The ACC’s dominance of the current basketball landscape will be on full display in the Big Apple this week as the conference tournament makes its Barclays Center debut.
As many as 10 of the 15 ACC schools, all of which will play in at least one game during the five-day tournament that begins Tuesday, could be among the field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament. The tournament champion could find itself with one of the four No. 1 seeds for the Big Dance.
Here’s a look at the favorites to win the conference tournament and lock up the ACC’s automatic NCAA tourney bid in Saturday night’s final in Brooklyn.
The No. 6 team in the AP poll, the Tar Heels have the best chance at securing a top NCAA seed with a tournament win this weekend. Led by the ACC Player of the Year, junior Justin Jackson (18.3 ppg), the top seed went 14-4 in ACC play.
Sophomore Dwayne Bacon (16.9 ppg) and the Seminoles, No. 2 in the field, are unbeaten against their potential Thursday opener opponents: No. 7 Virginia Tech, No. 10 Wake Forest and No. 15 Boston College.
The No. 3 Fighting Irish saw their six-game win streak snapped Saturday but could still make waves. Behind junior Bonzie Colson (17 ppg, 10.4 rpg), this team could play its way to a top three NCAA seed with a few more wins.
The fourth-seeded Cardinals’ body of work, coupled with a potential conference tournament crown, could net them a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. But sophomore Donovan Mitchell (15.9 ppg) and crew may be forced to open against Duke on Thursday.
Unanimous All-ACC first-team sophomore Luke Kennard (20.1 ppg) and the Blue Devils look vulnerable after losing three of their last four. Still, there’s no counting out coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke, even if they are a No. 5 seed.
The Cavaliers salvaged a No. 6 seed this week with three straight wins after a four-game slide. Among the recent wins was a 53-43 upset of UNC last week. Senior London Perrantes (12.8) and Virginia typically keep the score low.