While Wednesday's morning session in DC was full of college basketball royalty, the evening session has a more "salt of the earth" feel. Watching the morning session was akin to seeing an Al Pacino-Robert DeNiro movie in 2016. The quality may not have been as good as you remember it once being, but it was entertaining and at least you recognize the names. On the bright side, the evening session's complete lack of starpower provides even greater incentive to make the games more interesting by adding a financial component.
Note: Gambling is illegal in many states and we in no way encourage any readers to actually place wagers on these games or any others.
ACC Tournament Prediction Record: 2-2
Game #1: #7 Clemson (17-13, 10-8 in ACC) v. #10 Georgia Tech (18-13, 8-10 in ACC)
Point Spread: Clemson -1.5
Regular Season Meetings (Home Team in bold): 2/13: Clemson 66, Georgia Tech 52. 2/23: Georgia Tech 75, Clemson 73,
Overview: On paper it's hard to find a lot to get excited about here. These teams split the regular season meetings, both schools are out of the bubble conversation barring an extended run in this tournament, and neither has the household cachet that makes you tune in. The winner, however, will play the Hoos tomorrow, making it your civic duty as a Virginia fan to watch and note tendencies that can be used to heckle UVa's next opponent.
While Clemson may not have any names that ring a bell nationally, Virginia fans certainly know junior forward Jarron Blossomgame. Blossomgame torched the Hoos (and the rest of the ACC) this season, averaging 18.6 points per game en route to being named the conference's Most Improved Player and garnering First Team All-ACC honors. The rest of Clemson's roster is a veritable island of misfit toys, but that just increases the chances of Blossomgame taking 30 shots and scoring 50 points on any given day.
On the other side of the court, Georgia Tech's roster isn't exactly brimming with NBA talent. Marcus Georges-Hunt? He's fine I guess, but it feels like he's been in Atlanta a decade with nothing to show for it. Charles Mitchell and Adam Smith? I'll always picture these two in their original Maryland and Virginia Tech uniforms. The Yellow Jackets seemingly constructed a roster filled with seniors that is somehow still completely devoid of any March experience. It's really kind of impressive. This team lacks any semblance of identity and there's not a single name I trust to come up big in any tournament not called the NIT.
The Pick: Clemson -1.5
Game #2: #6 Virginia Tech (18-13, 10-8 in ACC) v. #11 Florida State (19-12, 8-10 in ACC)
Point Spread: Florida State -3
Regular Season Meetings (Home Team in bold): 2/20: Virginia Tech 83, Florida State 73.
Overview: Wednesday's action draws to a close with the Hokies taking on the Seminoles in a rematch of the 2005 and 2010 ACC Championship Football games. These teams really don't have a lot of basketball history. As with our earlier contest, both of these teams will need more than just a win tonight to come close to the NCAA bubble conversation.
Virginia Tech won five consecutive games to end the regular season, rolling to a surprising sixth place conference finish. One of those wins came over Florida State in Blacksburg, and the Hokies haven't lost to an unranked team since a February 3rd overtime defeat at Syracuse. Their last non-road loss to an unranked team? December 22nd against St. Joe's. Make no mistake, there will be a lot of maroon and orange at the Verizon Center and this could easily resemble a home game for VT. Tech is incredibly young with just one senior on the roster, but Buzz Williams has them ahead of schedule and the Hokies are truly one of the hottest teams coming into DC.
We previewed Florida State yesterday, and the Noles' didn't show us anything in their 88-66 win over Boston College to make us change that analysis. FSU remains incredibly reliant on freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley, and even a matchup against the Eagles couldn't break sophomore Xavier Rathan-Mayes out of his season long slump. The Seminoles will play a physical style and make Virginia Tech work on every possession, but for whatever reason this iteration of Leonard Hamilton's club just never seems to have come together as a fully cohesive unit.
The Pick: Virginia Tech +3