2008-09 Around the ACC: March 9, 2009

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The regular season is finally complete, and six ACC teams appear to have
locked up a berth in the NCAA tournament. Three others have an outside shot of
getting in, but it will take a lot of work in the upcoming ACC Tournament.

Miami, Maryland and Virginia Tech each had a chance to get to eight
conference wins this past week, but they failed. However, if any of those teams
makes a run deep into the ACC Tournament, they’ll have a chance to make the Big
Dance. They still have a lot to play for.

Barring an ACC Tournament Championship, NC State, Virginia and Georgia Tech
will not make the NCAA tournament, though the Wolfpack will likely head to the

Team Conf. Overall

13-3 27-3

Wake Forest
11-5 24-5

11-5 25-6

Florida State
10-6 23-8

9-7 23-7

Boston College
9-7 21-10

7-9 18-11

7-9 18-12

Virginia Tech
7-9 17-13

NC State
6-10 16-13

4-12 10-17

Georgia Tech
2-14 11-18

North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke and Florida State earned a first round bye for
the ACC Tournament. Clemson faded at the end of the season, and Boston College
had an excellent year, considering they were picked 11th in the preseason.

#1 North Carolina (27-3, 13-3, #2 RPI)

UNC had two battles this past week, and they found a way to win both games.
They were tied in the second half against Virginia Tech, but went on to win
86-78. They trailed Duke at halftime on Sunday, but came back for a 79-71
victory. The Tar Heels are clearly the best team in the conference.

With an ACC Tournament Championship, the Tar Heels would lock up a #1 seed in
the NCAA tournament. They could very possibly be the #1 overall seed. Even with
an upset loss early in Atlanta, UNC could be a #1 seed. After losing their first
two conference games of the year to Boston College and Wake Forest, the Heels
lost just one more the remainder of the season.

Up Next: Virginia Tech or Miami, Friday, Noon, Raycom/ESPN2

#9 Wake Forest (24-5, 11-5, #10 RPI)

Wake Forest had a big week, with a 65-63 win over Maryland on the road, and
then followed that up with a 96-88 defeat of Clemson in Winston-Salem. As a
result of Duke’s loss to North Carolina, the Demon Deacons will be the #2 seed
in the upcoming ACC Tournament.

Wake certainly has the tools to be a major player in the ACC Tournament. They
have three possible first round draft picks in Al-Farooq, James Johnson and Jeff
Teague. The Deacons can beat anyone in the league, as they proved in wins over
Duke and UNC this year. They can also lose to anyone. They had losses to four of
the bottom five seeds during the regular season: Virginia Tech, Miami, NC State
and Georgia Tech.

Up Next: Maryland or NC State, Friday, 7pm, Raycom/ESPN2

#8 Duke (25-6, 11-5, #3 RPI)

Duke came up with an 84-81 victory over Florida State early in the week, and
then fell to North Carolina 79-71 on Sunday. The Blue Devils will be the #3 seed
in the ACC Tournament, and with Coach K at the helm, they certainly have a
chance to win it. In fact, Duke still has a shot at a #1 seed in the NCAA
tournament if they can leave Atlanta with the ACC Championship.

Right now, it’s probably fair to pencil in Duke as a #2 NCAA seed, most
likely in Greensboro. With that type of home court advantage, it’s difficult to
see the Blue Devils not making the Sweet 16.

Up Next: Boston College or Virginia, Friday, 9:30pm, Raycom/ESPN2

#22 Florida State (23-8, 10-6, #16 RPI)

Leonard Hamilton will be a strong candidate for ACC Coach of the Year when
it’s all said and done. FSU was picked to finish 10th in the conference in the
preseason, yet the ‘Noles earned a first round bye in the ACC Tournament. They
are arguably the top defensive team in the league, with arguably the top player:
Toney Douglas.

At this point, it appears that Florida State will be anywhere from a #4 to a
#6 seed in the NCAA tournament, depending on how far they advance this weekend
in Atlanta. Shooting goes hot and cold for all teams, but FSU’s defense is
consistent. That makes them another ACC team with a chance to reach the Sweet

Up Next: Clemson or Georgia Tech, Friday, 2:30pm, Raycom/ESPN2

#19 Clemson (23-7, 9-7, #19 RPI)

Once a Top 10 team, Clemson limped to the finish line, losing three of their
last four games. The Tigers blew out Virginia 75-57 earlier in the week, and
then lost to Wake Forest 96-88 on Sunday. They will not get the bye in the ACC
Tournament, despite being in good shape for most of the year.

Whatever happens in the ACC Tournament, the Tigers are a lock to make the Big
Dance. A #5 or a #6 seed seems reasonable at this point. Assuming Clemson beats
Georgia Tech, their quarterfinal matchup with Florida State could be for seeding
in the NCAA tournament.

