Next Up: ACC Tournament. Does anyone else have the feeling that this league was consistently better when it was only nine teams? At any rate, the ACC Tourney kicks off tomorrow for the 55th time, and while it used to deserve top billing on Fri/Sat of conference tourney weekend, we’re not sure that it places in the top four at this point. The projected Big East, Pac-10, Big 12 and SEC semis all look more compelling to us.
Where: Charlotte Bobcats Arena, Charlotte, NC
The Favorite(s). Um, Carolina? Look, there are two really good teams in this conference (although Duke is flawed when it comes to the NCAAs), two johnny-come-latelys who will probably lose their first ACC and NCAA games (Miami and Virginia Tech), and a morass of mediocrity and inconsistency remaining. UNC and Duke are too well coached and talented in March to lose to any of these teams – each can probably sleepwalk to the finals on Sunday, setting up the monumental spoogefest on ESPN all over again.
The Darkhorse. Maryland has enough talent to make a run in this tournament, if only they could get over their tendency for brainlock, their complete lack of understanding of the game, and Gary Williams. Maybe those are all the same things. Still, to believe they could beat Duke and Carolina on consecutive days (days 3 and 4 of the tourney, mind you) is laughable.
Bubble Buster Game. If it comes to pass, Virginia Tech vs. Miami. The Hurricanes have the better computer profile, but Virginia Tech was 9-7 in the conference. In our opinion, both teams are complete garbage and shouldn’t even be considered for the NCAAs, but if the committee is looking at taking a fifth team from the ACC, Virginia Tech has the most to gain with a win here.
Cinderella. Both Georgia Tech and Wake Forest have enough raw talent to win their first game and pull off a monumental upset in round two, but neither team has the consistency or discipline to turn that into a serious run at the title. Expect Duke-Carolina in the finals again.
Games We Want to See. As we said above, there isn’t much worth watching here this season. If Maryland can get to the Duke game, that would be interesting because that means the Terps are playing well enough to challenge the Devils. And of course, the presumptive Duke-Carolina final will be intriguing, even if we have to wash ourselves of the Dickie V. effluvia afterwards.
Champion. Carolina. They sometimes lose focus, but this is clearly the class of the conference, especially now that Tywon Lawson is back from injury. The only team we see as having a serious shot at beating them is Duke, and that’s only if the threes are falling and Gerald Henderson’s elbow is freshly sharpened. Otherwise, the Heels are the choice.