Heading into ACC tournament play who’s hot and who’s not
March is finally upon us and all of us hoops fans are waiting anxiously for the madness to begin.
Early in the season, there were many storylines being aired and it seemed the Atlantic Coast Conference was destined for big success. Potentially we could see ten teams reach the big dance.
Some programs have really hit their stride as we conclude the year. Others have struggled and are looking to regain some confidence heading into the ACC tournament.
At the top Carolina (26-6,14-4), have been crowned regular season champion after a huge win over Duke. The Heels found themselves in a dogfight on senior night and prevailed to add the cherry on top to an impressive season. Roy Williams team may be the favorite to cut down the nets this year they’re deep and talented, Justin Jackson is the ACC player of the year and Joel Berry is lights out.
Florida State has collected more wins against ranked opponents than anyone in the conference. After winning three of their last four games the Noles (24-7,12-6), are clicking at the perfect time. Down the stretch, Dwayne Bacon has been efficient shooting the rock frosh Jonathan Isaac will have to shrug off consecutive cold outings. Leonard Hamilton and his squad will be a tough out at their best.
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (23-8,12-6), truly overachieved this year and they’re far from done. Coach Mike Brey has a dynamic combo at the forward positions with Bonzie Colson and V.J. Beachem these two are a serious problem! Colson is undersized for the position but he plays big at 6’6 kid averages ten boards a game. Beachem is one of the better shooters in the ACC he’s had an impressive senior campaign.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have a few teams who underachieved and find themselves slipping downward. Duke, Clemson, and Nc State find themselves in this category for different reasons.
Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils (23-8,11-7), were pinnedhave been beaten up this year back in Ochave pinnedthe favorite to win it all. This team has shown flashes of brilliance Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen have been superb. Duke’s freshman class came in with major hype so far Jayson Tatum has been the best of the bunch by far. In order for Duke nation to make a serious push they will need either Harry Giles or Marcus Bolden to step up and be a difference maker down low, senior Amile Jefferson desperately needs a reliable front court mate.
Raleigh has to be in complete shock right now because this has been a season absolutely no one expected from Nc State (15-16, 4-14), Dennis Smith has lived up to the billing as a superstar point guard. Smith has been one of the best players in college all season and is destined to be a top five pick in June. Aside from the frosh this roster has come up short to say the least and a lack of talent isn’t the issue.
Mark Gottfried was fired midway through conference play which was a bad look on the programs part, this is a guy who can recruit and runs his program the right way. This team never quite jelled like most thought and they never found a true identity. If Smith can revive this roster from the dead and get this squad to play at their full potential for four games the Wolfpack could add to the madness.
Last season the Clemson Tigers(16-14,6-12), surprised a lot of people with their play and after a solid run expectations rose when Jaron Blossomgame decided to forgo the draft. The Tigers also added a talented and proven crop of transfers to the lineup, but with all that they have lost a number of close games down the stretch this year. Some smarter play and a few less turnovers and they could easily have four more wins at least. Coach Brad Brownell’s group will suit up first to kick off the tournament against State a team they defeated six days ago.
Tournament play starts Tuesday every team resets at (0-0), there will be joy and sadness but most importantly there will be madness.