Changes abound at this year’s ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament. Neither Duke or North Carolina emerged as the regular season champion. Neither did Virginia.
Heading into the 2020 ACC Tournament, Florida State Seminoles are this year’s regular-season champions after Louisville fell to Virginia on Saturday. At 16-4, the Seminoles and head coach Leonard Hamilton possesses the number-one seed.
Louisville, Duke and Virginia all finished with records of 15-5. Georgia Tech surprised many with an 11-9 record, good for fifth in the ACC.
Beneath the Yellow Jackets, NC State, Notre Dame and Syracuse are all tied in the standings with records of 10-10.
There are a few schools who are peaking at the right time. Teams like Virginia, owners of an eight-game winning streak, for instance. It should be an interesting tournament and I would not be surprised if there is a surprise winner.
Here are some of my thoughts.
It has been a down year for ACC Basketball. Last season, seven ACC programs made the NCAA Tournament. This season, only four or five schools are projected to make the field.
This year, there’s no Zion Williamson. There’s not much hope for last place North Carolina. Yes, in case you missed it. The Tar Heels finished in a tie for last place during league play.
One early surprise could be Clemson upsetting Florida State in the quarterfinals. The Tigers knocked off Florida State with a buzzer-beating layup in February. Another interesting matchup is No. 4 Duke vs. No. 5 North Carolina State. Both teams routed the other earlier this season.
Players to watch include Tre Jones of Duke. Jones emerged as the ACC Player of the Year. Always known as a defensive standout, the sophomore is averaging 16 points a game to go along with over six assists a contest. Guard play is always key in post season play and Jones could carry Duke to another ACC Tournament title.
Florida State won its first ACC regular season crown. The Seminoles have the necessary ingredients to excel in tourney time. They have an experienced coach in Leonard Hamilton, great point guard play and a roster that goes over 10 deep. FSU has won 9 of its past 11 and are a true contender for a national title.
My surprise team is Notre Dame. The Irish have won 8 of their last 12 and are on the bubble for an NCAA berth.
Yes, it is a different look at this year’s tournament. But there are plenty of storylines and there will be surprises, as always.
I say that even though I am going with chalk and taking Florida State to emerge.