With the ACC now an unwieldy 15 member behemoth, the ACC tournament will be a 5 day long grind. Gone is the action packed Friday opening round of my youth. Gone too is the Les Robinson Invitational on Thursday evening, which all but State fans and one other school could just pretend didn't exist (sobs quietly).
Instead, we begin at 1 PM sharp on Wednesday with an atrocity they call "Opening Day presented by Food Lion."
It's like baseball's opening day, except terrible. The match-ups, played in front of an 80% empty Greensboro Coliseum, will be: 10 v. 15, 11 v. 14, and 12 v. 13.
As you may know, our beloved Wolfpack were slotted in 10th place in the preseason poll. So forgot the NCAA bubble; all season I've focused on avoiding the ignominy of "Opening Day." 9th or bust.
So how are we doing?
Very well, actually! Right now we sit tied for 6th with Clemson, at 6-6. Clemson holds the tiebreaker for now by its win over Duke, but that will soon be a moot point as tonight's game will give the winner the head-to-head.
But look at the teams just below State in the standings: Maryland is 1 loss back, FSU, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, and Wake are two losses back. Except for Wake, State holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over each team, with no more head to head contests remaining. Meaning, effectively, we are 2 games ahead of Maryland and 3 ahead of FSU, Notre Dame, and GT. 3 teams out of the Terps/Noles/Irish/Jackets/Bzzzes group of five would need to pass State for us to fall into Wednesday's pit of despair.
In conclusion, short of an epic collapse (certainly has happened before), we're safe. No "Opening Day." No depressing Wednesday afternoon tilt against Miami or VT. Exceeding preseason expectations. Huzzah!