Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Breaking Down the Conferences: ACC

Now that January is coming to a close and the conferences races are taking shape, this is a good time to start looking at potential tournament teams and what they need to accomplish the rest of the way to get an at-large bid.

Looking Good

Duke- despite the setback at NC State, Duke is still the clear favorite to win the ACC regular season.  The Blue Devils still have to play UNC and Maryland twice, but as long as they hold serve at home and beat the teams they should on the road, Duke should end up being a top 3 seed.

Wake Forest- the Demon Deacons are 14-4 (4-2 in the ACC) with road wins over Gonzaga and UNC and home wins over Xavier, Richmond, Maryland, and Virginia.  With home games remaining against Miami, Boston College, UNC, and Clemson and road games against Virginia and NC State, Wake should have little trouble finishing with 10+ conference wins.

Georgia Tech- losing to Georgia and getting swept by Florida State certainly hurts, but the Yellow Jackets already have wins over Siena, Duke, North Carolina, and Clemson.  With those big wins, Georgia Tech will make dance as long as they finish 8-8 or better in conference.

Clemson- the Tigers are far from a lock at this point since Butler and UNC are their only quality wins, but they have a favorable schedule the rest of the way and should have little trouble finishing with 9+ conference wins.

Florida State- the Seminoles are 15-4 (3-2 in the ACC) and have already swept Georgia Tech.  A 9-7 conference record should clinch a bid for them, and that seems probable with 2 games each against Boston College and Miami, road games against Virginia and UNC, and home games against Maryland, Clemson, and Wake Forest still on the schedule.

Work to Do

Maryland- the Terps are off to a good start in ACC play, but they have yet to play the toughest part of their schedule.  They still have to play Duke, Clemson, and Virginia twice, and they also have road games against Florida State, NC State, and Virginia Tech.  Maryland made the NCAAs with a 7-9 conference record last year because they had big wins against Michigan State, North Carolina, and Wake Forest to fall back on.  That isn't the case this year and anything less than 9-7 will likely send them to the NIT.

North Carolina- UNC is off to a disastrous start in conference play, losing at home to Georgia Tech and Wake Forest en route to a 1-3 record.  I would say it's just a bad stretch and things will get better, but the remaining schedule isn't any easier.  UNC still has road games against NC State, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Duke, and home games against Duke and Florida State.  The Tar Heels better win their two games this week (@NC State, Virginia) or they are going to be in a world of trouble against that back-loaded schedule.

Virginia Tech- the Hokies have a gaudy 15-3 record, but that means little at this point since their best win is Seton Hall.  Their next 4 games (@Virginia, @Miami, UNC, Clemson) will be very telling as to whether or not they can compete for an NCAA bid this year.  Va Tech caught a bit of a bad break in scheduling, as they only play Duke and Georgia Tech once, both on the road.

Virginia- Virginia is off to a surprisingly good start, but the question is whether or not they will be able to sustain it for a whole season in conference play.  The Cavaliers got a bit lucky in the scheduling, as they play Virginia Tech, NC State, Maryland, Wake Forest and Miami twice, and only get Duke, Georgia Tech, and Florida State once, all at home.

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