The ACC Tournament gets underway Thursday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta boasting the best conference in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy's rankings.
Ho-hum. The Atlantic Coast Conference has become so good at college basketball that it’s pretty much old hat now. They might not get as many March Madness invitations as the Big East or even the Big Ten, but from top to bottom, the ACC was the best conference in Division I according to Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency stats.
And both the writers and coaches agree that the best team in the nation can also be found in the ACC – although the North Carolina Tar Heels (27-3 SU, 11-17 ATS, No. 2 Pomeroy) won’t make an appearance at the ACC tournament until Friday’s quarterfinals.
Here’s the schedule for the first two rounds at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta (all times Eastern). The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday with the title game on Sunday afternoon.
First Round (Thursday)
Game 1: No. 8 Virginia Tech vs. No. 9 Miami, 12:00 p.m.
Game 2: No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech, 2:30 p.m.
Game 3: No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 N.C. State, 7:00 p.m.
Game 4: No. 6 Boston College vs. No. 11 Virginia, 9:30 p.m.
Game 5: No. 1 North Carolina vs. Game 1 winner, 12:00 p.m.
Game 6: No. 4 Florida State vs. Game 2 winner, 2:30 p.m.
Game 7: No. 2 Wake Forest vs. Game 3 winner, 7:00 p.m.
Game 8: No. 3 Duke vs. Game 4 winner, 9:30 p.m.
Virginia Tech vs. Miami
Thursday, Mar 12, 12:00 p.m. (ET)
The winner of this game will keep hope alive in the quest for a place in the Tournament. The Hokies (17-13 SU, 10-15 ATS, No. 72 Pomeroy) won and covered when they faced Miami on Jan. 25, then they won just three of their next 11 games SU and ATS. The over is a very tasty 16-8 for Tech this year; that’s 8-3 at home, 3-1 on neutral ground and 5-4 on the road. A relatively weak defense helps keep the over cashing in; Miami (18-11 SU, 12-11-1 ATS, No. 30 Pomeroy) will be more than happy to oblige with a strong perimeter offense, canning 37.4 percent of its 3-point attempts. But the ‘Canes are able at the other end and have the under at 12-12 on the season and 3-0 at neutral-site games.
Clemson vs. Georgia Tech
Thursday, Mar 12, 2:00 p.m. (ET)
The Tigers (23-7 SU, 12-12-1 ATS, No. 18 Pomeroy) are still in the polls at No. 17 despite going 1-3 SU and ATS in their last four games. They appear to be locks to get into the Big Dance, and their body of work deserves recognition: Wins over Illinois (-1) and Duke (-4) are nothing to sneeze at.
Georgia Tech (11-18 SU, 9-15 ATS, No. 94 Pomeroy) is at the bottom of the conference standings and dropped both its meetings with Clemson during the regular season. However, beware the tall trees in the Yellow Jackets defense. You may remember them from their Jan. 31 upset of Wake Forest (-8).
Maryland vs. North Carolina St.
Thursday, Mar 12, 7:00 p.m. (ET) ESPN2
Both handicappers and the Selection Committee are trying to figure out what to do with Maryland (18-12 SU, 11-10-2 ATS, No. 62 Pomeroy). The Terps are ranked No. 324 in Division I in consistency according to Pomeroy’s stats, featuring a big 18-point blowout of Michigan State (-7.5) mixed in with disappointing losses to Boston College (+4½) and Virginia (+2).
The Wolfpack (16-13 SU, 15-8-1 ATS, No. 75 Pomeroy) are the most profitable ACC team against the betting odds. They’ve covered seven of nine, including upsets over Wake Forest (-4½) and Georgia Tech (-4). But Maryland beat them 71-60 last week as a 4-point home fave.
Boston College vs. Virginia
Thursday, Mar 12, 9:00 p.m. (ET)
The Eagles (21-10 SU, 13-13 ATS, No. 66 Pomeroy) are on the good side of the Tournament bubble thanks to a pair of standout upsets over North Carolina (-23) and Duke (-7½). But Boston College isn’t going to compete at an elite level night in and night out, not with poor rebounding on defense and a loss to Harvard – yes, that Harvard – as a 17-point home chalk.
Virginia (10-17 SU, 10-12 ATS, No. 97 Pomeroy) isn’t all that worse than BC on paper, although the Cavs lost 80-70 to the Eagles as 1-point road faves on Feb. 4. The under is a strong 15-7 for Virginia and its reliable combination of solid defense and youthful disarray on offense.