There are two weeks left in the regular season of the ACC, and certain realities are coming into focus. The conference has a top tier, a second-levelof good but not great teams, and a lower section of mediocre to poor teams. Duke and North Carolina are about where everyone figured they would be at the start of the season. The fact that they have been joined by Florida State comes as a surprise, and it may be even more of a surprise that the Seminoles still hold the tiebreaker over both of the Tobacco Road bluebloods this late in the regular season. That distinction has the possibility to change on Thursday night, as the Blue Devils head down to Tallahassee for the rematch. You can bet that Duke would love nothing more than to avenge the defeat suffered at Cameron Indoor last month. Should the Seminoles get past that game, a Miami Hurricanes squad desperate for another big-time vicgtory will be waiting on Saturday.
The middle tier finds Virginia barely holding on, with North Carolina State and Miami desperate to break through. The Cavaliers started out strong, but have struggled lately, losing three of the last five. The Cavaliers hung on in Blacksburg last night, barely escaping Virginia Tech in a two point win. The Wolfpack and Hurricanes are trying to find to get enough meat on their respective resumes. The Wolfpack lost two chances for a signature win, losing from ahead to Duke and then being manhandled by the Seminoles in the Gugliotta-Corchiani game (no thanks to Karl Hess-that will be all just about everyone remembers about that game). The Wolfpack had another chance to get that big win to burnish the resume, but fell to North Carolina last night. It seems apparent that the Wolfpack will have to do some work in the ACC tournament and wait and see if that will be enough to get in the NCAA tournament. Miami does get a shot at the Seminoles on Saturday, in a game that feels a bit more like a must-win after last night’s loss to Maryland.
The remaining six teams in the conference are playing for pride, or the chance to keep their seasons going beyond the ACC tournament. Clemson and Maryland are the very definition of mediocre in conference. Maryland finally got a win over a team above them in the standings when it defeated Miami last night; and while Clemson has victories over Florida State (by 20 points) and Virginia, it also has a loss to Boston College. It would seem that tournament bids would be a long shot for both of them at this point. For Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, BC and Georgia Tech, there may not be enough games to string enough wins together to play beyond the conference tournament.