The ACC men’s basketball tournament has always been considered the crown jewel of conference tournaments. Some of the all- time greats have laced them up for the four- day grind and it has produced historic games and individual performances. I have a feeling this year will not deviate from these standards. To begin, I’d like to say that the ACC tourney champion resides within the first five seeds. This will eliminate the need to discuss the likes of Wake Forest, BC, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and so on and so forth.( I would like to take a second and show my respect for Buzz Williams who has done a remarkable job at Va Tech.) The obvious favorites to cut the nets down are North Carolina and Virginia. Both of these teams are extremely confident right now and also have the essential personnel to endure the grueling nature of tournament play. Carolina is riding high after clinching the regular season title with an emotional win at Duke and Bryce Johnson is putting up video game numbers. One glaring issue that haunts the Tarheels is the fact that their perimeter shooting is abysmal. Marcus Paige needs to snap out of his seemingly season- long slump and start connecting on his jump shots. This time of year you must have a balanced offensive attack and consistent outside shooting is imperative. Much like Carolina, Virginia is also feeling strong right now. The wahoos are coming off three straight wins including a victory over the aforementioned Tarheels. ACC player of the year, Malcolm Brogden, is as consistent as the sunset and is the cornerstone of the Cavaliers team. He doesn’t receive much hype, but there’s nothing Mr. Brogden cannot do on a basketball court. Virginia is by no means flashy, but they play that deliberate style, which is why they rank so highly in offensive efficiency. Now if Virginia and Carolina are the favorites, then the three, four, and five seeds are strong contenders. Next up is the number three seed Miami Hurricanes. This experience-laden team has brought it all season long and suprised even the most knowledgable analysts. I have always said that success in college basketball is directly related to the talent and poise of your guards. Miami can certainly check that off the list with Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez in the backcourt. The senior duo has not only provided a giant portion of the team’s scoring, but also given them unwavering leadership on the court. The Miami team is doing its best to adopt the underdog role, although going 13-5 in the ACC and 24-6 overall is not at all indicative of said role. Just stop Miami. Notre Dame is next on the list playing as the four seed. Notre Dame has, at times, looked like a giant killer this year, yet other times they resemble a middle school team. Offensively, the Irish are as good as anyone, but it’s the other end of the floor that has been troublesome. Led by veterans Demetrius Jackson and double-double machine Zach Auguste, this team will not be intimidated and has capable shooters all over the court. Watch for Mike Brey to preach defense, defense, defense to his team before the tournament. Finally, we come to the fifth seeded Duke Blue Devils. Yes, I said fifth seed. A rather unfamiliar position for the Blue Devils. Unfortunately for Duke, a double-bye is not granted to a five seed. They could have greatly benefited from a couple more days off, considering they implement a six-man rotation. The high-scoring duo of Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram are probably the ones most affected by the short bench. Both players average around 35 minutes per game and are responsible for nearly half of the team’s scoring. Duke should slide by their first two opponents, which would set up a semi-final collision with Carolina. Duke cannot continuosly rely on Allen and Ingram to do all of the heavy lifting. They desperately need freshman sharp-shooter Luke Kennard to be a consistent third scoring threat. As of late, the Blue Devils have struggled from 3-point range and are probably being told to be aggresive and take the ball to the basket instead of settling. The Devils also must, must, must stay out of foul trouble, especially Marshall Plumlee.