Boston College (19-11, 9-7 ACC) will have its hands full when it kicks off the 2011 ACC Tournament on Thursday, with its match-up with Wake Forest at noon EST in Greensboro, N.C.
However, the Demon Deacons aren't the only team the Eagles will have to worry about (we hope). After all, there are 10 other teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference. With that in mind, let's take a look at the ACC teams entering the 59th annual ACC Tournament, starting with the bottom half of the conference.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-23, 1-15 ACC)/Tournament Seed: No. 12
The record says it all, at least in the ACC. The only team that Wake Forest has been able to defeat in conference play was Virginia (76-71, on Jan. 29), and that's in a down year in the ACC. Despite the horrendous regular season, Demon Deacons first-year head coach Jeff Bzdelik doesn't think his team's record is indicative of their year.
"The record doesn't indicate it, but we are seeing signs of improvement," said Bzdelik. "We shot 50 percent from the floor the other day, which is better than we shot in a long time; with the exception of turnovers from a couple of young players, we were pretty efficient offensively. We have been able to do a better job rebounding the basketball the last couple of games here."
Nevertheless, Wake Forest still ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in many categories, including scoring (224th - 67.2 PPG), field goal percentage (253rd - 42.3%), rebounding (283rd - 32.6 RPG) and assists (297th - 11.3 APG).
"We just need to defend a little bit better and take care of the ball a little bit better and continue to improve in areas of execution," Bzdelik said about his team heading into the ACC Tournament. "I see signs with individual players getting better; Travis McKie was very special yesterday. I thought Nikita [Mescheriakov] was very efficient and Carson [Desrosiers] was much improved in a lot of ways. So a lot of good things that we need to just continue to work and stay focused on getting better.
McKie is the Demon Deacons' leading scorer, averaging 12.9 points, and is also the team's leading rebounder (7.6 RPG). J.T. Terrell is second in scoring with 11 points per contest on 37.2% shooting.
Wake Forest faces No. 5 seed Boston College in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Thursday at noon.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (13-17, 5-11 ACC)/Tournament Seed: No. 11
Georgia Tech was a respectable team at home, winning 10 of its 16 home games, but was a dismal 1-10 on the road, and that doesn't bid well heading into the ACC tourney.
However, its only road win of the season came against Wake Forest last Thursday, and the Yellow Jackets closed out their season with a 66-57 win over Miami at home on Sunday.
"We feel good about how we've wrapped up the season," said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt. "Iman Shumpert continues to play great basketball. He had a terrific week this week against Wake Forest,
Miami (on Sunday). Jason Morris probably also has played the best basketball of his freshman year coming down the stretch. We're looking forward to getting Brian Oliver back on Thursday. We have about as much momentum as we could possibly ask for going into this game on Thursday night."
Shumpert is the Yellow Jackets' leading scorer, averaging 17.5 points, and is also the team's leading rebounder with 6.1 boards per contest. Glen Rice Jr. is second in scoring (12.8 points) and second in rebounding (5.6 RPG).
The Yellow Jackets, who rank 182nd in scoring (68.6 PPG), 131st in rebounding (35.7 RPG), 137th in assists (13.4 APG) and 300th in field goal percentage (40.8%), will face No. 6 seed Virginia Tech in a first round tilt on Thursday at 9 p.m.
North Carolina State Wolfpack (15-15, 5-11 ACC)/Tournament Seed: No. 10
Similar to the Yellow Jackets, the N.C. State Wolfpack had a strong record at home, going 11-6 at RBC Center. However, the Wolfpack were abysmal on the road, posting a 2-9 record. N.C. State is coming off a tough 72-62 loss to Florida State at home in its regular season finale on Sunday.
"Didn't get off to a good start, but our kids fought back hard, and actually took the lead in the second half," N.C. State head coach Paul Hewitt said. "We just weren't able to finish down the stretch. Gave up some plays defensively late in the ball game. We're just trying to get ready for the tournament."
If the Wolfpack are going to have success in the ACC Tournament, they will need solid outings from their leading scorer, Tracy Smith, who is averaging 14.1 points. Freshman C.J. Leslie is second in scoring (11.2 PPG) and leads the Wolfpack in rebounding (7.1 RPG).
