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UNC Basketball: ACC Tournament Seeding Scenarios

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Your final guide as to where Carolina can land in Brooklyn

NCAA Basketball: Duke at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Still stung by that loss Tuesday? Trust me, I am, too. It’s just that time of year though, as each game reminds me that we are close to the end of the season.

The loss also stings in terms of placement for the ACC Tournament. Luckily, Virginia Tech gave Carolina an out on Monday and kept Duke within arms’ reach, but there’s a whole lot that could happen on the bottom for Carolina now should they not be able to win the rematch. We’ll detail that here, including doing this in order of the games tomorrow so you can keep up. I’m going to include an explanation as to why, but only because I feel compelled to share what’s been rolling around in my head. You’ll be able to skip the explanation if you desire.

Alright, first, a check of the standings before tomorrow’s games:

ACC Standings 3/2

Team Record
Team Record
Virginia 17-1
Duke 12-5
UNC 11-6
Clemson 11-6
NC State 10-7
Miami 10-7
Virginia Tech 10-7

Congrats to Pittsburgh for the 0-18 finish. Also, thank you, ACC, for giving them this weekend off so that every game has meaning. That’s right, the only two seeds locked into place going into tomorrow are the first and the last, so every game has at least some sort of meaning. For your reference before we dig in, let’s look at what the ACC has on tap for us.

ACC Schedule 3/3

Game Time
Game Time
Wake Forest @ Georgia Tech Noon
Virginia Tech @ Miami Noon
Clemson @ Syracuse 2:00 PM
Boston College @ Florida State 2:00 PM
Notre Dame @ Virginia 4:00 PM
Louisville @ NC State 6:00 PM
UNC @ Duke 8:15 PM

One last thing so I don’t have to type this about twenty times: how the ACC breaks ties. In short:

  • When it’s two teams, first is head-to-head, then you start at the top of the conference and keep going until you hit a team that one team beat more than the other.
  • When it’s three or more, you break out the MINI-CONFERENCE! The teams are broken out and records are compared against each other. The best winning percentage (and that is important) gets best billing, second best gets next, and so forth. Any ties from there go back to the head to head. After that, you have to start at the top of the conference and find a team that one team does better against. Keep that in mind as we go through each scenario

Alright, let’s start with the good news.

If Carolina Beats Duke

Carolina is the two seed. Virginia Tech’s win keeps Duke only one game ahead of Carolina, so a win gives both a 12-6 record. There are two ways that tomorrow can go if this happens:

  • Carolina and Duke finished tied by themselves. This is easy to figure out, as Carolina sweeps Duke, and gets the tiebreaker. Duke is the three seed in this scenario.
  • Carolina, Duke, and Clemson finish tied. Cue the group records, where Carolina is 3-1, Duke is 1-2, Clemson is 1-2. Carolina gets the 2. Duke gets the 3 because they beat Clemson, Clemson is 4.

So the loss on Tuesday didn’t hurt them in their quest to get the two seed. Win tomorrow and Carolina plays at 7 PM in Brooklyn against the 7 vs 10/Pittsburgh game winner.

Where it hurts is in the case that they lose.

If Carolina loses to Duke

This one can’t quite be broken down in one sentence, as there are six possible outcomes. Well, technically eight, but two of the scenarios here are combined because the VT/Miami winner doesn’t affect them. Each scenario in the list is in the order of the relevant games’ tipoffs, and I’ve ordered this list from highest possible seed to lowest.

  • Virginia Tech beats Miami, Syracuse beats Clemson, Louisville beats NC State: Carolina is the four seed

Virginia Tech, Carolina, and Clemson finish at 11-7, State is 10-8. VT is 2-0 in the mini conference, and Carolina and Clemson are both 1-2. Carolina gets the four because they are 1-1 versus Duke which is better than Clemson’s 0-1

  • Miami beats Virginia Tech, Syracuse beats Clemson, Louisville beats NC State: Carolina is the five seed

Miami, Carolina, and Clemson finish at 11-7, State is 10-8. Miami is 1-1, Carolina is 1-2, Clemson is 2-1. Clemson gets the three seed, Miami gets the four seed, Carolina gets the five.

  • Virginia Tech/Miami wins, Clemson beats Syracuse, Louisville beats NC State: Carolina is the five seed

Clemson gets the three at 12-6, the winner of VT and Miami finishes tied with us for fourth. Carolina loses the tiebreaker either way, so Carolina falls to the five as the winner of that game gets fourth.

  • Virginia Tech beats Miami, Syracuse beats Clemson, NC State beats Louisville: Carolina is the five seed

This creates a four-team tie for third with Virginia Tech, Carolina, Clemson, and NC State. Virginia Tech is 3-0, Carolina is 2-3, Clemson is 2-3, State is 2-3. Virginia Tech wins the first tie break and gets the three. The remaining three have to use their record against Duke as the next tiebreak, State is 1-0, Carolina would be 1-1, Clemson is 0-1. Thus, State gets the four, Carolina is five, Clemson is six.

  • Miami beats Virginia Tech, Syracuse beats Clemson, NC State beats Louisville: Carolina is the six seed

Another four team tie, this one with Miami, Carolina, Clemson, and NC State. Miami is 2-1, Carolina is 2-3, Clemson is 3-2, State is 2-3. Miami’s .667 is good for third, Clemson’s .600 is good for fourth. Carolina and State have to use Duke as their tiebreaker, and State’s 1-0 is better than Carolina’s 1-1. State gets five, Carolina goes to sixth.

  • Virginia Tech/Miami wins, Clemson beats Syracuse, NC State beats Louisville: Carolina is the six seed

Clemson gets the three seed at 12-6. VT/Miami, Carolina, and State are tied for fourth at 11-7. both VT and Miami are 2-0 against Carolina and State, Carolina is 1-2, State is 1-2. Either VT or Miami gets the four, and the Duke tiebreaker gives five to State, and gives six to Carolina.

So root for Virginia tech to win, Syracuse to win, and Louisville to win. If that should happen, Carolina has at worst a four seed locked in prior to the game in Durham. There are eight total scenarios in all, and only one leads to Carolina getting a double bye. Four result in Carolina getting the fifth seed, which isn’t that bad as Duke can tell you from last year, and three would land them in the sixth seed. The problem with playing as a 5th or 6th seed is adding an extra game of wear and tear to a team that doesn’t have a deep bench.

Got all that? Again, it doesn’t matter if Carolina wins, but If you want to make Saturday easier on yourself, print this out and cross off scenarios as they go down. You can also copy and paste this into a note and delete the scenarios that disappear. Since State and Louisville don’t play till 6 PM, it’ll be right up until the last second that we don’t know what the stakes are.

Enjoy the last day of ACC action!