Bracketology Preview: ACC Predictions

In this Bracketology Preview, we will take an in-depth look at the ACC Conference as a whole and talk about who’s in, who’s out, and who is on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, which is less than a month away! In addition to a look at the NCAA tournament, I will be giving my in-depth analytic analysis on each team’s remaining schedule and how I believe the ACC will play out leading up to the conference tournament! Enough talk, let’s take a look at the ACC!

(* Denotes neutral court game)

 

North Carolina Tar Heels (21-5) (9-3)

RPI Rank: 5  BPI Rank: 7  AP Rank: 10

Best Wins: vs. #9 Florida State, vs. #20 Notre Dame, vs. #16 Wisconsin*

Worst Losses: @ Georgia Tech, @ Miami

North Carolina has been one of the most dominant teams in the ACC all year. Lead by Joel Berry III (14.9 PPG, 41.4 3P%) and Justin Jackson (18.7 PPG, 46.3 FG%), the Tar Heels are undefeated at home (13-0) and are currently in first place in the ACC. North Carolina has been moving along through the ACC to this point in the season, but may have the toughest schedule to finish the season. Here is their remaining schedule and my predictions for the rest of the Tar Heels season:

February 15th – @ N.C. State – W 81-72

February 18th – v.s. Virginia – W 74-64

February 22nd – v.s. Louisville – L 74-77

February 25th – @ Pittsburgh – W 86-62

February 27th – @ Virginia – L 68-72

March 4th – v.s. Duke – L 81-86

Final Record: 24-8 (12-6)

 

Finishing the season playing 4 games against ranked opponents and two road games against teams on the bottom of the ACC, the Tar Heels will have their hands full. UNC will suffer losses down the stretch, but it may be to their advantage. Going into the ACC Tournament and March Madness, the Tar Heels will be prepared to play the best of the best as a result of these final two weeks of the season. North Carolina is most definitely a lock for the tournament this year and will look to add to their trophy case and make it back to the National Championship game!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 3

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 2

 

Florida State Seminoles (21-5) (9-4)

RPI Rank: 11  BPI Rank: 18  AP Rank: 17

Best Wins: @ #12 Virginia, v.s. #7 Duke, v.s. #12 Louisville, v.s. #15 Notre Dame

Worst Losses: v.s. Temple*, @ Georgia Tech, @ Syracuse

If you told me the Florida State Seminoles were playing for their first ACC regular season title and second ACC tournament title at the beginning of the season, I would tell you that you are crazy! Well, I guess I am the crazy one now! Florida State has been one of the most impressive teams in the country. They are 6-1 v.s. the AP Top 25, and considered a favorite to win the ACC regular season. Sophomore guard, Dwayne Bacon (17.4 PPG, 37.2 3P%), and freshman forward, Jonathan Isaac (12.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG), have lead the Noles back to a tournament berth for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Here is the remaining schedule with predictions for the Seminoles:

February 18th – @ Pittsburgh – W 83-67

February 20th – v.s. Boston College – W 77-65

February 25th – @ Clemson – L 72-75

February 28th – @ Duke – L 78-84

March 4th – v.s. Miami – W 81-79

Final Record: 24-7 (12-6)

 

Just looking at the remaining schedule, it looks as if Florida State will lose only one game, at Duke. I believe they are vulnerable to an upset at Clemson for a few reasons. The Seminole’s only losses in the ACC this year have been on the road, and in those games, they have scored an average of 70.8 PPG, 13.5 less points per game than they average on the season. In order to make the tournament, Clemson will be in dire need of a win over a big name team, like the Seminoles. Like North Carolina, Florida State is a lock for the tournament at this point in the season and will look to continue their success into the ACC tournament!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 4

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 3

 

Louisville Cardinals (21-5) (9-4)

