ACC Weekly Roundup - We Have a Champion

The Virginia Cavaliers are your 2013-14 ACC Regular Season Champions.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The conference was praised for it's strength of traditional powers—Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Pitt, etc.—before the season started, and everyone thought they would be the ones battling it out for the title.

Instead, UVA is celebrating their first title since 1981. Their 19-point blowout victory over Syracuse was amazing, but the ACC had a lot else in store for us this weekend, including several close games and a few almost upsets.

Let's get to it... J.R.'s excited.

1) #5 Virginia – 16-1 (25-5 overall)

Last Week: 65-40 win vs Miami, 75-56 win vs Cuse

Next Week: Mar. 9 @ MD

I just can't say enough about this team.

They execute at such a high rate offensively and almost always get the shot they want, and their defense is the best in the country, giving up less than 55 points a game.

They probably won't have a player on the All-ACC First Team, but all five guys they'll put on the floor have the ability to hurt you on any given night or any given possession. As a result, they've won thirteen games in a row, and might be the hottest team in the country right now.

I've been saying for weeks that the Cavs are a lock for the Sweet Sixteen, but they're starting to look like a Final Four contender. The only thing that could derail them would be a matchup with a team that also plays quality defense but has more firepower on offense, but that probably won't happen until late in the tournament.

Virginia's looking like a two-seed right now, and that's probably where they'll end up. There isn't much they can do to move up or down, unless they win the ACC Tournament as well and get some help.

2) #7 Syracuse – 13-3 (26-3 overall)

Last Week: 57-55 win @ MD, 75-56 loss @ UVA

Next Week: Mar. 4 vs GT, Mar. 9 @ FSU

Syracuse still looks good as far as the NCAA Tournament is concerned and is likely a two-seed, but they're slipping at the wrong time.

The Orange have lost three of their last four games, with that one win coming by two against Maryland. The good news is that they have two very winnable games where they have the chance to turn things around before tournament time.

They officially hit a low point in their season, however, in that second half against Virginia where they just got absolutely demolished.

In saying that, this team is too talented to not turn it around, but they're definitely not the Final Four team many thought they were a month ago. They don't have enough offensive firepower or the bench depth necessary to do so.

3) #4 Duke – 12-4 (23-6 overall)

Last Week: 66-48 win vs VT

Next Week: Mar. 5 @ Wake, Mar. 8 vs UNC

Duke got a blowout win over lowly Virginia Tech last week, but are in the middle of a week without a game that will allow them to get some rest after playing five games in 11 days.

Even after their win over Syracuse and in that Virginia Tech game, the Dukies haven't looked their sharpest and have gotten complacent offensively at times. Some of that may have been due to fatigue, so this week will tell us a lot about how the Devils may fare come tournament time.

4) #14 North Carolina – 12-4 (22-7 overall)

Last Week: 85-84 win @ NCSU, 60-56 win @ VT

Next Week: Mar. 3 vs ND, Mar. 8 @ Duke

The Tar Heels are on a hot streak—having won 11 games in a row—but struggled on the road last week even though they pulled out two wins. They really stole one at NC State, and just looked sloppy against the Hokies.

However, UNC has regained the form they had at the beginning of the season, and look like a threat to do some damage in the NCAA Tournament. How far they go will depend on how much help Marcus Paige gets on the offensive end, as he is still Carolina's one consistent threat to score points.

At this point, the Tar Heels have embraced who they are—a tough defensive team and an elite rebounding squad—and that's enough to keep them in pretty much every game they'll play.

5) Pittsburgh – 10-6 (22-7 overall)

Last Week: 66-59 win @ BC, 85-81 win @ ND

Next Week: Mar. 3 vs NCSU, Mar. 8 @ Clem

It's time we stopped thinking about Pitt like we usually do and see them for what they are—good enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but that's it. They're limping their way to finish line and will probably get a 10-seed or so, and will likely get trounced in the first round.

