Battle For ACC Seeding

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Battle For ACC Seeding

Tonight's game between Clemson and NC State is not a marque game in the ACC but it is a crucial one in terms of ACC seedings and byes.

The ACC has 15 teams this year and all 15 make it to the tournament, but the difficulty of the tournament can be determined with the seeds.  The format is different this year and similar to what the Big East used for a few years.

Here is what it looks like:

The first four seeds get byes in the first and second rounds.  That's right, two byes.  Teams seeded five-nine get a bye into the second round while the bottom six teams have to play in the first round.  Therefore, if you finish 10th through 15th you would have to win five games in five days in order to cut down the nets.

With three weeks left in the regular season, the top and bottom of the league looks pretty set.  Syracuse is 12-0 and Virginia is 12-1.  Both look set for two byes.  They are playing for a higher seed in the NCAA tournament at this point.

Duke is playing well and at 9-3 appears to have a good chance at two byes.  The battle between Pittsburgh and North Carolina for the fourth spot got interesting this weekend.  The Tar Heels are 8-4 but have two games left with Duke.  Pitt fell to 8-5 and will fight the Heels for the final spot that gets two byes.  The loser in that race could finish fifth.

Coming into tonight's game Clemson and NC State are tied for sixth in the conference with a 6-6 mark.  They are a half-game ahead of Maryland who is 6-7 and a full game over FSU who is now 6-8.

At this point those teams have an inside track on getting one bye over Notre Dame who is 5-8, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech who are 4-8, Miami at 3-9 and Virginia Tech and Boston College who are now 2-10.

In the race in the middle of the league between Clemson, NC State, Florida State and Maryland several key games will determine the seeds.

Here is a look at each team's remaining schedule:

Clemson- NC State, @Georgia Tech, @ Wake Forest, Maryland, Miami, Pittsburgh

NC State-@Clemson, @Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Miami, @Pittsburgh, Boston College

Florida State-@Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, @Boston College, Syracuse

Maryland-Wake Forest, Syracuse, @Clemson, Virginia Tech, Virginia

In my opinion, Clemson has a favorable schedule coming down the stretch.  The Tigers get four of their last six in Littlejohn.  Clemson does not have any remaining games against the league's top four teams, plus the two road games are against teams who are 8-16 in the league.  Clemson faces only one team in the final six games that current have a winning record in the league.  The conference record of the teams left on Clemson's schedule is 31-43.  Clemson and FSU split their regular season games but Clemson gets NC State and Maryland coming up in Littlejohn.

NC State has three home games and three road games, plus two games left against teams with winning records in the conference.  Teams left on their schedule have gone 28-44 in the conference but again, State has to come to Littlejohn.

After last night's game with North Carolina, Florida State has only four conference games remaining but two are against top five teams in the league.  The Noles go to Pittsburgh and host top ranked Syracuse.  Teams remaining on the Seminole schedule have a 26-23 ACC record.

Maryland may have the most difficult road ahead.  The Terps get Syracuse and Virginia, so Maryland is the only school in the running for a middle seed to play both of the top teams in the league.   Like NC State, Maryland also has to come to Littlejohn.  The teams left on Maryland's schedule are 34-25 in the conference.

Every game is crucial in these last three weeks, but the home games with State and Maryland may end up being big in terms of tie-breakers for ACC seeds.

Maybe if the Tigers play well coming down the stretch we can look forward to the Clemson and Pittsburgh game in season finale really meaning the fifth seed.

The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency

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