RPI Rank: 4  BPI Rank: 5  AP Rank: 8

Best Wins: vs. #6 Kentucky, vs. #7 Duke, vs. #15 Purdue

Worst Losses: vs. #20 Baylor*

When you look at what the Louisville Cardinals have done this year, it is quite impressive. After losing three starters from last year, most people did not expect Louisville to be contending for an ACC title. It is very tough to look at Louisville’s schedule and find a bad loss. The reason for this is because they have not suffered a bad loss all season! Louisville’s worst loss was to the #20 team at the time, the Baylor Bears, in the Bahamas, in a game where the Cardinals lead by 21 at one point. All of the Cardinal’s losses this season have been to ranked teams making them one of the most intriguing options to win the ACC this year. One thing that is missing from Louisville’s resume is a great ACC road win. They have one road game remaining against a top team in the country and may be able to take advantage of their remaining schedule:

February 18th – v.s. Virginia Tech – W 76-62

February 22nd – @ North Carolina – W 77-74

February 26th – v.s. Syracuse – W 74-67

March 1st – @ Wake Forest – W 78-60

March 4th – v.s. Notre Dame – W 72-68

Final Record: 26-5  (14-4)

 

The Cardinals have trailed in lots of game this year and have looked terrible at times, but have always found a way to come back and win the game. This year’s Louisville team is reminding lots of people about the 2013 Louisville Cardinals who won the National Championship. Regardless whether they have the lead or are trailing, this team always looks comfortable and knows what needs to be done next. Louisville has the potential to go into Chapel Hill and walk out with a humongous victory over the Tar Heels, adding to their already impressive resume for March! By running the table to finish the season, Louisville will win its first ACC regular season title in school history!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 1

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 2

 

Virginia Cavaliers (18-6) (8-4)

RPI Rank: 13  BPI Rank: 2  AP Rank: 14

Best Wins: @ #6 Louisville, @ #14 Notre Dame, v.s. #4 Louisville

Worst Losses: @ Pittsburgh, @ Syracuse, @ Virginia Tech

Often referred to as “Louisville’s Kryptonite,” the Virginia Cavaliers have put together yet another strong season behind Tony Bennett’s coaching. Virginia thrives on the defensive end of the court, but often find themselves struggling to score. A lot of the Cavaliers’ points come from transition basketball and fast-break opportunities. What makes the Cavaliers so dangerous is the ability to change the pace of a game within 30 seconds. A team may be up by 9 on the Cavaliers, but that lead could be gone in a matter of seconds because of Tony Bennett’s half-court defense. Virginia has a tough schedule to finish off the season and may need help from other teams if they want to win their third consecutive conference title:

February 15th – v.s. Duke – L 73-79

February 18th – @ North Carolina – L 64-74

February 20th – v.s. Miami – W 68-59

February 25th – @ N.C. State – W 71-65

February 27th – v.s. North Carolina – W 72-68

March 4th – v.s. Pittsburgh – W 77-61

Final Record: 22-8 (12-6)

 

Virginia has two straight tough games this week as they take on Duke tonight and then travel to Chapel Hill on Saturday. I expect Virginia to play well in these games, but Duke and North Carolina are too hot to lose right now. Down the stretch, Virginia will be pretty successful, but come up just short of an ACC title because of the losses to Duke and North Carolina. If they are able to win one or both of these games though, the Cavaliers may have the easiest road out of everyone to an ACC title.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 5

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 3

 

Duke Blue Devils (20-5) (8-4)

RPI Rank: 14  BPI Rank: 8  AP Rank: 12

Best Wins: v.s. #8 Virginia, @ #20 Notre Dame, vs. #21 Florida*

Worst Losses: v.s. N.C. State, @ Virginia Tech

Much like Louisville, Duke’s resume is pretty impressive. Of course, they do have two bad losses at Virginia Tech and home against N.C. State, but do not forget, Coach K, Grayson Allen, Harry Giles, and Amile Jefferson all missed time during this span. I will admit it, I have been on the Duke train since the day Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum put pen to their Duke papers. What is the scary thing about Duke you ask? Well, they are currently riding a 5 game win streak. I know, a 5 game win streak does not seem significant, but in Duke terms it is. Two years ago, Duke entered their final 6 games on a 5 game win streak and ran the table, ultimately winning the National Championship. Duke has a tough schedule ahead to finish the season, but is gaining more momentum every game:

