Virginia is the No. 4 seed and could use a good showing in Greensboro to help bolster its NCAA tournament chances, while North Carolina State is seeded fifth entering the season as the league favorite for the first time in nearly four decades.
The Wolfpack started 3-0 in ACC play but played inconsistently all year and blew a chance to secure a first-round bye by losing at Florida State last weekend. N.C. State faces 12th-seeded Virginia Tech and ACC player of the year Erick Green — the nation’s leading scorer at 25.4 points per game — in Thursday’s first round.
“It’s crunch time,” Wolfpack senior Scott Wood said, “If we’re not ready to play now, we’re not working hard enough.”
Among the lower seeds, the reigning champion and sixth-seeded Seminoles face No. 11 seed Clemson, while seventh-seeded Maryland faces No. 10 seed Wake Forest on Thursday.
If the season’s scores are any indication, it should be a competitive tournament.
For the second straight year, the ACC had 40 league matchups decided by five or fewer points, according to STATS LLC. That number is higher than any total from the previous 10 seasons.
“I do think it’s open,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “You look at the top four or five seeds, are they clearly better than the rest of us? Maybe not, but they have the talent and the upperclassmen to get it done here this weekend.”