NCAA Conference Tournament Preview: ACC

Place: Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Format: 15 teams, top four teams start in the quarterfinals, bottom six teams play in first round

Top Seed: North Carolina Tar Heels – This year’s version of the ACC has been called one of the deepest conferences in college basketball history. The conference may get 11 teams into the NCAA tournament, although some things are going to have to break right for that to happen. North Carolina has outlasted the field and last year’s national runner up is looking to win the ACC tournament for the second straight season. Junior Justin Jackson has developed into a nice scorer with 18.3 points. The team continues to boast plenty of size with Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. Point guard Joel Berry averaged 15.1 points and 3.7 assists, but only provided 11.3 points in the six Tar Heel losses.

Dark Horse: Virginia Cavaliers – The Cavaliers fell precipitously in the ACC standigns with a four-game losing streak, including a 24-point loss to North Carolina. They bounced back to close the season with three straight wins, including a Feb. 27 win over the Tar Heels. Coach Tony Bennett’s team was able to make the finals last year before falling to UNC. This year the path includes a game against either Georgia Tech or Pittsburgh, followed by a potential meeting with Notre Dame. As always, the Cavaliers will slow the pace and try to win with defense and timely shooting. Guard London Perrantes is the only UVA player averaging better than 8.7 points. The team does not boast stars, but will be a tough out.

Player to Watch: John Collins, forward, Wake Forest Demon Deacons – While most eyes will be on Duke guard Grayson Allen and his sourpuss, the conference is stocked with excellent players. The Demon Deacons are the 10-seed and need some quality wins to boost their NCAA tournament resume. Collins has closed the regular season with double-doubles in seven of his last nine games and Wake Forest won six games in that span. They beat Louisville on Mar. 1 behind 25 points and 11 boards from Collins. Before being held to 13 points in the win over Virginia Tech on Saturday, the 6-10 sophomore had scored at least 20 points in 11 straight games.

Click here for Perry’s full breakdown of ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, SEC & Pac-12 conference tournaments.