This weekend’s ACC action sets up a frenetic last week of the regular season as Duke, UNC, Virginia and N.C. State position themselves for the three remaining first-round byes.
Miami solidified the No. 1 seed in Greensboro with its 76-58 win over Virginia Tech last week. The Hurricanes could end up in a tie with Duke for first place in the ACC regular season, but would still take the top seed due to league tiebreakers.
North Carolina’s 79-58 victory over Florida State on Sunday moved the Tar Heels into sole possession of third place at 11-5, one game behind Duke (12-4) following its win over Miami on Saturday.
Boston College’s upset victory over Virginia on Sunday, paired with N.C. State’s win at Georgia Tech, moved both the Cavs and Wolfpack into a tie for fourth place at 10-6.
North Carolina, despite its current position in the standings, could still finish anywhere from second to fifth in the league. A pair of victories at Maryland and at home against Duke guarantees at least a No. 3 seed and a first-round bye. Two losses, however, keep alive the possibility for a Thursday opening-round game.
Here’s how the various scenarios play out –
North Carolina earns the No. 2 seed if:
(1) UNC wins out and Duke loses to Virginia Tech on Tuesday.
North Carolina earns the No. 3 seed if:
(1) UNC wins out and Duke beats Virginia Tech;
(2) UNC finishes 1-1 and Virginia and N.C State both finish 1-1 or 0-2;
(3) UNC finishes 1-1 (loss at MD, win vs. Duke), N.C. State finishes 2-0 and Virginia finishes 1-1 or 0-2;
(4) UNC finishes 0-2 and Virginia and N.C. State both finish 0-2.
North Carolina earns the No. 4 seed if:
(1) UNC finishes 1-1, Virginia finishes 2-0 and N.C. State finishes 1-1 or 0-2;
(2) UNC finishes 1-1 (win at MD, loss vs. Duke), N.C. State finishes 2-0 and Virginia finishes 1-1 or 0-2;
(3) UNC finishes 1-1 and N.C. State and Virginia both finish 2-0;
(4) UNC finishes 0-2, Virginia finishes 1-1 and N.C. State finishes 0-2;
(5) UNC finishes 0-2, N.C. State finishes 1-1 and Virginia finishes 0-2.
North Carolina earns the No. 5 seed if:
(1) UNC finishes 0-2 and both Virginia and N.C. State finish 2-0;
(2) UNC finishes 0-2, Virginia finishes 2-0 and N.C. State finishes 1-1;
(3) UNC finishes 0-2, N.C. State finishes 2-0 and Virginia finishes 1-1.
How the ACC’s tiebreakers work, with regard to UNC’s situation, is listed below:
(1) If two teams are tied, head-to-head results are used as the tiebreaker;
(2) If two teams are tied and split their regular season meetings, then the tiebreaker moves to each team’s record against other ACC teams in order of conference standing. Winning percentage prevails if an unequal number of games are played against a particular opponent. (i.e., 2-0 is equal to 1-0; 1-0 is better than 1-1);
(3) If three teams are tied, the combined record of regular season games will be combined between the tied teams and ties will be broken by the corresponding winning percentage. For example, if UNC, Virginia and N.C. State finish tied, UVa would earn the No. 3 seed due to its 2-1 record vs. both teams (1-1 vs. UNC; 1-0 vs. NCSU). UNC would earn the No. 4 seed (2-2; 1-1 vs. UVa, 1-1 vs. NCSU) and N.C. State would earn the No. 5 seed (1-2; 0-1 vs. UVa, 1-1 vs. UNC).
North Carolina junior wing Reggie Bullock is a veteran at navigating the postseason lure that comes with March.
“It’s been a little bit of a challenge worrying about where we’re going to be at, but like Coach always tells us, we control our own destiny,” Bullock said. “As long as we keep winning games, our play is going to talk for itself. We’re playing some good basketball right now.”
When asked if he knew that UNC could secure a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament by winning out this week, Bullock replied: “Yeah, we’re definitely aware of that.”
North Carolina will play its final road game of the season at Maryland on Wednesday (7pm, ESPN).