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ACC Tournament Seeding Scenarios

There’s a lot that could happen, buckle up

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at N.C. State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

As it stands right now, NC State (20-8, 8-7) currently sits at 8th in the ACC with three games left to play. That would put them in the 8/9 game against Clemson on Wednesday in Charlotte at noon. Early games for basketball aren’t as bad because it doesn’t involve drinking before the sun comes up, but I’d still personally rather play later in the day which would also set up a better draw. The double bye and the 4 seed is still technically in play, but you’d be asking for A LOT of dominoes to fall in order for that to happen. Somewhere in the 6-8 range is probably the sweet spot for where NC State ends up in Charlotte. If the Wolfpack can take care of business in the final two weeks then you’ll likely see them move up at least a spot which would put them in a night game against a bottom five team.

This time of year is the best time to ask the endless “what if” questions. What if NC State could have pulled it out in overtime against Virginia? What if Markell Johnson wasn’t hurt for close road losses to Wake Forest and Louisville? What if the team knew there was a basketball game on Saturday February 2nd at PNC Arena? Even with just one of those being wins, they’d be in a much better position now. But they are where they are and so now it’s time to take a look at some future “what if” scenarios so you know who else to be cheering for over the next two weeks.

4. Virginia Tech (21-6, 10-5)

Remaining games:

2/26 vs #1 Duke

3/5 @ #16 Florida State

3/8 vs Miami


At 10-5 in conference play and the tiebreaker with NC State due to the 24-point debacle, the only possible scenario for the Wolfpack to jump the Hokies would be a win out/lose out. It’s… possible. Virginia Tech is not the same team without Justin Robinson, as they’re 4-3 since he went down and have only gotten to 70 points in two of those games. It sounds like the program leader in assists COULD be back by the FSU game but nothing has been set in stone. With Zion Williamson out again tomorrow night VT could make it interesting in Blacksburg, but I still think Duke will be too much to handle. That trip to Florida State will be tough with or without Justin Robinson. So it probably comes down to whether or not they can hold serve in their final game of the regular season at home against Miami. It’s been a rough year for the Hurricanes, but maybe Chris Lykes and Zach Johnson can go bonkers and work some magic? Probably not, but maybe.

5. Florida State (21-6, 9-5)

Remaining games:

2/25 vs Notre Dame

3/2 vs NC State

3/5 vs #20 Virginia Tech

3/9 @ Wake Forest


This is the only team NC State is chasing that it could have any impact on with the Wolfpack paying a visit to Tallahassee next Saturday. A win keeps the door open, a loss completely shuts it as FSU would own the tiebreaker and already have State’s maximum win total. It’ll be a tall task as this senior laden team is playing some really good basketball having won 8 straight before their hiccup in Chapel Hill on Saturday. But for the sake of having fun let’s just say Markell Johnson goes crazy and NC State wins. Notre Dame is young for Mike Brey standards and just doesn’t have a ton of talent, but they’ve been pesky at times giving some of the top ACC teams tough games. At home though I see FSU winning by double digits. The matchup with Virginia Tech should be a good one if they can get Robinson back but Florida State’s length could be tough to handle for a team that lacks in that department. Florida State will not lose to Wake Forest. This scenario obviously overlaps with the one above so chances are you won’t be able to pass both, unless Florida State wins head to head but slips up this week against Notre Dame and NC State. If State finishes 3-0 they just need a 2-2 finish from FSU. If they finish 2-1 then one of those wins would need to come in Tallahassee and the Noles would have to finish 1-3. Not likely.

6. Syracuse (18-9, 9-5)

Remaining Games:

2/26 @ #8 North Carolina

3/2 @ Wake Forest

3/4 vs #3 Virginia

3/9 @ Clemson


Talk about a back loaded schedule. This list doesn’t include last week when they had Louisville and Duke come to town. While their upset of Louisville kept them 1.5 games up on the Pack, it was actually best case scenario as they still had three likely losses on their schedule and kept Louisville within striking distance. The back loaded schedule and a tiebreaker in hand make Syracuse the most likely team that NC State could jump. A perfect finish from NC State would require the Orange to finish 2-2, which feels like almost a lock with two top 10 teams on the schedule. Virginia is as tough as they come no matter where you play them, and whether you want to hear it or not UNC is damn good and could very well win another national championship. If NC State slips up in one of their final games then Syracuse would need to finish 1-3, still a very possible scenario. Clemson has played well at home and will be in need of a win on Senior Night if it wants to have any chance at all of making the tournament. I don’t feel as confident saying they won’t lose to Wake as I did about FSU, but don’t count on it. Still probably not gonna happen.

7. Louisville (18-10, 9-6)

Remaining games:

2/27 @ Boston College

3/3 vs Notre Dame

3/9 @ #3 Virginia


This team is mentally broken right now. After being one of the hottest teams in the country starting off 7-1 in conference play, the Cardinals have now lost 5 of their last 7. All of those losses were either by double digits or involved blowing a double digit second half lead (or both in Virginia’s case). To say they’re limping to the finish line would be an understatement. NC State finishing perfect would require a 1-2 finish. A trip to Virginia is probably a guaranteed loss. Luckily for them though they first get two games against the bottom quadrant of the conference, but I wouldn’t write anybody off the way things are going for them at the moment. Chestnut Hill can be a tricky road trip to navigate, and Pack fans should be cheering on Ky Bowman like crazy. However, Jordan Chatman missed the Clemson game after hurting his finger last week in Raleigh so if he’s unable to go then they probably won’t have enough to pull the upset. As mentioned above, Notre Dame has had close games against good teams this year so maybe they get over the hump and finally pull an upset like they did against Purdue in December? We’ll see.

Now keep in mind that these are simply what it would take in regards to head to head tie breakers. It could certainly happen where NC State finds themselves tied with just one team, but at 10-8 or 11-7 you’ll likely see a three or even four team tie. In that case a round robin record of the group of tied teams will be used with the highest winning percentage gaining the tiebreaker, before then moving to records against the top teams in the conference or head to head. For instance, a three way tie at 10-8 with Louisville and Syracuse would put State at #7. A three way tie at 11-7 with FSU and Louisville would then put State at #6, but if Virginia Tech was in there instead of FSU then State would be the third team in that tiebreaker. Of course, none of this matters if NC State drops more than one of their remaining games but I would really not like to think of that. There are obviously several other scenarios, but with all the moving parts I won’t continue to blabber on about all of them. Instead here’s a scenario generator that you can use to waste an hour of your life: