To preview this weekend's ACC Men's Basketball Tournament, we play a game of Toss Up.
Toss Up - How Many ACC Tournament Wins Does BC Need for an NIT Berth - 1 or 2+?
Jeff: One win plus the RPI booster of playing Duke is plenty for BC to get into the NIT. Of course I haven't yet studied was exactly has happened throughout the land of mid-major conference tournaments because every time the regular season champ in one of those conferences fails to win their tournament and head to the NCAA tournament, it steals a spot from a team like Boston College in the NIT.
Brian: I'm going to have to go with two or more here. With an RPI currently in the 100s, while a second game against Duke will give BC a temporary boost, I don't think it will be enough to get the Eagles over the NIT bubble. The loss to N.C. State was really damning for BC because suddenly the Pack have won 3 of their last 4, won the only head-to-head meeting, have a better record overall and an RPI that's about even with ours. Based on the current ACC picture, our biggest competition will come from N.C. State, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia. UVA looks to be out but the other three - despite the head-to-head records against UNC and Miami - look to have a better shot at the NIT than we do right now. Two wins and we are a lock for the NIT. One and I think we are going to the CBI, being one of the first teams not selected by the NIT.
Toss Up - Better Chance of Pulling Off an ACC First Round Upset - #11 N.C. State or #12 Miami?
Brian: While Miami has lost 11 of their last 14, that's not to say that they haven't been competitive down the stretch. The Canes pushed a good Florida St. team to the limit in a 61-60 loss to end the season. The few wins they do have in the ACC have been to quality opponents, including Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest (they're first round opponent). However, while Miami has played teams tough, there's one fact I just can't overlook - 0-8 away from the BankUnited Center in ACC play. I can't in my right mind now believe that a team that went winless in the ACC away from home is suddenly going to upset Wake Forest on a pro-state of North Carolina, "neutral" court. N.C. State always seems to overachieve in the ACC Tournament, and if the Pack can win the battle of big men (Tracy Smith vs. Trevor Booker), I like N.C. State's chances to pull off the first round upset.
Jeff: I'm going to go with Miami here. I think picking N.C. State would really be giving them too much credit for their win on Sunday over BC. N.C. State did not look impressive for much of that game but hung around and played well down the stretch. Now that they're playing in a game that means something, I think Clemson will make quick work of them. Miami, meanwhile, has a tough matchup against Wake Forest but the Canes have been playing many teams tough recently even though they've still lost 3 games in a row. Kenpom agrees with me though and gives Miami a much more realistic shot.
Toss Up - Event More Likely to Occur - Duke Wins ACC Title or ACC Team Makes Final Four?
Jeff: Duke has a far easier road to winning the ACC than getting to the Final Four. En route to an ACC Championship, the Blue Devils would play only one ranked team in Maryland. To get to a Final Four, the Devils would have to play at least two and one of those two would probably be a top ten team. Also, playing in Greensboro is a much friendlier place to play for the Blue Devils than whatever arenas they might end up playing in during the NCAA Tournament.
Brian: I think you'll see Duke end up in the West Region, which may prove to be the easiest of the four paths to the Final Four. That being said, winning 3 games closer to home in Greensboro is much easier than winning 4 games, only two of which are likely to be close to home before the Blue Devils go off to their Regional semifinals site. I'll agree with you here. The ACC Tournament Title is slightly more likely, but in a season where anyone seeded 2-8 could make a run at the ACC Title, I do have my doubts. Especially with the way BC played Duke close over 40 minutes of basketball (a shame that those 40 minutes spanned two separate games!).
Toss Up - Who's your Champion? An ACC Atlantic team or an ACC Coastal team?
Brian: Ahh, splitting basketball up into the ACC's two divisions that don't make any sense. I've got to go with the Coastal Division here just to take Duke. Of their closest challengers, I don't see Duke getting tripped up by Maryland a second time, especially with the beatdown they put on the Terps in their first matchup at Cameron Indoor. Then if you look at what Duke did to the rest of the ACC Atlantic contenders - a 90-70 win over Wake Forest, two wins over Clemson by margins of 21 and 13, and a 70-56 win over Florida St. - I don't think you can go wrong with picking the Blue Devils. While taking the Atlantic would be the logical choice from an odds perspective, I feel strongly that this tournament is Duke's to lose. That's of course bad news for BC.
Jeff: I'll take the Atlantic Division here because that way I have BC for starters but then I also have Maryland, Clemson, Wake Forest and Florida State. Despite Virginia Tech being the #4 seed I give them no chance of winning the tournament, so the Atlantic Division covers every team aside from Duke that I think has a chance to cut down the nets on Sunday. North Carolina, Miami, Virginia and Georgia Tech have no chance to win four games in four days.
Last one, Toss Up - More points in the ACC Tournament - Joe Trapani or Reggie Jackson?
Jeff: Our favorite debate. Trapani has really been far more efficient lately and clearly the offensive scoring leader of the team down the stretch. I think this will continue in the ACC Tournament but I would not say that Joe will be MVP even though he might be the leading scorer. I say this because Jackson has been doing well at the point and has been improving his assist totals.
Brian: If things go well for the Eagles, this won't be a contest. Jackson will run the offense, rack up a ridiculous amount of assists, and get the ball to Trapani, Sanders and Raji. I'll say the leading scorers for BC go 1) Trapani 2) Sanders 3) Jackson, with Raji a close fourth. However, this prediction assumes that BC will get more than one game in the Tournament. With both Sylven Landesberg and Calvin Baker out of the lineup for UVA, the Cavs will have a guy typically coming off the bench guarding Jackson. I expect Reggie to be able to do some damage against the 'Hoos given their lack of depth at the guard spots.