The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Charlotte, NC Attendance for ACC Championship Set at 5240

On Saturday, December 19th, 2020 the ACC Championship Game will be played in Charlotte, North Carolina at Bank of America Stadium. This is one of the most anticipated ACC Championship Games as there is a strong possibility that even the loser of the game could get into the College Football Playoff (CFP). If Notre Dame loses a close game to Clemson we know the Tigers will be in the Playoff and there is a good argument that Notre Dame deserves to be in the Playoff as their only loss will be to a top 3 team. A top 3 team they have already beat one time this year.

The attendance for ACC Championship Games has been a joke in years past as Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte is rarely full for this game or any college football game in Charlotte. This year, with the COVID-19 Pandemic the ACC is limiting the attendance to 5240 which is 7% capacity of the Carolina Panthers home stadium in downtown Charlotte.

Brian Kelly has been quite vocal about the fact that friends and family of the college athletes deserve to be at the game in person. We all know that Kelly has been outspoken in the past when it comes to things not going exactly his way. If Notre Dame loses a close game to Clemson on Saturday it will be interesting to see what Kelly has to say.

Note that this will likely be Notre Dame’s only chance to win an ACC Championship or any conference championship as they will go back to being independents next year. What many may not realize is prior to Knute Rockne and the Four Horseman Notre Dame wanted to join the Big Ten and the Big Ten and the Big Ten would not allow them. This will go down as one of the biggest mistakes in college football history. Well, that and any of the decisions to allow Big Ten teams into the College Football Playoff in the last several years.

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Will UVA Return to the Final Four in 2020?

While we are in the dog days of summer, the most diehard college basketball fans are already making predictions for the 2019-20 season. While the University of Virginia is the reigning national champion, most experts would agree that they will not start the 2019-20 season in the top 10. They lost almost every important starter from the championship team. While these athletes are playing in the NBA or in Europe, Tony Bennett will be molding a new team with the pack line defense and efficient offense.

The ACC will be stacked again in 2019-20 with Duke and UNC likely being preseason top 10 programs. With highly sought after recruits and Hall of Fame coaches, it is hard to imagine a time when both Duke and UNC are not in the Top 10 in basketball. Every time you count one of these programs out, they come out and win 30 games and make the Elite 8. It is almost as if they thrive off being the underdog.

Has this become Tony Bennett’s new skill? Has he created a program in which he plays the underdog card? Was the loss to the #16 seed UMBC just what he needed to get his first national championship? It sure seems this way, which means UVA will be a great team in 2019-20. Basically everyone is counting them out this year. The same could be said last year when the NCAA Tournament started.

I do not know a single college basketball analyst or expert that is picking UVA to go back to the Final Four in 2020. In fact, most have them outside the top 10 and not even one of the top 3 seeds for next years tournament. It will be interesting to see how UVA plays during the ACC conference season as they will likely have a chip on their shoulder. Unlike Kentucky, Duke and UNC, this reigning national champion will not be expected to be in the Final Four the following year.

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UNC Women’s Lacrosse Wins 4th Straight ACC Championship

The senior class of women’s lacrosse players at UNC have never lost a game in the ACC tournament. That is an unbelievable statement as the ACC is, by far and away, the best conference in NCAA women’s lacrosse. Almost everyone in the lacrosse world expected Boston College to roll through the 2019 ACC Tournament not only because they were undefeated but they were also hosting the tournament in their home stadium. No travel, favorable conditions and the most talent in the country would lead to Boston College’s first ever ACC Championship right? Not so fast.

The most shocking aspect of the 2019 ACC Tournament was the fact that #1 and undefeated Boston College was up 6-1 in the early part of the first half and seemed to have things well in hand. Add to that that Jamie Ortega was almost non existent on the offensive end and you would have written UNC off. Rather than getting their heads down and accepting defeat, the Tar Heels stormed back and took the lead with just under 20 minutes to go in the second half.