February 15th – @ Virginia – W 79-73

February 18th – v.s. Wake Forest – W 84-67

February 22nd – @ Syracuse – L 71-75

February 25th – @ Miami – W 74-70

February 28th – v.s. Florida State – W 84-78

March 4th – @ North Carolina – W 86-81  

Final Record: 25-6 (13-5)

 

Losing at Syracuse would not surprise me. Syracuse is a bubble team right now that plays very well at home and still needs a few signature wins to make it back to the big dance. Duke is on a roll right now and I fully expect them to win against some of the top teams in the ACC. I still believe Duke is the best team in the country and they are easily the one team I do not want to face in the tournament!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 2

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 1

 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (20-7) (9-5)

RPI Rank: 25  BPI Rank: 21  AP Rank: 25

Best Wins: v.s. #9 Louisville, v.s. #14 Florida State, @ Virginia Tech

Worst Losses: @ Georgia Tech

Notre Dame has been one of the most proficient and productive teams in the country this season. Two weeks ago, it looked as if Notre Dame’s season was falling apart as a result of a four game skid, but Mike Brey was able to quickly turn things around with the help of junior forward, Bonzie Colson (16.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG). Notre Dame’s record versus Top 25 teams this season looks terrible, 2-6, but in reality, they have been very good against top teams. In 5 of 6 of their losses versus Top 25 teams, the Fighting Irish held the lead at one point. Notre Dame has a very simple scheduleto close out the season and bring momentum into the ACC Tournament where they have had success in the past:

February 18th – @ N.C. State – W 67-63

February 26th – v.s. Georgia Tech – W 81-70

March 1st – v.s. Boston College – W 75-64

March 4th – @ Louisville – L 68-72

Final Record: 23-8 (12-6)

 

Notre Dame should win their next three games easily before their regular season finale at Louisville who they beat earlier in the season, 77-70. I believe Louisville will edge Notre Dame out at home ending the Irish’s regular season with a loss. Notre Dame will be one of the teams to beat though come time for the conference tournament. The Irish should be a 100% lock for the NCAA tournament regardless next four games.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 6

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 5

 

Syracuse Orange (16-11) (8-6)

RPI Rank: 78  BPI Rank: 31  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #6 Florida State, v.s. #9 Virginia, v.s. Miami

Worst Losses: v.s. St. John’s, @ Boston College, v.s. Connecticut*

Can they do it again? Last season, Syracuse barely made the NCAA Tournament with a 19-13 record. This season, they find themselves in a similar situation sitting on a very thin bubble. Syracuse cannot afford any more bad losses and may even need to pull off another upset before the season ends to make it to the tournament! Syracuse’s schedule and task to make the NCAA Tournament is not simple:

February 19th – @ Georgia Tech – W 77-70

February 22nd – v.s. Duke – W 75-71

February 26th – @ Louisville – L 67-74

March 4th – v.s. Georgia Tech – W 71-63

Final Record: 19-12 (11-7)

 

Syracuse has been great at home versus the ACC this season (6-1), and I believe they are capable of upsetting Duke at home to add to their resume. Syracuse almost needs a win versus either Duke or Louisville to make it to the NCAA Tournament and it seems like they are more capable of beating Duke at home than going to Louisville and coming out victorious. Syracuse will be on team to keep your eye on as we get closer to Selection Sunday!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 8

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 11

 

Miami Hurricanes (16-8) (6-6)

RPI Rank: 52  BPI Rank: 28  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #9 North Carolina, v.s. Virginia Tech