N.C. State ranks 119th in the country in scoring (70.8 PPG) and is 133rd in team field goal percentage (44.4%). In addition, the Wolfpack are 73rd in the nation in assists (14.4 APG) and 78th in rebounding (36.8 RPG).
"It's a new season. It's an opportunity," Hewitt said about the ACC Tournament. "I like it because it's a one-game elimination situation, which means you have to make sure that you come out and play your best. That's something that we were fortunate enough to have done when I played, and I tried to show that to our players."
The Wolfpack meet No. 7 seed Maryland in their opening round tilt on Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
Miami Hurricanes (18-13, 6-10 ACC)/Tournament Seed: No. 9
The Hurricanes put up a solid 11-4 record at home, but were 0-3 against teams in the AP Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Not to mention, Miami was 4-8 on the road. Miami stumbled to the finish line, losing two of its last three games and four of its final seven. However, the 'Canes put up a solid 80-66 win against Maryland on March 2nd.
"Obviously, we had a week where we had a good win against Maryland," said Frank Haith, the Hurricanes' head coach. "I thought our guys played really, really well, put together two really good halves. Then (Sunday) we finished up in Atlanta at Georgia Tech, and I thought we played one good half. We didn't handle Georgia Tech's pressure very well and ended up losing that ball game. But we're looking forward to the ACC tournament."
Miami finished the season 100th in the nation in scoring (71.6 PPG) and 127th in team field goal percentage (44.6%). Also, the Hurricanes were 101st in rebounding (36.3 RPG) and 262nd in assists (11.8 APG).
Malcolm Grant was the leading scorer for Miami, averaging 14.9 points. Durand Scott was second on the team in scoring with 13.2 points and led the team with 3.2 assists per contest. Reggie Johnson (12 PPG) averaged a team-best 9.7 boards per game, placing him third in the ACC.
The Hurricanes play No. 8 seed Virginia in their first round match-up on Thursday at noon.
Virginia Cavaliers (16-14, 7-9 ACC)/Tournament Seed: No. 8
Virginia had an up and down regular season, winning six of seven games from November 23rd through Decmeber 20th. However, the Cavaliers hit a rough patch when they entered conference play, dropping eight of ten ACC games from January 8th through February 16th. Nevertheless, that hasn't discouraged Virginia head coach Tony Bennett.
"Just looking forward to playing in the ACC Tournament," said Bennett. "My experience last year is it's such a first-class event, and just the way it's run and the following with the fans and the excitement that goes with it is good.
It will be a first time for quite a few of our guys and just looking forward to the experience and preparing to play Miami who got us when we played them at their place earlier this year."
The Cavaliers were dealt a blow early on when they lost leading scorer Mike Scott for the season just ten games in. Mustapha Farrakhan was the Cavaliers' leading scorer this season, averaging 13.5 points. Assane Sene was Virginia's leading rebounder, averaging 5.4 boards.
Virginia's national rankings aren't pretty, as the Cavs are 310th in scoring (61.9 PPG), 316th in rebounding (31.1 RPG), 285th in assists (11.5 APG) and 284th in field goal percentage (41.5%).
The Cavs open up the ACC tourney against No. 9 Miami at noon on Thursday.
Maryland Terrapins (14-4, 4-6 ACC)/Tournament Seed: No. 7
Maryland put together a decent record in the 2010-11 season, but it's major downfall came against ranked teams, going 0-6 in games against teams in the top 25. The Terps dropped five of their final seven games, including their last three in a row.
"Well, we've got some work to do this week to get ready for the tournament," said legendary Maryland coach Gary Williams. "We're trying to work on some things, get a little better here. Look forward to getting down there for the ACC tournament, seeing what we can do. I think the way I've always looked at this is just an opportunity, it's completely different than the regular season and you try to do what you can do in the tournament situation.
We're looking forward to getting down there."
Maryland won't be going to the NCAA tournament this year (unless, of course, they win out in the ACC tourney), where they own a 38-23 record. The Terps rank 21st in the county in scoring (77.1 PPG) and 26th in field goal percentage (47.2%). In addition, Maryland is 15th in the nation in team rebounding (39 RPG) and ninth in assists (17 APG).
All-ACC First Teamer Jordan Williams leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 16.9 points and 11.6 boards. Terrell Stoglin is second in scoring, averaging 11.6 points.
The Terrapins face No. 10 seed N.C. State on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in their first round tournament game.