It is hard to believe that we are less than a month away from one of my favorite weeks of the year, Championship Week. As the ACC continues to march toward March, six teams will likely battle for the top four spots and the all-important bye on Thursday. Click through for the road each team will have to travel to get that extra day of rest.
Atlantic Coast Conference Standings
(updated 2.15.2009 at 5:10 AM EST)
|North Carolina Tar Heels||8||2||22||2|
|Duke Blue Devils||7||3||20||4|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||6||4||19||4|
|Florida St. Seminoles||6||4||19||6|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||6||4||16||8|
|Boston College Eagles||6||5||18||8|
|N.C. State Wolfpack||4||6||14||9|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||1||10||10||14|
*** Standings do not reflect Clemson's loss to UVA today.
As I see it now UNC, Duke, Clemson, Wake, FSU, and VT will be the teams fighting for the top four spots. It is somewhat surprising that Miami is not in the picture currently, as they will likely have to beat Carolina tonight to even be in the discussion. 7 conference losses are hard to overcome, but they definitely will be a dangerous team in Atlanta.
I decided to break down the schedules of the six teams I listed except for UNC because I just do not see any way they could possibly slip to 5th by the end of the season.
@ St. John's
The first thing that jumps out at me after looking at Duke's schedule is the number of road games remaining. Only 2 out of the final 7 are at Cameron and those are against quality opponents - Wake and FSU. I see Duke dropping 2 more in the regular season, with one certainly being Hansbrough's senior night at UNC. They will almost certainly grab the 2 or 3 seed in the tourney.
The Tigers just dropped a huge game at Virginia, helping out the Deacs considerably. Clemson has a pretty favorable schedule this season, only playing Duke, UNC, and Miami once. While the ACC is unpredictable as we have seen thus far, the games against VT, FSU, and Wake will determine Clemson's tournament fate. The showdown in Winston on the final night of the regular season could have major seeding implications.
Wake has the most favorable schedule of the teams discussed in this piece, with Duke and Clemson being the only two games against teams over .500 in the ACC. However, as we have seen this may not be a good thing for the Deacs. Hopefully Wake will show up with the same enthusiasm in the remaining games as they did against FSU yesterday. Again, the final game could be enormous.
Very tough remaining schedule for the Noles, with all but one of their remaining games against teams over .500 in conference (and that is a tough one against the U). If they come out of this schedule in the top 4, they will definitely deserve the rest on Thursday. I just do not see that happening though.
Murderer's row. After the game at UVA, who teams cannot sleep on as we saw today, VT's schedule is as tough as it gets. Unless there are a lot of losses by the previously mentioned teams, VT will be playing on Thursday.
After reviewing these schedules, it seems very possible that the top four teams will be UNC, Duke, Wake and Clemson. After today's loss to UVA, the battle for third between Clemson and Wake will be tight. As a Wake fan with black and gold glasses on, here's how I think the bye situation will shake out:
Hopefully this will strike up a nice conversation. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!