ACC Tournament Friday Previews (Early Session)

No. 1 North Carolina (27-4) vs. No. 8 Maryland (17-14) 12.00 PM, ESPN2/ACC Network/ESPN3

Alex Len (left) and the rest of the Maryland big guys are going to have to play well to keep Tyler Zeller (right) and company from dominating the game.

Carolina is in great position for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but losing a game like this could put them back on the No. 2 line. But Maryland has a chance at an NIT berth.

Key to the game: Rebounding. Maryland has had some success on the glass against North Carolina in each of the previous two meetings. They’re really the only ACC team that’s been able to have a lot of offensive rebounding success against the Tar Heels. Maryland dominated Wake on the glass in Thursday’s game and if they can at least keep Carolina’s offensive rebounds to a minimum, they’ll have a chance.

Random stat: Carolina will play Maryland for the third time this year. In post-round robin era, when the Tar Heels have played a team for the third time in the ACC Tournament, they are 4-0.

Prediction: North Carolina 88, Maryland 74

No. 4 Virginia (22-8) vs. No. 5 NC State (21-11), 2:00 PM, ESPN2/ACC Network/ESPN3

Virginia's Sammy Zeglinski (left) and NC State's Alex Johnson (right) fight for a loose ball in the first meeting.

Virginia is likely already in the NCAA Tournament, but they could really use a win over NC State just to be sure. And almost certainly, the Wolfpack needs this win to have a shot at getting into the Tournament.

Key to the game: NC State limiting its mistakes. Virginia’s slow tempo frustrates most opponents, and sometimes that forces them into mistakes as a result of that frustration as much as their pesky defense. Virginia’s opponents have to be patient on offense, and take a good shot if it’s there. The Wolfpack got a ton of offensive rebounds in the first meeting with Virginia, but that’s not something the Cavaliers typically allow.

NC State got a bit sloppy at times in Thursday’s win over BC, but they can’t let that creep back in against Virginia. “Although some teams would want to speed (Virginia) up, I don’t know that that’s necessarily easy to do,” State head coach Mark Gottfried said. “We’ll get our opportunities to run, they’ll be there but in the halfcourt, we’ve got to really execute well too.”

Random stat: Virginia’s offensive efficiency against NC State in the first meeting (102.2) is the lowest by an NC State opponent in a loss all year. When NC State has held opponents under 100, it is 14-0.

Prediction: NC State 64, Virginia 58

Last week: 9-3

Season: 135-48 (68-28 ACC) (3-1 ACC Tournament)


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