The Top Six Teams Will Earn The Right To Compete For The ACC’s Automatic Berth In The NCAA Tournament. By Brian Ludden
The Tourney begins on Halloween, Sunday, October 31 at campus sites with contests between the number four and five seeds and the number three and six seeds. The winners advance to the quarterfinals.
The top two seeds earn a BYE to the quarterfinals which will take place at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina on Friday, November 5. The Championship game is slated for Sunday, November 7.
With all 14 teams in action on Thursday, October 29, let’s take a look at various scenarios that still need to be played out.
How things currently stand:
Three teams have clinched a spot in the tournament:
Virginia (25 points), Florida State (22), Duke (19)
One team has clinched a bye to the semifinals:
One team has clinched at least a home game in round one:
Still in the hunt:
Wake Forest (18 points), Notre Dame (18), Clemson (16), North Carolina (15), Virginia Tech (14)
NC State, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Miami (FL), Syracuse,
Final matchday (Thursday, October 28) key matches (all times are p.m. and in Eastern time):
Duke at Louisville (5:00)
Clemson at Boston College (5:00)
Virginia Tech at Syracuse (7:00)
Wake Forest at Notre Dame (7:00)
Virginia at Florida State (7:00)
North Carolina at Miami (7:00)
First round bye + regular-season title
Let’s start with the battle for a first round bye. This one is the easiest to understand, as there aren’t many possibilities.
- Virginia: The Cavaliers have already secured a first round bye, and can clinch the regular season title and top seed in the tournament with a win/draw at Florida State.
- Florida State: After suffering their first loss of the season on Sunday, Florida State fell down to second in the standings. However, the Seminoles just need a point vs. Virginia OR a Duke loss/draw to secure a bye. Florida State will win the regular season title with a win.
- Duke: After knocking off the aforementioned Florida State on Sunday, there’s only one possibility for the Blue Devils to secure a top 2 spot. They need a win at Louisville AND a Florida State loss.
Spot in the tournament:
As it stands, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are on the outside looking in. There’s many possible outcomes, so let’s try to break them all down.
- If Clemson defeats Boston College at 5:00, there won’t be any stress for them, as they would lock up a spot in the tournament should they grab 3 points. A draw for Clemson, and they would need a North Carolina loss.
- A Duke win vs. Louisville would guarantee the Blue Devils at least a home game in round one
- Wake Forest and Notre Dame go head-to-head in South Bend. The winner will be guaranteed a spot in the tournament and a home game in round one. A draw would also clinch a spot in the tournament for both teams. Both teams would clinch a spot if North Carolina fails to win.
- a. If Notre Dame loses and North Carolina wins, Notre Dame would need Clemson to lose or draw (Notre Dame will likely know this result shortly after kickoff).
- b. If Wake Forest loses and North Carolina wins and Clemson wins, it would come down to goal differential between Wake Forest and North Carolina.
- North Carolina needs a win or a draw no matter what. A win for the Tar Heels, and they would need Clemson to lose or draw. A draw for the Tar Heels, and they would need a Clemson loss (like Notre Dame, North Carolina will know the result of Clemson-Boston College shortly after kickoff) and a Virginia Tech loss/draw. Virginia Tech needs a win AND a Clemson loss and a North Carolina loss/draw.
- Virginia Tech needs a win AND a Clemson loss AND a North Carolina loss/draw.
In terms of individual seeding, there is so much that could happen. Rather than breaking each and every scenario down, we’ll just list how high and how low each team can finish.
- Virginia – highest: 1, lowest: 2
- Florida State – highest: 1, lowest: 3
- Duke – highest: 2, lowest: 5
- Wake Forest – highest: 3, lowest: 7 (OUT)
- Notre Dame – highest: 3, lowest: 7 (OUT)
- Clemson – highest: 4, lowest: 8 (OUT)
- North Carolina – highest: 5, lowest: 8 (OUT)
- Virginia Tech – highest: 5, lowest: 9 (OUT)
With so much still to be determined, any college soccer fan needs to be tuned in on Thursday evening, with drama and excitement guaranteed.
Brian Ludden is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.