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Oct 16, 2012

Road to Germantown Update: A look ahead at the ACC Tournament

There is still a little over two weeks of regular season matches before the ACC Tournament kicks off, but it’s never too early to begin looking ahead at what’s in store. This is a look at what the first round match-ups would be if the standings did not change between now and the end of the season.

2012 ACC Tournament: The ACC Tournament will take place from Nov. 5-11, with the first round being played at sites to be determined, and the semifinal and final rounds being played in Boyds, Md. at the Maryland SoccerPlex. 

#1 Maryland (5-0) vs. #8 Virginia (1-4) or #9 Virginia Tech (0-4-1)

Maryland’s match-up with North Carolina on Friday in College Park is likely to determine the ACC’s No. 1 seed. Until then, it’s the Terps who stand to enter the Tournament as the conference’s top team, therefore getting the chance to face the play-in winner. Maryland shut out both the Hokies and Cavaliers already this season, although both matches were at home. Regardless, it’s looking like it will be one of the Virginia teams who get the unpleasant task of facing the country’s unanimous No. 1 team in the first round after already playing an extra game just to get there.

#2 North Carolina (4-0-1) vs. #7 N.C. State (1-4)

For UNC, the difference between taking down the unbeaten Terps this weekend, and not, may prove to be a big one. Despite the injury to star forward Nazmi Albadawi, the Wolfpack (8-6 overall) have had a relatively successful 2012 campaign even though the wins have not translated into conference play. As a result, the Wolfpack may be slightly underseeded in this tournament due to their poor record in league play. Alex Martinez has been the best offensive player in the conference this season and will be a real threat in the postseason as well. It would serve the Tarheels well to knock off Maryland on Friday and take that No. 1 seed away from the Terps.

#3 Wake Forest (2-1-3) vs. #6 Duke (2-3-1)

Although Wake would certainly be the favorite in this match, it may the most intriguing of any other potential game on this list. The Demon Deacons have had trouble closing out opponents this year, hence their three draws in conference play, but recently their hot offense has begun to catch up to their always consistent defense. In three of their past four outings, the Wake Forest offense has posted four-goal efforts. Mikey Gamble’s five goals and four assists lead the team for a total of 14 points while Luca Giminez and Sean Okoli have also found the net five times each. 12 players have notched goals for Wake Forest already this season.

Duke, though always a dangerous team, has not had the season they were hoping for. However, the Blue Devils have a relatively light conference schedule ahead of them with only Boston College and Virginia Tech still to go. Junior midfielder Sebastien Ibeagha’s five goals have carried the Duke offense so far, and they’ll look for him to stay hot down the stretch

#4 Boston College (2-1-2) vs. #5 Clemson (2-2-2)

At the beginning of the season when the Tigers went into a seven game winless tailspin following an opening weekend victory over USC Upstate, it seemed this might be a down year for Clemson. However, Head Coach Mike Noonan and his team have turned their season around at the perfect time. Senior forward Austin Savage has led the team’s scoring attack with four goals, while sophomore midfielder Manolo Sanchez is facilitating the Tiger’s offense with a team-high four assists. Clemson hasn’t been a particularly dangerous team to the elite squads around the conference, but they won’t be lying down for anyone either.

Meanwhile, for Boston College, the next two weeks of the season could be the difference between a favorable seed in the tournament and an extremely difficult Road to Germantown. They still have three of their eight ACC matches remaining, with games against Duke and Virginia before closing out the regular season against UNC. The Eagles began the season in the top 25 but haven’t received any votes since the week following their drop out of the list in Week 3 of the regular season.

Boston College and Clemson played a scoreless draw on Oct. 13

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