Written by Mike Ryan
The ACC is currently projected to send nine teams to the NCAA tournament with just about a month left in the college hoops season, according to the Joe Lunardi.
Two things are for sure in the conference:
First, Virginia is going to win the ACC regular season title. Virginia has yet to be beaten and they are currently ranked second in the country. Their defense is the best in the country. No way they are choking away a three-game lead with seven games left to play.
Second, Pittsburgh is finishing dead last. The Kevin Stallings era will forever be known as a dark cloud on the program’s history. An 0-18 ACC season seems all but certain at the moment.
The rest of the conference is a cluster. There seems to be no separation from teams two through nine, as everyone seems capable of knocking off another.
Duke has the most talented roster, but their play can be frustrating at times. The loss to St. John’s was inexcusable and shows Duke is far from a finished product. Their defense is shaky at best and Wendell Carter Jr. seems to be the only guy capable of making a difference on that end. Gary Trent is coming into his own and has been shooting lights out, as he is now shooting 44.8% from three. Up next for Duke, a visit to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina.
Clemson continues to surprise and are already on the verge of their 20th win of the year. The Tigers are getting great production from Gabe DeVoe in their three game winning streak, as he scored 25,17, and 24 points in those games. He’s made five three-point field goal attempts in each of his past three outings.
Miami just lost Bruce Brown for six weeks due to a foot injury sustained in practice. It’s a big blow to the Hurricanes who have been an up and down ball club for most of the year. Miami is still only projected as a six seed in the latest Joe Lunardi Bracketology due to the lack of big resume boosting wins. Good thing they still have Virginia and North Carolina still on the schedule.
Louisville has hit a rough patch, dropping three of their past four. The Cardinals have Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Pittsburgh up next so good news for fans as the schedule does soften up a bit. Louisville is also projected on the six line as of now.
What a job Kevin Keatts has done in his first year in charge of North Carolina State. Already he has beaten Arizona, Duke and North Carolina this season and has the wolfpack at 16-7 (6-4 ACC). Not many people saw this coming but NC State will be a dangerous team to play come March.
North Carolina has been worrisome. Their three-point defense has been abysmal and has not shown much sign of progression. Roy Williams is in an impossible spot of having to gamble on whether he can trust Garrison Brooks or Sterling Manley to play valuable minutes. North Carolina has a difficult end of the schedule with having to play Duke twice, Miami, NC State and Louisville.
Florida State and Virginia Tech are who they are at this point. Both have solid potential and on the right night can play with anyone. Both struggle with consistency which holds them back. An 8 to 10 win season in the ACC should be enough to secure tournament bids though.
Best Pro Prospects:
- Marvin Bagley III – Duke
- Wendall Carter Jr. – Duke
- Gary Trent Jr. – Duke
- Lonnie Walker – Miami
- Trevon Duval – Duke
- Bruce Brown – Miami
- Ray Spalding – Louisville
- Grayson Allen – Duke
- Omer Yurtseven- North Carolina State
Games to Watch:
2/5 – Syracuse @ Louisville
2/7 – Virginia @ Florida State
2/7 – North Carolina State @ Virginia Tech
2/8 – Duke @ North Carolina
2/10 – North Carolina @ North Carolina State ‘
2/10 – Miami @ Boston College
2/10 – Virginia Tech @ Virginia
2/11 – Duke @ Georgia Tech
Teams with the most pressure:
1. North Carolina has two rivalry games with a home game against Duke and a visit to North Carolina State. UNC has dropped three of their past four games and are sitting at just 17-7 (6-5 ACC). Roy Williams just put his entire team on blast calling this the “worst defensive team he’s ever had”. It’s imperative for the Tar Heels to salvage a split this week and secure a win. If they drop both, scary times will be ahead in Chapel Hill.
2. Virginia is staring down perfection in the ACC but they face a tough road game at Florida State. Going unbeaten in a power five conference is a daunting task to do and Virginia has a legit shot at it. With road games you always have to lean wary, so it will be a difficult task.