Up Next: Georgia Tech, Thursday, 2:30pm, Raycom

Boston College (21-10, 9-7, #57 RPI)

Al Skinner is another strong candidate for ACC Coach of the Year. The Eagles
were picked to finish 11th in the ACC, but it appears they are headed for the
Big Dance. In a conference where it’s easy to get lost as a coach with names
like Coach K, Roy Williams and Gary Williams, Skinner is doing an outstanding

Despite a relatively low RPI (#57, according to RealTimeRPI.com),
the Eagles should make the Big Dance, even with an early loss in the ACC
Tournament. Many brackets have BC in as a #8 or #9 seed right now, which means a
likely matchup with a #1 seed should the Eagles make it to the second round.

Up Next: Virginia, Thursday, 9:30pm, Raycom

Maryland (18-12, 7-9, #67 RPI)

Maryland blew their chance at an NCAA tournament at-large bid by losing twice
this past week. They lost at home to Wake Forest 65-63, and then got knocked off
at Virginia 68-63. The Terps need to make a run in this weekend’s ACC
Tournament, or else they are heading to the NIT for the second straight season.

When you look at Maryland’s roster, it’s easy to see why they are 7-9. They
have no legit big men on the inside. Their starting center is 6-7 Dave Neal, who
prefers to shoot perimeter jumpers. Neal gets the best out of his ability, and
that’s a credit to Gary Williams, but the Terps just don’t have the look of an
NCAA tournament team.

Up Next: NC State, Thursday, 7pm, ESPN2

Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-9, #62 RPI)

Virginia Tech suffered an 86-78 home setback to UNC on Wednesday, and lost
63-53 at Florida State on Sunday. The two losses put the Hokies on the outside
of the bubble. They will likely have to reach the ACC Tournament finals to get
an at-large berth to the Big Dance.

The good thing for Tech is that they have a great opportunity in front of
them. They have a chance to knock off another bubble team, Miami, in the first
round. If they get past that game, they have a chance to play #1 North Carolina
in the quarterfinals. Wins over those two teams could certainly open the eyes of
the Selection Committee.

Up Next: Miami, Thursday, Noon, Raycom

Miami (18-11, 7-9, #53 RPI)

Miami was upset by Georgia Tech 78-68 during the week, but rallied to defeat
NC State 72-64 on Jack McClinton’s Senior Day on Saturday. The loss to Georgia
Tech likely knocked the ‘Canes out of the NCAA tournament, though they’ve got a
shot to get back in the field of 65 with a good run in the ACC Tournament.

Miami is in the exact same position as Virginia Tech, except the ‘Canes have
a better RPI (#53 for Miami vs. #62 for VT). A win over the Hokies would give
them a victory over a fellow bubble team, and then they’d have a chance to knock
off UNC in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. Those two wins would give Miami an
improved RPI, and a late-season win over UNC would be something to show the
Selection Committee.

Up Next: Virginia Tech, Thursday, Noon, Raycom

NC State (16-13, 6-10, #102 RPI)

NC State upset Boston College 74-69 on Wednesday, and then lost to Miami
72-64 on Sunday. The Wolfpack once again finish near the bottom of the ACC
standings, and once again are headed to the NIT unless they win the ACC

At this points, there’s not much more to say about NC State. They ran off a
coach (Herb Sendek) who got them to the NCAA tournament every year from 2002
through 2006. Sendek has turned Arizona State into a Top 25 team pretty quickly,
while the NC State program has gotten worse under Sydney Lowe.

Up Next: Maryland, Thursday, 7pm, ESPN2

Virginia (10-17, 4-12, #109 RPI)

Virginia was blown out by Clemson during the week, but they rallied on
Saturday to defeat Maryland 68-63. Senior guard Mamadi Diane, who has barely
played this year after enjoying success in his first three seasons, blew up on
the Terps for 23 points in his final home game.

Despite the win, Virginia will stay home for the postseason unless they win
the ACC tournament. However, their fans can at least be happy that their team
arguably deflated the NCAA tournament hopes of rivals Virginia Tech and

Up Next: Boston College, Thursday, 9:30pm, Raycom

Georgia Tech (11-18, 2-14, #156 RPI)

Georgia Tech beat Miami 78-68 to put the Hurricanes on the outside of the
bubble, and then dropped a tough 67-66 game at Boston College on Saturday. Like
Virginia, the Yellow Jackets won’t play in the postseason unless they win the
ACC Tournament.

Georgia Tech started two McDonald’s All-Americans this year, and still
managed to win just two conference games. Next year they bring in Derrick
Favors, whom some rate as the #1 basketball prospect in the country.

Up Next: Clemson, Thursday, 2:30pm, Raycom

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