Conference Tournament Previews: ACC

By Steve Yanda
Monday, March 9, 2009

Favorite
Tyler Hansbrough
North Carolina
The Tar Heels have their share of hiccups, but few other teams can match their overall talent. Point guard Ty Lawson leads the ACC in assists and orchestrates the conference's highest-scoring unit. Reigning national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough ranks in the top top 10 in the league in scoring (21.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg).

Dark Horse
Florida State
Florida State is a defensively sound unit led by senior guard Toney Douglas, the ACC's top scorer in conference play. Among the ACC's top three teams, the only one the Seminoles didn't play close was Wake Forest. They might be the least-heralded team with a first-round ACC tournament bye, but the Seminoles are capable of turning some heads.

Needs a Win
Tyler Hansbrough
Maryland
After Saturday's loss at Virginia, Maryland likely needs at least two wins. The Terrapins were in prime position to finish .500 in ACC play and strengthen their grip on an at-large bid entering the weekend, but a lackadaisical effort against the 11th-place team in the conference has made winning more than once this week likely a necessity.

On the Hot Seat
Oliver Purnell, Clemson
Oliver Purnell's job is safe at Clemson, but that doesn't mean he won't be feeling some pressure this postseason. During his tenure, Clemson frequently has had hyper-athletic squads that jump out to fast starts before fading. This year's squad, by the way, is extremely athletic and began the season 16-0 before going 7-7 the rest of the way.

Player to Watch
Tyler Hansbrough
Gerald Henderson, Duke
If Duke ends up winning the ACC title in Atlanta, don't be surprised if the Blue Devils do so on Gerald Henderson's shoulders. The junior swingman is averaging 19.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in conference play. But more importantly, Henderson has demonstrated an ability to take over games in the second half when necessary.

Did You Know?
Nine former ACC players also have coached in the tournament. North Carolina State's Sidney Lowe and Maryland's Gary Williams are the only active ACC coaches to have played in the tournament.

Schedule
Thursday's First Round
Virginia Tech vs. Miami, noon
Clemson vs. Georgia Tech, 2:30
Maryland vs. N.C. State, 7
Boston College vs. Virginia, 9:30
Friday's Quarterfinals
North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech-Miami winner, noon
Florida State vs. Clemson-Georgia Tech winner, 2:30
Wake Forest vs. Maryland-N.C. State winner, 7
Duke vs. Boston Coll.-Virginia winner, 9:30
Saturday's Semifinals: 1:30 and 4
Sunday's Final: 1
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