Tourney Watch: ACC and Am East

It may still be February, but it is never too early to look to the tournament. Cat Tracks analyzes the teams that will figure heavily in the selection process for the field of 65. Some are locks, while others need to get to work. We start with the ACC, America East and Atlantic Sun.

Note: All records and ratings are at the time the article was first published.

The America East will earn just one bid. It doesn't even look like much of a race as Boston University leads the conference by two games and has the best overall record.

Boston U. (15-8, 10-2)
RPI: 116
Key players: F Rashad Bell, F Billy Collins, G Chaz Carr
Good wins: Florida State
Good losses: at Stanford, at Boston College, at St. Joe's, at Arizona
Bad losses: at Cleveland State, Northeastern, at Stony Brook
Outlook: Best team in the America East, will only get in if it wins conference tournament.

ACC (4-5 teams)
The ACC is not the power conference it has been in years past, but will still have its share of representation. The ACC will get at least four bids, and perhaps five.

Duke (17-4, 7-4)
RPI: 10
Key Players: G Chris Duhon, F Dahntay Jones, G J.J. Reddick
Good wins: Michigan, Dayton, Butler, Wake Forest
Good losses: at Maryland, at Wake Forest
Bad losses: at Florida State
Outlook: Duke is young, but is still very good. The team is coming back down to Earth in conference play, but is still looking at a top seed.

Wake Forest (17-4, 7-3)
RPI: 12
Key Players: G Josh Howard, Vytas Danelius, Justin Gray
Good wins: at Wisconsin, St. Johns, Duke, Maryland Good losses: at Duke, at Marquette, at Maryland Bad losses: none Outlook: Wake is a surprise team, but should have a nice seed come March.

Maryland (16-6, 8-3)
RPI: 32
Key players:G Steve Blake, G Drew Nicholas
Good Wins: Wake Forest,Duke
Good losses: Indiana, Notre Dame, Florida, Wake Forest
Bad losses: Georgia Tech, Virginia
Outlook: Maryland will most likely get a chance to defend the national title, but don't expect a great seed. It has not lost often to inferior teams, but has dropped a number of games to good competition.

NC State (13-8, 6-4)
RPI: 66
Key players: G Julius Hodge, F Marcus Melvin
Good Wins: South Carolina, Duke
Good losses: Wake Forest, Gonzaga, Maryland Bad losses: Temple. Umass Outlook: NC State is a classic bubble team. It really needs a few more quality wins and must make some noise in the ACC Tournament. An RPI of 66 is rough.

Virginia (14-9, 5-6)
RPI: 50
Key players: F Travis Watson, G Todd Billet
Good Wins: Kentucky, Wake Forest, Maryland
Good losses: Duke (twice), Indiana, Michigan State
Bad losses: Clemson (twice), Virginia Tech
Outlook: As I write this the Cavs have dropped three in a row and are in trouble. A 50 RPI puts them on the bubble, but they need to surge in the second half or prepare for the NIT.

Georgia Tech (12-10, 5-6)
RPI: 63
Key players: F Chris Bosh, G Barry Elder, G Marvin Lewis
Good Wins: Georgia, Maryland
Good losses: Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, Syracuse, Minnesota
Bad losses: Clemson, Tulane, Florida State
Outlook: Georgia Tech's tournament hopes are on life support. The Yellow Jackets have a ton of good losses, but not many quality wins. They need to get hot.

North Carolina (13-11, 4-7)
RPI: 39
Key players: G Rashad McCants, G Ray Felton, F Jawad Williams
Good Wins: Kansas, Stanford, UConn
Good losses: Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, Illinois, Kentucky
Bad losses: Clemson, at Iona
Outlook: Early in the season UNC looked to be back, but injuries and youth have been problematic. Despite the good RPI, getting into the tourney could be very tough.

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