UNC, Maryland favorites to return to final in ACC Tournament

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By JOHN BOSCHINI

As the ACC Tournament gets into full swing tonight at campus sites up and down the East Coast, all signs point to a rematch of last year's final between top-seeded North Carolina and No. 2 Maryland.

That's not to say other schools won't make a push as they look to secure postseason berths. No. 6 Clemson shocked Maryland earlier in the year but losses against UAB and Elon puts the Tigers in the position of needing a win over No. 3 Duke to feel safe. It's a victory that might have seemed likely earlier in the season, but the Blue Devils are peaking at just the right time, going unbeaten in their past four games.

Boston College is in the top 10 in the latest NCAA RPI, but an inconsistent record in conference play gives the Eagles the seventh seed and a quarterfinal matchup with Maryland. The Terrapins were in complete control when the two teams met earlier in the season with a 4-0 rout but finished the season winless in the final three games. Even more worrying is the fact goalkeeper Will Swaim hasn't kept a clean sheet since Oct. 11.

North Carolina seems to have a much easier road to Sunday's championship game. The Tar Heels kick off their quest against North Carolina State, which squeaked into the quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory over Virginia Tech in Monday night's play-in game. Should North Carolina take care of business against the Wolfpack, a date with No. 4 Virginia or No. 5 Wake Forest awaits, and neither team managed a goal against North Carolina this season.

Here is a look at the full ACC tournament schedule:

MONDAY

No. 8 N.C. State 1, No. 9 Virginia Tech 0

TUESDAY

No. 8 N.C. State at No. 1 North Carolina, 7 p.m.
No. 5 Wake Forest at No. 4 Virginia, 7 p.m.
No. 7 Boston College at No. 2 Maryland, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Clemson at No. 3 Duke, 7 p.m.

FRIDAY

WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.
Semifinal 1: 5:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Semifinal 2: 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3) 

SUNDAY

WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.

Championship: 12 p.m. (ESPNU)

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What do you think of the ACC Tournament? Can anyone challenge North Carolina or Maryland? Is there a Cinderella story in the cards? Who do you see advancing to Cary?

Share your thoughts below.

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6 Responses to UNC, Maryland favorites to return to final in ACC Tournament

  1. Dune Man says:

    What is the avg number of people in the stands for these soccer games? My D3 school had a single bench for the players and a small 4 foot hill down one side of the field if people wanted to sit and watch….so just curious while MLS attendance is growing….does anyone go to the big college games?

  2. Vic says:

    Not sure what the average is however, I saw there was 1000 for a St. Johns game last week. 15k for Cal Santa Baraba game and 8k for UNC/Duke a few weeks ago.

  3. MLS2Raleigh says:

    We went to the ACC championship recently when North Carolina State played UVA in the conference championship. The game was at the same site where the NASL’s Railhawks play. There was probably a good 2500. If NCSU and UNC were in the championship game I could see that number doubling or more.

  4. Rob218 says:

    The top programs will draw big crowds for big conference games and highy ranked teams. UCSB who has led the nation in attendance in 2009 and 2010 and has topped 15,000 for big games. I attended the Maryland games against Duke and Creighton this year and they had 7900 and 5600 in attendance respectively. Which I will say in on par for big games.

    The Top 5 for 2010:

    UCSB: 12 games, 70,471 total, 5,873 avg.

    Akron: 13 games, 41,770 total, 3,213 avg.

    UCONN: 11 games, 34,384 total, 3,126 avg.

    Cal Poly: 8 games, 24,100 total, 3,013 avg.

    Maryland: 14 games, 41,157 total 2,940 avg.

  5. Rob218 says:

    GO MARYLAND! I want another shot at UNC in the Championship. In all honesty, I think Maryland, Duke, UNC, and Virginia are all good enough to win the ACC and NCAA. They are all great teams.

  6. RK says:

    haha Terps already lost.