Worst Losses: @ Syracuse, @ Wake Forest, v.s. #21 Iowa State*

Miami is in a similar situation like Syracuse, but Miami fans should feel a little more comfortable than Orange fans. Miami has been a solid team in the ACC all year, keeping games against the top teams close into the final minutes. Miami has a great win at home over #9 UNC, but they are still missing one other great/solid victory. Their schedule down the stretch offers multiple chances to get that second signature win:

February 15th – v.s. Georgia Tech – W 73-64

February 18th – v.s. Clemson – W 78-73

February 20th – @ Virginia – L 59-68

February 25th – v.s. Duke – L 70-74

February 27th – @ Virginia Tech – L 76-77 F/OT

March 4th – @ Florida State – L 79-81

Final Record: 18-12 (8-10)

 

Miami’s last two games of the season could honestly go either way. Their game at Virginia Tech could determine the outcome of their postseason dreams. Going to Florida State on March 4th is also a game that Miami is capable of winning, but I do give Florida State the slight edge in this game. There is no room for a loss to Georgia Tech or Clemson for the Hurricanes. These two games are must wins for them in order to keep their postseason hopes alive!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 9

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 10

 

Virginia Tech Hokies (18-7) (7-6)

RPI Rank: 31  BPI Rank: 48  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #5 Duke, v.s. #12 Virginia, v.s. Syracuse

Worst Losses: v.s. Texas A&M*, @ N.C. State, @ Miami

Virginia Tech barely missed the NCAA tournament last season, but it looks like they are on the verge of getting a bid to the tournament this season! Their win over #12 Virginia the other night may have saved their season and keep them off of a thin bubble. Virginia Tech is still on a bubble for the tournament, but on a pretty thick bubble. Let’s take a look at their remaining games on their schedule:

February 18th – @ Louisville – L 62-76

February 21st – v.s. Clemson – W 67-60

February 25th – @ Boston College – W 74-64

February 27th – v.s. Miami – W 77-76 F/OT

March 4th – v.s. Wake Forest – W 82-77

Final Record: 22-8 (11-7)

 

As long as Virginia Tech doesn’t lose a game after the Louisville game on February 18th, I believe they are a lock for the NCAA tournament. The game against Miami will determine both team’s fates. This game could go either way, but if the Hokies can pull off the victory at home, they should be back into the NCAA Tournament field of 68.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 7

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 9

 

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (15-10) (6-6)

RPI Rank: 74  BPI Rank: 100  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #9 North Carolina, v.s. #6 Florida State, v.s. #14 Notre Dame

Worst Losses: v.s. Ohio, @ Penn State, @ Wake Forest

Georgia Tech was this year’s ACC ranked team’s worst nightmare! The Yellow Jackets surprised everyone this year when they upset North Carolina, and then pulled off the upsets on Florida State and Notre Dame! Georgia Tech probably has the best wins out of any bubble team, but has some really bad losses. The loss at home against Ohio may negate the victory over Florida State or UNC in the committee’s eyes. Georgia Tech is another team that has a very small margin for error. They have a pretty manageable schedule to finish the season:

February 15th – @ Miami – L 64-73

February 19th – v.s. Syracuse – L 70-77

February 21st – v.s. N.C. State – L 66-71

February 26th – @ Notre Dame – L 70-81

February 28th – v.s. Pittsburgh – W 77-70

March 4th – @ Syracuse – L 63-71

Final Record: 16-15 (7-11)

 

If the Yellow Jackets finish 16-15, like I am predicting them to, they will barely miss this year’s tournament, which would be very disappointing for them. Tonight’s game at Miami is very important for the Yellow Jackets, along with the home games versus Syracuse and N.C. State. If they go against my predictions and win 2 out of 3 of these games, Georgia Tech’s fate will be in the hands of the committee on Selection Sunday to put them in the First Four.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 11

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: First Four Out

 

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (15-11) (6-8)

RPI Rank: 35  BPI Rank: 36  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Miami, v.s. Georgia Tech

