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ACC Tournament: How the first two days affect the Big Dance

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Three out of four top seeds fell on Wednesday. How does that affect the conference’s chances at double-digit bids?

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-North Carolina vs Syracuse Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC has a chance to send perhaps as many as 11 teams to the tournament, with a solid floor of about seven or eight. The conference has an outside shot at having the number one overall seed (Virginia) as well as three other seeds in the top sixteen overall (UNC, Duke, Clemson). The conference was also the epitome of parity during the regular season, with only three wins separating third and eleventh in the standings. The first two days of the tournament are now a wrap, so here’s how those first two days affected all these chances.

Day One

Day one was entirely chalk. The bottom three teams in the ACC standings—Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and conference winless Pitt—all have already fallen out of the tournaments and their seasons are in all likelihood over. The wins came from Boston College, Syracuse, and Notre Dame respectively, who then went on to play NC State, UNC, and Virginia Tech respectively.

Those were three big wins, at least for Syracuse and Notre Dame. Most projections slotted those teams on the bubble, so every win matters. Boston College entered the tournament in 12th place in the standings, so they had a chance to make some noise with a deep run.

Day Two

Day two was almost entirely...not chalk. UNC beat Syracuse 78-59, but lower-seeded teams won the other three games. Boston College held off a furious NC State comeback to win 91-87, Notre Dame edged out Virginia Tech 71-65, and Louisville (who did not play on day one) knocked out Florida State 82-74. How did Thursday affect all of these teams’ NCAA dreams?

  • Florida State: The loss to Louisville marked a season-ending skid where the Seminoles lost three out of their last four games. They’re done building their case to get in, and although they weren’t on the bubble for most projections that might have changed now. They take wins over Florida and UNC to the selection committee, but what might weigh on them more is the ending to this season. Don’t be surprised if they don’t make the tournament.
  • Virginia Tech: The Hokies also ended their season with a loss, although theirs stung a lot more, as they watched a 21-point second half lead evaporate to Notre Dame. Their wait on Selection Sunday might not be as long and painful as that of the Seminoles, as VT played some of their best games against tough competition. They’re one of only two teams to take a game from Virginia this year. That goes a lot to helping them even if their ACC Tournament hopes are dashed. They project as an 8 or 9 seed right now.
  • NC State: Like VT, State admittedly does have some very impressive wins this season. But their ACC Tournament run also ended in disappointment as the 12-seed Boston College Eagles held them off. It would be hard to imagine not getting in, but weirder things have happened to the Wolfpack. It might be a stressful few minutes in Raleigh if we get through three regions on Sunday with no mention of NC State. It’s folly to predict where they’ll land.
  • Syracuse: Cuse needed a win against the Tar Heels on Thursday night to keep their slim tournament hopes alive, and what they delivered was a double-digit loss. Despite their win against Wake Forest to open the tournament, Jim Boeheim’s team lacks a real statement win and didn’t have a strong resume even before the tournament started. We might see them in the NIT, but that’s it.
  • Boston College: Leave it to BC to give the selection committee some headaches. As of right now, they’re probably still on the outside looking in, and can at the very least take solace in the fact that they may have ruined NC State’s season. But even a win on Thursday against Clemson might not be enough. If their run goes on, they could burst some bubbles. They need to keep winning to keep their season alive.
  • Notre Dame: What a way to keep your season alive, huh? The Fighting Irish project to be one of the most interesting stories should they end up making the tournament. Bonzie Colson’s return has already paid dividends, and he’s a matchup nightmare for any team he faces in the tournament. Their comeback win against Virginia Tech might not be enough on its own, but if they can beat Duke, that might punch their ticket.
  • Louisville: As of right now, Joe Lunardi of ESPN has Louisville as his last at-large entry into the tournament. So they’re very much on the bubble. The Cardinals divebombed to end the season, winning back-to-back games only once in their last 13 contests. In order to convince the committee that they deserve an opportunity to keep dancing in March, they’ll have to exorcise their demons against Virginia on Thursday.
  • North Carolina: The Heels have just set up a high-stakes rematch of their own in order to exorcise some late-game demons. UNC meets Miami on Thursday night, although both teams know a loss won’t be the end of their season. However, it could make all the difference in seeding. A 1-seed might be out of reach barring an act of God, but the Heels can at the very least earn a 2-seed.