Five ACC teams are nearly guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
Let’s take a look at the teams that are probably in and the two that must continue to win to have a chance at playing beyond next week’s conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
Duke (25-5, 12-3) had an eight-game winning streak snapped by Maryland on Wednesday, but the Blue Devils are in a position to still win the ACC regular-season title and gain the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament. Even if the Blue Devils finish tied for first with Maryland, they’ll hold the top spot for the tournament based on the league’s tiebreaker.
Thanks to guard Greivis Vasquez, who likely will be the ACC's player of the year, Maryland (22-7, 12-3) can win the ACC if the Terrapins defeat Virginia onSaturday and Duke loses to North Carolina. Maryland was 15-1 at home this year and has won six consecutive games.
Virginia Tech (22-7, 9-6) has struggled, losing three of its past four after a five-game winning streak, but the Hokies are poised for an NCAA tournament berth based on their nine conference victories. They were No. 52 in RPI before their win over N.C. State, which could hurt them come Selection Sunday.
Clemson's victories over Florida State and Georgia Tech, part of six wins in eight games, have helped the Tigers (21-8, 9-6) immensely. They lost three straight in late January but have rebounded strongly behind the play of Trevor Booker. They finish at Wake Forest on Sunday.
Florida State (21-8, 9-6) doesn’t have many pretty wins, and it doesn't play particularly well at home, but that’s OK with the Seminoles. Their victory over Wake Forest helped their resume, and they can add to that with a win Saturday at Miami. Their RPI was No. 42 heading into this week.
Wake Forest has self-destructed. The Demon Deacons (18-9, 8-7) looked to be in excellent shape with a four-game winning streak in early February, but they’ve lost four in a row and finish by hosting Clemson on Saturday. Again, their high RPI (No. 34) could help, but a strong showing in the ACC tournament would impress the selection committee.
RPI could also help Georgia Tech (19-10, 7-8). The Yellow Jackets, who host Virginia Tech on Saturday, had one of the ACC’s strongest RPIs at No. 21 before their loss to Clemson. But the Jackets are 3-9 on the road and haven’t won two in a row since beating Wake Forest and Kentucky State in late January.
Still playing well
Even though Wake Forest has struggled, Al-Farouq Aminu, who played at Norcross, is going strong. He's had 10 or more rebounds in 19 of the Deacons' 27 games and leads the ACC in rebounding (10.7) and double-doubles (17). Aminu also leads Wake Forest with 15.8 points a game.
On the ball
Duke's Jon Scheyer surpassed 1,900 career points and 400 assists with his 19-point, two-assist performance in a loss to Maryland. Scheyer has 1,914 points and 401 assists. Scheyer also has made at least one 3-pointer in 23 consecutive games.
North Carolina became the second team in NCAA history to win 2,000 games when the Tar Heels defeated Miami 69-62 on Tuesday. North Carolina joined Kentucky as the only programs to reach the milestone.
Miami's Durand Scott scored 29 points against North Carolina, the second-best output for an ACC freshman this year. He became the second freshman in school history with 100 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in a season.
If you want a warm-up before the ACC tournament begins on Thursday, check out North Carolina's visit to Duke at 9 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2). The tournament begins at noon Thursday, with games being televised on Raycom, ESPN and ESPN2.
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