March is here and the college basketball regular season has ended. Teams are vying for tournament seeding and tickets to the big dance. Conference tournaments signal the last chance for teams to make a final impression on the selection committee and earn some hardware in the process. The ACC will be at the forefront of conference tournament buzz, with Virginia, UNC, and Duke all vying for the title while teams like Virginia Tech and Florida State are hoping to spring some surprises.
Let’s take a look at the ACC Conference Tournament bracket and breakdown some potential matchups as well as key players to watch.
Looking at the bracket layout and how the ACC has been self-tiered this year, there should not be too many surprises this year. The semifinal games, though, could be a pair of classics. It feels reasonable to say that Virginia will handle either NC State or Clemson to reach the semifinal. North Carolina will likely play and beat Louisville to reach the semis. Duke is destined for a rubber match with Syracuse that would result in a Duke win. The big game will be a promising VaTech-FSU game. I think Buzz Williams’ squad will get revenge for their recent implosion and loss against FSU. That leads us to Virginia-Virginia Tech and UNC-Duke in the semifinals.
Virginia vs Virginia Tech in the first semifinal game is sure to be a promising matchup. The Hoos swept the regular season series and, in all likelihood, would complete the trifecta of wins. Virginia Tech is likely to be underhanded and remain without star Justin Robinson. While they have fought hard without him, Virginia’s quality would be too much to handle.
The second semifinal game would provide us with another entry in the historic Tobacco Road rivalry- this one taking place in Charlotte. Duke will be seeking revenge while North Carolina will look to three-peat over the Blue Devils. Zion Williamson would likely be present (finally) for this matchup, and the emotional charge of his return from injury in a heated game would give Duke a major leg up. A 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament could be on the line in this game. While North Carolina will be ready to stand their ground, the third time would most likely prove to be the charm for Duke.
After Duke avenges their season sweep, they face Virginia in the championship game who will be looking to avenge a sweep of their own. Duke won both games over Virginia this season, using an uncharacteristically great shooting night to defeat the Hoos in Charlottesville during their second matchup. Some would even say that performance was a fluke. Regardless, Virginia has not lost since that game on February 9th. In this matchup, their defense and pace will hold strong and Duke’s 3-point shooting will almost certainly be closer to their normal rocky shooting from deep. With the experience and quality held by Jerome, Guy, and Hunter, Virginia would get their own revenge and defeat Duke to win the ACC championship.
ACC Conference Tournament MVP prediction
After Virginia won the ACC Conference Tournament last season, this award was given to star scorer Kyle Guy. This time, the award would go to team leader and all-around talent Ty Jerome. Jerome’s steady hand, shooting, and defensive prowess will be the key factor in any success that Virginia is to have in this tournament. Jerome can impact the game in so many ways, on and off the box score, and his consistency will serve Virginia well in the back-to-back nature of the ACC Tournament.