[tps_header]For years, the Atlantic Coast Conference was largely top-heavy every season on the hardwood, dominated by the rivals of Tobacco Road – North Carolina and Duke.
However, the arrival of powers from the original and now fizzled-out Big East combined with new faces making some noise has made the ACC has been one of the deepest and toughest conferences in college basketball.
The ACC should be well-represented come tournament. But first thing’s first – it is time to see who helps and hurts their seeding for the big dance, and if the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame can defend their title from a season ago when the 14 (Louisville is ineligible for postseason play due to self-imposed sanctions) universities get together at the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital, beginning on March 8th.[/tps_header]
WORK LEFT TO DO
The ACC has three schools that could very well end up earning a top-2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The North Carolina Tar Heels might have the most talented and deepest roster in the sport, the Virginia Cavaliers and their suffocating defense that is allowing barely 60 points per game, which is most among ‘Power 5’ schools and third nationally. Both are vying for the top line in the big dance.
The Miami Hurricanes have a chance to win 30 games for the first time in school history. At 24-6 and ranked No. 7 in the country, the senior-laden ‘Canes are prime to make a run deep into the tournament.
One can never count out a Mike Krzyzewski-led Duke Blue Devils squad, even if it is an off-year for their standards. A lack of depth might hurt them depending on the opponent and the absence of Amile Jefferson has hurt them along the way. Having said that, if they catch fire, watch out.
Then there’s the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Pittsburgh Panthers, and Syracuse Orange. The three former Big East heavyweights are all still trying to earn their stripes in their new home. The Irish are likely in, while Pitt and ‘Cuse could use a win or two to help make their case. It also just so happens those two square off in the second round of the ACC Tournament; could very well be a de facto knockout game.