They had serious problems with a .500 Notre Dame squad and struggled to beat lowly Boston College, but that's how they've played for the past month. The Panthers are tough defensively, but just have no options offensively that they can rely on.

This week will be interesting because Pitt is perceived as being a slight bit above NC State and Clemson, both bubble teams, but it's not out of the question for them to lose both games. The Panthers need to win both to keep themselves from falling on the bubble.

6) Clemson – 9-7 (18-10 overall)

Last Week: 62-57 loss @ Wake, 77-73 win vs MD

Next Week: Mar. 4 vs Miami, Mar. 8 vs Pitt

Clemson really hurt themselves with their loss to Wake Forest, but kept their slim tournament hopes alive by beating Maryland in double-overtime.

The good news is the Tigers have their last two games at home, but the bad news is that no one other than K.J. McDaniels has stepped up at all this season. If they're going to do what they need to do to make the tournament, he's going to need some help from someone—anyone—else on their roster.

Well, what do they have to do to get in?

They need to win each of these last two games, which is very realistic, and then pull a major upset in the conference tournament. One more big win over a Duke, Syracuse, Virginia, or UNC will probably get the Tigers in, but they need to avoid any more bad losses.

7) Florida State – 8-8 (17-11 overall)

Last Week: 81-71 win vs GT

Next Week: Mar. 4 @ BC, Mar. 9 vs Cuse

Florida State, even with their struggles in the past month and a half, are listed as the first team out of the tournament according to ESPN's Joe Lunardi, meaning they'd be the next team in the tournament if someone falters.

So what do the Seminoles have to do to ensure their position in the big dance?

Avoid the bad loss—i.e. Boston College and the first game of the ACC Tournament—and get another big win.

They'll have a golden opportunity with a home game against Syracuse to close the regular season, and they'll have another chance at them if they reach the ACC quarterfinals, which they should.

FSU is bad news for Syracuse, too—a desperate team that plays almost as tough of defense as they do. And if the game is close at the end, who knows what could happen?

I'm not saying; I'm just saying.

8 ) NC State – 7-9 (17-12 overall)

Last Week: 85-84 loss vs UNC, 85-70 loss vs Miami

Next Week: Mar. 3 @ Pitt, Mar. 9 vs BC

NC State had a slight chance of making the tournament before the week started, but now the only way they're going to get in is if they win the ACC Tournament. They needed that win over UNC that was right in their hands before they let it slip away, and then just played uninspired against Miami.

They've now lost four of their last five games and are fading at the wrong time.

However, this week is still extremely crucial for teams in this area. Squads ranked 5-9 in the conference standings get a bye on the first day of the ACC Tournament and avoid having to win five games in five days to win the tournament.

If the Wolfpack can win one game this week, which they should be able to do against Boston College, they'll get that bye. But if they can't, they don't deserve it.

9) Maryland – 7-9 (15-14 overall)

Last Week: 57-55 loss vs Cuse, 77-73 loss @ Clem

Next Week: Mar. 4 vs VT, Mar. 9 vs UVA

Maryland's in the same boat as NC State. They're playing out the regular season to avoid dropping down and losing that first day bye in the conference tournament, and will have to win that tournament to make it to the NCAA's.

Also like the Wolfpack, they had a team (Syracuse) on the ropes early last week where a win would've really boosted their resume and probably put them in the tournament, but couldn't find a way to get over that hump. They did play well against Clemson, but just didn't have enough at the end.

They'll probably just have to win one game to keep their bye in the ACC Tournament, but a win over Virginia coupled with another win over a highly-ranked team in the ACC Tournament could put them on the bubble, but that's a stretch right now.

10) Miami – 6-10 (15-14 overall)

Last Week: 65-40 loss @ UVA, 85-70 win @ NCSU

Next Week: Mar. 4 @ Clem, Mar. 8 vs Wake

Miami has been playing better these last few weeks, winning three of their last four games and are pushing for a bye in the conference tournament. In order to do that, they'll have to win both games this week and get some help.

