Friday, March 9th, 2012

ACC Conference Tournament preview and predictions

Published on March 8, 2012 by Scott Shirley   ·   No Comments

If Duke or North Carolina wins the ACC tournament they will likely be a number 1 seed.  Miami and NC State are square on the bubble and both need wins.  So there is a lot on the line in this tournament. So, who do I predict to win the ACC tournament? Find out below along with my picks for every game.

Top 5 Players

1.Tyler Zeller, North Carolina Sr. – Zeller has picked up his play after a slow start and has been the best player in ACC play. For the season Zeller is averaging 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds. Zeller is also averaging 1.4 blocks per game. Zeller is 2nd in rebounding and 5th in scoring in the ACC.

2. Mike Scott, Virginia Sr. – Scott only played 10 games last season thanks to an ankle injury, but that has not slowed him down this season. So far this season he is the ACC 2nd leading scorer with 17.9 points per game. Scott is also averaging 8.3 rebounds per game.

3. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina Soph. – Barnes was the ACC Freshman of the Year last season, and his play has not dropped off this season. Barnes is averaging 17.4 points per game, third in the ACC. Barnes has improved his three point shot by shooting 40 % from three. Barnes is also bringing down 5.1 rebounds per game.

4. John Henson, North Carolina Jr. – Henson was the ACC Defensive Player of the year last season. He also led the ACC in blocks and rebounds. So far this season Henson is leading the ACC in rebounds and blocks again. He is averaging 10.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks. Henson is averaging 14.2 points per game.

5. Kendall Marshall, North Carolina Soph. –Marshall is the best passing point guard in the country and it’s not even close. He is averaging 9.6 assists per game this season. Marshall has a ridiculous assist to turnover ratio of 3.6. He is only a couple of assists away from setting the ACC season assist record.

NCAA Tournament

Locks: North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Virginia

On the Bubble: Miami, NC State

First Round

Maryland/Wake Forest – Both of these teams come into the game struggling. Wake Forest has lost 9 out of their last 11 and Maryland has lost 4 out of their last 5. Even though Jeff Bzdelik is 5-27 in ACC games and Maryland beat Wake Forest this season, I like Wake Forest to win this game. Terrell Stoglin is the leading scorer in the ACC, but that is all the Terps have. Most of time the hus teammates just watch him dribble. While the Demon Deacons have two players that are capable of putting up big numbers in C.J. Harrris and Travis McKie. I expect this to be a real close game and that favors Wake because they are first in the ACC in free throws and Maryland is 11th.

NC State/ Boston College –The NC State Wolfpack are clearly on the bubble if they want to have a chance to make the big dance, they will need to win at least 2 games. A 3rd win over UNC would likely seal the bid to the dance for the Wolfpack. This game should be an easy win for NC State; Boston College is really down this season. The Eagles will have no answer for C.J. Leslie down low. Also in the two NC State wins over BC, sharp shooter Scott Wood had a combined 32 points. Wood also shows up against the bad teams.

Clemson/ Virginia Tech – With the Hokies 15-16 on the season, we won’t have to listen to Seth Greenberg whine about his team not getting in the tournament. Of the 12 ACC losses for the Hokies 8 of them where decided by 5 points or less, wow. Clemson comes into this game hot winning 5 out of their last 7 games. I think Brad Brownell has done one heck of a coaching job this season. The two teams split the regular season each winning on their home court by 2. Both teams have outstanding guards in Erick Green and Andre Young. The reason why I think Clemson wins is because of the inside play of Devin Booker.

Miami/ Georgia Tech – Georiga Tech is playing on their home court and they still have no chance to win. GT’s best player Glen Rice Jr., who leads them in points and rebounds, is suspended for the game. As for Miami they are truly on the bubble. This is a must win, win two probably in, win three the Hurricanes will be in the big dance for sure. In their only meeting this season Miami routed the Yellow Jackets. Look for the same here. In that meeting Kenny Kadji had 21 points. Look for him to have a big game again.