With Sam Apuzzo, Kenzie Kent and Dempsey Arsenault on the field for the #1 team in the country one would think a 6-1 lead less than 10 minutes into the game would have been the nail in the coffin for UNC. Instead of the big names determining the outcome of this championship game it was some of the lesser known athletes for UNC that stepped up big. Kara Klages, Tayler Warehime and Gianna Bowe all played pivotal roles in the comeback for the Heels.

To end the regular season, Sam Apuzzo finished with 78 goals vs Jamie Ortega’s 71. Ortega got the last laugh as she assisted on the Tayler Warehine goal that game UNC the lead that held until the final buzzer. One would imagine UNC will be the #2 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament with Maryland being the #1 overall seed. Syracuse, Northwestern and Notre Dame will all be vying for that important #4 spot to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Boston College will be the #3 overall seed.

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The Zion Dunk vs the Grant Hill Dunk

As soon as the Zion Williamson alley oop happened every diehard college basketball fan made immediate comparisons to the Grant Hill alley oop against Kansas in the championship game. Of course Jim Nantz was going to be all over it. The Grant Hill call was Billy Packer and Jim Nantz and Packer is heard here:

The Zion Williamson alley oop was called by Jim Nantz and Bill Raftery and they saw it coming from a mile away. Here it is again for those that have not seen it:

It was an epic moment in this year’s NCAA Tournament and is something that will always be remember by diehard Duke fans. The greatest part about the entire play was the fact that Grant Hill was calling the game for CBS and Raftery did a quick analysis of the two dunks after the TV timeout.

Even for fans that are not huge Duke fans, you had to respect the moment as it was fun to watch for all college basketball fans; even UNC and NC State fans.

So, now that Duke has survived two big time scares in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, how many more lives do they have? Are they a team of destiny that is going to win the championship after two games in which they could have lost. Many would argue that they should have lost the game against UCF. The fighting Johnny Dawkins’ had Duke beat numerous times. They even missed a relatively easy layup at the end that could have sent Duke packing.

Virginia Tech has an alley oop tip in that they missed at the end of regulation. Now Duke has to play the #2 seed Michigan State and another (basically) Coach K disciple in Tom Izzo. Do you think Zion will lead Duke to a championship as a freshman?

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Can UVA Beat Duke in 2019?

Virginia’s Tony Bennett always has a plan. That is not to say everything goes as planned. See UMBC in last year’s NCAA Tournament. That said, the large majority of the time, Tony Bennett dictates the pace of play of the game and he finds a way to win. Most would argue his coaching philosophy cannot win an NCAA Championship but he ticks off 25+ wins year in and year out.

Even when the Cavs are not playing their best basketball, they find way to win games because of their defense. In a very sloppy game in Raleigh last night, the Wahoos walked out of PNC Arena with a victory over a top 25 opponent. NC State is on thing, Duke is completely different. The Blue Devils will make the trip to the JPJ in a few weeks in what is sure to be the biggest game of the ACC regular season.

In the JPJ, the Cavs seem to always dictate pace of play. Even with high scoring Tar Heel teams of the past, the Cavs were able to hold them to well under their scoring average. They drain the shot clock on offense and force their opponents to spend most of their shot clock on the defensive end. Scores are often in the 50s or 60s in JPJ and that is what it will take for UVA to beat Duke this season.

Duke will come in with the two most talked about players in college basketball at the top of their games – RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson. It will likely be the case that both teams will be ranked in the top 5 and the students will be ready to go in Charlottesville.

So, is there any way UVA can actually hold Duke to under 80 points and win a very important home game? We saw Georgia Tech cause the Blue Devils to struggle so there is reason to believe the Cavaliers can do it as well. If Duke scores over 75, there is no way UVA is going to win the game. Unless it goes into double overtime. If UVA holds Duke under 70, we would expect to see UVA come away with a victory and first place in the ACC Regular Season.

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UNC vs Kentucky Rematch in the NCAA Tournament?

