After going through the ACC Tournament matchups, I’ve picked a winner.
And it’s not who you think.
No. 12 seed Georgia Tech
Is it me, or does Tech seem like a legitimate basketball team for long stretches of games? So how did the Jackets only win two league games? Even with the tourney in Atlanta, the Jackets have no chance. 0 percent
No. 11 seed Virginia
The Cavaliers aren’t going to win, but would anybody be surprised if Sylven Landesberg went off for 35 points and they beat Boston College in the first round, and making every Duke fan happy in the process? No, but we’re picking the chances of winning the whole enchilada. 2 percent
No. 8 Maryland
I know what’s on the line for the Terps — win a couple of league tourney games and they could be dancing. But N.C. State seems under Sidney Lowe to work some magic in the ACC Tournament, and the Wolfpack are still steaming over Greivis Vasquez burying that open 3-pointer at the buzzer in Maryland’s win last week. Just a hunch here at this being the upset of Thursday.
So, if I’m picking the Terps to lose in the first round, they have zero shot, right? Whatever. My column, my rules. They know they need to win games, so there’s a chance. 9 percent
No. 10 N.C. State
Even though the Pack played Wake Forest fairly well a couple of times this year, I think the Deacs overwhelm them in the quarterfinals Friday. The NIT starts in a week. 9 percent
No. 9 Virginia Tech
If the Hokies make it to the quarterfinals to meet the Tar Heels, they could advance further. More on this later, but Tech could make a little noise. 12 percent
No. 7 Miami
See above, although with one caveat: Jack McClinton could carry a team a long way if he’s Randolph Childress-hot for a weekend. Tough team for UNC. 18 percent
No. 6 Boston College
If the Eagles get Duke again, it will be a different Duke team they beat in February. Still, it’s a tough matchup for the Dukies. Good size and guard strength, so there’s a chance BC could come up with a shocker. 20 percent
No. 1 North Carolina
Surprise. They are the most talented team, but the red flags for this particular weekend are everywhere. Roy Williams is already talking down the importance of the tournament, bringing up 2005 every chance he gets. (Heels lost the ACC Tourney, but won the NCAA title.) Ty Lawson is being made out to sound like he needs a wheelchair after nearly throwing up a trip-dub on Duke on the same sore toe.
I just think the Heels, who could very well win this tournament, will be going about three-quarters speed this weekend. If they win, fine. But if they lose, fine. A few more days off. Roy did this at Kansas, too. That’s just the feeling I get. And the draw isn’t easy. 25 percent
No. 4 Florida State
The Seminoles have just eight losses this year.Read that last sentence again.
Here’s the thing about the Noles, though — they still find ways to lose big games at the end. Lawson’s 3 at the buzzer. The Duke loss a couple of weeks ago. But they play defense, they get a bye, they have one of the league’s best players in Toney Douglas and they are a tough matchup for the Tar Heels. Dangerous. 27 percent
No. 5 Clemson
No. 2 Wake Forest
Yes, the Duke draw is tough. But the rest isn’t. Maybe Maryland is a tough out, but who knows what you’re going to get from the Terps on any given day. Same with N.C. State.
The Deacs should get to the semifinals, and they have all the tools. They just seem sloppy sometimes. But in stretches, they can look like the best team in the league.
It’s working, as Scheyer is bigger than most points and can just shoot over people while Williams is a good defender. Scheyer also takes great care of the ball — Duke went four straight games with single-digit turnovers (and had only 11 against UNC). Kyle Singler is banging again and rebounding, and Gerald Henderson is still Gerald Henderson.
Sure, they really only have three major scoring threats, but they defend. And while the Dukies can still get tired and go through lengthy stretches where nothing seems to fall for them, there’s no denying they are better now than they were a month ago. And they could’ve swept Wake.
And so I’m picking the Blue Devils to win another ACC Tournament championship.
Of course, picking the ACC Tournament is no sure thing. But I believe Duke has the best chance. 50 percent
Let the holiday begin.