North Carolina/ Wake Forest – After their dominating win over Duke the Tar Heels are in line for a number 1 seed if they can win this ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels are playing their best basketball right now at the right time. North Carolina and Wake Forest only met once this season with the Tar Heels winning by double figures. In that game ,ACC Player of the Year, Tyler Zeller had a monster game scoring 18 points and bringing down 18 rebounds. UNC will roll in this game thanks to their dominate play inside, and Wake Forest will have no answer for Zeller and John Henson. Wake Forest just doesn’t have the talent or depth to hang it there. One of their biggest bodies, Ty Walker, is now off the team. Kendall Marshall will set the record for most assists in one season by any ACC player in this game.

Virginia/ NC State –The Virginia Cavs are safely in the tournament. Tony Bennett has done one heck of a coaching job considering Virginia lost a couple players to injuries and transfers. NC State really needs this game if they want to make the tournament but I just don’t see it happening; I see Virginia winning this game. NC State is 0-4 against the top teams in the ACC. The reason why Virginia will win is Mike Scott. In their first meeting against NC State Scott had 18 points. In his last regular season game Mike Scott had a monster game with 35 points and 11 rebounds.

Duke/ Clemson – Duke has won 3 ACC Tournaments in a row but to get a 4th they have a lot of work to do. A lot of their flaws were exposed in their blowout loss to North Carolina. The Blue Devils 3rd leading scorer Ryan Kelly will be out of the ACC tournament due to injury. Coach K has done an excellent coaching job with this team; to get to 26 wins is quite an accomplishment because this is not one of his most talented teams. I like Duke to win here because they have the best player on the court in Austin Rivers. Duke’s three point shooting advantage also gives them an edge.

Florida State/ Miami- After some disappointing losses in the non-conference, Florida State really turned it up in ACC play. They defeated UNC and Duke in the same season. I totally agree with Leonard Hamilton as coach of the year in the ACC. This game will mean everything to Miami ,win and you’re in,or lose and you are probably out of the dance. Despite what’s on the line for Miami I still see Florida State winning. Florida State is one of the best defensive teams in the country. I think  that FSU will stop the Miami big men and the Miami guards are too inconsistent to rely on. Florida State’s Michael Snaer will hit a couple big shots late to give FSU the victory.


North Carolina/ Virginia- This game will all be about pace. North Carolina is second in the nation in scoring while Virginia is second in the nation in points allowed. North Carolina wants to run and run some more while Virginia slows it down. In their first meeting Virginia had the pace for a while but North Carolina broke it open in the second half. In the recent Tar Heel victory over Virginia, the Cavs had it at their pace with the game in the 50s. In this game I see the game at North Carolina’s pace and they will win this game easily. The Cavs cannot match up with Carolina’s inside. In the two meetings this season Tyler Zeller has scored 25 and 20 points. The Cavs also can’t match up with John Henson and Harrison Barnes. In the last game against Carolina, Virginia star Mike Scott really struggled with foul trouble and Carolina’s length, scoring only 6 points on 3 of 13 shooting. Here is where the lack of scoring depth really hurts UVA.

Florida State/ Duke- Florida State beat Duke this season at Duke on a late second three by Michael Snaer . Duke returned the favor a month later by beating FSU. I like Florida State to win here. I think the loss of Ryan Kelly will really hurt Duke. Also Duke is too reliant on shooting the three and if they are not hitting they are in big trouble. Another weakness of Duke is defense inside the paint look for Florida State’s Bernard James to dominate here. Also look for Snaer to have a big game. The only consistent player for Duke is Austin Rivers, so without Kelly I can’t see any Blue Devils stepping up to lead them to victory.


North Carolina/ Florida State- The Tar Heels still have a 33 in their locker room to represent 33 points they lost by at Florida State this season. It’s clear that North Carolina wants revenge and I think they will get that revenge and win the ACC tournament. You just saw what happened when the Tar Heels wanted revenge on Duke; they destroyed them. In that game Florida State’s Deividas Dulkys had a career night hitting 8 threes I don’t see this happening again. As for the game it will be back and forth but UNC’s Harrison Barnes will hit a three late to secure the victory for the Heels. Barnes has been a clutch player throughout his career. I see Kendall Marshall also having a big game as he has shown his ability to score lately. I think FSU will focus on shutting down John Henson and Tyler Zeller letting Marshall and Reggie Bullock have a big game.

Does winning the ACC really mean anything? In 2005 and 09 the Tar Heels lost in the ACC tournament and then went on to win the NCAA title. With the win the Tar Heels will lock up a number one seed. Besides Kentucky the Heels have the best team and have the most talent out there.

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