The ACC Tournament has so many teams that are fighting for different things, whether that’s a number one seed or just a spot in the tournament. As always, it will be competitive and fun. Here is a preview of what will take place in Brooklyn this week.
Virginia won the ACC this season by four games this season, a feat that not many saw coming. They only have two losses on the season, to Virginia Tech and West Virginia. If they win this tournament, they will get the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Behind them Duke will be looking for a number one seed as well. Five of their six losses came in conference, but their defense has gotten better in recent weeks. They have also gotten healthier, as Marvin Bagley III has returned from his sprained knee.
North Carolina has a slight shot at a number one seed, but is likely looking at a two or three seed this season. With one of the best point guards in the country, Joel Berry, and a good inside-out player in Luke Maye, the Tar Heels can make a run and win this tournament.
Clemson, Miami, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Florida State are all likely in the NCAA Tournamnet, barring disaster scenarios. Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse are both on the bubble and need to do some damage in the ACC Tournament to secure a spot in the big dance. Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Pittsburgh finished at the bottom of the conference and are playing for pride unless they can make a run to win the whole ACC Tournament to get an automatic bid.
All-Tournament Team and MVP
The All-Tournament team is very dependent on who goes deep in a tournament. Who will be the best players in the ACC Tournament?
Joel Berry, G, UNC
Kyle Guy, G, Virginia
Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke
Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke
Omer Yurtseven, F, N.C. State
MVP: Kyle Guy
Darkhorse: N.C. State Wolfpack
N.C. State will play Boston College, after the Eagles beat Georgia Tech in the first round. That shouldn’t be too tough of a game, as the Wolfpack already beat them this season, 82-66. After that they get Clemson, who is without one of their best players, Donte Grantham, who is injured. They split the season series with Clemson, but they had Grantham in both of those games. The Tigers have lost four of their last six games of the season and are clearly reeling without Grantham.
Picking up those two wins would give them some momentum. If the bracket holds to form, they would have to play Virginia and then Duke to win it all. While Virginia did beat the Wolfpack easily, N.C. State was able to beat Duke. That tournament run would be tough, but they should be able to get out of their first two games without too many problems.
Coach Kevin Keatts has done a fantastic job of putting a good team on the floor and getting the most out of them in his first year. They’ve got a good combination of inside players and guards. Omer Yutseven is a legitimate NBA prospect at center, who is tough to match up with. Lennard Freeman and Abdul-Malik Abu are good role players at forward, who have experience.
Markell Johnson runs the point well with 7.4 assists per game. Allerik Freeman, Torin Dorn and Braxton Beverley all give a good scoring punch to this team from the guard position, averaging over 10 points per game each. With so many different scoring options, the Wolfpack will be hard to stop this week.
Champion: Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia will have to play Louisville or Florida State in their first game, then likely have to go through N.C. State/Clemson and Duke to win the tournament. With just two losses on the season, they have beaten all of these teams. Florida State and Louisville created good games against the Cavaliers, but couldn’t come up with key plays at the end, giving Virginia victories. They are 3-0 against teams they’d meet in their first game.
For their likely second opponent of the tournament, they beat both N.C. State and Clemson without any problems. They held Clemson to 36 points, when Clemson still had Grantham. If they make the championship against Duke, they were able to beat them at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 65-63.
They are clearly the class of the ACC, with only one loss in conference. Their defense is what sets them apart, as they allow just 52.8 points per game. That would be hard to do in any conference, but they managed to do that in one of the toughest, if not the toughest, conferences in the country. The Cavaliers hold opponents to just 37.5% from the field and play the game at their pace.
Virginia’s best player is Kyle Guy, who averages just 13.9 points per game, but that’s because they run good offensive sets and milk the shot clock. He scores 17.5 points per game, which is probably what he would score if Virginia played at most teams’ paces. Devon Hall and Ty Jerome are also both solid guards who average over 10 points per game and defend well.
Outside of the three scorers, the Cavaliers have role players that don’t care about numbers and just focus on doing their jobs to secure victories. De’Andre Hunter, Isaiah Wilkins, Jack Salt, Mamadi Diakite and Nigel Johnson all fill significant roles and are capable of stepping up their games when called upon.
Tony Bennett will have his team ready to play in the ACC Tournament and is hoping that they can make the third Final Four in school history.