Team-by-Team look at ACC Tournament

Mar. 12, 2014 @ 09:14 AM

A quick glance at every team as the first 15-team ACC Tournament begins at Greensboro Coliseum:

 

VIRGINIA

Record: 25-6 (16-2, No. 1 seed)

Coach: Tony Bennett

Player to watch: Malcolm Brogdon, 6-5, G, So. (12.6 points)

Regular season wrap up: The Cavaliers rolled solid defense and efficient offense to their first ACC regular-season championship since 1981. Virginia doesn’t have superstars. But all play smart basketball and control tempo to limit scoring. Non-conference losses to Tennessee, Green Bay and VCU tempered opinions about Virginia early. But, since the new year arrived, Cavs have only lost at Duke and on Sunday in overtime at Maryland. 

Postseason prognosis: Virginia is primed for its deepest run in the NCAA Tournament in nearly two decades. Since going to the Elite Eight in 1995, Virginia has won only one NCAA Tournament game. With Brogdon, along with seniors Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell, leading the way, the Cavs look to build momentum for a deep NCAA run by winning the ACC Tournament.

 

SYRACUSE

Record: 27-4 (14-4, No. 2 seed)

Coach: Jim Boeheim

Player to watch: C.J. Fair, 6-8, F, Sr. (16.7 ppg)

Regular season wrap up: Syracuse had no trouble getting acclimated to its new league, winning its first 25 games and reaching No. 1 in the country behind ACC preseason player of the year C.J. Fair and freshman point guard Tyler Ennis. But the Orange have suffered a shocking collapse in the past month, losing four of their last six games. Three of its last four wins were by two points or less.

Postseason prognosis: A No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament was almost a given until Syracuse’s recent struggles. Now the Orange may need to win its first-ever ACC Tournament even to be in the discussion for the top line.

 

DUKE

Record: 24-7 (13-5, No. 3 seed)

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Player to watch: Jabari Parker, 6-8, F, Fr. (19.2 points)

Regular season wrap up: Strong play, with a couple of noticeable lulls, marked Duke’s season as it battled one of the nation’s toughest schedules. Early ACC losses to Clemson and Notre Dame dropped Duke out of contention for first place. But the Blue Devils found their groove. The best-scoring team in the ACC, behind Parker and Rodney Hood, turned up the heat defensively to become a more balanced squad.

Postseason prognosis: The Blue Devils have depth, with scorers up and down the lineup, to run with anyone. The key will be how solid Duke remains defensively. Last week’s loss to Wake Forest was an eye-opener in that department. Without a big rim-protecting center, Duke has to play superior team defense. An ACC title and Final Four run are possible when that happens.

 

 

NORTH CAROLINA

Record: 23-8 (13-5, No. 4 seed)

Coach: Roy Williams

Player to watch: Marcus Paige, 6-1, G, So. (17.1 ppg, 4.5 apg)

Regular season wrap up: UNC was in last place in the league after losing four of its first five games, but the Tar Heels shot up the standings thanks to a 12-game conference winning streak, their longest in 27 years, and are now one of the hottest teams in the country.

Postseason prognosis: After three straight seasons of losing in the ACC championship game, UNC can play its way into a top four seed – and possibility start NCAA Tournament play in Raleigh – with a title this week.

 

PITTSBURGH

Record: 22-8 (10-7, No.5 seed)

Coach: Jamie Dixon

Player to watch: Lamar Patterson, 6-5, G, Sr. (17.6 points)

Regular season wrap up: A weak non-conference schedule left many observers skeptical about the Panthers as they rolled through November and December. That skepticism proved well-founded as Pittsburgh has stumbled in ACC play, going 4-5 at home. Patterson was an effective scorer this season. But the Panthers at times had trouble finding reliable second and third scoring options.

Postseason prognosis: The Panthers have played in 11 of the last 12 NCAA tournaments. But Pitt has only survived the first weekend once in the last five appearances. The Panthers’ late-season slide, with home losses to Florida State and Clemson, have cast doubts about their ability to last long this season. Pitt needs a strong ACC Tournament performance to get its NCAA Tournament seed above double-digits.

 

CLEMSON

Record: 19-11 (10-8, No. 6 seed)
Coach: Brad Brownell
Player to watch: K.J. McDaniels, 6-6, F, Jr. (17.2)
Regular season wrap up: Picked 14th in the ACC preseason media poll, Clemson exceeded expectations, winning 10 conference games for only the fourth time in 61 seasons. McDaniels is a big reason why – he’s in the top seven in the league in both points and rebounds and leads the ACC in blocked shots.
Postseason prognosis: The Tigers have had surprising success with their tough defense and methodical offense, including a win over Duke. But its overall schedule isn’t strong enough to merit NCAA Tournament consideration.

 

N.C. STATE

Record: 19-12 (9-9, No. 7 seed)

Coach: Mark Gottfried

Player to watch: T.J. Warren, 6-8, F, So. (24.2 ppg)

Regular season wrap up: Warren, a Durham native, led the ACC in scoring and field-goal percentage -- punctuated by back-to-back 40-point games to end the regular season. He kept N.C. State out of the bottom tier of the league, but Warren alone wasn’t enough to get the Wolfpack past any of the league’s marquee teams.

Postseason prognosis: PNC Arena is hosting NCAA Tournament games next week, but barring a deep run in Greensboro, N.C. State won’t be there. One-point losses to Syracuse, North Carolina and Wake Forest and an overtime loss at home to N.C. Central will keep the Wolfpack out.

