Photo courtesy of Boston College athletics
The tradition echoes through the hallowed halls of the Greensboro Coliseum.
A place that lives and breathes the ACC and ACC basketball will be in the spotlight once again for this week’s big event.
“Jimmy V’s Last Miracle” in 1987 where NC State upset North Carolina for the ACC title still surrounds the building. Randolph Childress’ 10-foot jumper to also defeat the Tar Heels in the 1995 ACC Championship that gave Wake Forest its first league crown since 1962 still echoes. Duke’s run of 10 ACC titles in 13 tries still leaves an imprint on the historic athletic complex.
All of those moments are what has made Greensboro and the ACC Tournament as magical as it is today. It’s a bucket list item for any sports fan, no matter what sport. After all, it is the best conference historically in college basketball.
It’s now time for a new chapter to be written though in the league’s pertinent history with the 2021 ACC Tournament tipping off on Tuesday on the ACC Network.
The first round is getting ready to start, so we got your picks, previews, and everything you need to know about today’s Tuesday action from the Greensboro Coliseum.
Game 1: No. 13 Miami vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh (2 p.m. ET/ACC Network)
This is a weird, weird game to start off this tournament.
The injury-plagued Hurricanes have had an extremely disappointing year under 10th-year head coach Jim Larranaga. That’s partly because of the absence of star point guard Chris Lykes for the majority of the season.
Lykes only played in two games before being finally ruled out for the season in late February due to an ankle sprain. Guards Kameron McGusty and Elijah Olaniyi also missed some time as well.
Third-team All-ACC pick Isaiah Wong has really had a stellar season in Lykes’ place. The sophomore from New Jersey has averaged 17.1 points per game this past year down in Coral Gables, and has really carried the ‘Canes on his back throughout the season.
For the Pitt Panthers, it was a decent year, but they’ve run out of steam.
Jeff Capel lost two starters to the transfer portal late in the season in Au’Diese Toney and Xavier Johnson, and that’s really stung.
Pittsburgh has lost six of its final seven, with the only win coming over another bottom-feeder in Wake Forest.
The Panthers still have ACC Player of the Year runner-up Justin Champagnie, and Pitt did win the regular season meeting. But its season seems too much in a free-fall to pull this one out. Miami has played in a lot of close ones, and that’s another reason to go with the ‘Canes in this one.
Clemson awaits the winner.
Prediction: Miami 73, Pittsburgh 72
Game 2: No. 15 Boston College vs. No. 10 Duke (4:30 p.m. ET/ACC Network)
It’s been a rocky season for both of these programs. But as bad as it’s been for the Boston College Eagles, nothing is more disappointing than Duke finishing .500 during the regular season.
The Blue Devils are poised to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995, and barring an unpredictable ACC title, they’ll do just that. That same year was also the last time Duke played in the first round of the tournament, although it has never played on a Tuesday in the ACC Tournament in program history.
The Blue Devils still have playmakers though. Matthew Hurt leads the team in both points and rebounds per game (18.7 and 6.2 respetively) and he’s still one of the more dangerous threats from beyond the arc in the ACC. DJ Steward and Wendell Moore Jr. also compliment Hurt well in both the front and backcourt for the Blue Devils.
The Eagles have also had quite the disappointing season, with lots of weird twists as well.
Multiple COVID-19 pauses, an uncommon coaching change, and a lot of losing did not mesh well for Boston College. The Eagles end up with the No. 15 seed in Greensboro.
Wynston Tabbs may be headed to East Carolina, but Jay Heath is a solid scoring threat up top for the Eagles, averaging 15.1 points per game. They fell to Duke in the final seconds in Durham earlier this season, so the revenge factor will be there.
All and all, Duke is just lucky to be playing Boston College. That’s the reason it’ll win, as the worst Blue Devil team in recent memory will extend its season one more day.
The Louisville Cardinals are on deck for the victor.
Prediction: Duke 83, Boston College 69
Game 3: No. 14 Wake Forest vs. No. 11 Notre Dame (7 p.m. ET/ACC Network)
These are two more teams trending in the wrong direction. Let’s start with Wake Forest; it has hit a brick wall.
The Demon Deacons are young, and it’s showing.
They don’t really have that x-factor type player, as East Tennessee State transfer Daivien Williamson, who averages 12.5 points per game, tops the leaderboard in points scored for Wake Forest. Ian DuBose and Isaiah Mucius also are guys who average in double figures for the Deacs, but they’ve shown vast inconsistency throughout the season.
Notre Dame briefly looked like it could make a run, especially after a beatdown of Wake Forest. Dropping four of their last five really put an end to that brief threat from Mike Brey’s Fighting Irish.
They do come off an 83-73 upset of Florida State though, denying the Seminoles an ACC regular season crown, so they’re a team in Greensboro that can maybe make some noise for a couple of days.
Notre Dame also has a strong core of Prentiss Hubb, Nate Laszewski, Dane Goodwin, and Juwan Durham. There’s some solid names to keep an eye on.
Steve Forbes will do well down there in Winston-Salem, but it’s too early in his tenure to pick up a win in the ACC Tournament.
North Carolina readies for the winner.
Prediction: Notre Dame 73, Wake Forest 58