Happy second day of the ACC Tournament, everyone. Time to continue with our previews of the teams as they start play in Brooklyn, yesterday we did 15-11. Today we continue with 10-6.
#10 Notre Dame
Record Overall: 18-13
Conference Record: 8-10
Biggest Win: Wichita State/Florida State
Worst Loss: Ball State/Georgia Tech
Player to Watch: Bonzie Colson
RPI/KenPom/ESPN BPI (entering the tournament): 65/28/31
It seems like there’s one team every season that forces the NCAA to go beyond the numbers and take a leap of faith, and Notre Dame sits squarely in those cross hairs this season. The Fighting Irish were thought to be one of the top teams of the league, and their Maui Invitational win seemed to cement that status. Colson’s injury before the ACC season derailed that, and that pushed the Irish into the game against Wake yesterday. They’ll likely need to make a run to Friday to have a chance at getting into the NCAA Tournament, but they are absolutely the team no one wants to see. The question with Colson will be how he can hold up after missing two months.
Record Overall: 19-12
Conference Record: 9-9
Biggest Win: Virginia Tech
Worst Loss: Virginia
Player to Watch: Deng Adel
RPI/KenPom/ESPN BPI (entering the tournament): 47/34/34
Normally, a loss to the nation’s number one team and the runaway ACC Champion doesn’t qualify as the worst loss, we all know the way they lost that game. It was the latest stomach punch for a team that lost its coach at the beginning of the season, lost their 2013 NCAA Championship banner in the middle, still has the cloud of the FBI hanging over them, and has no clue who will be coaching them next year. In watching their last game against NC State, it looked as if that loss against the Cavs may have broken them, but a win today would give them a chance at revenge tomorrow, and a chance to end the season on a high note.
#8 Florida State
Record Overall: 20-10
Conference Record: 9-9
Biggest Win: North Carolina
Worst Loss: Wake Forest
Players to Watch: Phil Cofer & Terance Mann
RPI/KenPom/ESPN BPI (entering the tournament): 43/35/36
Florida State looked like a team that was going to be fighting the top quarter of the conference back in January, culminating in that win in Tallahassee over the Tar Heels. The Seminoles fell off a cliff after that game, which is surprising considering how steady the team had been under Leonard Hamilton. The Seminoles sunk into the abyss of mediocrity with no real explanation, and could use a couple of wins this week to help them going into March. As it stands now, their hold on the tournament is a little shaky.
#7 Virginia Tech
Record Overall: 21-10
Conference Record: 10-8
Biggest Win: Virginia
Worst Loss: Saint Louis/Syracuse
Player to Watch: Justin Robinson
RPI/KenPom/ESPN BPI (entering the tournament): 48/31/29
The Hokies are the classic “don’t want to face them at home” team as both Duke and UNC couldn’t escape Blacksburg with a win, but away from home they have losses to both Syracuse and Louisville that knocked them into this spot. Yet, they are also responsible for the only loss that Virginia took in the conference. The Hokies have a possible path of Notre Dame/Duke/UNC/Virginia to take down the ACC title-all teams who suffered a defeat to Buzz Williams and his new head of hair. A title would be a surprise, but they’ve proven they can beat the big names and will be a tough matchup in all their games.
#6 North Carolina
Record Overall: 22-9
Conference Record: 11-7
Biggest Win: Duke
Worst Loss: Wofford/Miami
Player to Watch: Luke Maye
RPI/KenPom/ESPN BPI (entering the tournament): 5/7/7
Carolina doesn’t have a loss to anyone who has a losing record in the conference, something few in the league can say, but that also didn’t help them when it came time to break the four-way tie for third in the league. The Tar Heels’ season came in three parts-the rough beginning, the great middle, and the stumble at the end. The half-court shot Miami sunk gave the Heels a gut punch, and the game in Durham was an uppercut. Now they need a solid run in Brooklyn to gain momentum back for the NCAA’s. All-ACC First Team Luke Maye is looking to get back on track after looking gassed the last couple of games.
Coming Tomorrow: The top five seeds!