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How Many ACC Teams Will Make the NCAA Tournament?


With under three weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, it’s time to reevaluate where the ACC stands. It’s been a divisive year for the conference. ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi is very down on the ACC this year, with just four teams in his current projected field: North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, and Virginia. 

If that prediction holds true, it would continue a worrying trend for members of the conference. Every year since 2017, the ACC has had its number of bids remain the same or decrease compared to the previous year. Here’s how the numbers have stacked up:

2017: 9


2019: 7

2020: No tournament

2021: 7

2022: 5

2023: 5

While clearly the conference isn’t at its peak right now, there are a ton of factors going into that decline. The introduction of the NET rankings system has certainly painted other conferences in a better light than the ACC, while all the retirements of legendary coaches within the conference hasn’t helped either.

Putting aside the past, how many teams can the ACC realistically get into the tournament?

Locks: North Carolina, Duke, and Clemson

These three teams are all a five-seed or better in the most recent projected bracket. There’s not enough time left in the season for these teams to completely fall out. Specifically, UNC provides a good amount of upside for the ACC, as it’s slated as a two-seed right now.

Right Side of the Bubble: Virginia and Wake Forest

Neither UVA or Wake Forest are guaranteed a spot in the tournament. However, barring a collapse, they’ll get in. Both of these teams will probably receive a worse seed, between eight and eleven. 

The Cavaliers are currently on the ten-line, which falls into the “last four byes” category. The Demon Deacons were actually the first team on the outside looking in the last time Lunardi issued an updated bracket, but that was before Wake Forest upset Duke. 

Wrong Side of the Bubble: Pittsburgh

Right, wrong, or indifferent, Pittsburgh has stepped a level above the ACC teams with little hope at the tournament. The Panthers are helped by a top-50 NET ranking, and also have three Quad 1 wins. The eye test doesn’t necessarily back up Pittsburgh being better than the teams in the next category, but based on the criteria that the committee has seemed to favor in recent years, it’s a necessary distinction.

Needs a Lot of Help: Syracuse, NC State, Virginia Tech

If any of these three teams make it in, only one of them will. Syracuse and Virginia Tech play what’s basically an elimination game tomorrow night. The only reason the Hokies are included on this list is because of, you guessed it, the NET rankings. VT is a top-60 team, so even though it has 12 losses, it can’t be truly eliminated. Syracuse is also hanging by a thread, largely due to just one resume-boosting win on the season, a win over UNC. NC State is also in need of as many wins it can get, plus other bubble losses.


The floor is five. The possibility of Virginia or Wake Forest missing the tournament is dropping by the day.

The ceiling? That’s a harder question. Seven is probably as high as it could go. Take the five most likely teams, add Pittsburgh and one other team. That’s about as good as it’ll get for the ACC this year.

In terms of a hard prediction, five is the most likely result, unfortunately for ACC fans. On the bubble this year, it just seems like other conferences will get the benefit of the doubt.

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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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