Worst Losses: v.s. Clemson, @ Clemson, @ Syracuse

With four games remaining on their schedule, Wake Forest needs to get one more signature win before they can be in the tournament. Wake Forest would be in a better position if they had won against Clemson on Valentine’s Day, but their was no love for the Demon Deacons. They have not suffered a terrible loss, but do not have a magnificent win! Wake Forest will have a tough task with their next few games:

February 18th – @ Duke – L 67-84

February 22nd – v.s. Pittsburgh – W 81-67

March 1st – v.s. Louisville – L 60-78

March 4th – @ Virginia Tech – L 77-82

Final Record: 16-14 (7-11)

 

If Wake Forest is able to pull off a victory over Duke, Louisville, or Virginia Tech, I believe they will get a bid for the NCAA tournament as one of the teams in the First Four. If they end the season 16-14, it will be hard to put the Demon Deacons in the tournament unless they have a spectacular conference tournament.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 10

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: First Four Out

 

Clemson Tigers (14-11) (4-9)

RPI Rank: 53  BPI Rank: 35  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ #22 South Carolina, @ Wake Forest, v.s. Georgia Tech

Worst Losses: v.s. Oklahoma*, @ Georgia Tech, v.s. Syracuse

Clemson’s season could have been a lot different if there had been an extra minute in all of their games this year. They suffered last minute losses to UNC, Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, and Duke. If they had won even one of these games, their season would be a lot different. Clemson currently has no big win besides at South Carolina, and may not have many more opportunities to get that big win:

February 18th – @ Miami – L 73-78

February 21st – @ Virginia Tech – L 60-67

February 25th – v.s. Florida State – W 75-72

March 1st – v.s. N.C. State – W 78-73

March 4th – v.s. Boston College – W 72-63

Final Record: 17-13 (7-12)

 

With a win over Florida State, Clemson is back in discussion for a chance at the tournament. If they are able to win against Virginia Tech or Miami too, Clemson may work its way into the field of 68!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 12

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Last-Four In

 

Pittsburgh Panthers (14-12) (3-10)

RPI Rank: 60  BPI Rank: 64  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #11 Virginia, v.s. Syracuse, v.s. Marquette*

Worst Losses: v.s. Duquesne, @ N.C. State, v.s. Clemson

Pittsburgh almost has to win the rest of their games to make the NCAA tournament at this point. The Panthers have struggled all year and have suffered some tough losses in the ACC. A win over Virginia Tech on Valentine’s Day would’ve been huge to this program, but they were not able to hold off the Hokies. Pittsburgh’s schedule is not easy to finish the season:

February 18th – v.s. Florida State – L 67-83

February 22nd – @ Wake Forest – L 67-81

February 25th – v.s. North Carolina – L 62-86

February 28th – @ Georgia Tech – L 70-77

March 4th – @ Virginia – L 61-77

Final Record: 14-17 (3-15)

 

I want to believe Pittsburgh can win some of these games above, but I just don’t see it happening. Pittsburgh looks like they have given up on this season and the teams they are facing have tournament hopes on the line.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 14

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Four Out

 

N.C. State Wolfpack (14-12) (3-10)

RPI Rank: 98  BPI Rank: 74  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ #17 Duke, v.s. #21 Virginia Tech, v.s. Pittsburgh

Worst Losses: @ Illinois, @ Boston College, v.s. Georgia Tech

N.C. State was a team with a lot of potential heading into the season. They appeared on various preseason Top 25 charts and were projected to finish in the top 10 of the ACC this season. Well, N.C. State is far from being in the Top 25 and will most likely miss the tournament this season. N.C. State has the hardest schedule in the ACC to finish the season:

February 15th – v.s. North Carolina – L 72-81

February 18th – v.s. Notre Dame – L 63-67

February 21st – @ Georgia Tech – W 71-66

February 25th – v.s. Virginia – L 65-71

March 1st – @ Clemson – L 73-78

Final Record: 15-14 (4-14)

 