UNC plays Kentucky almost every year in the regular season before conference play. This has been a tradition that continues to work as fans from both schools want to see how each team will stack up prior to conference play. Interestingly, in the latest ESPN Bracketology the experts have UNC as a #3 seed and Kentucky as a #6 seed in the same region. This is not uncommon as the NCAA Tournament Committee would love to see a second round matchup between UNC and Kentucky.

We still have the entire conference season to go so there is no reason to take this Bracketology seriously. What we do know is that CBS and the NCAA would love to have UNC and Kentucky in a game during the March Madness tournament in 2019.

Many would argue that Kentucky has a better resume prior to conference play. Not only do they have a better resume, but they also won the head to head matchup at a neutral location. This makes us wonder why ESPN would give UNC the #3 seed and Kentucky the #6 seed. Either way, most times the seeding from 3-6 doesn’t matter all that much in the NCAA Tournament. The seeds that are not appealing at 7-10 as those teams will have to play the #1 or #2 seeds in the second round.

As the ACC and SEC regular seasons progress, we will update the potential for these two powerhouses to meet again in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Ultimately, UNC will want to be playing on the East Coast as they do not want to travel to the midwest or western part of the country.

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How Many Wins Will Mack Brown Have in His First Year at UNC?

If we have learned anything in college football, it is that new coaches, looking to rebuild a program, often struggle in their first year. Scott Frost started 0-6 at Nebraska, Chip Kelly started 0-5 at UCLA and the legend Nick Saban lost to Louisiana-Monroe in his first year at Alabama. In Bryant Denny Stadium. So, can we expect Mack Brown to walk in and go to a bowl game in his first year back in Chapel Hill?

It is going to be difficult for Mack Brown to win games in 2019. UNC is not the most talented team and they are accustomed to losing. In games they should have won this year against Virginia Tech and North Carolina State, they simply quit at the end of the game. It is going to take time to change that culture. That said, the staff Mack Brown is creating could b amazing.

The rumors are Kliff Kingsbury could be offensive coordinator and Gene Chizik will return to run the defense. This would be a dream come true in Chapel Hill. If this staff is assembled, the Tar Heels should be winning multiple Atlantic Division titles in the ACC in the years ahead. Note that UNC tends to be a stepping stone for coordinators so if they do get a very successful coordinator, they could parlay that into another head coaching stint somewhere in the south.

Mack Brown will have a successful year in 2019 if he is above .500. The Tar Heels out of conference schedule includes South Carolina and Appalachian State, both of which could be ranked in the top 25 when the Tar Heels play them. If the Heels can win a few home ACC games, they should beat Mercer and will likely go 1-1 against App and South Carolina.

UNC fans will likely be patient at Mack Brown started his first job at UNC with one win each of his first two seasons. He then went on to have multiple 10 win seasons before moving on to Texas and winning a championship with Vince Young in 2005.

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NC State Opens at #21 in First CFP Poll for 2018

It is very hard to believe that the Wolfpack could get half a hundy hung on them in the Carrier Dome yet they are still ranked in the initial College Football Playoff poll. In the last two weeks, Clemson and Syracuse have rolled through the Pack defense with little resistance. The Wolfpack does have wins over #22 Boston College and #25 Virginia which are their quality wins.

Moving forward, the Pack will have to win out to have a chance at a great bowl. There is little to no chance for a New Years Six bowl but the Pack can grab an invitation to a major bowl. The last time the Wolfpack played in one of the top bowls was in 2003 when Philip Rivers’ led the Pack to a dominate win over Notre Dame.

Other ACC teams in the top 25 include Clemson at #2, Syracuse at #19, Boston College at #22 and Virginia at #25. By the end of the season, it looks as if there will be three of four ACC teams in the top 25 but the majority will reside in the lower half of the top 25.

Interestingly, the only team getting any recognition from the Coastal Division in Virginia. The Wahoos are 4-1 in the ACC with their only loss coming against NC State. Unless something crazy happens in the second half of the season it looks as if Clemson will play Virginia in the ACC Championship Game. The early line on this game will be 21 or 24.

