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Sorting Out the Last Week of the ACC Season

With Sunday's games in the books, it's amazing how the conference has neatly divided itself into tiers. I covered the bottom five, which unfortunately includes UNC, yesterday. With one possible exception, they're guaranteed seeds eight through twelve. Duke and Maryland have distanced themselves from the pack; they'll play Wednesday, but even with a Maryland win UNC will also have to beat Duke to get the Terps to the top spot. The Blue Devils control most of the tiebreakers by way of losing to worse teams. 

Seeds three through seven are another free for all, with four teams currently tied at 8-6 and a fifth, Georgia Tech, a game behind. Not only are these teams fighting to secure NCAA spots and Thursday byes in the ACC, but the five of them are doing it only six games. Only Virginia Tech and FSU play anyone outside the fivesome, drawing State and Miami respectively. Everyone else has two tough games to get that coveted third seed.

Carolina fans should be rooting for the quickly falling Wake, as having a win over a highly-placed team could come in handy if UNC wins out and gets in some interesting 6-10 ties. Sadly, the more likely outcome is the one determined by location, not skill. These teams are a combined 11-24 on the road in conference, with all but two of those losses coming against UNC, State, Virginia, or BC. Everyone has one home and one away game remaining. Odds are four teams finish 9-7.

If that is the case, here's how things fall out. Clemson would be 2-2, Florida State also 2-2, Virginia Tech 2-1, and Wake 1-2. Clemson would get the tiebreaker by virtue of a win over Maryland. 

A couple of more scenarios, if you're a Georgia Tech fan. If Tech wins out, they'd replace Clemson in the four-way tie. In that case, FSU tops everybody at 4-0, Georgia Tech comes in next at 2-2, Virginia Tech follows with a 1-2 record, and Wake brings up the rear at 1-3. However, if Georgia Tech can't win another game, they'll finish 7-9. If Virginia can win out and tie them at 7-9, the Cavaliers will get the tiebreaker and the Yellow Jackets will fall all the way down to eighth. That's the possible exception I referred to earlier.

The interesting thing for UNC is that their best case scenario is to remain tied to N.C. State, no matter what. Having the same record as the Wolfpack automatically pushes Carolina up a seed in all tiebreakers. So get behind Wake all the way, and State to the extent you think the Heels can match. And root against Duke, naturally. Let's not go crazy here.