- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2012

ACC TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

THE STAR

F Mike Scott, Virginia. He was the conference player of the year, but there’s no question how much the fifth-year senior means to the injury-riddled Cavaliers. He scored at least 20 points in four of Virginia’s last five games, including 35 Sunday at Maryland to secure a win that likely locked up the Hoos’ first NCAA berth since 2007.

THE FAVORITE

North Carolina. The Tar Heels are the top seed, have the ACC player of the year (Tyler Zeller) on their side and arguably enjoy the services of the best point guard in the country (Kendall Marshall). They’re not blessed with depth, but the starting five is more than enough when playing at its best.

THE SLEEPER

N.C. State. It seems an odd choice since the Wolfpack doesn’t own a top-50 victory, but consider that Mark Gottfried’s team faces rebuilding Boston College and, if it advances, depleted Virginia. If N.C. State happened to catch North Carolina on a day of disinterest, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the Wolfpack in the ACC final.

LOCAL LOOK

Maryland dropped its final three games to fall to the No. 8 seed, its lowest placement in the ACC tournament since it was the No. 8 in 2005. … Virginia needs only one win to end an absurd drought; the Cavaliers last played in the ACC semifinals in 1995. … At 15-16, Virginia Tech is in danger of suffering its first losing season since 2005-06.

THE PICK

Duke. This got a bit tougher than expected with forward Ryan Kelly out for the weekend. But as ex-Virginia coach Pete Gillen once said, Duke is Duke. The Blue Devils have won this event three straight years and 10 of the last 13. Given the priority in Durham placed on cutting down the conference nets, it would be no surprise if Duke does so again.

SCHEDULE (All games at Philips Arena, Atlanta)

First round, Thursday

No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 Wake Forest, noon

No. 5 N.C. State vs. No. 12 Boston College, 2:30

Story Continues →