It has been years since a team from the Carolinas are not expected to win the ACC Tournament that takes place this weekend. In other words, Tobacco Road is not what it used to be.
Actually, it seems like the top storyline this weekend is that North Carolina is in serious danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. Conversely, Duke has surged of late and could be the tournament surprise. Meanwhile, Miami and Virginia are the favorites to cut down the nets.
Tobacco Road schools have dominated this tournament since its inception. Duke has won an ACC-best 21 tournament titles, followed by UNC (18) and North Carolina State (10).
Schools I believe you can write off include Wake Forest and Syracuse. Both enter the tournament with losses in four of their last five games. North Carolina State is also limping into postseason action as it has dropped its last two games. I would not write off Pitt. The Panthers turned their season around and closed out the regular season with 21 wins.
The Tar Heels will open its now or never weekend with a matchup against Boston College. Duke opens with Pitt in what should be the best game in the early going. The Blue Devils are the hottest team in the ACC as winners of six straight.
Miami, the number-one seed, finished the regular season with wins in eight of their last nine games to claim a share of the ACC title. The Hurricanes should have no issues with Wake Forest in its first tournament game.
If North Carolina wins its opener, the Heels will have to take on Virginia. A little known secret in the ACC is that the Cavaliers earned a share of the regular-season title for the sixth time in 10 seasons. This is the game UNC has to win if it is going to make the NCAA Tournament next week.
I also think NC State is going to miss out on the NCAA Tourney. The Wolfpack will open with Clemson. Why do I like the Tigers here? They earned a pair of victories against the Wolfpack in the regular season, winning by an average margin of 19.5 points. NC State has now lost five in a row to Clemson.
I have Miami beating Duke and Virginia taking care of Clemson in the semifinals.
My pick to win it all. The Hurricanes of Miami.