Over at the 850 the Buzz blog they are calling this the greatest day in sports. I would almost have to agree. The ACC Tournament is special and quarterfinal Friday is a de facto holiday in the state of North Carolina, especially with all three Triangle schools in action and seeded #1, #2, and #4. Here is the break down:
#1 Duke vs. #8 Miami, 12:00 PM
This is a question mark game for Duke. Which Duke team will show up? 14-0 Duke or 14-2 Duke? Will J.J. Redick continue to miss more than he makes or can he finally shake the slump? How many fouls will Shelden Williams commit and not get called for? OK that last one was a cheap shot, but hey what are you going to do. Miami has a pair of good guards but assuming Duke plays anywhere near halfway decent and barring that said Miami guards do not go absolutely bonkers and hit 14 threes Duke should win going away.
Prediction: Duke 86 Miami 72
#4 NC State vs. #12 Wake Forest, 2:30 PM
This is also a question mark game as NC State needs to figure out what they are doing. NC State has lost three straight and the face a rematch of last week's humiliating loss to Wake in Winston-Salem. It should be noted that NC State's downward turn is really no that surprising considering the number of games they barely won over weaker opponents and the Seton Hall blowout in Raleigh was a tell-tell sign that the Wolfpack was just capable of playing bad as they were of playing good. Having said that I think State will get back on track and I know that they would love nothing more than to get another shot at Duke since ACC scheduling only affords them one game a season versus the Blue Devils.
Prediction: NC State 71 Wake Forest 59
#2 North Carolina vs. #7 Virginia, 7:00 PM
The last time these two teams met UNC beat the ever living daylights out of the Cavaliers in Chapel Hill. Sure it was Senior Night, David Noel was playing really well and Virginia basically had no answer for Tyler Hansbrough or any other Tar Heel for that matter. What made the margin of victory compelling was that UNC lost to UVa by four earlier. Team usually do not go from losing by four to winning by 45 in the next meeting. Will the same thing happen again? Not likely. The postseason is different and in most cases teams that are in a good rythymn usually get that disrupted by the break beforehand and the differences in routine. So I would expect a more comptetive game from UVa, though playing last night in a close game to Virginia Tech might have an impact. UNC should win and probably by a decent margin, assuming they did not leave their mojo in Chapel Hill.
Prediction: UNC 86 Virginia 65
#3 Boston College vs #6 Maryland, 9:30 PM
This is an interesting matchup for several reasons. BC is in it's first ACC Tournament. Does it really matter? Isn't basketball the same whether it is the Big East or the ACC? I would surmise that they are different. ACC Basketball is almost religious in nature. I lived in MA for four years and no one cared about BC playing basketball. They were a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and no one really gave a flying flip about it. In Boston it is all pro sports all the time. It is my general observation that most of the Big East cities are this way. Pro sports consume so much of the oxygen, college sports, while highly regarded and appropriately celebrated in New York or Connecticut, do not enjoy the intensity of fame as other ACC schools particularly in North Carolina. In North Carolina, ACC basketball takes the same spot pro sports in the north assume. So yes, BC is walking into a much different tournament than than the Big East and it will be interesting to see if it matters. Also, Maryland loves to play the role of spoiler in the ACC Tournament. The Terps have been known to play well and upset the apple cart plus they bear Boston College early on, one of five ACC teams to do so and UNC was not one of them. If Maryland shoots as well as they did against GT and that is a stretch considering BC's defense will be 10 times better, they could make some waves. Maryland is playing for NCAA viabilty. Maryland needs a win and because one of the top 4 seed has to lose.
Prediction: Maryland 82 Boston College 80