When the 2015-16 College Basketball began, the North Carolina Tar Heels were listed as the Preseason #1 ranked team in the country. But like most #1 teams this season, their reign in the top spot didn’t last too long. As the season went on, the Tar Heels didn’t reclaim the top spot, but they spent the entire season in the Top 10, and they’re ranked 7th in this week’s polls.
But North Carolina has claimed the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference(ACC) championship and will head into this week’s ACC Tournament as the #1 seed. The Tar Heels (25-6, 14-4) have the luxury of earning a double-bye in this tournament-which means that they won’t play until the Quarterfinal Round on Thursday vs. the winner of the 8/9 seed matchup. This year’s tournament will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington DC.
Winners of 16 ACC Championships, the Tar Heels haven’t won one since 2008 and are hoping to add another title to their massive trophy case. The #2 seed of this tournament has also earned a double-bye and they (in many cases) are favored to win this championship, and they are the Virginia Cavaliers, who’re actually ranked higher than North Carolina in the Polls at #4, but with a 13-5 conference record (24-6 overall), Virginia finished tied for second with the Miami Hurricanes and their last championship was in 2014 which paved the way to a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and an Elite Eight finish. The Cavailers will play the winner of the 7/10 seed matchup.
Meanwhile the Hurricanes also finished with a 24-6 overall record, are ranked #11 in the Polls, and are #3 in the ACC Tournament. They have also earned a double-bye and have an ACC title to their credit, which they won in 2012. The final double-bye team are the #4 seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish (20-10, 11-7), who had a worse overall record than the Duke Blue Devils, their conference record was the same, plus they won the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Irish are the defending ACC Tournament Champions and are truly looking for a repeat. They will play the winner of the 11/14th seeded matchup.
And behind them are the defending National Champion Blue Devils who are the #5 seed and have the most championships in ACC history (19). Although it wasn’t one of their best seasons, you can bet Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski will have his team ready to make an impact in this tournament-end route to repeating as champs in the Big Dance. Duke is a single-bye recipient and will play its first game Wednesday night vs. either the 12th/13th seed winner.
The second single-bye team are the Virginia Tech Hokies (18-13, 10-8) who finished the regular-season pretty strong with a 5-game winning streak. They have never won an ACC Championship & they hope to use the season-ending winning streak as motivation towards their first one. They will play the winner of the 11th/13th seed matchup.
Rounding out the single-byes are 6th seeded Clemson Tigers (10-8, 17-13) as they take on 10th seeded Georgia Tech (18-13, 8-10) and the final single-bye matchup is the 8th seeded Pitt Panthers (20-10, 9-9) will take on the #9 Syracuse Orange (19-12, 9-9) After a huge victory vs. Duke, the Panthers fell in disappointing fashion to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech to finish the regular season. They’re hoping a win vs. former Big East foe Syracuse will jump start them to not only their first ACC title, but also a spot in the Big Dance. None of the remaining teams have ever won an ACC championship.
Which leaves the opening round on Tuesday night: In the first game, #12 NC State (15-16, 5-13) will take on #13 Wake Forest (11-19, 2-16) at noon, and the second game will #11 Florida State (18-12, 8-10) vs. #14 Boston College (7-24, 0-18) at 2:30pm. The Eagles are the first team to ever lose every ACC regular-season game. As for ACC championships, NC State has won 10 (last one in 1987), Wake Forest has won 4 (last one in 1996), Florida State won their only one in 2011 and Boston College has never won a title.
This tournament would’ve really been interesting if the Louisville Cardinals would’ve been in it. Instead, Head Coach Rick Pitino’s team is suspended from postseason play this season. They finished the regular season 23-8 (12-6) and are ranked #14 in this week’s polls.
Predictions: They’re never easy, but here we go: Tuesday (Opening Round): Wake Forest gets past NC State, Boston College loses to Florida State. Wednesday (Second Round): Pitt beats Syracuse, Duke Falls to Wake Forest, Clemson beats Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech beats Florida State. Thursday(Quarterfinals): North Carolina beats Pitt, Notre Dame Beats Wake Forest, Virginia beats Clemson and Miami beats Virginia Tech. Friday (Semifinals) North Carolina beats Notre Dame and Virginia beats Miami and Saturday-in the ACC Championship Game-North Carolina will beat Virginia for the right to hoist the ACC Tournament Trophy for the 17th time.
As a bonus, here is the ACC Tournament schedule:
Tuesday, March 8 (First Round)
Game 1: No. 12 N.C. State vs. No. 13 Wake Forest (noon, ESPN2)
Game 2: No. 11 Florida State, No. 14 Boston College (2:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Wednesday, March 9 (Second Round)
Game 3: No. 8 Pittsburgh vs. No. 9 Syracuse (noon, ESPN)
Game 4: No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12/No.13 winner (2:30 p.m., ESPN)
Game 5: No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Georgia (7 p.m., ESPN2)
Game 6: No. 6 Virginia Tech vs. No. 11/No.14 winner (9:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Thursday, March 10 (Quarterfinals)
Game 7: No. 1 North Carolina vs. Game 2 winner (noon, ESPN)
Game 8: No. 4 Notre Dame vs. Game 4 winner (2:30 p.m., ESPN)
Game 9: No. 2 Virginia vs. Game 5 winner (7 p.m., ESPN)
Game 10: No. 3 Miami vs. Game 6 winner (9:30, ESPN)
Friday, March 11 (Semifinals)
Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner (7 p.m., ESPN)
Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner (9:30 p.m., ESPN)
Saturday, March 12 (Championship)
Semifinal winners (9 p.m., ESPN)