Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC. With conference tournament action set to tip from Greensboro on Thursday, get set for March Madness with RTC’s regular season wrap-up and postseason outlook.
North Carolina is hot. It took almost all of the regular season, but the Tar Heels are finally living up to preseason hype. UNC should definitely be favored to win the ACC Tournament, but I wouldn’t bet on them. I think the Heels are due for one more hiccup before the Big Dance. They’ve flirted with disaster a couple of times and are coming off a huge win against Duke. It’s tough to keep a young team focused, and this team starts two freshmen and two sophomores. I also expect Duke to be playing with real purpose after the beatdown in Chapel Hill as it fights for a top seed.
As far as the bubble is concerned, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Boston College all need wins. I don’t think any of them are safe at this point (which is the unfortunate part of Clemson clinching the bye). Unfortunately, Clemson and Boston College will probably meet in the second round in a de facto “win and in” game.
Besides interesting bubble match-ups, look out for Duke and Maryland in the second round. Maryland has been down this year, but the Terps never back down from a fight (especially one with Duke). Also keep an eye on the semifinals when Boston College or Clemson will probably meet North Carolina. The Tigers and Eagles both played North Carolina incredibly close in Chapel Hill, and both would really benefit from the resume boost.
The most exciting conference tourney prospect is a rubber match between Duke and North Carolina in the tournament finals. These two teams are far and away the best teams in the conference, and both are in the conversation for a number one seed. Oh yeah, and who wouldn’t want a third game of one of the best rivalries in sports.