Updated: Mar 24
Day one of the ACC tournament went mostly as expected with two of the three higher-seeded teams coming away with victories. Wednesday features a full slate of games, three of which will have bubble implications.
No. 8 Florida State (17-13) vs. No. 9 Syracuse (15-16) – 12 PM – ESPN
Our first matchup of the day in Brooklyn sees two teams that didn’t quite live up to expectations this season.
Florida State was picked to finish second in the ACC Preseason poll and looked like a pretty safe bet for the tournament coming off of their 61-60 victory at Miami on January 22. They sat at 13-5, 6-2 in ACC play and had just beaten a top-five Duke squad earlier in the week. The Seminoles proceeded to lose eight of their next nine games, swiftly removing themselves from any tournament consideration in the process.
Syracuse was picked for a middle-of-the-pack finish in the ACC (7th) but were expecting to build off of a Sweet 16 run last season with Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard returning and the addition of brother Jimmy as well as Villanova transfer Cole Swider.
The Orange have plenty of scoring ranking 21st in offensive efficiency per KenPom but have struggled defensively ranking just 216th. Florida State meanwhile is mediocre on both sides of the ball (122nd offense, 99th defense). Syracuse is of course still without their best frontcourt player Jesse Edwards who is out for the rest of the season with a broken wrist.
Florida State 62 – Syracuse 80
This game should simply come down to Syracuse’s shooting. If the Orange are knocking down outside shots, Florida State just doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with them. If they aren’t their inability to defend makes it really tough for them to stay in games. Ultimately, I think the Brothers Boeheim make the difference in this one and the Orange take it big.
No. 5 Wake Forest (23-8) vs. No. 13 Boston College (12-19) – 2:30 PM – ESPN
Continuing our afternoon session we have Wake Forest, who depending where you ask, are in need of two wins in Brooklyn to really solidify themselves in the field of 68. The Demon Deacons shot themselves in the foot with a loss at Clemson on February 22 that they really could not afford and left themselves with some work to do. The Deacs have plenty of weapons to go on a run at Barclays with recently named ACC Player of the Year Alondes Williams leading the way. Indiana State transfer Jake LaRavia has also been a huge factor for the Deacs, averaging nearly 15 points a game himself.
Boston College comes into this one having blown out Pitt yesterday 66-46 but will they have enough gas in the tank for their second game in just under 24 hours? Earl Grant’s squad shot the ball extremely well yesterday knocking down 46.7% of their threes and 53.5% of their shots overall and did a good job of getting John Hugley in early foul trouble which limited the impact he was able to have on the game.
Wake Forest 88 – Boston College 65
Wake Forest ranks top 40 in both offensive and defensive efficiency whereas Boston College is outside the top 130. Couple that with the fact that Wake knows these next two games are potential must-win for their at-large hopes and I think the Demon Deacons absolutely dominate this one.
No. 7 Virginia Tech (19-12) vs. No. 10 Clemson (17-15) – 7 PM – ESPN2
The nightcap tips off with Virginia Tech battling Clemson. This is the second game in a row the Hokies have played against the Tigers after Clemson put a huge dent in Tech’s NCAA Tournament hopes during the regular-season finale at Little John.
Behind Duke, Virginia Tech is the second-ranked ACC team in KenPom but unfortunately haven’t been able to score any signature victories to pad their resume. But making a run to the ACC Finals with wins over Notre Dame in the quarter-finals and UNC in the semis could be enough to get them back in the picture, according to bracketologist Dan Vasta (@The_StatsGuru on Twitter) who has the Hokies currently as his fourth team out.
Clemson comes into the game looking to play spoiler again and send Virginia Tech to a berth in the NIT. As expected PJ Hall played great yesterday, going for 18 points and 10 boards in a statement to the All-ACC voters.
Virginia Tech 71 – Clemson 66
Virginia Tech has their back against the wall and after their disappointing loss at Clemson to finish the season I expect them to come out looking for revenge in this one. Keve Aluma has a big game and Justyn Mutts is able to slow down PJ Hall just enough for the Tech to eke out a tough one.
No. 6 Virginia (18-12) vs. No. 11 Louisville (13-18) – 9:30 PM – ESPN2
Finishing up with a little late-night snack we have Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers squad taking on Louisville.
Virginia is another team that is still alive for the NCAA Tournament but has some work yet to do. They are currently Dan Vasta’s eighth team out of the field and essentially in the same boat as their in-state counterparts, Virginia Tech. The Cavs most likely will need a run to the finals and could face the Hokies in the ACC semis which make for a huge rivalry game with a potential win and in implications for both teams.
Louisville however, showed up last night and looked the part of the NCAA Tournament team many people expected them to be prior to the season, shooting the lights out. The emergence of Sydney Curry gives the Cardinals a strong presence down low coupled with Malik Williams.
Virginia 64 – Louisville 55
Virginia, unsurprisingly, is dead last in the country in tempo and I expect them to impose their will on Louisville in this game, slow it down and grind out a victory. Reece Beekman should be able to cool the hot shooting we saw last night out of Louisville’s guards which will allow Virginia to take a low-scoring affair.