The 2012 ACC Tournament starts at 12 pm on Thursday and everybody but the UNC fans are looking for a bit of drama to happen. The Tar Heels are coming into this tournament playing as good as any team in the nation, save Kentucky, and are the odds on favorite to win. However, they are not the only story here. Can Duke rebound from their embarrassing loss to UNC and play good enough to get a rematch? Can NC State or Miami show enough to the NCAA selection committee to call for a NCAA tournament at large bid? Can Virginia or Florida State pull an upset and spoil the Duke/UNC reunion in the finals? I will preview what each team has to do to win the tournament and what each team will need to do to get to the Big Dance.
In the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens.
#1 UNC Odds to win ACC Tournament: ½
The Tar Heels are the odds on favorite to win this thing and a team will have to surprise them to win. They lead the ACC in scoring and rebounding. Tyler Zeller is fresh off being named the ACC Player of the Year and Jon Henson is the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year. They are joined on the All-ACC First Team by Harrison Barnes. This team is just too deep to lose in this tournament and should roll through the weekend and get a number 1 seed in the Dance.
#2 Duke Odds: 8/1
The brutal beating at the hands of UNC last weekend is still being felt in Durham and they would love a chance to get revenge but it will be tough. Duke is very talented and Rivers is a hell of a player but the loss of 3rd leading scorer and Co-captain Ryan Kelly will be hard to overcome. Kelly’s injury makes this Duke team vulnerable to the upset and I see them falling to FSU on Saturday. Even if they lose to FSU, Duke’s resume is very strong and they should secure a #2 seed in the Dance.
#3 Florida State Odds: 5/1
ACC Coach of the Year Leonard Hamilton has this team playing solid ball at the right time. Their defense is legit and they can keep the high scoring teams in the league under wraps. Junior guard Michael Snaer is their best scorer and will need to shoot well from behind the arc to make a run at UNC in the final if they can get there. But first I think they will have a tough game against Miami in the second round. The ceiling for FSU is a #3 seed but I think they will get a #5.
#4 Virginia Odds: 12/1
With Mike Scott playing determined ball and having the league’s best D Virginia surprised many to finish 4thin the ACC. Their slowdown pace will keep them in games but if they can get by NC State, an expected 3rd round matchup against UNC will end their hopes to make a final. They just don’t have the healthy bodies to stay on the court with the Heels. A good season for Virginia earned them a 7th seed in the Dance but will get them matched up against a dangerous mid-major program that will give them a first round upset.
Needs to make if to the quarterfinals to have chance at the NCAA.
#5 NC State Odds: 12/1
Right now NC State is in most experts’ pool of the first 4 out of the Dance and I agree. They just don’t have the signature win in a top-heavy ACC this year. But the ACC Tournament is where they will get their chance to prove they belong. I believe they will matchup well against their 2nd round opponent Virginia and will move in to a 3rd round matchup with UNC but they will not be able to hang. But on the good side if they can advance to the quarterfinals of the ACC they should earn an at-large bid. NC State fans should be ready for a Tuesday night play-in game.
#6 Miami Odds: 10/1
I like this team now and I think they will surprise. This team is good enough to make a run at the ACC final. They have some big wins this year against Duke and FSU this year and have the talent to add to that. They should get past Georgia Tech and have a good shot for a win against in-state rival FSU. If they can get past FSU an injured Duke squad could provide a winnable game.
I want to note that if both NC State and Miami make it to the quarterfinals I think that Miami would be the 5th ACC team in the NCAA tournament. They have more “big” wins and look better than NC State when you put them against each other.
Can only get into the NCAA Tournament if they win the whole thing.
#9 Wake Forest
#10 Virginia Tech
#11 Georgia Tech
#12 Boston College
My game-by-game predictions for the ACC Tournament
Maryland over Wake Forest
NC State over Boston College
Clemson over Virginia Tech
Miami over Georgia Tech
UNC over Maryland
NC State over Virginia
Duke over Clemson
Miami over Florida State
UNC over NC State
Miami over Duke
UNC over Miami
Carolina gets a #1 seed, Duke gets a #2 seed, FSU gets a #5, Virginia gets a #7 seed and Miami will get a #12 and will be the 5th ACC team in the Dance.