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A Look At The ACC Tournament Brackets And One Absolute Prediction

No one is keeping Virginia out of the finals.

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NCAA Basketball: Duke at Virginia
Feb 9, 2019; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena. 
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With the conclusion of the ACC regular season, the ACC Tournament bracket is set.

Here are the seedings:

  1. Virginia
  2. UNC
  3. Duke
  4. Florida State
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Syracuse
  7. Louisville
  8. NC State
  9. Clemson
  10. Georgia Tech
  11. Boston College
  12. Miami
  13. Wake Forest
  14. Pitt
  15. Notre Dame

As you know, if you don't get a bye you have a long road to the title game. What people may not think about as much is this: some of these teams are on a Saturday-Tuesday split already. Two games in two days is already asking a lot after a game on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Miami and Wake Forest open festivities at noon.

Notre Dame and Georgia Tech follow up at 2:00 and BC and Pitt close out Day 1 at 7:00

On Wednesday, State plays a hot Clemson, Virginia Tech gets the Miami-Wake Forest winner, Louisville gets the winner of Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, and Syracuse gets the winner of BC-Pitt.

On Thursday, the double-bye teams enter the fray. Virginia gets the winner of Clemson-State, FSU gets the winner of Virginia Tech and whoever advances from the Wake-Miami game, UNC gets the winner of Louisville and whoever advances from the Georgia Tech-Notre Dame game and Duke gets the winner of Syracuse and whoever advances from the BC-Pitt game.

Let’s cut to the chase. Pencil Virginia into the finals. Florida State is not precise enough to beat UVA and Virginia Tech is not healthy enough. If there are any upsets, it’s an even easier path.

That puts the focus on the bottom half. We could see Louisville knocking off UNC. They already know they can beat them and they’ve gotten over their post-Duke shakiness. Wouldn’t bet on it, but it could happen.

There’s almost no chance that either Pitt or BC will get past Syracuse so you can put Syracuse in Duke’s path.

And there things get really interesting.

Duke is very likely to get Zion Williamson back for that game and that changes things.

The ACC Tournament is a big stage and Williamson likes that. And let’s toss this into the hopper since no one else has pointed it out that we’re aware of.

Spartanburg is just an hour from Charlotte. Essentially, however many games Duke plays there are home games for Williamson. His family will be there, his high school teammates will try to get in, all sorts of people from Spartanburg are going to want to see their hometown hero.

And consider this too.

There has been a palpable sense of disappointment at Williamson’s absence after his knee injury. There is going to be an equally high anticipation at his return and when he makes his first Zion play, the arena is going to erupt.

Normally, and this will not change, Duke goes to the tournament for the chance to win a championship.

This time however, getting three games to reincorporate Williamson will be an important goal, if only for the staff.

Duke will still have to deal with Syracuse’s zone, and it looks like Marques Bolden won’t play after his knee sprain in Chapel Hill, so that’s another issue if it comes to that.

If Duke does advance, though, Carolina is almost certain to be there and our guess is that Williamson will be itching to make up for lost time.

We’d never presume to guess the outcome of this game, but whoever wins gets Virginia and Duke has had more success against the ‘Hoos than UNC has this season.

A win over UNC would probably guarantee a #1 seed and wins over UNC and Virginia would mean four wins over #1or #2 seeds and a very narrow loss to another in Gonzaga. Toss in a resounding win over Kentucky, a likely #1 or #2 seed, a win over Texas Tech, a Big 12 co-champ and likely #2 or #3 seed, and Duke’s resume is really outstanding.

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