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Which ACC Team Makes a Deep March Run?

Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

March Madness starts today. Brackets will be busted, Cinderella runs started and a champion crowned. Will that winner be from the ACC? Nobody really knows right now, but there are certainly a couple of teams who have the potential to parade to the second weekend. Let’s check ’em out.

South Region

Virginia (No. 4 Seed)

The Cavaliers are an upset special waiting to happen. UVA’s slow pace and inability to score always puts them in jeopardy, and Tony Bennett and crew have a really tough draw. Furman is very experienced, shoots a lot of threes and won a lot of close games in their conference tournament. The Paladins won’t get rattled in the clutch moments. Holding them to 55 is a really tough ask. A lot of people are picking Furman, and let’s just say that the Fizz isn’t exactly a Cavs bandwagon.

NC State (No. 11 Seed)

The Wolfpack have a really intriguing matchup against Creighton, another team that will spread it out and run a lot of ball screens and isolations. Guards Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner need to get hot, but if that happens, NC State could shoot its way past the Bluejays and potentially Baylor or UCSB in the Round of 32. Kevin Keatts just needs D.J. Burns Jr. to stay out of foul trouble.

Midwest Region

Miami (No. 5 Seed)

Jim Larrañaga and crew made the Elite Eight a year ago, and that was without the Rodman-esqe rebounding abilities of Norchad Omier. However, an extremely experienced Drake team with tough guards awaits in the first round. There’s no question the ‘Canes can put up 80 points a game, but if Isaiah Wong goes cold, the lack of defense might cause an early exit. If Wong, Nigel Pack and Jordan Miller find their strokes, it’s lights out for opponents, and Miami should outscore Indiana and stride to the Sweet 16.

Pitt (No. 11 Seed)

Pitt and its five out, isolation heavy basketball head into the meat grinder that is Iowa State on Friday. But here’s the catch…the Panthers have already won a game. Jeff Capel’s crew snuck out a 60-59 nail-biting win in the First Four over Mississippi State, and the Bulldogs play the same kind of basketball. We’ve seen teams who win in the play-in make great runs (VCU, UCLA) and although Pitt’s weakness inside probably means they’re not a Final Four team, the Panthers will surely give Iowa State a run for its money.

East Region

Duke (No. 5 Seed)

People are all over Duke, and for good reason. The Blue Devils are finally healthy, and worked like a hot knife through butter in the ACC tournament. The knocks on Duke have been around all year. Jon Scheyer is inexperienced, and he’s leading the youngest team in the field. Honestly, throw those out the window. The Duke freshmen have played in front of 30,000 at the Dome, in Madison Square Garden (where the second weekend of the East region takes place) and on many different neutral court settings. As long as Jeremy Roach doesn’t disappear on offense, pencil Duke in the Sweet 16, and potentially deeper.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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