MARYLAND

Record: 17-14 (9-9, No. 8 seed)

Coach: Mark Turgeon

Player to watch: Dez Wells, 6-7, G, Jr. (14.8 points)

Regular season wrap up: In its final season as an ACC member, Maryland turned in another mediocre campaign that will leave it short of the NCAA Tournament. The Terrapins were good against bad teams – losing just once to teams at 101 or worse in the RPI. But Maryland has only one win over teams in the RPI’s top 50, going 1-7.

Postseason prognosis: As Wells and the Terps showed at last year’s ACC Tournament, they are capable of putting it together to pull an upset or two. The 2013 take-down of Duke is exhibit A. Maryland has played good teams tough this year – see narrow losses to Duke, Virginia and Syracuse. But the Terps, in reality, are playing for an NIT bid now.

 

 

 

FLORIDA STATE
 

Record: 18-12 (9-9, No. 9 seed)

Coach: Leonard Hamilton

Player to watch: Ian Miller, 6-3, G, Sr. (13.9 points)
Regular season wrap up: Going against its traditional defense-first style, Florida State is the best shooting team in the ACC (47.2 percent of field goals). The Seminoles are No. 2, behind Duke, in 3-point shooting (38 percent). Aaron Thomas (14.1 points) and Miller have provided FSU with solid scoring.
Postseason prognosis: The Seminoles missed the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 2008. A late-season surge, four wins in last six games, has FSU on the edge of the tournament bubble. A strong ACC Tournament is necessary to get in.

 

MIAMI

Record: 16-15, 7-11 in ACC, No. 10 seed)
Coach: Jim Larranaga
Player to watch: Rion Brown, 6-6, G, Sr. (15.4 points per game)
Regular season wrap up: Brown was the only contributor to return from last year’s ACC champions. The Hurricanes pulled off some big road wins at North Carolina, N.C. State and Florida State, but suffered some equally shocking losses to St. Francis, Central Florida and Virginia Tech (twice).

Postseason prognosis: Miami will miss the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in 11 seasons, and next season might be tough as well – the Hurricanes started five seniors in six of their last eight games.

 

 

GEORGIA TECH

Record: 15-16 (6-12, No.11 seed)

Coach: Brian Gregory

Player to watch: Trae Golden, 6-2, G, Sr. (12.9 points)

Regular season wrap up:  The Yellow Jackets finished in the bottom part of the league in shooting and field-goal percentage defense. Losing 6-8 forward Robert Carter, Jr., for most of the ACC schedule was a killer. He’s back, and helped the Jackets win at Syracuse last week, but too many games had gotten away by then.

Postseason prognosis: Georgia Tech has only been to the NCAA Tournament once in the last six seasons and that drought will grow this year unless the Yellow Jackets find a way to win five consecutive games in Greensboro.

 

WAKE FOREST

Record: 16-15 (6-12, No. 12 seed)

Coach: Jeff Bzdelik

Player to watch: Devin Thomas, 6-9, F, So. (11.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg)

Regular season wrap up: Wake Forest won its first 12 home games and knocked off in-state rivals North Carolina, Duke and N.C. State in Winston-Salem. But the team lost 9 of its last 11 games because of the worst scoring defense and rebounding margin in the ACC.

Postseason prognosis: The only suspense is if Wake Forest can finish above .500 for the first time in Jeff Bzdelik’s four seasons. Although with his overall record at (50-75, 17-51 ACC), that probably won’t be enough for him to remain in Winston-Salem.

 

 

 

Notre Dame

Record: 15-16 (6-12, No. 13 seed)

Coach: Mike Brey

Player to watch: Pat Connaughton, 6-5, G, Jr. (13.6 points)

Regular season wrap up: A perennial NCAA Tournament team under Brey, the Irish saw their season run off the rails when leading scorer Jerian Grant was dismissed from school in December. His 19.0 scoring average was missed mightily. The difference this season, as opposed to past years, is Notre Dame was 1-8 against top-50 RPI teams. The Irish aren’t a particularly good shooting team or a defending team. Bad combination.

Postseason prognosis: The best Notre Dame can do is hope to string together a couple of ACC Tournament wins to put it in the NIT conversation. Connaugton, center Garrick Sherman and guard Eric Atkins might get them one or even two wins. More than that would be a wild surprise as the Irish will miss the NCAAs for just the second time in the last eight seasons.

 

 

BOSTON COLLEGE

Record: 8-23 (4-14, No. 14 seed)

Coach: Steve Donahue

Player to watch: Olivier Hanlan, 6-4, G, So. (18.2 ppg)

Regular season wrap up: The Eagles were expected to make a big step forward after returning all five starters from last season, including ACC rookie of the year Olivier Hanlan. Instead, the team got off to a horrible start and never recovered as opponents have seemingly scored at will.

Postseason prognosis: Hanlan set an ACC Tournament freshmen record with 41 points against Georgia Tech last season, and BC could be a feisty underdog – just ask Syracuse, who suffered its first loss of the season at home against the Eagles.

 

VIRGINIA TECH

Record: 9-21 (2-16, No. 15 seed)

Coach: James Johnson

Player to watch: Jarell Eddie, 6-7, F, Sr. (13.4 points)

Regular season wrap up: A simply forgettable basketball season in Blacksburg as the Hokies struggled mightily in Johnson’s second season. Virginia Tech is the ACC’s worst shooting team (hitting only 41 percent as a team) and averages just 64 points per game. Virginia Tech’s only league wins came over Miami. Eddie’s play offered the Hokies a few highlights this season. A four-point loss at home to UNC on March 1 represents a highlight.

Postseason prognosis: The Hokies will be done as soon as they lose in the ACC Tournament. That will make it 0-2 in postseason appearances of any kind since Seth Greenberg, who routinely fell just short of the NCAA Tournament, was ousted in 2012. Including this disastrous season, Virginia Tech will have made the NCAA Tournament only twice in the last 28 years (2007, 1996).