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ACC Tournament Primer

The 60th annual Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament runs March 14th to March 17th at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.

Boston College's Olivier Hanlan was the top freshman in the conference.

Here are some of the things to watch at the ACC Tournament.

The Schedule

First Round, Thursday, March 14
#8 Boston College vs. #9 Georgia Tech.... ESPNU/ACCN...Noon
#5 NC State vs. #12 Virginia Tech............ ESPNU/ACCN.... 2:00
#7 Maryland vs. #10 Wake Forest............ ESPNU/ACCN.... 7:00
#6 Florida State vs. #11 Clemson............. ESPNU/ACCN.... 9:00

Quarterfinals, Friday, March 15
#1 Miami vs. 8/9 winner...........................ESPN2/ACCN...Noon
#4 Virginia vs. 5/12 winner.......................ESPN2/ACCN.... 2:00
#2 Duke vs. 7/10 winner...........................ESPN2/ACCN.... 7:00
#3 North Carolina vs. 6/11 winner............ESPN2/ACCN.... 9:00

Semifinals, Saturday, March 16
Game 9 (game 5 & 6 winners)....................ESPN/ACCN.... 1:00
Game 10 (game 7 & 8 winners)..................ESPN/ACCN.... 3:00

Finals, Sunday, March 17
Game 11 (championship game)..................ESPN/ACCN.... 1:00

The Favorite: No. 2 seed Duke

While Miami enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed, it is tough to argue against Duke being the favorite to walk away as the conference tournament champion. First and foremost, the Blue Devils have a home court advantage with the tournament being held in Greensboro. Second, they have history on their side. Duke has won nine straight ACC Tournament games at Greensboro Coliseum claiming ACC titles in 2011, 2010, and 2006. The Blue Devils have 19 league championships, and with a healthy Ryan Kelly teaming up with Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, they have a great chance of making it 20.

Virginia Tech's Erick Green led the ACC, and nation, in scoring.

The Runner-Up: No. 1 seed Miami

The team most likely to face Duke on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the ACC Tournament Championship Game is the Miami Hurricanes. The regular season champions of the ACC finished 15-3 in conference play. Miami also proved that they are good away from home, winning 10 road games in 2012-13. As one of the most experienced teams in the nation, Miami isn’t going to be overwhelmed by anything they see this week. Shane Larkin, who is arguably the conference’s top player despite not winning the top honor in-conference this year, will lead the way as Miami makes a charge to Sunday.

The Darkhorse: No. 5 seed N.C. State

Without a first round bye, it is extremely difficult for a team to win the ACC Tournament. You must win four grueling games over four days. If any team has a shot of doing it this year, it would be the Wolfpack. The preseason top ten team struggled this season going 11-7 in conference play and 22-9 overall, but the talent that earned them those early accolades is still present. N.C. State has five players averaging in double digits scoring on the season. The Wolfpack should be able to handle Virginia Tech in the opening round and defeating Virginia in the quarterfinals isn’t a longshot. Their semifinal opponent would likely be Miami and that is a tall task.

Five Names To Watch

G Erick Green – Green was named the ACC Player of the Year despite playing for the league’s worst team. He averaged 25.4 points per game and dished out 3.9 assists per outing. His scoring is tops in the nation. Green has scored in double figures in every ACC game this season.

G Joe Harris – Harris is the only player in the ACC to rank in the top 10 in field goal percentage (9th .478), free throw percentage (8th .773), and 3-point field goal percentage (.444). Harris averaged 17 points per game this season, but stepped up his play during the ACC season averaging 18.4 per outing. He can fill it up.

F Richard Howell – Howell is averaging a double-double this season with 12.7 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game. His 10.6 rebounds per game is tops in the conference. He had 16 double-doubles on the season.

Mason Plumlee is a major reason Duke can contend for their 20th ACC Tournament Championship.

G Shane Larkin – While Green won ACC Player of the Year honors, Larkin was the best player on the league’s best team. He is averaging 13.7 points and 4.4 assists per game. He is the engine that makes Miami go. He breaks down defenses penetrating through the lane and creates great opportunities for his teammates. He is also very solid on the defensive end.

G Olivier Hanlan – The ACC Freshman of the Year was a hidden gem for Boston College. He scored in double-digits in 25 of Boston College’s 31 games this season. He averages 14.6 points per game. He played his best ball in conference play averaging 15.7 points per game.

Tournament Ramifications

At this time, the ACC is projected to have just four teams in the NCAA Tournament by CBSSports.com – Miami, Duke, North Carolina, and N.C. State. Virginia is the most likely team to claim a fifth bid, but they are not even considered one of the ‘first four out’ at this time.

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