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From the Jim Hurley Network Staff - Contributing Sportsbook Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Though the ACC tournament has historically been one of the greatest shows in sports (dating back to a time when this event was the only one of its type in the land!), the 2015 gathering may lack meaningful drama.

  • Six teams are locked into the Big Dance
  • Those six are fairly locked into their seeding range
  • Miami is the only "bubble" team positioned to earn its way in
  • What happens NEXT week is going to matter a lot more than what happens this week!

    If the favorites can avoid upsets, then we?re going to see some great clashes that may foreshadow the intensity of the Elite Eight and maybe even the Final Four. Both Virginia and Duke are currently projected to be #1 seeds by Joe Lunardi of ESPN. Even if one or both fall to a #2, they clearly have Final Four possibilities.

    Speaking of Lunardi, let's take a quick look at his "Bracketology" assessments from this past weekend...

    BRACKETOLOGY

    Virginia is projected to be a #1 seed
    Duke is projected to be a #1 seed
    Notre Dame is projected to be a #3 seed
    Louisville is projected to be a #4 seed
    North Carolina is projected to be a #5 seed
    NC State is projected to be a #9 seed
    Miami is on the bubble, currently one of the "first four out"

    Neither Clemson, Florida State, nor Pittsburgh are currently within the first eight out, meaning they?re probably not even on the bubble unless the selection committee is way out of synch with Lunardi. There are six teams who matter, and Miami might sneak into make it a seventh.

    NC State has shown they can play with anybody above them. That?s important to remember because the Wolfpack may be better than a #9...or everyone else may be a few slots below those projections in terms of actual tournament impact. The ACC was exposed as overrated last year in terms of their seeding...and may be again. Perhaps the most important challenge handicappers face entering the NCAA Tournament is getting an accurate read on where the ACC truly stands nationally. Are we destined for a replay of this?

    #1 Virginia lost to #4 Michigan State
    #3 Duke lost to #14 Mercer
    #3 Syracuse lost to #11 Dayton

    The projected powers weren?t so powerful. Possible spoilers didn?t spoil anything down below, with Pittsburgh, North Carolina, and NC State all following bracket form. Only Virginia was able to reach the Sweet 16...and they had been seeded to reach the Final Four. (Note that Louisville also reached the Sweet 16 last year, but as a member of a different conference.)

    Here's this week?s schedule in Greensboro...

    Friday night's semifinals match the winners in the order above (1-4 and 2-3 if the favorites survive). The championship game will be played Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

    Miami has a chance to make some headlines on the bubble because they will be favored in their opener against a tired, bad team...and then will face a Notre Dame team that blows hot and cold and plays poor defense. They couldn't have asked for a better shot at jumping off the bubble and into the Dance brackets.

    We?ve talked in past years about how you can use scoring differentials in league play to create virtual Power Ratings. Margin differentials within a tight schedule range basically show you the point differences from top to bottom. In a league this big, strength of schedules weren?t identical of course. But, this gives you a good sense of how it all fits together.

    CONFERENCE MARGIN AVERAGES

    Virginia +10.6
    Duke +9.7
    North Carolina +5.4
    Notre Dame +4.9
    Louisville +3.4
    NC State +3.0
    Miami +2.2
    Syracuse -1.8 (ineligible)
    Clemson -2.1
    Florida State -2.7
    Pittsburgh -2.7
    Georgia Tech -5.1
    Boston College -5.6
    Wake Forest -9.1
    Virginia Tech -10.3

    You can see why Miami is positioned to make a Dance case for themselves, while Clemson, Florida State, and Pittsburgh really aren?t. Syracuse picked a good year to fall on its sword. They weren?t going to make the Dance anyway.

    Numbers-wise...Virginia and Duke have separated themselves from the field. The next hunk of teams below them is certainly capable of getting hot in a big game and scoring an upset.

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