Is the ACC once again only a four-bid league?

Jeff Eisenberg

This week, the Dagger will examine some of the most pressing questions the NCAA tournament selection committee will face. The latest installment looks at whether the ACC can get more than four teams into the field.

For a league hoping to rebound after landing only four NCAA tournament bids last season, the ACC's at-large landscape this morning has to be a bit disappointing.

Although the ACC's four best teams — North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and Virginia — all appear certain to make the field, the league's chances of receiving a fifth or sixth bid are looking increasingly bleak.

North Carolina State (18-10, 7-6) and Miami (16-10, 7-6) had emerged as the ACC's best hopes of getting another team into the field, but both suffered damaging losses Tuesday night. The Wolfpack wasted its final opportunity at a marquee league win in an 86-74 home loss to rival North Carolina, while the Hurricanes fell 75-70 in a winnable road game at rebuilding Maryland.

For North Carolina State in particular, Tuesday night's loss may be a death blow. The Wolfpack had three straight shots at a signature victory and failed to win any of them, squandering a 20-point lead at Duke and getting beat by double figures at home against Florida State and North Carolina to fall to 0-5 against teams ahead of them in the ACC.

Although the Wolfpack can still go 10-6 in the ACC by concluding the regular season with wins over Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech, their only chance to notch a noteworthy win will come in the ACC tournament. Currently NC State's biggest two victories came against Texas and Miami, both fellow bubble teams who'd likely miss the field if the season ended today.

"We certainly had opportunities to help ourselves, no question," NC State coach Mark Gottfried told reporters after the game. "All we can do is just continue to play really hard and do everything we possibly can and see where we end up."

Miami's profile is almost as empty as NC State's, but at least the Hurricane can point to a season-defining win at Duke as proof they belong. They also may benefit if the selection committee takes into account that senior center Reggie Johnson missed all four of their non-conference losses due to injury.

The other advantage Miami has over NC State is one final chance to add another quality win with Florida State visiting Coral Gables on Sunday.

A win Sunday would restore some hope for Miami. A loss, and next Wednesday's bubble battle with NC State may become an elimination game with the loser NIT-bound and the winner still needing an ACC tournament run to help a once-proud conference avoid sending only four teams for a second straight year.

This week, the Dagger will examine some of the most pressing questions the NCAA tournament selection committee will face. A look at what's to come:

• Monday: Which teams will join Kentucky and Syracuse as No. 1 seeds?
• Tuesday: Will Northwestern earn its first-ever NCAA bid?
• Wednesday: Will the ACC get a fifth team into the NCAA tournament?
• Thursday: How many bids will the Pac-12 receive?
• Friday: Which league will receive the most NCAA bids?
• Saturday: Where should Murray State be seeded?
• Sunday: Long Beach State, Middle Tennessee State and Oral Roberts dominated their leagues. Do they need to win their conference tournaments to get in?

Rivals.com: NCAA tournament watch