ACC teams are jockeying for NCAA Tournament positioning, as only two weeks remain in the regular season.
Miami and Duke will make the field, and its probable that North Carolina and N.C. State will as well. Virginia is an NCAA team if the eye test and recent results matter, but the Cavaliers still have work to do. Maryland and even Florida State arent out of the running, but have a great deal of work to do.
Here is a look at what each of those ACC teams must do to best situate themselves with the NCAA Selection Committee:
Miami (22-4, 13-1 ACC, RPI No. 2)
The Hurricanes are obviously in, but what seed will they get? It ranges from a 4 to a 1, depending on how they close and how much weight the selection committee puts on the November loss to Florida Gulf Coast, which has been in the top-100 of the RPI for much of the season and right now is at No. 109. Miami has a very strong resume, with a 13-2 mark against teams ranked in the top-100 of the RPI. They are 6-1 vs. the top-50, including 5-0 against the top-25. Miami also played four true road games outside of ACC play while Duke played none.
Must do: Too many in the media are fixated on the FGC game (and its name, not its RPI) and the name on Miamis jersey, but their resume stacks up with just about anyone. But they must get out of their current funk and close strong with home games left against No. 171 Virginia Tech, No. 140 Georgia Tech and No. 148 Clemson and a lone road date at No. 1 Duke this coming weekend. If the Hurricanes win out, they deserve a No. 1 seed.
Duke (24-3, 11-3, RPI No. 1)
If Ryan Kelly comes back and proves hes returning to his pre-injury form, Dukes entire resume must be weighed, and consideration for how they played without him must be given. However, if Kelly is clearly not his old self, the committee needs to weigh Dukes games without him more heavily than the wonderful resume that was built before he went down. Overall, Duke is 12-3 against the top-100 (4-3 without Kelly), including 8-2 against the top-50 (2-2 without Kelly) and 5-2 vs. the top-25 (2-2 without Kelly).
Must do: For the same reason Miamis jersey is adversely affecting how the talking heads are evaluating its resume, Duke gets an edge. Kelly was arguably Dukes second-best player, and the Blue Devils havent been the team they were before he was injured. Duke has a huge week with a game at No. 73 Virginia and at home vs. No. 2 Miami, then its hosts No. 171 Virginia Tech before closing the regular season at No. 22 UNC. Duke needs to win out, which may secure a No. 1 seed.
North Carolina (19-8, 9-5, RPI No. 22)
Roy Williams team is playing pretty well right now but still has work to do to ensure an invitation. UNC is 2-5 vs. the top-25, 2-6 against the top-50 and 6-7 vs. the top-100. The Tar Heels would love for No. 115 Long Beach State to get hot and back into the top-100. It helps, however, that North Carolina has won nine of its last 12 games and at least went out and played a tough road schedule, which included games at Texas (nobody knew theyd struggle), Long Beach State and Indiana.
Must do: With trips to No. 148 Clemson, No. 65 Maryland and home games with No. 79 Florida State and No. 1 Duke remaining, not only can UNC rack up some more wins, but get Ws that should enhance its RPI and seed. Now going with a smallish lineup, UNC also has the makeup of a team that can make a serious push in the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels can still get a pretty good seed.
Virginia (19-8, 9-5, RPI, No. 73)
What Virginia has working against its NCAA hopes has been well documented. The loss to RPI No. 325 Old Dominion is a killer, but losing to No. 141 George Mason and No. 144 Delaware doesnt help, either. But those games were in November (ODU was in December), and the Cavaliers are a healthy team now and playing much, much better. Virginia is 3-2 against the top-25 of the RPI and 6-2 against the top-100, which should balance out the bad losses. The win at No. 25 Wisconsin should help a lot, and No. 57 Tennessee winning more also helps the Wahoos.
Must do: Thursday night is the opportunity that can erase the ODU loss, as No. 1 Duke visits John Paul Jones Arena. Road games at No. 136 Boston College and No. 79 Florida State cant be overlooked and are must-wins, especially if the Wahoos lose to Duke. Closing at home with No. 65 Maryland is another must-win, and if Virginia can win out, which is possible, its RPI should soar.
N.C. State (19-8, 8-6, RPI, No. 24)
The Wolfpack are likely in the field, though they have work to do. Their seed, however, could be much lower than its fans expected when the season began. However, a fairly easy slate to close things out might give the Wolfpack a boost. N.C. State is 2-4 against the top-25 of the RPI, which is not bad, and 3-5 overall against the top-50, which is not good. They are 6-7 vs. the top-100, which means they need to close strong to avoid the dreaded 8-9 game with a higher seed. Beating Duke, UNC and UConn helps.
Must do: The Wolfpack still visit No. 140 Georgia Tech and No. 79 Florida State, and must win at least one of those games. They welcome Boston College and Wake Forest and simply cant afford to lose either. The slate affords N.C. State a chance to get hot leading to the ACC Tournament and help raise its seed.
Maryland (19-8, 7-7, RPI No. 65)
The Terrapins are 2-3 against the top-25 of the RPI, which compares favorably against many of the other teams vying for one of the final at-large spots. They are 2-4 vs. the top-50 and are 3-7 against the top-100, which doesnt help their chances. They have beaten Duke and N.C. State their students stormed the court both times but have work to do. How many programs have had the court stormed twice in a season and NOT made the NCAAs?
Must do: The best non-conference win is over No. 79 Stony Brook, so the Terps must beat UNC when the Tar Heels visit and it would serve them well to win at both No. 140 Georgia Tech and No. 146 Wake Forest, which has been tough at home. The finale is at No. 73 Virginia, so to get in without having to win the ACC Tournament, the Terps must play out of character and win some road games.
Florida State (14-13, 6-8, RPI No. 79)
The Seminoles stand very little chance of even landing on the fence, but with an RPI of 79 and a remaining schedule loaded with opportunities, they cant be ignored. Teams get hot, and it could get interesting if FSU suddenly explodes, as unlikely as that seems. The Seminoles are 6-7 against the top-100 of the RPI, but none of the wins are over top-50 teams, and they are 0-7 vs. the top-25, which has helped raise their overall RPI.
Must do: Win out. Seriously, with games left at home against No. 146 Wake Forest, at No. 22 UNC, and at home vs. No. 73 Virginia and No. 24 N.C. State, FSU can improve to 18-13 overall and 10-8 in the league, and their RPI will surely rise into the top-50.