But the 'Canes are becoming a team that you don't want to play in the postseason. They play a slow, physical game and have a tough brand of defense, making teams really work to beat them. Eventually, their lack of talent will kill their season, but they'll win a game or two in the conference tournament.

11) Notre Dame – 6-11 (15-15 overall)

Last Week: 65-62 win vs GT, 85-81 loss vs Pitt

Next Week: Mar. 3 @ UNC

Notre Dame is similar to Miami. They've come on stronger of late to push for that conference tourney bye, but that overtime loss to Pitt will keep them from it.

They have a big game against UNC where a win will guarantee a non-losing season for the Irish, which will be impactful for future recruiting classes.

Other then that, Notre Dame doesn't really have anything to play for. They'll probably win a game in the ACC Tournament because they'll be matched up against Boston College, but that's it.

Unfortunately, the Irish were never able to reach their potential this year or recover from Jerian Grant's dismissal. He will be back next year, however, so we can probably just chalk this up as an experience year for head coach Mike Brey's younger players.

12) Wake Forest – 5-11 (15-14 overall)

Last Week: 62-57 win vs Clem, 80-72 loss vs BC

Next Week: Mar. 5 vs Duke, Mar. 8 @ Miami

Wake Forest rebounded from their 33-point thrashing at the hands of UNC with an upset over Clemson that essentially killed the Tigers' NCAA Tournament hopes, but followed that up with another surprising loss to Boston College.

That win did snap a seven game losing streak that took the Tigers from looking like a surprising tournament team back to the team we thought they'd be before the season started.

But there isn't any drama left in Wake's season. There's no real hope of a conference tournament run, and nothing to really play for in the regular season. The biggest news will be whether they bring back head coach Jeff Bzdelik or not—I say no, but we'll see.

13) Georgia Tech – 4-12 (13-16 overall)

Last Week: 65-62 loss @ ND, 81-71 loss @ FSU

Next Week: Mar. 4 @ Cuse, Mar. 8 vs VT

The Yellow Jackets are finishing the regular season with a thud, losing six of their last seven games. They have the potential to end their season on a positive note with Virginia Tech on the schedule, but that's all GT has to look forward to.

With three of their top five scorers leaving due to graduation, the future doesn't look bright for this once proud program. Their new arena is nice and should be a valuable recruiting tool, but I think the time has come for a new coach.

Brian Gregory just hasn't been able to get it done, and this isn't acceptable at Georgia Tech.

Yes, they're not a premier program, but the Yellow Jackets should be competing for NCAA Tournament bids every year, and this team has no where near the talent to get that done now or in the future.

14) Boston College – 4-12 (8-21 overall)

Last Week: 66-59 loss vs Pitt, 80-72 win @ Wake

Next Week: Mar. 4 vs FSU, Mar. 8 @ NCSU

Boston College got another win over Wake Forest, their second in two weeks after only having six beforehand. However, they probably won't get a chance to win again with two tough matchups this week, but you never know how motivated teams will be without much to play for in NC State's case.

The Eagles do have the ability pull an upset in the ACC Tournament if they get hot from three, but they don't have the talent to maintain the high level of play they'd need to do it more than once.

BC fans have a long offseason to look forward to, which could become longer if Olivier Hanlan decides to go pro. I don't think he will because he'd be a second-rounder at best, but Hanlan in most definitely going to be in the NBA after his BC career is over and I wonder if he's just had enough of losing.

15) Virginia Tech – 2-14 (9-19 overall)

Last Week: 66-48 loss @ Duke, 60-56 loss vs UNC

Next Week: Mar. 4 @ MD, Mar. 8 @ GT

Tech got blown out in Cameron Indoor, but followed that up with a valiant effort against UNC on senior night. But with their last two games on the road, and only one road victory on the year, it seems highly unlikely that the Hokies will win another game and get to double-digit wins.

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