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Examining the ACC Bubble (February 20th)

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Okaro White and Florida State are fighting for a NCAA bid. (Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

Top-ranked Syracuse dropped its first game of the season on Wednesday night at home against Boston College. The loss for the Orange however, does little to deter Jim Boeheim’s team from a top-seed in the NCAA Tournament. For other schools in the ACC, just getting to the tournament will be difficult. Wake Forest has dropped six straight games to fall off the bubble, but four teams remain on the bubble from the ACC. Here’s a quick look at those four schools:

Clemson (16-9, 7-6 ACC)
RPI: 70
Key Wins: Duke
Bad Losses: Auburn, Notre Dame
Overview: Clemson is still on the outside looking in, but the Tigers have the best record in conference of the four ACC schools on the bubble. Clemson collected a big win over fellow bubble team, N.C. State on Tuesday night and with five games remaining, there is a very good chance that the Tigers hit 10 wins in conference play.
What Lies Ahead: The road ahead is very favorable for Clemson as the Tigers travel to face Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. Clemson will then close the season with three very winnable home games against Maryland, Miami and a Pittsburgh team struggling of late.

Florida State (15-11, 6-8 ACC)
RPI: 64
Key Wins: Virginia Commonwealth, Massachusetts
Bad Losses: Miami
Overview: With a chance to notch a signature victory, Florida State let a 15-point lead slip away against North Carolina on Monday night. The Seminoles have lost seven of 10 after a promising start and are in danger of finishing with a losing record in conference for the first time in six years.
What Lies Ahead: Up next for Florida State is a road game at Pittsburgh. FSU follows that up with two games it should win against Georgia Tech and Boston College before concluding the season at home against Syracuse. If Florida State has any hope of playing in the NCAA Tournament, it will need to win at least three of its four remaining regular season games.

Maryland (15-12, 7-7 ACC)
RPI: 71
Key Wins: None
Bad Losses: Oregon State
Overview: Maryland came so close to scoring a big road win at Duke on Saturday, but the Terrapins did manage to keep their tournament hopes alive with a win over Wake Forest. Maryland still lacks a signature win and has a mediocre overall record. That needs to change in the next couple weeks or Maryland will be NIT bound.
What Lies Ahead: The Terrapins will have two chances to notch a signature victory at home down the stretch as they play host to both Syracuse and Virginia. In between will be a road game at Clemson and a home date with Virginia Tech that Maryland absolutely has to win.

N.C. State (16-10, 6-7 ACC)
RPI: 55
Key Wins: None
Bad Losses: None
Overview: North Carolina State had top-ranked Syracuse on the ropes on Saturday, but let the Orange escape with a 56-55 victory. The Wolfpack followed that performance up with a dismal showing against Clemson and are playing their way out of the NCAA Tournament after winning five of their previous six games.
What Lies Ahead: Three of N.C. State’s final five games are at home including the final contest of February against rival North Carolina. N.C. State has three games it should win against Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College. If the Wolfpack can take care of business and get wins in those three contests and notch their first signature win either against the Tar Heels or at Pittsburgh, they should be in good shape heading into the conference tournament with 20 total wins and 10 coming in ACC play.

Mike Ferguson is an ACC staff writer for the College Sports Network and can be followed on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Also, be sure to LIKE College Sports Net’s ACC page on Facebook!

 
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