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The CourtMaster Predicts the ACC Tournament

Hear ye, hear ye! Court is now in session and gearing up for the post season. March Madness is upon us, but first is the tasty little hors dourves known as the ACC Tournament. Here’s how I think it will play out:

Round 1-Thursday:

#8 Miami vs. #9 Clemson: This could be a very entertaining game. Whoever makes their threes will win. The Hurricanes have more reliable weapons beyond the arc with Diaz, Hite, and Harris, so I like them to win.

#5 Florida State vs. #12 Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have the dubvious honor of being the first #12 seed in ACC tournament history. They clearly have a chance to knock off the Seminoles if Justin Gray goes off and/or Eric Williams gets FSU’s Alexander Johnson in early foul trouble. Ultimately, though, the Seminoles’ Al Thornton will be too much to handle, and FSU’s guards will be able to keep Gray under some control. My pick is Florida State.

#7 Virginia vs. #10 Virginia Tech. The Hokies come in having lost five of their last six, but I like their toughness and experience to prevail over Virginia, also staggering with four losses in their last five games. Tech veterans Zabian Dowdell, Coleman Collins, and Jamon Gordon will be better able to handle the excitement and pressure of post-season play than the young Cavaliers. Virginia guards J. R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary won’t make it easy, though. My pick is Virginia Tech.

#6 Maryland vs. #11 Georgia Tech. What’s the over/under for turnovers here, 45 maybe? No, it wont be pretty, but the Terps should be able to take advantage of the Yellow Jackets’ inexperience to find a way to win here. Yes, I value experience in the postseason very, very highly.

Round 2-Friday:

#1 Duke vs. #8 Miami. The Blue Devils, particularly J. J. Redick, are struggling. Miami’s interior defense could be trouble for Shelden Williams, but Duke defends the three well. Miami is not set up to take advantage of the Blue Devils’ soft mid-range defense. I like Duke to win here, although Miami could make a game of it.

#4 NC State vs. #5 Florida State. The ‘Noles are on a roll, but the Wolfpack handed them their worst loss of the season last month, 86-64. NC State was on fire from three point range in that game (13-23), but they have cooled off significantly since then. The health issues that have slowed Ilian Evtimov and Cammeron Bennerman should be behind them, but I like the team here with the momentum. My pick is Florida State. Okay, so I like momentum over expereience this time.

#2 North Carolina vs. #10 Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels continue to play the best basketball in the ACC right now. The Hokies hung with them in early January, losing only 64-61, but Carolina is playing at a different level now. The Tar Heels run away with this one.

#3 Boston College vs. #6 Maryland. Do you remember the last time Maryland was a #6 seed in the ACC tournament. It was when they won it in 2004. No, no, I’m not even thinking that will happen again, but I think they can hang with the Eagles if the Terps can force the tempo. Boston College has won 13 of their last 15 and aren’t any strangers to a big stage, having competed in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Eagles will grind out a win over Maryland.

Semi-Finals-Saturday:

#1 Duke vs. #5 Florida State: This could be one really interesting rubber match. Utimately, though, I can’t see the Seminoles rising up to the challenge three days in a row—they’re just too green in postseason play. This game could take a lot out of a Blue Devil team that doesn’t seem to have a lot left in the tank, but I still like Duke to pull out a win.

#2 North Carolina vs. #3 Boston College. This will be a battle of wills—whichever team forces their style of play on the other will win. Can Carolina force the tempo or can the Eagles slow things down and wear down freshman star Tyler Hansbrough? The way the Tar Heels are playing, I like them to speed the game up and pull away for a win.

Championship-Sunday:

#1 Duke vs. #2 North Carolina. Talk about interesting rubber matches. If this game were played earlier in the week, it would be a great one. Since each team will be playing their third game within 48 hours, I think it will be intense and compelling, but not particularly well played. I see Duke struggling with their energy level, but I also think the young Tar Heels will have trouble stepping up big three days in a row. These Duke players know all about winning ACC Tournaments, and I believe they will find a way to win this one too.

Although I’ve just told you how the games will turn out, I still encourage you to watch them. Eleven games played with 76 hours—how can you not love that?

The CourtMaster’s Briefs

Is J.J. Redick in a slump, or is he toast? After watching him miss 15 of his last 16 shots, including a couple of bricks, vs. North Carolina, I’m leaning toward the latter. I just don’t know that he has enough left to step up and handle the increased pressure that will be on him in the postseason. If he isn’t, Duke can not go very deep into March.

Coach K has often said that he gears his team toward winning a national championship. That would imply more of a long-range methodology, but it seems to me that he may have actually coached with more of a short-term approach and limited minutes to freshmen Marty Pocius and Jamal Boykin.

Redick only missed 33 minutes during the 16-games ACC schedule, and even played 36 in a 84-55 win over Davidson and 37 in the 97-66 blowout of Texas. The evidence of the last four games, when Redick has made only 23 of his 80 shots, 8 of 36 three-pointers, implies that he is burned out. If there is any coach who can afford to take a more long-term approach in developing players and allocating playing time, it is Coach K. Very puzzling.

NCAA Projections:

  • In: Duke, North Carolina, Boston College, NC State
  • Should be in: Florida State
  • Outside the bubble: Maryland
  • NIT bound: Virginia, Miami, Clemson

Duke is a #1 seed, regardless of what happens in the ACC tournament. North Carolina is playing as well as any team in the nation and, if they win the ACC, I believe the Tar Heels should be in line for a #2 seed. If not, they could still get a #3. Boston College could fall anywhere from a #4 to #6 depending on how they do this week. NC State could slip to a #7 or #8 if they go out in the first round in Greensboro. If Florida State wins a couple of games this weekend, they could move up to a #7.

I suppose Maryland could sneak into the NCAA with two wins in Greensboro. That would give them a 20-12 overall record. Their two victories this week over Miami and Virginia (despite blowing an 18-point lead) kept their faint hope alive, but they still look like an NIT team to me. Clemson would also wind up 20-12 with two wins at the ACC tournament, but starting out with an RPI of 68 is too deep a hole to dig out of.

That’s what I think. Let me know what you think by e-mail at thecourtmaster@aol.com. Don’t forget to check out my blog, updated daily during March, at www.thecourtmaster.net

Next week, I’ll see how the ACC did on Selection Sunday and hand out The CourtMaster Awards, the Courtys.

Until then, court is adjourned.