The ACC tournament starts at noon. One man’s guess at how all 14 games will turn out:
No. 12 Boston College vs. No. 13 Georgia Tech (Tuesday, noon): The Eagles have Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman, the Yellow Jackets do not. Josh Pastner’s second team is also missing its point guard (injured freshman Jose Alvarado). The NC-fueled Eagles pick up their first tournament win in three years.
No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 15 Pittsburgh (Tuesday, 2:30 p.m.): Love Ken Pomeroy’s stats. He has changed the way we look at (and cover) college basketball. But I’m concerned about his math that produced the winless Panthers with a 8.7 percent chance of winning this game. Does he have inside information about suspensions? New injuries to Bonzie Colson and/or Matt Farrell? A diphtheria outbreak? Pitt’s season mercifully comes to an end.
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No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Wake Forest (Tuesday, 7 p.m.): Of all the great pairings – Adam and Eve, Jordan and Pippen, peanut butter and chocolate, Cagney and Lacey – Jimmy Boeheim and the ACC tournament is the best. The querulous Syracuse coach has unofficially won 1,022 games but not one – unofficially or otherwise – in the ACC tournament since the Orange joined the league in 2014.
If not for Pitt’s disaster of a season, more people would be talking about Wake Forest’s collapse in Year 4 under Danny Manning. Alas, the Panthers are good for something. So are the Deacs, who will probably lead late in this game only to fall apart in the final minutes. Jimmy B might even say something nice about Greensboro after such an emotional win.
No. 8 Florida State vs. No. 9 Louisville (Wednesday, noon): Sometimes you have to make the obvious point. Louisville would have been really good this season with its hall-of-fame coach and five-star recruit. Alas, the FBI intervened. The Cards will still probably make the NCAA tournament but they’re a shell of the team they could have been.
The Seminoles, also an NCAA tournament team, are not very good away from home but they have their moments when they get going from the 3-point line and they look good. This will be one such moment.
No. 12 Boston College vs. No. 5 N.C. State (Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.): First-year Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts declared “#NCStateStuff” dead after Saturday’s win over Louisville. Anton Gill would like a word. So would Matt Freije.
Robinson didn’t play well in Raleigh in N.C. State’s win over BC on Feb. 20. Here’s guessing he shows out in Brooklyn, with Bowman’s help. Eagles in an upset.
No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech (Wednesday, 7 p.m.): Offense? Yes, please. The fully-functional Irish will trade paint with Buzz Williams’ Hokies, the best 3-point shooting team in the ACC, in what could be the most entertaining game of the tournament.
Virginia Tech does not have an answer for Colson. The Irish move on to face Duke.
No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 6 UNC (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.): These truths are self-evident: You can’t press Roy Williams and you can’t zone Roy Williams. Williams has won six straight against the Orange. Senior wing Theo Pinson was born to carve up the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. Jimmy B takes the loss gracefully and then rants the problem with the ACC tournament is it needs to be played in bigger cities. He suggests a rotation of London, Tokyo and Beijing.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 8 Florida State (Thursday, noon): After running hot in the opening round, FSU’s shooters go cold against the country’s top defense. If you can’t score 60, you can’t beat the Hoos.
No. 4 Clemson vs. No. 12 Boston College (Thursday, 2:30 p.m.): I’m not crazy about this Clemson team, without forward Donte Grantham, but the Tigers have figured out a way to make it work. They have the 3-point shooters (Gabe DeVoe, Marcquise Reed) to keep up with BC’s backcourt and junior big man Elijah Thomas is a difference-maker in the middle. The Tigers send the Eagles home.
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 10 Notre Dame (Thursday, 7 p.m.): So tempting, so so tempting to take the Irish, especially since Colson represents maybe the only decent matchup in the league for Duke star Marvin Bagley. Also love the Irish feeling it after two wins and Duke coming in cold. But … there’s a but … Duke just has more talent, especially if guard Trevon Duval can play the way he did in the second half of the UNC win. Duke ends ND’s run.
No. 3 Miami vs. No. 6 UNC (Thursday, 9:30 p.m.): The Tar Heels are itching for another shot at the Canes after that heartbreaker last Tuesday in Chapel Hill. Take out the trying-to-do-too-much of senior night and Ja’Quan Newton’s 40-foot buzzer-beater and UNC beats Miami and the Heels will this time.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Clemson (Friday, 7 p.m.): The Hoos played “murder ball” with the Tigers in their only regular-season meeting (a 61-36 win in Charlottesville). The Tigers will make a better showing of this one but this is a difficult matchup for Brad Brownell’s group. Hoos cruise into the final.
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 6 UNC (Friday, 9:30 p.m.): Round 3 after a regular-season split. UNC will be better than it was in the second half of Saturday’s 74-64 loss in Durham but this is still a “My guy is better than your guy” problem for the Tar Heels. They don’t have an answer for Bagley. Duke returns to the title game.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 2 Duke (Saturday, 9 p.m.): It’s relatively easier to play Virginia the second time around. The more you see the “Pack line” defense the more you understand where to go and how to avoid going where Virginia wants you to go.
Still, it comes down to making contested shots. Grayson Allen was 2-8 and had five points in Duke’s 65-63 home loss to Virginia on Jan. 27. The Duke senior will be better in Brooklyn. The Blue Devils cut down the nets after their second straight ACC title and 21st overall.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio