NEW YORK — An icon of college basketball is pulling down the curtain on his legendary career in one of the iconic cities in the world, and so many more storylines are in tow as Tobacco Road invades the Big Apple.
For the third time in its history, the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament is staged in New York City, calling the Barclays Center home for the next five days. Undoubtedly, the main event will be the Duke Blue Devils, who will take the floor on Thursday as head coach Mike Krzyzewski resides over the Blue Devils for the final time at the ACC Tournament. In his illustrious career, Coach K has won 15 ACC Tournament titles, including a Jayson Tatum-led championship in 2017 that took place in Brooklyn. Not that the Dukies need any more motivation to cut down the nets in Brooklyn for their retiring coach, but their loss to blood rival North Carolina in Coach K’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium is a bad taste that the team surely would like to get rid of in time for the NCAA Tournament.
Speaking of the Tar Heels, they come in as the hottest team in the league, winning five straight games after a stunning home loss to Pittsburgh had put their hopes of making the NCAA Tournament in serious jeopardy. The win at Duke made North Carolina the three seed in the tournament, which means a third Blue Devils-Tar Heels matchup this season would take place in the championship round. Notre Dame, the surprise package in the ACC this season, is the No. 2 seed — and the school that Duke defeated in that 2017 final in Brooklyn.
With the ACC having what many would say is a down year compared to most seasons, a number of teams come in to Brooklyn looking to improve on NCAA Tournament résumés that have them firmly on the bubble. Miami, the No. 4 seed, appears headed to the NCAA Tournament, but one more win wouldn’t hurt. The Hurricanes’ potential opponent in their first game of the tourney could be fifth-seeded Wake Forest, who despite their gaudy 23-8 record and 13-7 mark in the ACC are considered by a number of bracketologists on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament due to only owning one win against a team currently in Quad 1 of the NET Rankings. The schools from the Old Dominion State, Virginia and Virginia Tech, are also considered just outside of the NCAA Tournament at the moment, and their games on Wednesday, as the sixth and seventh seeds respectively, are the starts of what they hope will be a long run that puts either in the good graces of the NCAA Tournament Committee.
The rest of the league is trying to channel North Carolina State of 1983 and make an unexpected run through the field and earn an automatic berth to the Big Dance. Most of those teams started on Tuesday, with No. 13 Boston College, tenth-seeded Clemson and No. 11 Louisville all earning wins to advance to the tournament’s second round.
Make sure to keep it here at A Lot of Sports Talk for wall-to-wall coverage of the ACC Tournament, part of our all-encompassing coverage of Championship Week that will have us covering conference tournaments from all over the country.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday’s first round games, with all photos taken by ALOST photographer Jenny Rohl. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 50 pictures in total.