March Madness: Preview, most memorable moments of the ACC tournament
As the ACC tournament gets set to tip off on Tuesday, let’s quickly get to know this year’s field.
-North Carolina: Won the league by two games, has the conference player of the year in Justin Jackson, leads the country in offensive rebounding rate.
-Louisville: Sixth in adjusted defensive efficiency, but has dropped two of last four games. Donovan Mitchell is the offensive workhorse (15.9 ppg).
-Florida State: Seminoles looking to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012, have one of the best duos in the nation in Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac.
-Notre Dame: Mike Brey’s squad has won six of its last seven and leads the nation in free-throw percentage (80.9).
-Duke: Blue Devils have had a tumultuous year, but boast 10 RPI-top 50 wins.
Next in line
-Virginia: Hoos have the nation’s top-ranked defense, but this is the worst offense (39th in the country) they’ve had since 2012-13.
-Miami: Despite losing Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan from last year’s team, the Hurricanes went 10-8 in ACC play.
-Virginia Tech: Hokies have notched back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 2009-10 and 2010-11, are making 40.5 percent of their 3s.
Middle of the pack
-Syracuse: Orange have a lot at stake this week, as they look to make another improbable March run.
-Wake Forest: Have perhaps the most underrated player in the country in John Collins, who has a 36.9 PER this season.
-Georgia Tech: ACC Coach of the Year Josh Pastner has the Yellow Jackets playing top-10 defense.
Squads with much to prove
-Clemson: Tigers have struggled defensively and went 6-12 in league action.
-North Carolina State: Dennis Smith, Wolfpack will look to play spoiler.
-Pittsburgh: Panthers tumbled after a promising nonconference start.
-Boston College: Eagles haven’t won an ACC game since Jan. 11.
Over the years, the ACC tournament has produced several memorable moments. Some of the most iconic:
1983: North Carolina State beats Michael Jordan and North Carolina in OT, Ralph Sampson and Virginia in ACC title game
It wasn’t just the NCAA tournament – Jim Valvano’s squad pulled off gritty upset after gritty upset all postseason long in 1983. The Wolfpack came back from a big deficit to top the Tar Heels in overtime in the ACC tournament semis, and they dealt Sampson and company their third loss of the season in the final.
1995: Randolph Childress can’t be stopped
Wake Forest played three games in the 1995 ACC tournament. Childress scored a total of 107 points. He was generally amazing, but also clutch; just ask the Tar Heels.
In an overtime clash against UNC, Childress drilled the game-winner with 4.6 seconds remaining.
But in Childress’ opinion, his performance against Duke was even better. Hear it from the man himself:
1996: Greg Buckner’s buzzer-beating slam propels Clemson over UNC
Game-winning jump shots are exciting whenever they happen, but they’re fairly commonplace. A buzzer-beating dunk, though? One that belongs on a poster? Doesn’t happen so often – which is why Buckner’s 1996 slam is simply known as “The Dunk” around Clemson:
2008: Tyler Hansbrough hits game-winner vs. Virginia Tech, goes crazy
Yes, North Carolina has been on the wrong end of a few of these. That’s what happens when you’ve established the level of dominance the Tar Heels have – when you lose, it’s a big deal.
But UNC has had some prime ACC tournament moments of its own, including this Hansbrough shot from 2008. The celebration running down the court is classic Psycho T:
2012: Florida State powers through North Carolina and Duke to win the crown
The Blue Devils had Austin Rivers, Seth Curry and two Plumlees. North Carolina was stacked as well – the Heels went 32-6 that season and boasted the likes of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall. Alas, it didn’t matter; the Noles won each game by three points. Leonard Hamilton’s squad would win its NCAA tournament opener before bowing out to Cincinnati.