CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina coach Roy Williams, whose top-seeded team won’t play in the ACC tournament until Friday, called this year’s event in Greensboro “almost like a pre-NCAA tournament, because there’s so much at stake for so many teams.
“In the past, there’s been past where ‘these three-four-five-six-seven’ are going, and these guys have got to win the tournament, and it’s pretty well cut and dried. But there’s a lot of things that could still happen; this is like an extension, like a play-in, to the NCAA tournament.
As I wrote in today's print editions, only three ACC teams are pretty safe locks for the NCAAs, so far: UNC, second-seeded Duke and third-seeded Florida State. Boston College, Virginia Tech and Clemson are all considered bubble teams, and it’s un-clear how many ACC teams the NCAA selection committed will ultimately choose.
Williams said he was discussing the tournament, which begins Thursday, with team spokesman Steve Kirschner, and they had a similar outlook on this year’s event.
“It has more meaning this year than it has in a lot of years,’’ Williams said. “Because of that, I think there will be even more intensity. If you go in, and you’ve got five great teams that have been ranked all year and seven teams that have stumbled all year, you can say all you want about ‘one team can make the tournament by winning,’ but it’s not very realistic.
“But you’ve got four or five teams in that middle part right now, that this tournament is extremely important to, and we’ve got to make sure that everybody’s want-to is not more impressive than your want-to.”