March Madness is here! Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the ACC Tournament.
#12 Wake Forest vs. #13 Pitt
#11 Virginia Tech vs. #14 North Carolina
#8 Clemson vs. #9 Miami
#5 NC State vs. #12 Wake Forest/#13 Pitt
#7 Notre Dame vs. #10 Boston College
#6 Syracuse vs. #11 Virginia Tech/#14 North Carolina
#1 Florida State vs. #8 Clemson/#9 Miami
#4 Duke vs. #5 NC State/#12 Wake Forest/#13 Pitt
#2 Virginia vs. #7 Notre Dame/#10 Boston College
#3 Louisville vs. #6 Syracuse/#11 Virginia Tech/#14 North Carolina
Who will win the ACC Tournament?
Aram: #4 Duke (25-6, 15-5 in the ACC)
Duke has not been a consistent team all year, but they have now won two in a row against NC State and UNC. While those aren’t top tier teams in the ACC, Duke looked like the team we knew they could be. Tre Jones is leading, Vernon Carey is dominating, Wendell Moore is defending, and the supporting cast is contributing. The time is now and I see Duke playing well enough to win the ACC Tournament.
Pat: #3 Louisville (24-7, 15-5 in the ACC)
With the emergence of David Johnson at point guard for the Cards, Louisville has become the most complete team in the league. Johnson is a great distributor and he has guys surrounding him that can score at every other position, making the Cardinals really tough to cover. I also think Louisville has an easier road to the final than Duke or FSU, giving them the edge.
Randy: #4 Duke (25-6, 15-5 in the ACC)
Battle tested all year long with veteran leadership from Tre Jones, this team is poised to give all teams in the ACC match-up problems. The commitment to Coach K’s defense, has made it extremely difficult for opponents to get easy looks at the basket and will prove to be the difference maker in close games.
TJ: #2 Virginia (23-7, 15-5 in the ACC)
Virginia wasn’t supposed to be like this. They looked to have lost their luster from their Nat’l title team that lost the trio of Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, and Ty Jerome. When they lost to NC State in January they had a 12-6 record. They since have won 11 of their last 12 including an active eight game winning streak. Mamadi Diakite has taken the jump to be UVA’s star this year and a late year emergence from big man Jay Huff has Tony Bennett’s squad back to its normal level. Duke and Florida State will also be popular, bets but when UVA gets hot like this I can’t bet against them.
Which team is a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?
Aram: #14 North Carolina (13-18, 6-14 in the ACC)
Let’s go with the team that has been hated on all year, UNC. Cole Anthony is back and playing some great basketball. Prior to their loss to Duke this past weekend, they had put together a three game winning streak. Garrison Brooks can hold down the paint so as long as guys like Brandon Robinson (who has hit 10 of his last 20 3PAs) start hitting their shots , there is a chance that UNC can pull off some upsets.
Pat: #7 Notre Dame (19-12, 10-10 in the ACC)
It’s tough for me to see any team outside the top four contend for the title, but the Irish could make some noise in Greensboro. Led by the walking double double John Mooney, this veteran team has a number of shooters and will be playing with nothing to lose, a recipe for some upsets.
Randy: #7 Notre Dame (19-12, 10-10 in the ACC)
John Mooney is an absolute monster for the Fighting Irish. His ability to score and absorb rebounds makes him a threat against the ACC’s best bigs.
TJ: #6 Syracuse (17-14, 10-10 in the ACC)
Syracuse is an underdog bet for the ACC. We haven’t seen Jim Boeheim win an ACC tournament yet, but this squad has just as good of a chance as any to be the first. Elijah Hughes is a candidate for ACC POTY and Jim’s son Buddy has been a very reliable scoring option. Freshman Joe Girard has the potential to be one of the best shooters in the conference going forward. Marek Dolezaj has struggled to shoot this year, but shot 37% from three last year. The zone is tough to plan for and if Cuse wins its first matchup then they have to go through Louisville, a team that hasn’t been playing their best basketball as of late, in the quarters.
Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?
Aram: Cole Anthony, Freshman G – UNC
There are many prospects in the ACC, including a few Duke players we haven’t mentioned, but the one that NBA teams will be closely watching is Cole Anthony because his stock can greatly improve if he has a good tournament. Cole Anthony is an electric scorer, but has yet to put it together at the end of games against the ACC. Let’s see if he can do it as the clear underdogs in this Tournament.
Pat: Elijah Hughes, Junior F/G – Syracuse
The junior Syracuse guard has caught the eye of NBA teams this year thanks to an expanded bag on offense. He also came into this year in better shape and has shown some ability to be a playmaker. A strong ACC tournament run from Hughes could end up making him a lot of money.
Randy: Olivier Sarr, Junior C – Wake Forest
Talk about playing your best basketball towards the end of the season. Starr ended the month of February with dominant scoring nights with 25 points in an OT win over Duke and then followed that with a 30 point performance against a strong Notre Dame side. Nearly averaging a double-double (13 5 PPG, 8.9 RPG), a strong ACC performance by Starr should get him some recognition as a diamond in the rough selection this year or in 2021.
TJ: Devin Vassell, Sophomore G/F – Florida State
There’s a lot to like about Devin Vassell’s game. Vassell stands around 6-7 and has some of the best defensive awareness and recognition in basketball. On offense he stands to make most of his damage as a complementary player who can really shoot the ball well coming off of motion. The big key to his offensive game is his high shot release that gives him plenty of separation. The sophomore has averaged 12 points of 49% from the field and over 40% from beyond the arc and figures to be a 1st Round pick if he chooses to declare following this season.