Welcome back to the BC Interruption psychic hotline. Today we peer into our crystal ball and glance into what the future has in store for the ACC men's basketball tournament this weekend.
Do you see BC blowing out Virginia in the first round?
Jeff: Blowout? Absolutely not. The Eagles might start hot or stretch their lead at the end but for at least 20 minutes of the game the margin will be 5 points or less. I would love to see Skinner get the chance to rest his starters for the last few minutes of the game but I do not see it happening.
Do you see all the top seeds advancing out of the opening round of the ACC Tournament?
Brian: I don't. Not at all. I actually see two "upsets" in the opening round of the tournament. The (8) vs. (9) matchup is hardly an upset, but I see Miami (FL) edging Virginia Tech in the noon 8 vs. 9 game. I also see (5) Clemson defeating (12) Georgia Tech easily. Later that day, I see 10th seeded NC State providing the ACC with its first real upset of the day, knocking off No. 7 Maryland. Finally, in the nightcap, I see Boston College eeking out a win over Virginia and ACC Rookie of the Year Sylven Landesberg. Therefore, I see two upsets on Thursday. And the stakes couldn't be higher for ACC bubble teams Virginia Tech and Maryland. Unfortunately for Hokies and Terps fans, I see a certain three-letter postseason tournament in store for both those squads with opening round ACC Tournament losses on their resume.
Is this the year that a team seeded 5-12 finally breaks through and wins four games in four days for the first time?
Jeff: Doubtful, but this year has more hope than most. BC sits in the 6th seed and has already beaten Duke who it would play on Friday and beat North Carolina on the road. Perhaps someone else can knock off Wake Forest so that the Eagles don't have to face them. Additionally, holding the 5th seed is Clemson who has been ranked all year basically which you don't often see from the 5 seed of the ACC tournament. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Roy Williams would prefer to face the Seminoles than the Tigers on Saturday.
Which one of the three ACC bubble teams - Miami (FL), Maryland, Virginia Tech - do you see making the Dance?
Brian: Of the three, I see the winner of the Miami (FL) vs. Virginia Tech 8 vs. 9 matchup making the NCAA Tournament. And it is a bit hazy to me, but putting aside their regular season loss to the Hokies, I think Miami (FL) escapes with the victory tomorrow. A win pushes Miami (FL) to 19-11 overall. Still, the Canes finished the regular season 7-9 in the ACC, a serious red flag, and went a pedestrian 4-6 in their last 10, including a bad loss to Georgia Tech. But I think with 19 wins overall, an RPI in the low 50s and a SOS around 25, quality wins against Wake, Florida State and BC, Miami is in.
Having beat BC twice this year, the Eagles are actually the Hurricanes best friend. Miami (FL) should be rooting hard for BC to win their opening round game and quarterfinal matchup to improve their resume's key wins.
Virginia Tech is currently 17-13 and I don't see them having enough to get into the tournament. The Hokies have an RPI in the 60s and strength of schedule in the 20s. They are only 3-7 in their last 10, but one of those 3 wins was a huge win at Clemson. The nail in the Hokies coffin will undoubtedly be their 75-61 loss at Virginia.
Maryland probably has the best resume today - 18-12 (7-9 ACC), 2-1 against Virginia Tech and Miami (FL), quality wins against two possible No. 1 seeds in Michigan State and North Carolina. SOS of 25 but RPI closer to 70. I would say that the Terps were on the verge of getting over the bubble and into the tournament if not for laying a giant egg in the regular season finale against Virginia. Even with one ACC tournament win, I don't think it will be enough to get the Terrapins into the Dance.
Do you see North Carolina defending their back-to-back ACC Tournament championships and winning for the third straight year?
Jeff: Yes. It pains me to say it but UNC is still loaded and the #1 seed really does have a much much easier road that the 2 and 3 seeds Wake Forest and Duke who are the next most likely suitors. Florida State in the #4 slot is just not good enough to win this conference tournament and for anyone else its just asking too much to win four games in four days against this competition. I will be there and cheering against UNC in every round but I am not expecting to see my wish come true.
Looking ahead to next season's ACC Tournament, do you see BC as higher or lower than a 6 seed?
Brian: This is a tough question. While I think the Eagles will be better next year with another year under the belt of Trapani, Sanders, Raji and Southern, you have to take into consideration what the other 11 ACC clubs do to improve their programs. Regardless of what North Carolina loses to graduation, you have to expect the Heels to finish in the Top 6 of the conference next year. UNC has something like four McDonald's All-Americans coming onto the squad next season! I expect Duke and Wake to again finish in the top half of the league standings next year, and Clemson and Florida State should be able to continue building on their success this season as they both have relatively young squads. That's five teams right there. So for BC to finish in the top half of the ACC next year, I would have to believe that none of the teams that finished below BC this season will bubble up and take that 6th spot. Even though I am a BC optimist, I just don't see that happening. Georgia Tech won't be 2-14 bad next season with the addition of Derrick Favors. Virginia has shown glimpses of a brighter future. And just take a look at the ACC recruiting classes of 2009. Nearly every other club better themselves with their 2009 recruiting class, yet notably missing from that list is any BC recruit (don't we have to fill Ty Rice's spot on the roster?).
Also, as Jeff pointed out earlier, look at the teams BC played twice this season due to the unbalanced ACC basketball schedule - Georgia Tech, NC State, Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), and Wake Forest. That would be the teams that finished last, 10th, 9th, 7th and 2nd. Certainly not a murderer's row of ACC teams we had to play twice (and for the most part, we didn't even capitalize on this advantage, dropping 1 game to NC State, Virginia Tech and Miami). Next year we might not have as favorable a schedule. If our 2009-2010 schedule ends up having two games against the UNCs, Dukes, Clemsons or Florida States of the conference instead of the bottom half of the conference, I wouldn't expect another 9-7 finish in conference.
Last one, who do you see winning each of the games in the ACC Tournament?
Jeff and Brian: For the opening round, we see (9) Miami over (8) Virginia Tech, (5) Clemson over (12) Georgia Tech, (10) NC State over (7) Maryland and (6) Boston College over (11) Virginia.
Brian: On to the quarterfinals, I have (1) North Carolina coasting past (9) Miami, but the Hurricanes opening day win may be just enough to get them into the NCAAs as the 7th ACC team. I see (5) Clemson knocking off (4) Florida State in the quarterfinals because 1) it is very difficult to beat a team three times in one year and 2) expect the Clemson faithful to show up full-force with Atlanta being a short car ride from Clemson. I see (2) Wake Forest making quick work of (10) NC State, and in the last game of the quarters, I just don't see (6) BC getting past (3) Duke for the second time this season.
In the semis, I see (1) North Carolina spanking (5) Clemson and (2) Wake Forest knocking the (3) Dukies out of the tournament. And in the final, I like Wake Forest over the Heels. You heard it here first. Wake Forest wins the ACC Tournament and grabs a #2 seed in the NCAAs. North Carolina takes a #1 seed.
Jeff: In the quarterfinals I agree that Wake Forest moves on easily and Clemson beats FSU because beating Clemson 3 times this season is just not happening for the 'Noles. Miami will lose to UNC but in a close hard fought game further bolstering their tourney resume. In the final game of the evening, BC beats the Blue Devils behind another inspired performance on a big stage by Rakim Sanders.
The semis will unfortunately be rather boring where BC will get handled by Wake and North Carolina will make easy work of Clemson. The finals will be a great matchup between the #1 and #2 seeds where UNC prevails in a close game.