The ACC Tournament starts Tuesday with storylines aplenty.

While the ACC regular season champion, North Carolina, enters as the betting favorite at FanDuel, the Tar Heels may need to survive a third meeting with Duke to capture the program’s first ACC Tournament title since 2016. That prospective showdown certainly dominates ACC headlines, but the ACC bubble picture ahead of tournament play is almost as captivating.

According to Rocco Miller, 1 of the 10 best bracketologists in America per the bracketology rankings site “” — Pitt enters the ACC Tournament as one of the “next four out,” needing at least 1 win and likely 2 to get into the NCAA Tournament come Selection Sunday. Meanwhile, Wake Forest remains “under consideration” after defeating Clemson last weekend, but the Demon Deacons have work to do to access the field. Finally, Virginia is one of Miller’s “Last Four In,” and a loss to anyone in the Cavaliers’ quarterfinal game could prove fatal.

Beyond Carolina-Duke and bubble talk, there’s always the chance of a bid thief. In fact, 2 of the past 5 ACC Tournaments have been won by teams that stole bids to the NCAA Tournament by winning it all: Virginia Tech in 2022 and Georgia Tech in 2021. Will it happen again in D.C.?

With so much at stake, let’s talk a look at the 5 most likely upsets that could shake the ACC Tournament to its core this week.

Duke over North Carolina

When: Championship, Saturday March 16, 2024

The Tar Heels are in prime position for a 1 seed, fighting tooth and nail with Pac-12 regular-season champion Arizona and SEC regular-season champ Tennessee.

According to, a website which aggregates the seeds from all bracketologists, Tennessee has a slight edge over the Tar Heels for the 1 seed now, but only narrowly. The Tar Heels have a better record against Quads 1 and 2 than Tennessee, a better strength of record, and a dominant head-to-head victory over the Vols in a game Carolina never trailed.

Would an ACC Tournament title give the Tar Heels a 1 seed? Potentially, but a tournament title also would assure Duke of at least a 3 seed, and potentially a 2 spot. It’s difficult to beat a good team 3 times in one season, and Duke, which the computers like more than the Tar Heels, have lost 2 nip and tuck games to the Tar Heels this season. Maybe Jon Scheyer’s team is due?

Notre Dame over Wake Forest

When: Second round, Wednesday

The Fighting Irish are outstanding defensively, ranking 27th nationally in KenPom Adjusted Defensive Efficiency in a conference with 4 of the top 30 defenses in America. Notre Dame’s issue has been scoring, but that’s improved down the stretch, thanks to the emergence of freshmen Markus Burton (22.8 ppg over Notre Dame’s final 5 games) and Braeden Shrewsberry (11 ppg in that span). Notre Dame also already knows it can beat the Demon Deacons, having defeated Wake Forest by 5 points in South Bend on Feb. 27. That game was no fluke, as Notre Dame erased a 9-point 2nd-half deficit by suffocating Wake Forest defensively, limiting the Demon Deacons to just 17 points over the game’s final 18 minutes. If the Fighting Irish limit turnovers and force Wake Forest to take jump shots, they can win again — and end Wake Forest’s NCAA Tournament dreams.

Miami over Boston College

When: First round, Tuesday 

The Hurricanes returned 3 key contributors from last season’s Final Four team and promptly finished the regular season with a losing record for the first time since 2020-21. Jim Larrañaga’s team was undone by injuries and a lack of the type of “beat you off the bounce” guard play that sent them to the Elite 8 in 2021-22 and the Final Four a season ago. The Hurricanes closed the regular season with 9 straight losses, which makes the likelihood of any wins in D.C. remote. But the Canes still have Wooga Poplar, an NBA talent, one of the nation’s best shooters in Nijel Pack and best big men in Norchad Omier.

The talent is better than the record, which always makes you dangerous in March. Should Miami win its opening game against Boston College, a path to a championship berth exists, too, with Clemson, who the Canes have beaten once this season, and offensively challenged Virginia on their side of the bracket.

Clemson over Virginia

When: Quarterfinals, Thursday

This might be an “upset” by seed only.

The 3rd-seeded Hoos beat Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum in the regular season, but that was back when the Hoos were in the midst of the 8-game winning streak that has them in the NCAA Tournament field. Virginia lost 4 of 7 down the stretch, and scored more than 50 points in just 3 of those games. Clemson, with an All-American in PJ Hall, a much better NET ranking (26th to 51st) than Virginia, and a far more balanced team, seems unlikely to lose to the offensively weak Hoos again, even in front of a D.C. crowd that will be in full throat behind Tony Bennett’s team.

Wake Forest over Pitt

When: Quarterfinals, Thursday

If Wake Forest survives a bad matchup with Notre Dame on Wednesday, it would get Pitt in the ultimate bubble game in Thursday’s quarterfinals. The teams split their regular-season series, but Wake Forest embarrassed the Panthers in Winston-Salem, winning 91-58 in a game the Demon Deacons led for 38 minutes. The Demon Deacons were outstanding at guarding the perimeter in that game, limiting the Panthers to just 5-of-19 shooting from beyond the arc. Wake Forest also won the rebounding battle 39-29, depriving Pitt of one of its great late season strengths (frontcourt rebounding). Steve Forbes’ team knows the recipe for beating Pitt, and replicating it in a must-win bubble game in the quarterfinals seems quite possible.