Virginia Tech and Miami have been huge disappointments in the Coastal Division. Most felt as if both teams had a chance to be in the top 10 throughout the season. It sure seems that every team in the Coastal Division is bipolar this year. They will play amazing one week and won’t even show up the next week. Both Duke and UNC have one win in ACC play and could be playing for last place in the game for the Victory Bell.

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Should the CFP Be an ACC and Three SEC Teams?

Prove me wrong. The four best teams in the country are Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and LSU. Anyone that thinks that Notre Dame or Michigan can play with these teams is fooling themselves. I recently made a comment that if you have seen frost on the ground before Halloween, you are already eliminated from the College Football Playoff. Other than Ohio State winning in 2014, when is the last time a Northern college football team even competed in the CFP.

Let’s look at the numbers:


Ohio State 42, Alabama 35

Ohio State 42, Oregon 20


Alabama 38, Michigan State 0


Clemson 31, Ohio State 0

Alabama 24, Washington 7


No Northern Teams

So, the total score for North vs South from 2015 through 2017 is 93-7. Yes, 93-7. Northern teams have been able to score a single touchdown in three games versus ACC and SEC teams in the College Football Playoff if we exclude the 2014 season in which Ohio State won the championship.

In my opinion, there is no argument to be made that a Northern team could stay on the same field with one of the three SEC teams or Clemson. Can you imagine the score if Alabama played Notre Dame on Saturday. Heck, even LSU would destroy Michigan and Notre Dame.

As we continue to work our way to championship weekend, there will be losses by the SEC teams. Obviously, Alabama or LSU will lose this weekend as they square off in Death Valley. It will likely be Georgia and Alabama in the SEC Championship Game so one would assume a two loss Georgia team would not get into the playoff. The two losses would be to LSU and Alabama.

I think it is safe to say that Clemson is going to go undefeated and will win the ACC Championship Game. Any team that gets 5 wins in the Atlantic Division will likely make the championship game and Clemson will be favored by about 24. Maybe more.

So, all you B1G and Pac-12 fans, tell me why you deserve a team in the College Football Playoff.

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NC State Opens as a Seven Point Favorite vs FSU

Las Vegas has very little faith in Florida State. How things have changed in the last year. In 2016 and 2017, Las Vegas continued to have faith that the talent and coaching staff of Florida State could “get it done” even after big losses or let downs. In 2018, Las Vegas has accepted that Florida State is simply not a good football team. They were blown out by Clemson to the tune of 49 points and will be coming to Raleigh to play an NC State team that is reeling.

In that past, this game would have been a pick ’em game or a slight favorite to the home team. Now, NC State is a touchdown favorite even after giving up 41 and 51 in their last two games. The NC State defense could stop no one in the last four quarters. Wet toilet paper would be giving them way too much credit.

Clemson racked up 471 yards and Syracuse followed with 561 yards. This comes just weeks after the NC State defense had only given up three touchdowns all year. Now they are struggling to only give up three touchdowns in a single quarter.

The Over/Under on the game has not been released but it is going to have to be in the 70s or 80s. Both defenses have been gouged over the past few weeks and will be coming in to trying to get their footing. If the weather is the forecasted mid 60s and sunny, one would imagine at least one of the teams will put up 40+, if not both.

For NC State fans, it is the same old story. Every time there is any chance of having a “special season” an immediate losing streak begins. In 2003, the Pack started 9-0 only to lose three in a row. In the Tom O’Brien and Dave Doeren eras any extended winning streak is followed by an unexpected loss (ie Wake Forest) or a losing streak.

While the Pack is playing for a respectable bowl game, it is going to be hard to get back up after taking to haymakers to the jaw in the last two weekends. Do you think the Pack will be able to recover and win against Florida State this Saturday? The game is a 3:30 kickoff at Carter Finley Stadium and will be televised on ABC.

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