The curtain is off the upper deck at the Greensboro Coliseum, a sure sign that the ACC is ready to get serious about basketball. Wednesday's first round featured a couple of exciting finishes, including an overtime thriller in the nightcap between Georgia Tech and Boston College, but the overall quality of action on the hardwood was...lacking. Business is sure to pick up in a hurry, starting with the opening game between the 8 and 9 seeds Maryland and Florida State.
Maryland's Last Stand
Much has been made over the past year about Maryland's impending departure to something called the "Big Ten". It's been a much-discussed "Farewell Tour" for the Terps since football season started, but here in Greensboro there is a sense of finality among longtime ACC fans. Even at last week's ACC Women's Tournament, Maryland fans held up a large sign thanking the city of Greensboro. If Maryland loses on Thursday, it will be the end of an era in ACC history.
But you still owe us $52 million, turtles.
Speaking of last stands...
"Bzdelik Watch" enters day two at the Greensboro Coliseum, as the Deacs face fifth-seeded Pittsburgh in the second game of the afternoon. Many Wake Forest fans assume (hope?) that the next Wake Forest loss is the last with Bz on the Demon Deacon bench, including a vocal section of the fan base that has done everything from placing newspaper ads to funding billboard messages imploring the powers that be at Wake to remove Bzdelik and his athletic director, Ron Wellman. Bzdelik may already know his fate, maybe not. But make no mistake, a win over Pitt today will make most beleaguered Deacon fans happy.
Bubble Watch (Kinda)
N.C. State comes into the tournament boasting the conference's Player of the Year (T.J. Warren) and a won-loss record that needs some help if they hope to play in the NCAA's. A win today over Miami would put the seventh-seeded Pack into a rematch with the tourney's No. 2 seed, Syracuse, a rematch some State fans are salivating over after their near-upset of the Orange earlier this year at the Carrier Dome. Wins over Miami and Syracuse would put the Pack into the bubble conversation; a quick exit guarantees a NIT bid for coach Mark Gottfried's crew.
Late Night with K.J.
Just a guess, but Thursday's finale between Clemson and Georgia Tech will be played in a half-empty coliseum. Those leaving early will miss the simply sublime game of the Tigers' star K.J. McDaniels. McDaniels was a legitimate candidate for ACC Player of the Year and has the ability to take over a game. That said, he's going to need a consistent effort from his supporting cast if the Tigers hope to advance to the quarterfinals against Duke.
The FSU Golden Girls are here. There is a God.
So is the Maryland pep band, which is the biggest loss for the conference, in my opinion.
There are some Costas-esque eyes on press row this fine afternoon. Gonna be a long week, kids.