With Wake Forest and Clemson concluding the ACC regular season on Sunday night (a 70-65 victory for the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem), the ACC tournament field is set and will commence at the Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday afternoon.
Regular season co-champion Maryland travels to Greensboro as the No. 2 seed with Duke winning the tiebreaker after embarrassing North Carolina on Saturday night. This marks the 10th time the Terps have been the No. 2 seed and the first time since 2003. After receiving a first-round bye on Thursday, the Terps will battle the winner of Georgia Tech-North Carolina at 7:00 p.m. on Friday.
Here’s the schedule:
FIRST ROUND – Thursday
No. 8 Boston College vs. No. 9 Virginia, 12:00
No. 5 Wake Forest vs. No. 12 Miami, 2:00
No. 7 Georgia Tech vs. No. 10 North Carolina, 7:00
No. 6 Clemson vs. NC State, 9:00
QUARTERFINALS – Friday
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 8/No. 9 winner, 12:00
No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 5/No. 12 winner, 2:00
No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 7/No. 10 winner, 7:00
No. 3 Florida St. vs. No. 6/No. 11 winner, 9:00
SEMIFINALS – Saturday
First semifinal (afternoon quarterfinal winners), 1:30
Second semifinal (evening quarterfinal winners), 3:30
CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday
Semifinal winners, 1:00
I’ll have more later in the week, but a second-round meeting against Georgia Tech would be intriguing–if not downright scary–for the Terps. Let me refresh your memory:
The Yellow Jackets have been wildly inconsistent this season despite possessing one of the most imposing frontcourts in the conference with freshman star Derrick Favors (21 points in the game against Maryland) and Gani Lawal (13.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game). Despite the tremendous freshman season from Jordan Williams, it’s no secret the Terps have struggled against the bigger frontcourts of the conference. Of course, Maryland would hold the clear advantage in the backcourt over the guard-challenged Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech would also be a desperate opponent, finding itself on the bubble with a 7-9 conference record after losing six of its last nine. A victory over North Carolina would help their cause, but the Jackets would likely need two tournament wins to feel completely safe on Selection Sunday.
Paul Hewitt’s squad would appear to be the popular sleeper pick, finding itself in a similar position to the 2004 Terrapins who, with the same 7-9 ACC record, needed a strong conference tournament run to earn an NCAA tournament invitation and ended up cutting down the nets in Greensboro to gain the automatic bid. Georgia Tech owns victories over Duke, Clemson, and Wake Forest and currently sits 44th in the projected RPI.
That being said, the up-and-down Yellow Jackets could just as easily fall to North Carolina in the opening round as they could win three games this coming weekend. However, if you had the opportunity to see Roy Williams’ Tar Heels in Durham on Saturday night, you probably know why I’m focusing my attention on Georgia Tech. And, no, it’s not because Georgia Tech already has two wins over the Heels this season, though that’s certainly worth mentioning.
In case you didn’t recognize them (I didn’t either after watching that debacle on Saturday night), those guys walking off the court in the Carolina blue uniforms were in fact the 2010 Tar Heels. Stranger things have happened, but it’s hard to envision anything but a quick exit from a lifeless North Carolina team.
Gary Williams will have his team prepared for either opponent, but it looks to be a second-round meeting with his good friend Paul Hewitt on Friday evening and a rematch of one of the best games of the year in the ACC.