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday. They’ve won four straight games, and they are getting hot at the right time.

If Duke wins out, they will at least tie UNC at the top of the ACC standings. With a Tar Heel loss on Wednesday night, and two more Duke wins, the Blue Devils will be the #1 seed in the ACC tournament.

Duke’s schedule continues to be challenging. They host a very good Florida State team on Tuesday, and then travel to Chapel Hill to take on UNC on Sunday.

Up Next: Florida State (March 3), at UNC (March 8)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament lock

#10 Wake Forest (22-5, 9-5, #17 RPI)

Wake Forest is playing well right now, winning four of their last five games. This past week they beat NC State 85-78, and then beat Virginia 70-60 in Charlottesville. The Demon Deacons don’t appear to be at the level of UNC or Duke at this point, but they are still playing for a very high seed in the NCAA tournament.

Wake still has two very winnable games left on their schedule, and the possibility still exists that they could tie for top spot in the ACC at the end of the season. However, they’ll have to win out to have a chance.

The Demon Deacons travel to Maryland on Tuesday night, and then host Clemson on Sunday.

Up Next: at Maryland (March 3), Clemson (March 8)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament lock

#24 Florida State (22-7, 9-5, #16 RPI)

Florida State is playing very good basketball right now. They’ve won three of their last four games, and they are competing for a first round bye in the ACC tournament. They lost 72-67 at Boston College last week, but rallied to defeat Clemson 73-66 on Saturday to complete the season sweep of the Tigers.

The Seminoles have locked up an NCAA tournament berth. They could lose out and still make the field. However, they still have a chance to improve their seeding down the stretch of the season, as well as in the ACC tournament.

A road win over Duke on Tuesday night would be huge. After that, the ‘Noles wrap up the season at home against Virginia Tech.

Up Next: at Duke (March 3), Virginia Tech (March 8)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament lock

#19 Clemson (22-6, 8-6, #14 RPI)

At this time last week, Clemson looked like the third best team in the ACC. After two losses to Virginia Tech and Florida State, the Tigers have dropped to a tie for fifth in the ACC standings. Despite those losses, Clemson is still a lock for the Big Dance, and they still have a chance for a first round bye in the ACC tournament.

Clemson hosts Virginia on Tuesday night, and they should be able to get revenge for their February 15 upset in Charlottesville. The Tigers then close with a tough road game at Wake Forest.

Clemson still has the talent to be a dangerous team when tournament play rolls around. It could be better for them to get a couple of losses out of their system now, rather than when they travel to the ACC tournament next week.

Up Next: Virginia (March 3), at Wake Forest (March 8)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament lock

Boston College (20-9, 8-6, #48 RPI)

Boston College played just one game this week, but it was a huge 72-67 victory over Florida State. That victory gives the Eagles another Top 20 RPI win to go along with previous wins over UNC and Duke. This is a team that was picked to finish 11th in the ACC in the preseason. Al Skinner deserves serious consideration for ACC Coach of the Year.

Despite those three major wins, BC still has a relatively low RPI. They still need a win to lock up their tournament spot. One more victory should put them safely in the Big Dance, though they might be in anyway. They’ll play two of the teams at the bottom of the ACC standings this week, so the Eagles should be feeling pretty good about their chances.

Up Next: at NC State (March 4), Georgia Tech (March 7)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament

Maryland (18-10, 7-7, #52 RPI)

Maryland was defeated at home 78-67 by Duke, but came back strong to knock off NC State 71-60 on the road on Sunday night. The Terps have now won four of their last six games, and they appear to be peaking at the right time. That is something that the NCAA tournament Selection Committee pays attention to.

Thanks to their strong play down the stretch, which includes a win against UNC, the Terps could finish 8-8 in the ACC and stand a decent chance of making the Big Dance. They would help their case quite a bit with a win over Wake Forest this week, and two wins this week would certainly put them in.

Up Next: Wake Forest (March 3), at Virginia (March 8)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament

Virginia Tech (17-11, 7-7, #59 RPI)

Virginia Tech had their backs against the wall on Wednesday night against Clemson, and they came away with a big 80-77 road win. They followed that up with a 72-65 loss to Duke at home on Saturday. The game was tied 58-58 in the second half, but the Hokies couldn’t get it done down the stretch.

The Hokies have two very tough games against UNC and Florida State coming up this week. If the Hokies can win one of them, they’ll give themselves a chance to make the Big Dance. One victory this week would give Tech another Top 50 win to go along with victories at Wake Forest, at Miami and at Clemson, as well as a home win against BC. That many good wins would give them a boost in the eyes of the Selection Committee, particularly when three (or potentially four) of them are road wins.

Up Next: UNC (March 4), at Florida State (March 8)

Postseason Projection: NIT

Miami (16-10, 6-8, #44 RPI)

Miami played just once this week, coming from behind to beat UVA 62-55 in Charlottesville. The ‘Canes still have a good RPI, and if they win their last two games of the regular season, they’ll stand a good chance to make the NCAA tournament.

Miami was 4-8 entering their final four-game stretch of the regular season. They’ve taken care of business so far, with wins over Boston College and Virginia. Their next two games are at Georgia Tech and at home against NC State. Winning four games in a row in the ACC is tough, but after losing three ACC games in overtime earlier in the year, the ‘Canes are due.

Up Next: at Georgia Tech (March 4), NC State (March 8)

Postseason Projection: NCAA tournament

Teams No Longer in Contention for an At-Large Berth: NC State, Virginia and Georgia Tech

NC State still had a shot, but they dropped two games this week to Wake Forest and Maryland. They are headed to the NIT, barring a miracle run in the ACC tournament. Virginia and Georgia Tech will watch postseason basketball on their TV sets.

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