Take that Joe Lunardi (click on image to enlarge)
Time for the ACC Tournament, or as Roy Williams has liked to call it “a cocktail party” “that daggum tournament we need to win since we’ve been playing like crap, by golly”. People have called this year a down year in the ACC, but ESPN’s most recent bracketology had seven ACC teams earning bids to the Big Dance. That can be taken one of two ways, either that the ACC actually is a strong league, or that this is such a down year that mid-level ACC teams are backing in to the tournament. Given how UNC has struggled this year I would love to believe it is the former, but in all honesty think its probably more of the latter. Excuse me while I light my 2010 Tar Heels season t-shirt (which is really pretty ironically hilarious) on fire.
Anyways the Tournament kicks off on Thursday and we here at EJSIC love nothing more than to offer our unprofessional opinions and non-expert picks on college basketball. Since this is most likely the only non-NIT bracket I’ll be able to fill out that has the Tar Heels in it this year I’ve painstakingly filled out my predictions for how the tournament will shake out. Aside from the picks themselves here are some more thoughts on the ACC tournament.
Most Likely First Round Upset: UNC over Georgia Tech
Look I’m not saying this is by any means a sure thing but I think its just the best bet. UVA is in a free fall and without Landesberg against a BC team that has been playing a little better down the stretch. Miami is not beating Wake Forest. Clemson should be able to take care of NC State. Georgia Tech has beaten UNC twice, but the Tar Heels have a home crowd advantage in Greensboro and will come out fighting for the possibility of an NCAA tournament appearance (which will quickly disappear in the next round against Maryland). Georgia Tech is inconsistent and may let the Tar Heels, who they destroyed in Atlanta, sneak up on them in the first round.
Most Interesting Player: Greivis Vasquez
I could use a different picture, but I like this one too much
Vasquez ended up beating out Jon Scheyer for ACC POY and deservedly so. The guy can take over a game and be one of the most impressive players to watch when he’s on. Furthermore you never really know what act of douchebaggery he will unveil next. He is simultaneously the most entertaining and hateable player in the ACC, the latter of which is surprising since he doesn’t go to Duke.
Most Potentially Disappointing Team: Virginia Tech
The Hokies have been playing well as of late under the leadership of Malcom Delaney, but a matchup with Wake looms on Friday that just reeks of an early exit for Virginia Tech. Wake played the Hokies very close down the stretch in Blacksburg and a home crowd advantage in Greensboro along with a Wake team trying to get back out of a late season tailspin may make conditions right for an mini-upset.
Freshman to Watch: TIE- John Henson/Derrick Favors
Both were rated among the top recruits in the nation and are very talented. Favors is likely to be a lottery pick next season and has been a strong, physical presence in the Yellow Jacket frontcourt all season. Henson has recently begun to break out for the Tar Heels due to injuries in their frontcourt and has averaged 10.7 points and 9 boards per game over the past six games. If the Heels are to make any type of run in the tournament, they will need Henson to come up big.
Potential Sleeper Team: Clemson Tigers
As has been the case over the past several years, the Tigers started the season out strong then managed to fall apart later in the ACC schedule. However, the Tigers have actually gotten their act together over the past several games and are a potentially dangerous team that could make a serious run to the finals. They have beaten FSU (their potential second round opponent) twice and also have split their series against Maryland who they could meet in the semifinals
Projected Winner: Duke Blue Devils
I tried to convince myself it could be someone else but I really just can’t see a scenario where Duke doesn’t win this thing aside from an injury to one of the big three. Scheyer has been consistently great all season and Singler has really stepped up in the past few games. The Blue Devils are probably not good enough to be considered NCAA title favorites, but no team in the ACC outside of Maryland and maybe Georgia Tech really has the ability to exploit their few weaknesses. Jon Scheyer wins ACC tournament MVP. I drink heavily.