The annual Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament will get underway Thursday afternoon when the No. 8 seed University of Virginia Cavaliers face the No. 9 seed Miami (FL) Hurricanes. Each team finished under the .500 in the conference and fighting for the right to face the No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels.

Thursday will have three more games featuring No. 5 Boston College against No. 12 Wake Forest, No. 6 Virginia Tech against No. 11 Georgia Tech and the hometown No. 7 Maryland Terrapins against the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Let’s take a minute to focus on Maryland’s chances. The Terps were largely a disappointment after last season’s co-championship team. However, at the beginning of the season, they were picked to finish sixth in the ACC. A seventh place finish isn’t a bad place for a young team, but a 7-9 conference record and a late-season swoon doesn’t look good to the selection committee.

The Terps have a good chance of advancing to round two in the conference tournament because the Wolfpack isn’t a very good team. However, they may have trouble getting beyond round two. In the second round, Maryland will have to face the No. 2 seed Duke Blue Devils, a team that swept them this season.

Beyond the second round, if every team holds serve, they will face No. 3 seed Florida State in the semifinals and then the top-seeded Tar Heels. Maryland, just like any ACC team, has a chance to win the conference tournament, but it’s unlikely with the road I just laid out.

A more realistic view of this tournament is to go with the favorites. The ACC was really down this year and the Tar Heels and Blue Devils were clearly the best two teams all season long. We’ll more than likely see Duke-North Carolina III Sunday afternoon.

Florida State has an excellent chance because they play great defense. The Seminoles are without Chris Singleton, though, and that has proven to hurt them down the stretch.

No matter how you add it up, it appears we’ll be seeing the clash of the blues for a third time with the Tar Heels, in my opinion, winning again.