Game One: #8 Boston College v. #9 Georgia Tech, Noon
The Boston College Eagles have been up and down this season, as evidenced by their near-.500 record (15-16), and they get a chance to rectify all sixteen of those losses in the ACC tournament. Their first round match-up? A Georgia Tech (16-14) team they just beat on the last game of the season, 74-72. Joy! Neither squad made much of an impact this season, but both teams have served as definite annoyances for the upper echelon of the ACC throughout the year. Boston College barely lost to Miami earlier in the year, 60-59, and beat Virginia. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, finished off the season with two solid wins over their final four games; the first was a win against Maryland, and the second a huge win over #6 Miami.
So who’s going to win? Well, my money is on Boston College. The Eagles are one of the most frustrating teams because of the brand of basketball they play. Possessions are always scarce, as they run the clock down to the dregs and try to play half-court basketball. It isn’t always pretty, but teams have to sweat out every trip down the court as a result. Meanwhile, they have a stud freshman who is extremely smooth in Olivier Hanlan that complements Ryan Anderson’s inside game well, and get hot from deep. Georgia Tech is a young and exciting team that likes to get out and run, but unfortunately they aren’t going to have that opportunity against Boston College. When they are forced to run set plays, I can’t see many of their guys thriving. Tech is going to need someone to distribute the ball to freshmen Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Carter, but I’m not too sure they have that player on the roster.
Prediction: Boston College. Georgia Tech has some athletes and can book it up and down the court, but they might not get that opportunity against the Eagles. Slow, methodical basketball is BC’s brand, and it has won their last two matches against Tech. BC by two.
Game Two: #5 NC State vs #12 Virginia Tech @ 2 PM
What’s there to say about this game? Most people are pretty polarizing about NC State; they either love their athleticism or are completely disappointed in their inability to get over the hump. Don’t believe the hype: NC State is a damn good basketball team. They lost seven games all year long, and four of those came against teams that finished the season in the top fifteen. So sue them. The Wolfpack still have C.J. Leslie to score, they still have Dick Howell to rebound, still have Lorenzo Brown to push the pace, and still have an older team that’s hungry to become relevant in the state of North Carolina. Yes, they can lose to anyone on any given day, but I’ve got news for you, so listen good: SO CAN EVERYONE ELSE IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL THIS YEAR.
Anyway, Virginia Tech can give you a dose of scoring from a horse-sized pill named Erick Green, but that’s about all they bring to the table. Green may be the best player in the ACC, but his Hokies have been woefully bad this season at 13-18 with only four ACC victories. They are inconsistent from deep, don’t play phenomenal defense (the last time these two teams played, 176 points were scored), and when Green isn’t on, there isn’t much to talk about. That’s all I’ve got for you; the Hokies just aren’t that good. If Green plays like a bat out of hell, they might score with NC State, but I’m not sure he has enough gas left in the tank after his superhuman season.
Prediction: I get the feeling that NC State is going to get slept on by analysts, but will bulldoze over the Hokies. Virginia Tech just doesn’t have enough to work with to beat a team as deep as the Wolfpack. Sorry, Hokies, but this isn’t your day.
Game Three: #7 Maryland Terrapins vs #10 Wake Forest @ 7 PM
I’m going to write a longer preview of this unenviable game in a little, so I will obviously keep this brief. Anyone who is looking towards the second round matchup against Duke is an idiot. There are two games separating the Terrapins and the Demon Deacons, and while their record admittedly sucks, Maryland’s does as well. Both teams lose games they should win, and both teams can win games they should probably lose. This entire game is a crapshoot. Yes, the Terrapins have bested them twice, but the fact remains that you have to shave about 20 points on the Terps potential total because of how bad they are on the road. Anyway, more on this game later.
Game Four: #6 Florida State vs #11 Clemson @ 9 PM
Ho-doggy! We’ve got ourselves a bit of a southern-style barn burner this game. On one hand, we have a Clemson team that, literally, will not have won a game in a month heading into their matchup against Florida State. On the other hand, we have a Florida State team that has tomahawk chopped/Michael Snaer game winner’d their way into the middle of the ACC, and certainly earned some respect. So who wins?
Conventional wisdom this season tells you to always bet against Clemson. Watch one of their games and the only question you’ll have is, “How do they score any points at all?” Of their top five scorers, only Devin Booker hits over 42% of his shots. Clemson just doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with, well, anyone. They don’t have anyone who shoots 40% or better from 3 pt. range, and no one is a go-to scorer. Yes, Booker has his flashes, but relying on an undersized big man with no post moves to handle the brunt of your scoring is…it’s an awful idea.
Meanwhile, Florida State has one of the best late-game closers in the nation in Michael Snaer. Seriously, even as I write this I’m in fear of Snaer coming out of nowhere to dagger me into picking his team to win. With Snaer at the helm, you simply cannot count out Florida State, ever. They are tough enough to stand up against any team, or at the very least keep it close enough that Snaer might get them the win. No, they don’t have a lot of signature victories to their name and no, they don’t play well on the road. But they are similar to Virginia in that, given the right night, they can beat your team.
But then, they can also lose by like twenty points…as they did against Florida, Virginia, Miami, Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and NC State. Either they win by a bit, or lose big, so my prediction is…
Well, considering Clemson is literally incapable of scoring enough points to blow out any team, I like Michael Snaer to close this one out for the Seminoles.