The announcement of Louisville’s self-imposed postseason ban was met with tears from their players, particularly seniors Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. But for the rest of the ACC, I would have to imagine the announcement was met with reserved fist pumps.
The conference has a logjam of teams at the top and in the middle, and as much love as the power conferences get when it comes to at-large March Madness bids, at least a few solid ACC teams are going to be left on the outside looking in. Save for Virginia and UNC, no one looks like a lock to make the tourney at this point. That’s why the guaranteed spot for winning the ACC Tournament will be highly coveted in the coming weeks.
As it stands now, with six or seven games remaining for each team, the top four seeds in the ACC Tournament would be: UNC, Virginia, Miami, and Notre Dame. But that could all change in a flash. Twelfth-ranked Miami has an absolute grind of a schedule to finish the year, with home games against the Cavaliers and Cardinals, as well as trips to UNC, Notre Dame, and FSU. The Hurricanes have a solid resume so far this year, beating three top-25 teams; but some head-scratching losses to Northeastern and NC State mean they can’t afford to falter too much down the stretch.
Duke is the one team that may have it tougher than Miami. Currently fifth in the conference, the Blue Devils will play four ranked opponents in their final seven games, including a pair against their hated rivals down in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devils have one of the top offenses in all of college, led by sophomore Grayson Allen, but they haven’t been able to bang with some of the ACC’s better defensive teams, losing to both Clemson and Syracuse.
Speaking of the Orange, how about the turnaround Jim Boeheim has orchestrated? The Hall of Fame coach returned from a nine-game suspension to a 10-6 Syracuse squad that was buried in the conference. But after reeling off seven wins in their last eight games, the Orange have climbed back into the hunt. With a manageable schedule down the stretch, they could conceivably grab a top-four seed for the ACC tournament and a bye to the quarterfinals.
That bye has proven to be an important one. The last time a seed outside of the top four won the ACC tournament was all the way back in 2004 (when the tournament had just nine teams, so only the bottom two teams didn’t automatically qualify for the quarters).
Though there is still much to be decided in one of college’s most exciting conferences, it’s never too early to set the odds for who will emerge victorious from the ACC Tournament. North Carolina and Virginia should be the favorites come March, but the way the ACC beats up on each other, nearly every team has a chance. (Heck, Virginia has losses to both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech!)
So here are our current odds to grab the ACC’s automatic tournament bid.
Odds to win 2016 ACC Tournament:
North Carolina: 2/1
Notre Dame: 7/1
Miami (FL): 8/1
Florida State: 70/1
Virginia Tech: 100/1
Georgia Tech: 250/1
NC State: 500/1
Wake Forest: 1,500/1
Boston College: 2,000/1
(Photo Credit: Jerome Carpenter (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/].)