For the first time since 2015, the Tournament returns to the cradle of the ACC in the Gate City. And the tournament begins with a rarity: North Carolina playing a Tuesday game.
For the Tar Heels, it's been a forgettable season thus far and seems certain to be the first losing season of coach Roy Williams' long career. The Heels (13-18 overall) finished dead last in the regular season with a 6-14 mark, punctuated with a loss at rival Duke on Saturday.
"If you have 15 teams in the league, somebody's got to finish first and somebody's got to finish fourth all the way down the line," Williams said Monday. "We played ourselves into this slot, that's what happened. Nobody did any mean things to us, we played ourselves into this slot and now we get a chance to go out and hopefully have some great memories that'll erase some of the things we have had."
It seems to be a lost season, and UNC fans know only an improbable five-day run at the ACC Tournament can get the Heels into the NCAA tournament.
Despite the odds, the Tar Heels are excited to hit the court.
"Everyone on this team is really excited and just happy to play, happy to be here and just really we're all happy to have a chance to correct all our wrongs," point guard Cole Anthony said.
There is some room for optimism. UNC begins tournament play Tuesday against Virginia Tech (16-15, 7-13). The Hokies beat the Tar Heels in Blacksburg, Virginia, 79-77 in double overtime earlier this year, but have been on a slide, losing five of six to close the regular season.
If the Tar Heels get past the Hokies, they'll play Syracuse in the second round, a team UNC beat handily 92-79 on the road less than 10 days ago.
Garrison Brooks has averaged 16.2 points and 8.5 rebounds for UNC. Anthony has directly created 40 percent of all North Carolina field goals over the last five games. Anthony has 34 field goals and 24 assists in those games.
The Heels will need all that and more in an effort to conjure up a miracle run and a 19th ACC title.
Meanwhile, Florida State (26-5, 16-4) finished first in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and locked up the No. 1 seed for the tournament, North Carolina native Leonard Hamilton was named the ACC Coach of the Year and hopes to lead the Seminoles to their first ACC championship since 2012.
Fourth-seeded Duke (25-6, 15-5) boasts the ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in point guard Tre Jones and the All ACC-team member Vernon Carey, who also was named ACC Rookie of the Year.
The Blue Devils could face rival N.C. State in the quarterfinal on Wednesday. The Tobacco Road rivals split their regular-season meetings. The Blue Devils figure for a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and could be playing in Greensboro again for the opening rounds of that tournament.
Duke has 21 ACC championships, the most of any school.
State (19-12, 10-10) is playing for its tournament lives and is in need of some resume-boosting wins. First things first, the Wolfpack will have to beat the winner of Wake Forest (13-17, 6-14) and Pitt (15-16, 6-14) on Wednesday.
As Markell Johnson, State's All-ACC second-team point guard goes, so generally does the Wolfpack. When Johnson is on his game, the Pack is a tough out for any team, perhaps best illustrated by what Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski called his "great game" as the Pack routed Duke in Raleigh, 88-66, earlier this season
Few think the Wolfpack has a legitimate shot at the school's 11th ACC title, but a couple of wins would seem to ensure an NCAA tournament bid.
TUESDAY, MARCH 10
- Game 1 - No. 12 Wake Forest vs. No. 13 Pitt, 4:30 p.m.
- Game 2 - No. 11 Virginia Tech vs. No. 14 North Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11
- Game 3 - No. 8 Clemson vs. No. 9 Miami, Noon
- Game 4 - No. 5 NC State vs. (Winner of Game 1), 2 p.m.
- Game 5 - No. 7 Notre Dame vs. No. 10 Boston College, 7 p.m.
- Game 6 - No. 6 Syracuse vs. (Winner of Game 2), 9 p.m.
THURSDAY, MARCH 12
- Game 7 - No. 1 Florida State vs. (Winner of Game 3), 12:30 p.m.
- Game 8 - No. 4 Duke vs. (Winner of Game 4), 2:30 p.m.
- Game 9 - No. 2 Virginia vs. (Winner of Game 5), 7 p.m.
- Game 10 - No. 3 Louisville vs. (Winner of Game 6), 9 p.m.
DAY 4, FRIDAY, MARCH 13
- Game 11 - ACC Semifinal No. 1, 7 p.m.
- Game 12 - ACC Semifinal No. 2, 9 p.m.
DAY 5, SATURDAY, MARCH 14
- Game 13 - Championship Game, 8:30 p.m.
IF YOU'RE GOING
The Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro Department of Transportation and Greensboro Police Department advise all patrons to plan to arrive early, and carpooling is strongly encouraged. The GPD will be managing major intersections in the vicinity of the Coliseum and variable messaging systems will be deployed to advise motorists of parking and traffic information.
A public shuttle bus service to and from the Coliseum Complex will be available beginning Wednesday. The shuttle will operate from Entry F of the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons (3121 Gate City Blvd.) to the ACC Hall of Champions at the Coliseum Complex.
Shuttle service is $5 per person for round-trip service. Shuttles will run continuously during the following times:
Wednesday, March 11, 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.
Thursday, March 12, 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.
Friday, March 13, 5:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 14, 7 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.