ACC Basketball

ACC gets six into the NCAA Tournament

Photo: Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports

The world’s greatest basketball conference ever will have to probably wait until it’s truly the world’s greatest basketball conference. However, the ACC got six teams in, which is one more than most predicted they would have. You have to assume if the tournament was still just 64 teams, North Carolina State would have missed out on all the fun though. Having six teams isn’t the most for any league, but it’s still a lot better than the SEC.

So let’s see what we got and what each team is looking at.

VIRGINIA | 1-seed East 

In a bit of a stunner, the Cavaliers landed the 1-seed in the East, despite the fact they produced zero quality wins in their non-conference schedule. Having said that, if you win both the regular season and the tournament championship in a conference that got six teams into the big dance, you’ve done something right.

There are some tricky land mines in the East. The George Washington/Memphis winner will be tough. Both teams play solid D and will have no problem playing a 51-50 game. However, the Cavaliers’ biggest road block can be found in the Sweet 16. Michigan State was #1 early in the season, but injuries ravaged this team and they dropped five of seven to end the season. But the Spartans are healthy now and just took out two 2-seeds to win the Big Ten tournament.

SYRACUSE | 3-seed South

The Orange are lucky to be a three-seed. They’ve dropped five of seven and they haven’t looked good since early February. Now I never want to call a team that got stuck in the same bracket as Florida a lucky team, but the Orange are definitely in a decent position. The first two potential opponents the Orange will face will be Western Michigan and Ohio State, two teams that couldn’t beat a zone even if Syracuse had one defender facing the opposite direction. In the sweet 16, they potentially get to face a Kansas team that has struggled without Joel Embiid. The problem is, I just don’t see this team beating the Florida Gators.

DUKE | 3-seed Midwest

Sorry, there is no doubt in my mind that the midwest region is the most brutal. Until Sunday, teams like Louisville, Duke and Michigan were all up for a 1-seed. Did I mention there’s a team with six future NBA players on it and that’s the team that gets to face undefeated Wichita State in the second round?

A lot of people are going to predict a Round of 32 upset for Duke, probably at the hands of Tennessee, who rocked Virginia’s world earlier this year. I will not go there. I’ve said all along the Blue Devils were an elite eight team. Michigan of course will be a challenge. Duke already beat them back in the ACC/Big Ten challenge, but that game was back in Cameron when the Wolverines were really struggling. They’re better now, but I still give Duke the edge in that match up.

NORTH CAROLINA | 6-seed East

On Twitter, I’m seeing a ton of people declaring that the Tar Heels got an easy route. I don’t blame them for thinking Villanova is a pushover. I think the Wildcats are overrated and I have them losing to Connecticut in the Round of 32. However, if people think Iowa State is a team that the Tar Heels can walk over, then they have not been paying attention this season. I felt like the Cyclones were a sleeper 1-seed. Think about it, they’ve won four straight, all against tournament teams.

PITTSBURGH | 8-seed South

Congratulations on getting to the tournament, now enjoy the top team in the nation in the Round of 32. Listen, I’m not going to declare the Panthers dead upon arrival. I know they have just two quality wins all season long (Stanford a long time ago and North Carolina just recently), but Jamie Dixon is a hell of a coach and this team has gotten better as the season has gone along. Can they beat the Gators? Probably not, but it won’t be a walk in the park for Florida either.

N.C. STATE | 12-seed Midwest 

One of the surprises during selection Sunday was the Wolfpack. I’m not sure I saw them on any Bracketology that I could find. Yet, here they are. I do have to hand it to coach Mark Gottfried. This was suppose to be a rebuilding year with so much youth on this squad, yet here they are in the tournament. I have no idea how far they’ll go, but I will say this, it’s always exciting when a great scorer like T.J. Warren gets to show off his talents in a single elimination game.

Of course, N.C. State will have to play the play-in game (or as they call it now, the first-round). They’ll be the underdog in every contest, including that opening game against Xavier. If they can pull out that first win, they’ll face a Saint Louis squad that’s backing into the tournament, dropping four of five. Beyond that though, it’s tough to see the Wolfpack getting much further.

OTHER NOT TOO DEEP THOUGHTS

Louisville, the defending national champs, has looked great of late, but the NCAA committee was not impressed and dropped the Cardinals to a 4-seed. Crazy, when you think that some had them as a possible 1-seed. I guess beating Rutgers by 61 doesn’t payoff like it use to.

People are already calling Kentucky a dangerous 8-seed. You see, the Wildcats are NOW going to start living up to their talent. Don’t buy it. Wichita State is better.

It’s been a long time since I’ve said this, but the overall number one seed, Florida, actually got the easiest region…the way it should be.

If Oklahoma State can get by Gonzaga, I’m loving that Round of 32 matchup against Arizona.

Michigan State is healthy and dangerous and could face Virginia in the Sweet 16. Love it.

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