March Madness is going to be even more maddening than normal. It is already starting.
Due to Virginia Tech canceling Wednesday’s home game against Louisville because of contact tracing within the program, the Tigers can earn as high as the No. 3 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament should it beat Syracuse Wednesday night and Pittsburgh at home on Saturday.
Virginia Tech is currently the No. 3 team in the standings, but if it cannot play in next week’s ACC Tournament Louisville could be No. 3 and Clemson could be No. 4.
Clemson (15-5) is currently 9-5 in the ACC standings and is sitting in fifth place, while Virginia Tech is in third at 9-4 and Louisville is 8-4 and in fourth. The ACC has already announced the tournament seeding will be based on win percentage.
The Tigers can earn the No. 3 seed if Louisville loses at home to Virginia on Saturday and the Hokies are unable to play in the tournament. If the Hokies can play, then in this scenario the Tigers will be the No. 4 seed.
Clemson can also capture the No. 3 seed if Virginia Tech plays NC State but loses, Louisville loses to Virginia and Clemson wins both of its final two games.
Being in the top 4 means the Tigers will have a two-day bye and will automatically advance to the quarterfinal round.
“We talked about it with our guys a couple of weeks ago that we have an opportunity to do something special here,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said Monday. “We are trying to have a really good program. A consistent program. Aamir [Simms] and Clyde [Trapp] were freshmen the last time we did it. We finished third or fourth, or something, I can’t remember with tiebreakers and all of that, but we had a really good year.
“We went on to the Sweet 16. For those guys, if we can do it again, I think it really says a lot about their careers and what we are doing here with Clemson basketball.”
Clemson has been a top 4 seed in the ACC Tournament twice under Brownell. The Tigers were the No. 4 seed in the 2011 and 2018 tournaments. They advanced to the semifinal round both times.
The last time a Clemson team was the No. 3 seed in the tournament came in 2008, when it advanced to the ACC Tournament Championship Game.
The Tigers have only been the top seed in the tournament just once, that came in 1990 when they were the regular season champions. The 1986-’87 team earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
“We just missed the [NCAA] tournament [in 2019]. We had a Net 35 rating their sophomore year and we kind of got left out,” Brownell said. “It has really been a tremendous career for these seniors, Clyde and Aamir in particular.”
Clemson will play Syracuse at 5 p.m., Wednesday from the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.