When/where: Today-Sunday; Philips Arena, Atlanta
The favorite: Top-seeded North Carolina made a statement, pounding Duke 88-70 Saturday in Durham. An early favorite for the national title, the Tar Heels (27-4, 14-2) stumbled a bit early but now seem to be firing on all cylinders. Former Sickles High star John Henson was named repeat winner of the league's defensive player of the year honors this week.
The dark horse: Fourth-seeded Virginia (22-8, 9-7) hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2007, but the Cavs are poised to make it this year and hope to pull a few surprises in the conference tourney.
Looking at Florida State: Third-seeded FSU (21-9, 12-4) continues to solidify itself as a top-tier ACC team. Coach Leonard Hamilton has built a year-in, year-out contender, and victories this season against UNC and Duke moved FSU closer to where Hamilton believes it can be. Since 2006-07, the Seminoles have the third-most ACC wins, right behind Duke and UNC, but have never won the conference tournament.
Looking at Miami: Coach Jim Larranaga guided the Hurricanes (18-11, 9-7) to a school record in ACC wins, but Miami has to make a splash in the conference tournament, likely two wins, to crash the NCAA party. At this point, it appears its bubble will burst.
Times staff, wires