What the ACC Tournament Means for Big Dance PossibilitiesPosted by EMann on March 14th, 2013
While there are four teams in the ACC who are almost certain to make the NCAA Tournament, their seeds will likely be affected by how they perform. For the other eight teams, their result in the ACC Tournament will determine whether they qualify for the NCAA or any other postseason tournaments. The teams are listed below in order of their ACC Tournament seed.
#1 Miami (24-6, 15-3, RPI: 4 SOS: 4, KenPom: 14, Average Seed per Bracket Project: 2.51):
After Miami’s stumble to only win the conference regular season by one game overall (including dropping a game at home to Georgia Tech), Miami has slipped to a either the lowest #2 or the highest #3 seed in most bracketologists’ predictions. Miami probably can’t rise to a #1 seed by winning the ACC Tournament (even by beating Duke in the finals), but if it beats Duke en route to winning the title, Miami should be a safe bet for a #2 seed. Making the finals of the ACC Tournament could lock Miami into a #2 seed depending on the other teams’ results in their respective tournaments (i.e., Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State), so Jim Larranaga’s team should be hoping for these teams to stumble to lock up a #2. It is highly unlikely, even with a Friday loss, for Miami to fall below the #3-line, though, given its regular season title and quality wins over Duke and Michigan State.
#2 Duke (27-4, 14-4, RPI: 1, SOS: 1, KenPom: 5, Average Seed per Bracket Project: 1.00):
Duke is in prime NCAA Tournament position. It typically dominates the ACC Tournament (having won 10 of the last 14 tournaments). With the Blue Devils undefeated (18-0) with Ryan Kelly in the lineup and boasting the top RPI in the country, Duke is almost assured as a lock for a #1 seed in the tournament. If Duke wins the ACC title, they should be the overall #1 seed and play in the East Region. Making the finals would likely assure that #1 seed in the East, and any other result will still likely give Duke a #1 seed elsewhere. If Duke loses on Friday it could possibly drop from the #1-seed line, but that is an unlikely result given Duke’s laudable overall resume to this point.
#3 North Carolina (22-9, 12-6, RPI: 19 SOS: 7, KenPom: 29, Average Seed per Bracket Project: 7.17):
North Carolina is a lock for the tournament, and can greatly enhance its seeding with a strong run. UNC is likely looking at approximately a 7 seed assuming that it wins Friday and drops its game Saturday. If North Carolina can make the finals, it can possibly reach a #6 seed, and winning the title could get it possibly as high as #4 (but more likely a #5). Losing on Friday (especially if to FSU and not Clemson) will likely still keep UNC on the 7 line, but it risks falling to the 8/9 game if it loses on Friday.
#4 Virginia (21-10, 11-7, RPI: 67, SOS: 124, KenPom: 21, Average Seed per Bracket Project: 11.75 [present in 24 of 92 brackets]):
Virginia must have one of the strangest profiles in recent memory with its extremely weak non-conference scheduling and results (0-3 against the CAA, juxtaposed against a win at Wisconsin) and its conference results (beating Duke, North Carolina, and NC State at home, sweeping Maryland, but losing to BC, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Clemson on the road). Regardless, Virginia’s tournament fate will rest in its own hands. Losing on Friday will almost certainly doom Virginia to the NIT, losing Saturday (especially if the path involves beating NC State then losing to Miami) will probably get Virginia in, but it will be very precarious (and they will likely be fighting to avoid the First Four), and making it to the finals will definitely get Virginia in at around a 10 or 11 seed. Its ceiling for winning the tournament is probably about a 7 seed.
#5 NC State (22-9, 11-7, RPI: 30, SOS: 36, KenPom: 40, Average Seed per Bracket Project: 8.08):
NC State is definitely in the tournament, but it must feel disappointed that it will be trying to play itself out of the 8/9 game after being the preseason conference favorite. NC State could peak at about a #5 seed if it wins the conference tournament (especially if it goes through Miami and Duke in the process), but it could also drop to a double-digit seed if it fails to beat Virginia Tech on Thursday. Most likely, NC State will be in an 8/9 game unless it reaches the finals of the tournament, in which case a 6-7 seed is likely assuming that the Wolfpack lose.
#6 Florida State (17-14, 9-9, RPI: 87, SOS: 37, KenPom: 115):
Florida State is out of the NCAA Tournament unless they get the automatic bid. Reaching the finals could give them an extremely outside chance at the NCAA Tournament, but it is still auto-bid or bust more than likely for the Seminoles. It has truly been a disappointing season for the defending ACC champions, who were preseason top 25.
#7 Maryland (20-11, 8-10, RPI: 85, SOS: 105, KenPom: 64):
With Maryland’s dearth of quality wins (outside of Duke and NC State), they are likely auto-bid or bust. Reaching the finals could give the Terrapins a decent shot of making the tournament (especially since they would have to go through Duke and likely North Carolina), but they would have a difficult time feeling secure without the automatic bid. Right now, the NIT seems the most likely future for Maryland, whose weak non-conference schedule does it absolutely no favors.
#8 Boston College (15-16, 7-11, RPI: 118, SOS: 44, KenPom: 106), #9 Georgia Tech (16-14, 6-12, RPI: 134, SOS: 103, KenPom: 84), #10 Wake Forest (13-17, 6-12, RPI: 166, SOS: 69, KenPom: 127), #11 Clemson (13-17, 5-13, RPI: 174, SOS: 106, KenPom: 112), #12 Virginia Tech (13-18, 4-14, RPI: 170, SOS: 76, KenPom: 162):
All of these teams will not make the NCAA Tournament without winning the conference tournament. Georgia Tech and Boston College could have an outside shot at the NIT if they make a run to the tournament finals.