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Matt Norlander

Bubble Breakdown: Duke's the ACC's only lock

The Dagger

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Selection Sunday is less than three weeks away, so we're taking a conference-by-conference look at the bubble picture this week. Now we're going to tackle a conference that got really overrated really quickly. Fortunately, most people realize just how much power and sex appeal the ACC lacks in 2010. Take note that this was written prior to all the games finishing Wednesday night.

Tourney-bound: Duke (23-4)

They've got work to do: Maryland, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech

Maryland (18-7, 9-3, RPI: 34)

• Marquee wins: Florida State (twice)

• Bad losses: William & Mary

• Remaining schedule: Clemson; @ Virginia Tech; Duke; @ Virginia

• Outlook: This one's simple. Winning over Clemson Wednesday night would mean 10 in the ACC, and it'll be in like Flynn.

Wake Forest (18-7, 8-5, RPI: 20)

• Marquee wins: @ Gonzaga; Xavier

• Bad losses: William & Mary; @ Miami; @ N.C. State

• Remaining schedule: N.C. State; @ Florida State; Clemson

• Outlook: Look, Wake would really have to have the bottom fall out to not make the tournament. But if it can win on the road at Florida State and take out either Clemson or N.C. State at home, it's going to be enough. This should've been settled by now, but Wake is the ACC in a microcosm. This team has shown flashes of terrific play but been just as frustrating in blowing its opportunities, too.

Virginia Tech (21-6, 8-5, RPI: 45)

• Marquee wins: Wake Forest

• Bad losses: @ Boston College

• Remaining schedule: Maryland; N.C. State; @ Georgia Tech

• Outlook: As I write this, Virginia Tech just lost by 20 on the road at Boston College. That's not gonna be good for business. The Hokies' problem is, despite still being three games above .500 in league play, they played absolutely nobody out of conference (the sixth-worst SOS in D-I). That kind of scheduling really ticks off the selection committee. So Seth Greenberg's club probably can only afford two more losses, if that. And one of those losses better not be in the first game of the ACC tournament.

Florida State (20-7, 8-5, RPI: 39)

• Marquee wins: Georgia Tech (twice), Marquette

• Bad losses: North Carolina State

• Remaining schedule: Clemson; Wake Forest; @ Miami

• Outlook: I need just one more win from this team to get them in. Beat one of the two bubble friends coming up next and that'll about be a wrap. Especially if FSU swept G-Tech and Wake Forest, you'd have a really hard time trying to keep them out, as they'd be above .500 in the ACC having done that.

Clemson (19-7, 7-5, RPI: 33)

• Marquee wins: Butler

• Bad losses: @ Boston College

• Remaining schedule: @ Maryland; @ Florida State; Georgia Tech

• Outlook: Clemson also has a home win over Maryland, but is that really marquee? I have to say no. So what's funny about the Tigers is how much it's inferred, seemingly every season, that this team has changed. Yet you look at who it's beaten and you're left a little listless. If Clemson were to lose on the road in its next two games, we could be looking at a de facto elimination game when the Bumble Bees and Pussycats play to end the ACC season. I'd be watching, even if it was an ugly game.

Georgia Tech (17-9, 6-7, RPI: 30)

• Marquee wins: Duke; Wake Forest

• Bad losses: @ Georgia; @ Miami

• Remaining schedule: Boston College; @ Clemson; Virginia Tech

• Outlook: Still listed here, despite the sub-.500 record, because of giving Duke one of only two losses in the ACC. Otherwise, there's not much to love. Things have to turn around very quickly. Three games remain on the regular-season slate, and then it's got the ACC tournament. So let's look at the immediate four. Does Georgia Tech need to win four straight? No, but 3-1 seems mandatory to me, and that loss better not come against Boston College this Saturday.

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