In order to even be considered for the tournament, N.C. State must win one, maybe even two, of their three games versus ranked opponents at home. I do not see N.C. State winning any of these five games, except for the game versus Georgia Tech, thus ending their NCAA Tournament hopes.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 13

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Four Out

 

Boston College Eagles (9-18) (2-12)

RPI Rank: 199  BPI Rank: 154  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Auburn*, v.s. Syracuse

Worst Loss: v.s. Richmond*, v.s. Hartford

Boston College is not going to make the NCAA or NIT Tournament this year. Here are their remaining games:

February 20th – @ Florida State – L 61-73

February 25th – v.s. Virginia Tech – L 64-74

March 1st – @ Notre Dame – L 64-75

March 4th – @ Clemson – L 63-72

Final Record: 9-22 (2-16)

 

Not much to say about Boston College this year. If they win any of their last four games, I believe their coach should take them all out for dinner and celebrate the win!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 15

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Behind Santa Clara

 

So What Will The Conference Tournament Look Like?

This year’s ACC Tournament will be fantastic! There will be upsets and buzzer beaters, but only one team will be getting an auto-bid to the tournament and lift the ACC Tournament Trophy! If Boston College wins the ACC Tournament, the world may fall apart. They currently have a 0.0001% chance to win the tournament. So anything is possible right? Yes, theoretically Boston College could win the tournament, but the chances of winning a million dollars on a scratch off lottery card may be greater than Boston College winning the tournament. Now back to what matters, predictions for the ACC Tournament:

 

First Round:

#12 Clemson 71 vs. #13 N.C. State 66

#10 Wake Forest 68 v.s. #15 Boston College 54

#11 Georgia Tech 62 v.s. #14 Pittsburgh 71

 

Second Round:

#8 Syracuse 68 v.s. #9 Miami 65

#13 N.C. State 58 v.s. #5 Virginia 61

#10 Wake Forest 73 v.s. #7 Virginia Tech 71

#14 Pittsburgh 60 v.s. #6 Notre Dame 73

 

Quarter Finals:

#8 Syracuse 70 v.s. #1 Louisville 72

#5 Virginia 71 v.s. #4 Florida State 66

#10 Wake Forest 66 v.s. #2 Duke 74

#6 Notre Dame 68 v.s. #3 North Carolina 72

 

Semi Finals:

#1 Louisville 62 v.s. #5 Virginia 65

#2 Duke 73 v.s. #3 North Carolina 70

 

Championship:

#5 Virginia 64 v.s. #2 Duke 71

 

Champion: #2 Duke Blue Devils

 

NCAA Tournament Seeding After Conference Tournament (Based on Predictions):

Louisville Cardinals (27-6): #2

Duke Blue Devils (28-6): #1

North Carolina Tar Heels (25-9): #2

Florida State Seminoles (24-8): #3

Virginia Cavaliers (25-9): #3

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (24-9): #5

Virginia Tech Hokies (22-9): #9

Syracuse Orange (20-13): #11

Miami Hurricanes (18-13): #12 – Last Four In

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (18-15): First Four Out

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (16-16): Next Four Out

Clemson Tigers (17-14): Last Four In

N.C. State Wolfpack (16-15): Next Next Four Out

Pittsburgh Panthers (15-18): Next Next Four Out

Boston College Eagles (9-23): Next Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

 

The ACC has been, hands down, the best conference this year in college basketball and should supply the NCAA tournament with lots of teams this year! I would not be shocked to see the National Championship trophy end up in the hands of an ACC team this year!

 

 

Brett Siegel

The Ville ‘ 20

 

(Picture from theACC.com)

 

Brett Siegel
I am currently a sophomore at The University of Louisville, majoring in Sports Administration and minoring in Communication. This is my second year being the lead NBA Draft Analyst for CPP and writer for Louisville Basketball. I am a huge sports fan that loves college basketball and watching the players transition from the college court to the big stage in the NBA! If you have any questions or comments, my email is bsiegelsports@gmail.com.

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