Bubble teams galore in ACC

Georgia Tech has had flashes of brilliance this season, namely a home win over Duke, but has lacked consistency during the ACC schedule.
Georgia Tech has had flashes of brilliance this season, namely a home win over Duke, but has lacked consistency during the ACC schedule.

Despite the relative weakness of the conference—the ACC only has one ranked team in the most recent AP poll—if all trends continue, it could replicate its showing from last year’s NCAA tournament by getting seven teams in. Nevertheless, only Duke and Wake Forest are in control of their own destiny. Beyond the top two teams, the picture is much less clear.   

The most enigmatic team of the conference has been Georgia Tech (18-9, 6-7 in the ACC). Coming into the season, the Yellow Jackets were expected to challenge the Blue Devils at the top of the ACC with an  athletic yet inexperienced roster. With the addition of stud freshman center Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech has shown brilliant flashes throughout the year, including a game in which it toppled Duke at home. But other times, the Yellow Jackets have been maddeningly inconsistent, dropping road games at Virginia and Miami. Their sub-.500 record in the conference means that Georgia Tech has to heat up near the end of the month, or risk watching the NCAA Tournament on television.

Maryland (19-7, 9-3) looks to have a strong case for a bid. In addition to being ranked second in the conference, the Terrapins are coming off an impressive last-second win at home against Georgia Tech for their third win over an RPI top-50 team. Senior Greivis Vasquez has shouldered the load in in the last three games—all wins—scoring 74 points, notching 17 assists and pulling down 19 rebounds. If the guard keeps up his torrid pace, the Terrapins should make the 65-team field.

Clemson (19-7, 7-5) is just oustide the top 30 in both RPI and strength of schedule, and has had quality wins over Butler, then-No. 13 North Carolina, Maryland and Florida State.

“As far as the Tournament’s concerned, we need to win games,” head coach Oliver Purnell said. “I assume if they were doing it today we would be in. We’re playing in a very difficult league and right now we’re at 7-5. I would think that would be the prevailing thought right now.”

Florida State (19-7, 7-5) ranks a little bit behind Clemson and Georgia Tech in both RPI and strength of schedule. The Seminoles have two wins over Georgia Tech, as well as a victory over Virginia Tech at home. They have a difficult road ahead with home games against Clemson and Wake Forest. Beating either the Tigers or the Demon Deacons would be enough to earn a Tournament bid.  

“What we’ve tried to stay away from is looking too far down the road with our young and inexperienced team,” head coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We’re trying to make sure we stay focused on where we are and the areas we need to improve. And I think we have put ourselves in the best position come Tournament time to get as high a seed as we possibly can.”

Then, of course, there’s North Carolina. Clearly the Tar Heels are not in contention for an at-large bid, but a miracle run in the ACC Tournament would put them in the big dance. Considering the amount of talent the Tar Heels possess, it is not that crazy an idea. But if not, there’s always the NIT.


Share and discuss “Bubble teams galore in ACC” on social media.