ACC Basketball

Hope for the ACC Hopeless?

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, the ACC has five teams who are locked into the ACC Tournament: Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke, Louisville and North Carolina. All five are in contention for a top-three seed, which is pretty damn impressive. However, as hard as it may be to believe, those five could be the only teams in the conference to make the tournament (remember Syracuse can’t accept a NCAA invite, self imposing last week).

With the way the middle of the pack ACC teams have played lately, you might think they were jockeying for a better draft spot, rather than a spot in the Big Dance. To call these teams bubble teams would be a disservice to bubbles. So who do we have left?

For now, we’re going to go ahead and cancel everyone below Wake Forest in the standings from contending. Sorry Wake, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Boston College.

MIAMI HURRICANES

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still has the Hurricanes squad in, but I have no idea why. They’ve lost three of four, against some of the worst in the ACC (Georgia Tech, Florida State and most recently Wake Forest) and have fallen to 64th in the RPI. They have four games remaining with teams ranked 100 or below, but as we’ve seen that’s meant nothing. At least they have a pair of signature win opportunities with a road game to Louisville and a top-15 North Carolina team coming to South beach in late February and signature wins seem to cancel out bad loses for the folks on the NCAA committee.

CLEMSON TIGERS

After winning five of seven, including a pair of wins over potential tournament teams (Pittsburgh, Syracuse), the Tigers bandwagon was pulled out of the garage and dusted off. At one point they sat in the “last four out” in Lunardi’s bracketology. However, after back-to-back loses, Clemson’s tournament hopes are fading. Those early season loses to Winthrop and Gardner-Webb continue to hurt, as they have just two wins over a top-50 team (LSU, Arkansas), but none against ACC teams. Worse yet, looking at their schedule, I only foresee a 3-3 finish at best, with games coming up at Duke, at Notre Dame, plus two against a tough out in Georgia Tech.

PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

The Panthers actually have a not-so-tragic 55th ranking in the RPI, but have just three wins against the top-100 and one of those was against 100th ranked Georgia Tech. They are in the middle of a tough four-game stretch, beginning with a loss to Louisville Wednesday night.  Next up is home against North Carolina, then at Virginia and then Syracuse. They could very easily go 0-4 in that run. Even if they finish 4-0 down the stretch against easier competition, it probably won’t be enough. They need to pull off an upset.

NC STATE WOLFPACK

At 14-11 and losers of five of their last six, no team is less deserving of a tournament invitation than the Wolfpack. They somehow still have a 58th ranking in the RPI, despite just two wins over the top-50 (Duke and Boise State). It helps that they have a tough SOS, 4th overall, having played 17 games against the top-100, going 7-10 in those games. They have two signature win opportunities down the stretch, Louisville and North Carolina, but both are on the road. NC State will have to finish the season 5-1 and reach the semis in the ACC Tournament to even have a shot.

FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES

To say the Seminoles are a long shot would be me being really kind. Their RPI sits at #122. They have just four wins against the top-150 (Florida, Clemson, Miami, Wake Forest…that’s it). They are 4-11 against the top-50 and even if they sweep their final six games, which would mean road wins at Georgia Tech, Virginia and Miami, plus home victories over Louisville and Pittsburgh, that still probably won’t be impressive enough for the tournament committee.

 

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