Shall We Dance

facebooktwitterreddit

Note: This blog post also appears on my other site, Big ACC Balls. For now though, I’ll have one post appear on both sites. Eventually, when Big ACC Ball grows in readership, I’ll do this less and less.

Who wants to dance? It’s the question of the day as it appears no one in the ACC is willing to run away with this thing. Right now, only Virginia is undefeated in league play, while Maryland is the only one-loss team. Those fans can get excited at their own risk. These two are the only two that have only played three conference games, while most of the others have battled it out in five.

So the question is, who’s going dancing? Which teams in the ACC are headed to the NCAA Tournament?

DUKE (LOCK) – Despite the road struggles at Ga Tech and NC State, the Devils are still the favorite to win the ACC, simply because I don’t see them being beaten at home any time this year. Right now Duke is looking at a No 2 or 3 seed. In a perfect world, the Devils would like to stay in the East, where the East finals are being held in Syracuse. Sure it’s not MSG or even Jersey, but upstate New York could be friendly territory for the Devils.

CLEMSON (LOCK) – Obviously if they can win either the ACC regular season or the ACC Tournament, Clemson could potentially sneak up to a No 3 seed, but in reality, they’re looking like a lock for a 4 or 5-seed. Right now, the Midwest (St. Louis) is looking like a popular desination, where they’ll face the winner of the Big 12 in the Sweet 16 (assuming they can finally get there).

GEORGIA TECH (LOCK) – The Yellow Jackets really only need to finish .500 to get in. Six more wins would be 20 for the season, no matter what happens in the ACC tournament. CNNSI has Tech as a sixth seed, but that’s too low. In my mind, the race for the ACC will come down to Duke, Clemson and Georgia Tech. If Tech can finish no worse than second, they are looking at a five seed. If I had to really make a prediction, I’d say Duke wins the conference. This leaves Clemson and Ga Tech fighting for second. The winner will be a No 4 seed in the Midwest, while the loser would be a No 5 out west. Of course, if either could win the ACC Tournament, then they could move up to a No 3 seed, possibly in the east, sending Duke out west.

WAKE FOREST (LOCK) – It would help Wake’s cause if they didn’t lose to Miami and a William & Mary (at home no less) loss won’t help, but the schedule is friendly down the stretch. The Demon Deacons don’t face Duke a second time and they get Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Clemson all at home. They’re going to need to pull off a road upset or two at places like Raleigh or Blacksburg if they want to get a higher seed though. Right now, if I had to put money on it (but I won’t), I’d put Wake down as a No 6 seed in the South (prime location for their typical first-round exit).

FLORIDA STATE (NEAR-LOCK) – The record is fine (14-4) and they just ended a two-game slide with a nice win at home against Virginia Tech, but there are some concerns. Their RPI is a so-so 51st, while their SOS is a less-than-impressive 117. They have one marquee win at home against Georgia Tech, but there is still plenty of time to improve the resume. They still have to face Duke and Carolina (but only once, but both on the road). They get Ga Tech one more time and Clemson twice. Right now, the Seminoles are looking like a No 8 or No 9 seed, but if they can somehow produce a couple wins over teams like Duke, Clemson and Wake, then they could get bumped up to a 7 or 6-seed.

NORTH CAROLINA (BUBBLE) – The Tar Heels have dropped three-straight and four of five. The experts are fleeing off the bandwagon. Yet, while I hope they suffer a long, slow death, I still think this team finds a way to get in. Right now, 18 wins probably won’t be enough, but 19 wins will be and 20 will make them a lock. The problem is, they’ve been so bad lately, how can you predict anything with these guys? But that doesn’t mean I won’t try.

In reality, here are the wins I see. Carolina should beat Virginia at home, Va Tech on the road, NC State at home, Boston College on the road and Miami at home. That’s five wins. They’re going to need to find a way to take one from Duke and win a game at either Wake or Ga Tech. Also, don’t forget, they can get another W in the ACC Tournament. An educated guess says, if Carolina gets in, they can expect to land around the 8/9 spot (which I predict they will do).

MARYLAND (BUBBLE) – Can the ACC really get nine teams in this season? Yes, simply because the PAC 10 is a joke this season and I can’t see the SEC getting more than five teams in. At 12-5, the Terps only need to go 8-6 down the stretch to win 20 games (which will probably be needed thanks to a SOS sitting around 51st). They got two against Duke and two against Clemson, as well as one against Ga Tech and UNC. If they can split those, they’re gold…the question is, is that too much to ask for? The good news is, four of those six games will be at home, but that means they can’t get tripped up at places like Virginia Tech and Virginia. I expect the Terps to finish the season 18-12 and needing a win or two in the tournament to advance. If they can somehow squeeze in, the Terps should land on a No 10 spot.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE (BUBBLE) – Every bubble team needs a signature win and the Wolfpack got one Wednesday night over Duke. The win might have saved their season because I couldn’t see them getting in if they were 12-7. For State, they need to treat every game like it’s tournament time. The problem they’re going to run into is a bad RPI ranking (81st) and a even worse SOS (91st). The good news is, they’re done with both Duke and Clemson, but in reality two dates will probably determine NC State’s future (January 26 & February 13). Those are their two games against a struggling Tar Heels team. If they can take down Carolina, they would pretty much eliminate Roy’s club, thus opening up a spot for them. However, if I’m throwing out guesses, I’m predicting a N.I.T. invite for NC State.

VIRGINIA (BUBBLE) – I know, I know, it looks like I’m disrespecting the Cavaliers. I’m not, trust me. Listen, the 3-0 ACC record is nice. Beating NC State at Raleigh is impressive (trust me, as a Duke fan, I know) and beating Georgia Tech, a ranked team, is a signature win. The problem is, that non-conference schedule will haunt them if they can’t keep the winning up. Right now, Virginia only has a 98 RPI and they’re SOS is a poor 180. The good news for Virginia is the fact that they don’t have to deal with a Georgia Tech rematch in Atlanta and they only face Duke, North Carolina and Clemson once. Still, they should probably enjoy first place right now…they won’t be in the NCAA Tournament come March.

VIRGINIA TECH (BUBBLE) – Some might think I’m nuts for overlooking a team with only three loses 17 games into the season, but you have to dig deeper. The Hokies have zero impressive wins and couldn’t even do what College of Charleston did, beat Carolina. Tech’s RPI is a sad 82nd, while their SOS…do you really want to know? It’s 245, twenty-one spots behind Loyola (IL). They’ll probably finish 5-8 down the stretch and 19-11 won’t be good enough for a team with their RPI and SOS. If you’re putting money down, I’d say the Hokies and Seth Green miss out on the party again.

BOSTON COLLEGE (OUT) – When the only thing you can brag about is beating the Hurricanes twice, then you should probably keep that resume under wraps. Actually, the Eagles SOS isn’t tragic and they do have a solid road win over Michigan, yet lost to Harvard (again) the following week. Not all is lost though. They still have four ranked teams still on their schedule and all four of those games are at home. Can they split those games? Doubt it. Look for BC to fall below .500 for the season.

MIAMI (OUT) – For a brief moment, the Hurricanes were flying high. At 15-1, some were actually talking about ranking Miami in the top-25 after knocking off Wake Forest by one. Obviously those people didn’t look at Miami’s schedule that consisted of games against powerhouses like Nova Southest, Florida Gulf Coast, Bethune-Cookman and my personal favorite, USC Upstate. Yet, three-straight loses later and right now, I’m struggling to find a win on Miami’s remaining schedule. Can a team really start the season 15-1 and end it 0-11? Probably not, let’s give them two wins. Too bad 17-10 won’t be good enough for the Canes.