If the ACC were an artist's canvas, the season would've started easy enough. It would've been an Bob Ross work, with some happy little trees. Slip ups and losses wouldn't have been mistakes, just happy accidents on the road to the ACC Tournament in Durham, North Carolina. Everything, at least in the eyes of the beginning of the season, have a way of evening out, especially in a sport notorious for its numbers like baseball.
Well the last weekend of the regular season is here, and the canvas didn't turn into a great mountain view or beach scene. It ended with the paint cans getting thrown around in a fit of rage and anger, as if poor Bob just flat out snapped and went ham. In the place of a soft soundtrack is a thrash metal band, and there's flat out carnage left in its wake.
In a season where nothing is as it seems, the teams once again shifted. As expected for Boston College, not playing games during their exam break cost them, especially when Duke decided to throw some blue paint into the mix by taking two out of three against Florida State.
The trickle-down effect was huge. The Atlantic Division is going to finish this year as the stronger of the two divisions in conference play, meaning the tiebreaker scenarios requiring divisional breakdowns will trend to those seven teams first. When FSU lost two out of three to Duke, Louisville snuck into the driver's seat in the Atlantic. That means potential three-team tiebreakers would trend to the Cardinals before the Seminoles or even Miami.
Pretty much every seed is wide open still, save for last place (clinched by Virginia Tech), and the bubble is still pretty huge. Georgia Tech, a team that started Monday in eighth place, could easily finish outside of the running, while North Carolina, a team that was considered a lock to make the tournament because of their non-conference resume, could finish 13th.
Here's how things are shaping up. Clemson holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Wake Forest, so they take the sixth slot over the Deacs. UNC also holds the head-to-head over Duke, so they went essentially from 12th to ninth with their win on Monday over Notre Dame.
As for the Fighting Irish, a loss to the Tar Heels meant they fell outside of the race. Tied with Boston College, the Irish have the head-to-head tiebreaker over BC, meaning the Eagles fall back to 12th spot.
Then there's Pittsburgh. The Panthers have head-to-head tiebreakers over BC and Notre Dame while playing Duke this weekend. Despite being in 13th place, they have an open door with a good weekend to one of the final two slots in the tournament.
As for Georgia Tech, they can't be too careful either. The Ramblin' Wreck split with Pittsburgh and lost to Duke, so while they have a head-to-head over Notre Dame, this weekend will go a long way to ensuring their safety as well.
Depending on how the weekends shake down, Pittsburgh could still finish ahead of Clemson, although not in their current positions. That shows just how volatile this weekend is going to be and how three nights are going to go a tremendously long way to determining who is in, who is out, and what happens in between. It also shows just how razor thin the margin for error is going to become.
As the teams depart for their destinations for series going from Thursday through to Saturday, here's what the ACC standings look like. This is just a sampler as to where we'll begin the week, since we'll bring it back together later in the week to show you what each team's scenario looks like by winning percentage so fans can see where their team might actually finish. We'll also list out opponents:
|vs. Virginia Tech
|@ Notre Dame
|@ NC State
|@ Ga. Tech