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ACC Roundup - Good To The Last Drop This Season

This year the race was really, really good.

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Mar 5, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Nate Britt (0) gets caught against Duke Blue Devils center Marshall Plumlee (40) as guard Luke Kennard (5) drives past him in the first half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Mar 5, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Nate Britt (0) gets caught against Duke Blue Devils center Marshall Plumlee (40) as guard Luke Kennard (5) drives past him in the first half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

You have to admit, this ACC season was really good. Other than Boston College being almost totally helpless, nothing was settled until quite late, and the ultimate winner wasn't settled until UNC finally put Duke down around 8:30 or so.

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That meant that the finale between Louisville and Virginia was doubly irrelevant: it was the final game of the year for Louisville, and Virginia no longer had a chance to win the ACC regular season.

Virginia got second place over Miami because of tiebreakers after splitting a pair of games with the 'Canes.

UNC, Virginia, Miami and Notre Dame get the double byes, meaning, those teams only have three games. Notre Dame and Duke finished tied for fourth but the Irish get the tiebreaker with the win over Duke in Cameron.

NC State, Wake, FSU and BC would have to win five to win the tournament, which is nearly unthinkable.

The only team of those four that could even possibly pull that off is Florida State, and the odds of it happening are miniscule. Florida State does have enough talent and depth to make a big run though, but probably not enough experience.

Louisville is done already, of course. Whoever loses between State and Wake will join them.

FSU will almost certainly beat BC to advance, but the Eagles do have some talent and have taken UNC and State to the wire. But realistically, they'd have to play a great game to advance. We just don't see it.

Wednesday's opening game is must-see TV: Pitt and Syracuse are both back on the bubble, and both know it. This is going to be like a cage match.

Given Duke's depth and the gradual wearing down of the Blue Devils in the late season, we'd have to think an upset is possible here. We know Duke will fight, but it won't be easy. And both teams gave Duke good games in the regular season. Whoever wins will be ready.

Georgia Tech's late season play is one of the nicer surprise this ACC season. Both of these teams are in play for an NIT bid. Neither is likely to get an NCAA bid. It won't be a pretty game but it will probably be compelling.

Virginia Tech is the other big surprise. The Hokies Buzz Williams will be a strong candidate for ACC Coach Of The Year although you could make an argument for Duke's Coach K as well. Krzyzewski has done an incredible job with this team, overcoming so much to forge a gutty, tough-minded group.

Williams will probably get it though and we like Virginia Tech's chances against FSU in Wednesday's nightcap.

On Thursday, UNC opens up with the Pitt/Syracuse winner and you should pay careful attention: not only does Ol' Roy Williams not care much for the ACC Tournament, his opponent - whoever it is - will see a win as a way to guarantee an NCAA bid.

UNC played Pitt once and Syracuse twice, beating Pitt by 21 and Syracuse by nine and five, respectively. A bad three point game vs. Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone could be really problematic. We're not sure Pitt can pull it off.

Assuming Duke advances to Thursday - it's not wise to bet against the Blue Devils - they'll play Notre Dame. As much as anyone, the Irish have given Duke trouble recently. You can expect Coach K to be fired up about playing Notre Dame, but can his players find the energy? We'll see.

Virginia should take either Clemson or Georgia Tech.

Miami may get a delicious rematch against Virginia Tech if the Hokies can defeat FSU on Wednesday.

As we see it, that would lead to a Friday quarterfinals with UNC or Syracuse against Duke and a Virginia-Miami rematch.

And in that foursome, all things considered, our money would be on Virginia.

Just a quick look at Saturday's games...We thought Louisville would rally to give Virginia a much tougher game but no. Rick Pitino is now 1-3 against Virginia as ACC rivals and the win was by just two points.

Senior Mike Tobey went nuts against Louisville, grabbing 20 points and scoring 15. Malcolm Brogdon closed out his home career with 17 points and Anthony Gill finished with 15.

Virginia held Louisville to 27.6% from the floor.

Virginia Tech stuck it to Miami, winning by 15. This was a major malfunction by Miami: the 'Canes could have been co-regular season champions.

Has anyone exceeded expectations like Virginia Tech? Buzz Williams is working out great so far.

Jim Sumner has our UNC coverage on our usual game summary, but let us just point this out: Brice Johnson had 21 rebounds and Kennedy Meeks had 14. We're not sure if that's a record, but it's bound to be close.

Marcus Paige's shot has declined to the point where Duke didn't necessarily guard him on threes. His first two seasons were absolutely brilliant. Since then? A near total collapse, at least offensively. There must be something else, an injury which UNC chooses not to publicize. No one falls this far. He's too good. Or was, anyway.

Despite being outrebounded 64-29, Duke still nearly stole the game. The rebounding ws huge, but so was the free throw shooting: UNC shot 20-23 to Duke's 9-15.

UNC also exposed Grayson Allen to an extent, constantly forcing him to his left. Some of his shots really didn't do well. We'd bet most of the bad misses were when he was forced left (in fairness, he finished with 29, not exactly shabby).

Cat Barber matched Allen with 29 but it wasn't enough to get State past Notre Dame. Malik-Abdul Abu finished with 20 points and 12 boards.

Martin Daily Double: Caleb and Cody finished with 16 points, five boards, three assists, two steals and three turnovers.

Beating BC isn't exactly hard this year, but give Clemson credit for getting the job done. The Tigers are now 17-13 and likely to be in the NIT.

Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon had 20 and 16 respectively.

Jim Boeheim said his team played poorly on offense in the second half and said it's been a pattern lately.

Continuing its reckless tradition, FSU had 19 turnovers (Syracuse had 16).

Brian Gregory's Yellow Jackets have improved a great deal but enough to save his job? Not so sure about that.

Still, Pitt makes five wins in the last six games, which is pretty good. Pitt now needs some ACC wins to avoid missing the tournament as well.