ACC Hoops Notebook: ACC Tournament Hits Brooklyn


Selection Sunday is on the horizon, and in ACC Country March Madness begins with the conference tournament that started it all. As teams have just a few more days to  jockey for favorable seeds or one of the last spots on the bubble, we’ll take a look at the most interesting and important happenings around the league that made college hoops a national phenomenon.

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND: Holding the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn is a divisive issue. There are plenty, especially on Tobacco Road, who believe the tourney should never leave Greensboro, N.C. Others think a rotation that includes Greensboro and Charlotte with a little Atlanta and Washington DC mixed in would be fine. 

Still others are of the opinion that the exposure in New York is well worth making a few more fans travel. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim falls into the final category. He’s made it clear he’s not a fan of the event in Greensboro, and the ACC Tournament has not be kind to the Orange, who entered the 2018 event having never won a game.

But hey, this is already shaping up to be the best ACC Tournament for Syracuse. Boeheim doesn’t have to complain about a perceived lack of good restaurant options and his team actually gets to stay for more than one day after taking out Wake Forest in the opening round. 

Of course, the fact the Orange were playing on Tuesday wasn’t a great sign for the state of the program that has once again found itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Beating a Wake team with a losing record doesn’t do much to enhance the resume and  Syracuse likely entered Wednesday needing to beat defending NCAA champion North Carolina to get into the field of 68.

“We just are going to keep playing,” Boeheim said Tuesday when asked about the NCAA Tournament. “We had a great strength of schedule this year, much better than last year. We didn’t win on the road last year; we won on the road this year. So we’ve done some good things. There’s a lot of teams that look good. It’s just one of those things that’s going to be tough decisions. The committee is just going to — they’re going to make whatever decision they make, and we’re just going to try to play the best we can. And I think we’ve got a good basketball team, and I think we can compete, and we’ve proven that we can compete with anybody.”

That might all be true, but for a program that has multiple Final Fours to hang its hat on, Cuse finds itself in this position far too often. 

INJURIES MOUNTING?: With the exception of Senior Day at John Paul Jones Arena, top-ranked Virginia has used the same starting lineup every game this season and has managed to stay pretty healthy, unlike last season when injuries and illnesses piled up at the end of the year.

Nobody has missed a game because of injury this season for the Cavaliers, but some minor ailments seem to be piling up and it’s not clear just how much any of them could threaten a program trying to make the Final Four for the first time since 1984.

Kyle Guy sprained his left MCL Saturday against Notre Dame and though he said it “hurt like hell,” he plans to play in a brace Thursday. That’s the biggest concern for the Cavaliers, but De’Andre Hunter continues to play with a wrap on his right hand and Ty Jerome has also had issues with his thumb on and off this season. 

It’s all relatively minor, but one could argue those are Virginia’s three most important players heading into the postseason and as people ponder their brackets looking for any edge to win their pool, Guy’s sprain in particular might be something to consider. 

GOING TO CAROLINA: Duke and UNC have something to play for this week beyond the ACC Tournament title. With Virginia more or less locking up the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Cavaliers are heading to Charlotte for the first and second rounds. 

That really only leaves room for one of the Blue Devils or Tar Heels to also open NCAA play in the Queen City and with both sitting as No. 2 seeds on Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology, it’s quite possible the team that has the best showing in the ACC Tournament is the one that gets to stay close to home. 

It could be particularly huge for UNC. Duke is a national brand to be sure, but the Tar Heels have a much bigger fanbase in the Carolinas and in Charlotte in particular. Virginia fans have been buying up tickets for Charlotte for weeks now, but plenty of UNC fans made plans as soon as Charlotte was announced as a tournament site. The home court advantage for the Tar Heels would be immense. 

But as of Wednesday morning, Lunardi had North Carolina opening up the NCAA Tournament in Nashville. That wouldn’t be the end of the word for Roy’s boys, but staying in-state would be quite a reward for a potential ACC tourney title. 

Shane Mettlen is a veteran journalist who lives in Virginia and also writes for The ACC Sports Journal. Follow him on Twitter @ShaneMettlen.