With only two weekends and three games remaining in the regular season, it’s time to begin looking at which teams have already done enough to punch a dance card for March, which still have some work left to do and which need a miracle four-game run in the ACC tournament to continue their dancing beyond this year’s ACC tournament site, Atlanta.
North Carolina (24-3, 10-3 ACC, RPI: 3, SOS: 19) The Tar Heels practically came into the season with their ticket punched — if that is even possible. The Heels are currently slated to be a No. 1 seed with only a surprising collapse keeping them from it. Since they are North Carolina’s best team, look for them to get a short trip to Greensboro in the first round.
Duke (22-5, 9-4 ACC, RPI: 4, SOS: 8) The Blue Devils are also a certified lock to be in the tournament, although their seeding is up for some debate. Currently they’re the second best team in the ACC, which should have them earning at least a three seed and likely a two seed. Their play has strengthened considerably since their 2-4 swoon, winning against Wake Forest and on the road against an improved Maryland squad. If the Devils’ continue their strong play look for them to solidify a No. 2 seed and an assured trip to Greensboro.
Wake Forest (22-5, 8-5 ACC, RPI: 18, SOS: 71) The Demon Deacons are in the same position as Duke, except they lost the more recent match-up between the two teams.
I would assume that this, along with their overall resumes, puts Duke a notch above Wake Forest. However, if the Demon Deacons finish the year stronger than the Blue Devils or soundly defeat them in the ACC tournament, the committee could flip the two leaving Wake with the higher seed and a trip to Greensboro.
The inner workings of the NCAA selection process are quite interesting. If you’re at all curious about how it happens, I highly recommend Kyle Whelliston’s write-up of the mock selection process.
Clemson (22-5, 8-5 ACC, RPI: 8, SOS: 26) The Clemson Tigers, despite their recent loss to Virginia Tech, are also a lock to be in the NCAA Tournament. Their consistent play throughout the year along with marquee wins over Duke, at Illinois and at Miami. have them in line for up to a No. 3 seed. While collapsing down the stretch won’t get them kicked out of the tournament as it will for the next few teams, it may drop them down to a No. 4 or No. 5 seed.
Should Be In
Florida State (21-7, 8-5 ACC, RPI: 19, SOS: 27) The Seminoles aren’t technically in but will simply have to win one of their last three games to move them into the lock category. This would guarantee them at least a 9-7 record in ACC play. It would also give the ‘Noles another good win to add to their resume since they finish their schedule against Clemson, Duke and Virginia Tech.
A Few Wins Away
Miami (16-10, 5-8 ACC, RPI: 46, SOS: 9) I’m placing the Hurricanes highest on my list because I feel they are the best of this next bunch. Currently they’re only 5-8 in conference, but their last 3 are against teams that are beneath them in the standings. Win all of those and they’ll enter the ACC tournament in the “Locks” category.
Boston College (20-9 (8-6), RPI: 51, SOS: 46) The Eagles are in this category solely because of their bad losses. Boston College has two of the best wins in the country, including one no one else can boast (at Chapel Hill), but the committee will look just as hard at a home loss to Harvard (RPI: 278). This team needs to finish the season strong by not losing any more games to inferior competition (at NC State, Georgia Tech and a first round ACC tournament game against a lower seed).
Maryland (17-10 (6-7), RPI: 58, SOS: 26) Very similar situation to Virginia Tech, except with some better wins — UNC and Michigan St. — but with worse losses as well — at home to Morgan State. They have 2 winnable games left that they must win.
Virgina Tech (17-10 (7-6), RPI: 52, SOS: 39) Virginia Tech was living squarely on the wrong side of the bubble until they won at Clemson this past week. Fortunately for the Hokies, they play both UNC and Duke in the coming week; losses there won’t look bad, and wins would look excellent and should surely punch their dance card.
The last three teams in the ACC have already had their NCAA Tournament hopes dashed, though NC State does have an above .500 record overall and is very much in the hunt for an NIT bid.