ACC tournament primer: Duke-Miami III?

March, 14, 2013
3/14/13
8:20
AM ET
A year ago, Florida State loosened Tobacco Road's grip on the ACC tournament trophy, becoming the first team not named "Duke" or "North Carolina" to win the event since 2004.

The question, entering Thursday's opening-round games in Greensboro, N.C.: Might another Florida school -- this time Miami -- continue the trend?

The Hurricanes, who joined the league in 2004-05, have never advanced to the title game. Then again, they had never won the regular-season title and earned the No. 1 seed before this season, so things could be a bit different this time around.

As usual, there will be plenty of subplots, from Virginia's weird NCAA tournament résumé, to Duke's ever-strengthening momentum since the return of Ryan Kelly, to whether any team (NC State this year, perhaps?) will ever be able to win four games in four days to take the automatic bid.

Here are a few things to watch:

Top three storylines:

Will Michael Snaer hit another buzzer-beater? Or four?

Considering the Florida State senior guard has made a quartet of game-winners in ACC play this season (versus Clemson, Maryland and Virginia, at Georgia Tech) and six in his past two seasons (Duke, Virginia Tech last year), why not bury at least another one in his final league tournament?

FSU has won three of four games entering the tourney, but at 17-14, the Noles will have to win the whole thing to advance to the NCAAs. Which means getting some big plays from Mr. Clutch.

What does Virginia need to do to make the NCAA tournament?

There really isn't a more baffling bubble team than the Cavs, who boast quality wins over Duke, NC State, UNC and Wisconsin -- but also have seven losses to teams outside of the RPI top 100, including to three CAA teams (George Mason, Delaware and Old Dominion) and to four of the ACC's worst (Georgia Tech, Boston College, Wake Forest and Clemson).

At least UVa, led by first-team All-ACC player Joe Harris, held on to beat Maryland in overtime during its regular-season finale. But ESPN's Joe Lunardi had the Cavs as a No. 12 seed as of Tuesday's Bracketology, which means there's not much wiggle room. A quarterfinal victory over NC State/Virginia Tech is a must -- at least.

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