The ACC will tip off their 70th conference basketball tournament in Greensboro, Tuesday afternoon. For several teams this year’s tourney will make or break their March Madness hopes.
Here are the two teams with the most to lose and gain in The Boro.
The Most to Gain
The Clemson Tigers may have finished in the top three of the ACC standings, but their NCAA Tournaments hopes are far from guaranteed. Many projections have the Tigers as one of the first four teams left out of the dance.
After securing a double bye, Clemson will face the winner of Wednesday’s second round game between NC State and the winner of the first round match-up between Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. In order to move their name from the one of the first teams out of the NCAA Tournament to one of the first teams in, Clemson will have to solidify their resume with a quarterfinal win. A victory over tournament-bound NC State would be ideal, but even if they face Notre Dame or Virginia Tech, a semifinal appearance in the conference tournament and third place regular season finish in the ACC should be enough to put the Tigers in the big dance.
The Most to Lose
This has been one of the most disappointing seasons in UNC basketball history. After returning four of five starters from last year’s Final Four squad expectations for the Tar Heels were at an all-time high, but after a disappointing regular season, North Carolina finds themselves on the cusp of the wrong side of history as the first team since the tournament’s expansion to 64 teams in 1985 to open the season as the top team in the nation, but miss the NCAA Tournament.
The Tar Heels fell short of improving their 1-9 quad-one resume Saturday – losing to the Blue Devils, 62-57, at the Dean Dome. Now a North Carolina team who seems to be at their wits end with disappointment of this season , has to find a way to churn out multiple wins in the conference tournament. Many think the Tar Heels will have to win the entire conference tournament to secure an invitation, but this is still THE North Carolina – a blue blood team, with fans who travel well and the potential and talent to upset higher-seeded opponents. In other words, UNC is good for business. So while there will be work to do, even if the Tar Heels lose in the tournament championship game – getting potential wins against Virginia and NC State, will be enough for the committee will find a place for last year’s NCAA Tournament runner-up. If North Carolina can’t get at least two wins, the 2023 team will forever go down as the squad that had the most potential, but ended up on the wrong side of history.
The 2023 ACC Tournament begins Tuesday at 2pm.