Well, it is College Basketball Tournament season. The Big Dance commences in earnest today.
Before reaching the real March Madness… did you know that Pittsburgh is still playing basketball? The Panthers defeated Wofford on Tuesday in something called the CBI, 81-63. And Miami defeated Valparaiso in the NIT on Wednesday, 66-50. Congratulations for those teams taking advantage of their post-season opportunities.
As for the Big Dance, all the current ACC teams begin play on Friday. So here is what ACC fans should be watching for Thursday:
Syracuse. The Orange are going to be playing without the Big East defensive player of the year, Fab Melo. Will the Melo-less Orange be the first #1 seed to ever lose to a #16 seed? North Carolina-Asheville is not your ordinary 16 seed. The Bulldogs stayed with North Carolina State (lost by 9), battled North Carolina (lost by 16), gave UConn a run (lost by 10), and narrowly lost to Tennessee (lost by 4). They also beat Utah by 16. This is not a team that will shrink from Syracuse. However, even without Melo, Syracuse would have been a 3 or 4 seed this year. In fact, without the expectation of improvement by Melo, Syracuse was a top 5 team in the preseason. The goal here is to win and develop the ability to play without Melo. If so, Syracuse still has the tools to make a decent run.