By Ben Krakow
The ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament will take place this week in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is expected to be the best tournament of the week, with three potential NCAA Tournament number one seeds playing in the tournament. Virginia, Duke and North Carolina are the favorites while other teams look to pull an upset.
Player to Watch: Tyus Battle, Syracuse.
Battle is bit underrated in the league because of Syracuse’s mediocre play in the ACC, but he is an elite scorer.
He has scored in double-digits 27 times this season and has 20-plus points 14 separate times this year. Battle had 32 points in a win at Duke earlier this season, and he’s a player that has an ability to carry his team to a victory single-handedly. Watch out if Battle gets hot and is shooting the ball well. He isn’t a great three point shooter at just 31.5 percent, but his field goal clip for the year sits at a solid 43.2 percent thanks to his love of the mid-range jumper. Syracuse’s success in this tournament likely rides on how well Battle plays in the tournament.
Louisville quietly had a very solid season in Chris Mack’s first year as head coach after being hired from Xavier. The Cardinals finished 19-12 overall and 10-8 in the ACC, including a 20-point win at North Carolina and a close loss at home to Duke- a game they led nearly the whole way.
They also were competitive last weekend in a game at Virginia. This team can be prone to having off nights which makes them a potential team to be upset early on in the tournament, but they also have enough talent to be the one pulling the upset on someone else later in the tournament.
Tournament winner: Virginia.
Virginia comes into the week with only two regular season losses- both to Duke. They may be the most complete team in college basketball, and look to be a near lock to be a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens this week. The Cavaliers may have an advantage as the more rested team in the championship game (if they get there) with Duke and North Carolina likely to play each other in the other semifinal on Friday.
Virginia continues to play their stingy defense that has become a staple in the Tony Bennett era. The Cavaliers are my pick to win the tournament thanks to the potential rest advantage and their excellent defense, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Duke or North Carolina hoisting the trophy on Saturday night in Charlotte.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org