Today marks the first official day for 5 ACC schools competing in the Big Dance for their chance of fulfilling their dreams of winning a national championship. All five who represent the Atlantic Coast Conference have been battle tested and have had their share of ups and downs, but still maintained and persevered through it all with focus and tenacity.
That dream begins today starting at 12:15…
(10) Virginia Tech vs. (7) Rutgers 12:15 PM CBS
(9) Georgia Tech vs. (8) Loyola Chicago 4PM TBS
(8) Wisconsin vs. (9) North Carolina 7:10 PM CBS
(10) Rutgers vs. (7) Clemson 9:20 PM CBS
(11) Syracuse vs. (6) San Diego State University 9:40 PM CBS
(4) Florida State vs. (13) UNCG 12:45 PM truTV 3/20
(4) Virginia vs. (13) Ohio 7:15 PM truTV 3/20
Headlines 2 Watch For:
How Does Georgia Tech incorporate their offense without ACC Player of the Year and Raleigh native Moses Wright, who averaged nearly a double-double this season with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and a block per game. Due to Covid-19 tracing Wright will be held out today and likely the entire first weekend if the Jackets advance. The leading back-court in the ACC of Brooklyn native Jose Alvarado, and Michael Devoe should certainly be too much. We know the tournament is all about guard play and the Yellow Jackets have enough.
Every possession for the Tar Heels should feature a big man on the interior getting at least one touch. The Heels are top five in the country in offensive rebounding and second chance points. This matchup boils down to efficiency and turnovers from star freshman point guard Caleb Love and R.J. Davis. Can someone outside of Kerwin Walton for the Heels hit from outside if the Badgers play a pack-lined defense?
Preparing for a zone seems simple, but the infamous Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 matchup zone has many variations, including over-extending on the wings and at times switching to a 3-2 zone. What makes this zone vulnerable is the alley-hoop pass, back-door connection. The Orange have multiple shooters who can certainly get hot at any moment, including Boeheim’s own son, Buddy Boehiem, who shoots 38 percent from deep.
Virginia Tech’s key number is 67. When the Hokies hold their opponents under 67 points per game, they’re a perfect 12-0. The Gators are 13-0 when their opponents shoot less than 43 percent from the field. Something has to give this evening. Players to watch: Keve Aluma vs. Tre Mann. Both can get buckets quickly, putting the team on their backs.
Which Clemson Tigers team will show up? Aamir Simms is a dominant force on the interior and arguably Clemson’s most consistent player. As of recently, the Tigers pesky defense has alluded to offensive points in transition, adding another dimension for the Tigers to excel past the Scarlett Knights.
The regular season champion Virginia Cavaliers’ ACC tournament run was abruptly ended by a covid tracing within its program. Following quarantine protocols the Cavaliers are technically still defending champs due to March Madness being cancelled last season. This may be one of Tony Bennett’s most unconventional teams in recent memory with the ability to still play their stagnant league’s best defense, but ability to score in bunches. Of course, this team may not be as flashy as your Gonzaga’s or Iowa’s, but don’t sleep on this bunch. The Cavaliers have outside shooting, specifically Sam Hauser (First-team All ACC), guard play in Kihei Clark (who may not be the biggest on the court, but may indeed have the biggest heart), and big man Jay Huff who gives the Cavaliers a defensive rim protector.
The Florida State Seminoles have the weapons, depth, and coaching to possibly make a final four run. Coach Leonard Hamilton, year in-year out, has his team competing at a high level, but this year’s bunch may have the tools to cut down the nets. They have depth – playing consistently 9-12 players deep, with 9 players averaging over 14 minutes per game. Guard play, as mentioned before, is a position that has been pivotal on every previous champion in the last two decades. M.J. Walker and freshman sensation Scottie Barnes should be enough to get past Wes Miller and UNCG, but don’t sleep on the Spartans. Isaiah Miller, who is a walking bucket and will play at the next level, is waiting for his moment. We’ve seen mid major schools produce elite talent during the big dance (Ja Morant, C.J. McCollum, Jameer Nelson, Jimmer Fredette, Stephen Curry), and with Miller’s skillset, he can take over any game at all facets. Will the glass slipper fit for the Spartans of UNCG?