Championship week is upon us and that could only mean one thing.. the field of 68 is closer to being revealed this weekend on Selection Sunday. As the madness nears, all eyes will be glued to arguably the most competitive conference in the country: The tradition-rich ACC. To nobody's surprise, the ACC will likely draw the most amount of teams who will hear their names called to participate in the NCAA Tournament. A few programs from the prestigious conference are still on the outside looking in with a game or two must wins in the conference tournament in order to add to that total. Here are the top 3 scariest teams entering ACC conference tournament play.
Tate's Take: We've all heard the term "defense wins championships" and the Louisville program has always relied on their defensive staple as a key ingredient to their success. Anas Mahmoud, the ACC's leading shot-blocker, Ray Spalding and Deng Adel lead a stout front-court that can defend on the perimeter as well as the paint and alter shots at the rim using their lateral movement. The key will be staying out of foul trouble and finding a way to the charity stripe.
Spalding can score with anyone using his versatility but production will need to come much easier on the offensive end at the guard position. Here is where the single x-factor Ryan McMahon could potentially make or break the Cards' conference tournament and hopes at an NCAA Tournament bid. Georgia native Darius Perry is one of the brightest spots on the roster as a disciplined guard. As a floor general that is in line to be a key piece in assisting and ensuring the back-court can compete at a high level consistently, his contributions and potential is untapped, an area that must and should excel versus Florida State's athletic guard-play.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Tate's Take: Working in Notre Dame's favor is the ACC's inability to prepare for Notre Dame when at a clean bill of health. Senior forward and double-double machine Bonzie Colson has returned to the lineup from an injury that sidelined him throughout 2018. Colson at 70 percent is as good as many at 90 percent and that speaks volume for the rejuvenated Irish who are peaking and trending upward at the right time. However he hasn't been the only sidelined starter that is key to victories.
Senior point guard Matt Ferrell has also returned as the league's third ranked assist leader and is every coach's dream to run a team. Paired with their return are two of the best experienced role players nationally: Rex Pfluger and TJ Gibbs. Typically in late game stretches, opposing teams tend to defend the three poorly and excessively commit fouls in tight games with undisciplined play. This benefits ND more than any because of their ability to convert on free throws and perimeter shooting with their smart play that every team on their portion of the bracket is vulnerable to and struggles with (yes, even Duke).
Need a feel good story that confirms that March has arrived? One of the most underrated coaches in the conference and country in Mike Brey is more than capable of getting more from less and exceeding expectations.