Conference Stock Report

The final week of the basketball regular season is in the books and the conference is preparing for the tournament to start on Thursday. March Madness officially begins when the premier conference in college basketball begins the post season. The final stock report of the season will recap the final week and take a look at the upcoming tournament.

The last week of the season was much like every other week. Road teams struggled against inferior opponents, home teams found a way to win and the middle of the conference is a jumble. As it stands, only five teams are absolutely guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament. Boston College is close to a lock, but everyone else is a question mark.

The first round of the conference tournament is shaping up to be an elimination round for at least three teams. Two teams, Clemson and BC, need to show the tournament committee they deserve a seed commensurate with their record. That means every game is something close to do-or-die, which will make for some great action.

The Buys

North Carolina (26-3, 13-3): The Tar Heels closed out the regular season with a win over their rival Duke. They clinched the top seed in the conference tournament and they probably locked up a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. If there is any doubt about the last point, look at their record. The only losses are from conference teams. The best team from the best conference has to get a number one seed.

Wake Forest (24-5, 11-5): Wake is on a nice roll heading into the tournament. They have won seven of their last ten and four in a row to close out the season. They finished tied for second place in the conference with Duke, but win the tie-breaker. They remain, however, a team that has something to prove. They have the talent to win it all, but also have the faults of a team that can make an early exit from the post season.

Duke (24-6, 11-5): With the loss to UNC, their chances for a number two seed in the NCAA's are just about gone. The question now is how low of a three-seed they are for the NCAA. That means they need a strong conference tournament to avoid maybe slipping to a fourth seed. The good news is they get a bye and will likely face Boston College in the second round of the tournament. That means a shorter trip to the finals.

Florida State (23-8, 10-6): It was not the greatest end to the season, but they did enough to secure the fourth seed in the conference tournament and lock up a NCAA bid. The odds makers have them as the third best team heading into the tournament, right behind Duke and UNC. Their most likely opponent in round two is Clemson, a team they have beaten twice this year.

The Holds

Clemson (23-7, 9-7): It was not the typical late season collapse, but the Tigers are clearly faltering. Clemson started the season with 16 straight wins. They finished the season 7-and-7. That dropped them to fifth and makes them the most likely team to get knocked off in an early upset. Depending upon how they do in the tournament, it will certainly weigh on the committee come seeding time. Look for the Tigers to be one of those teams that get seeded much lower than their record suggests.

Boston College (21-10, 9-7): The Eagles blew a shot for a first round bye when they lost at NC State. They did lock up a good seed with the razor close win over Georgia Tech. Going into the tournament, BC is pretty much assured of a NCAA bid. They could use another win to get a good seed. They will face Virginia in round one and that should be a winnable game for them.

Maryland (18-12, 7-9): Just when it appeared the Terps were about to lock up a tournament bid, the wheels came off the cart in the final week. The loss to Wake at home was forgivable, but the loss to Virginia probably knocked them out of the tournament. That means they need two wins in the conference tournament to get back in the discussion. They did beat NC State earlier in the season, but Wake sits waiting in the second round, if they do advance.

Miami (18-11, 7-9): Conventional wisdom said the Canes needed to finish with eight wins to get in the NCAA's. Their loss to Georgia Tech not only wrecked that plan, it damaged their RPI. Now, it will take a win in the conference tournament to get them in the Big Dance. A loss and they are out. Even with a win over Virginia Tech, they will be a very close call come Selection Sunday.

The Sells

Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-9): Some still think the Hokies have a chance to get a tournament bid. That seems unlikely at this point. They are 3-and-7 over their final ten and have an RPI of 72. Throw in a losing conference record and you don't get a tournament resume. The Hokies must beat Miami in the first round. The guess here is they would also have to knock off UNC to get the committee to look past their late season swoon.

NC State (16-13, 6-10): Beating BC kept their extremely slim shot at the post season alive, but it was quickly dashed when they lost to Miami on Saturday. With the NCAA's out of the question, only two goals remain for them. They can knock off a bubble team in round one of the conference tournament. They can also make a case for a NIT bid.

Virginia (10-17, 4-12): The Cavaliers ended the season on a high note and may have scuttled Maryland's tournament hopes. Their win over the Terps is a good way for a floundering team to end the season. Maybe that gives them some confidence heading into the tournament. Their post-season will be brief, but they could catch a team like BC in round one.

Georgia Tech (11-18, 2-14): The Jackets put up a good fight in the final week of the season. They knocked off Miami on Wednesday and then gave BC all they could handle in the finale. That gives some hope for next year, but changed nothing about their season. Barring a miraculous run in the tournament, the only role they can play is as spoiler.

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