This week Charlotte will host one of the most anticipated post-season basketball tournaments. Hall of Fame coaches, historic programs and future NBA stars will be on display at the Spectrum Center Tuesday thru Saturday, where the ACC holds its annual conference tournament. With so many story lines to watch for, here are my top three:
Will Duke and UNC Meet Again in the SemiFinals?
The Tar Heels swept the Blue Devils in the regular season – winning by an average of 12.5 points. But like it or not, there will always be questions about the victories with ACC Player and Rookie of the Year, Zion Williamson, sidelined for both contests. But with the freshman phenom expected to return this week, a potential part III is on everybody’s wish list. The Heels will have an opportunity to silence the haters who refuse to validate their regular season wins against a Zion-less Duke squad. The Blue Devils will have an opportunity to show that at full strength they’re undoubtedly the best team in the nation and deserving of a number one seed in the NCAA tournament.
N.C. State vs Clemson Bubble Game:
At 21-10 (9-9 in the ACC) and 19-12 and (9-9 in the ACC), Clemson and N.C. State are in the NCAA tournament gray area that teams despise. Either could be one of the first four in or the last four out and a second round win would go a long way towards bolstering the winners resume. Simply put, this game is a must-win for the Wolfpack and Tigers. So, expect both squads to come out with the sense of urgency that comes with playing in a contest of this magnitude. In their only meeting this season the Wolfpack survived – winning 69-67 at home – but Charlotte’s neutral site means it will be anybody’s game on Wednesday.
Louisville Spoiler Alert:
There’s one team that has pushed all four top seeds in this year’s ACC Tourney to the brink – Louisville. The Cardinals, who were picked to finish 11th in the conference’s preseason poll, have impressed under 1st year head coach Chris Mack. Assuming they get through the winner of the Notre Dame vs Georgia Tech game, they have the best chance at playing spoiler to everyone’s Duke vs UNC rematch hopes. And…It’s not totally impossible that they could go on to the championship game. The latter is unlikely, but Louisville has the grit and talent to be this week’s ultimate spoiler.
The 2019 New York Life ACC Tournament tips off Tuesday in Charlotte, NC. To view the full schedule click here.