Three top-10 teams sit at the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, with North Carolina (No. 7 nationally, No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament), Virginia, (No. 4 nationally, No. 2 tournament) and Miami (No. 11 nationally, No. 3 tournament) the favorites to take home the ACC tournament crown after the Tar Heels won their first regular-season title since 2012.
The tournament is weakened by Louisville absence after its self-imposed postseason ban, but seeds No. 4 and No. 5, Notre Dame and Duke, respectively, had 11-7 conference records and promise to threaten in the tournament (Notre Dame earns the higher seed because of their win over the Blue Devils on Jan. 16).
The lower-seeded games promise to be as difficult to watch as the higher-seed games will be exciting, since after Notre Dame the quality of the conference drops off precipitously. Only Virginia Tech and Clemson boast records above .500 in conference play this season. While Pittsburgh and Syracuse were .500 teams this season, the five remaining schools were under that benchmark, including 2-16 Wake Forest and 0-18 Boston College.
Every ACC team qualifies for the tournament, but the lowest four seeds must play each other in the first round on Tuesday (No. 11 Florida State vs. No. 14 Boston College and No. 12 NC State vs No. 13 Wake Forest), with the winners playing No. 5 Duke and No. 6 Virginia Tech, respectively, in the second round on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, No. 8 Pittsburgh will face No. 9 Syracuse in the afternoon, while No. 7 Clemson will face No. 10 Georgia Tech later that evening. The top four seeds (North Carolina, Virginia, Miami and Notre Dame) each receive byes through the quarterfinals on Thursday. All games will be played in Washington DC.
1. North Carolina
4. Notre Dame
6. Virginia Tech
10. Georgia Tech
11. Florida State
12. N.C. State
13. Wake Forest
14. Boston College
Schedule and Results (all times Eastern)
Tuesday, March 8 (First Round)
Game 1: No. 12 NC State 75, No. 13 Wake Forest 72
Game 2: No. 11 Florida State 88, No. 14 Boston College 66
Wednesday, March 9 (Second Round)
Game 3: No. 8 Pittsburgh 72, No. 9 Syracuse 71
Game 4: No. 5 Duke 92, No. 12 NC State 89
Game 5: No. 10 Georgia Tech 88, No. 7 Clemson 85
Game 6: No. 6 Virginia Tech 96, No. 11 Florida State 85
Thursday, March 10 (Quarterfinals)
Game 7: No. 1 North Carolina 88, No. 8 Pittsburgh 71
Game 8: No. 4 Notre Dame 84, No. 5 Duke 79
Game 9: No. 2 Virginia 72, No. 10 Georgia Tech 52
Game 10: No. 3 Miami 88, No. 6 Virginia Tech 82
Friday, March 11 (Semifinals)
Game 11: No. 1 North Carolina 78, No. 4 Notre Dame 47
Game 12: No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 3 Miami (9:30 p.m., ESPN)
Saturday, March 12 (Championship)
Game 13: No. 1 North Carolina vs. Game 12 winner (9 p.m., ESPN)
* * *
Best Tournament Player: Was it Carmelo Anthony or Christian Laettner?
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