While most of the conferences finish up their regular seasons, two conferences are having their conference tournaments.
The Patriot League had the quarterfinals on Tuesday, but who cares about the Patriot League for this story? To paraphrase Allen Iverson, "We in here talking about the Patriot League. Not the ACC, not the ACC, we talking about the Patriot League. How silly is that?"
So let's get to the focus of this article: the ACC! Their tournament kicks off tonight at 6 when top seed North Carolina plays Syracuse on the campus of Kennesaw State University right outside of Atlanta. The last few seasons, the ACC Tournament was played at Chester's PPL Park (now Talon Energy Stadium, but still SHOUTS TO PHILLY).
We'll preview the four teams in the tournament, and maybe Virginia if I feel like it, and also associate them with a famous rapper or rap group from the ATL area, with a song of my choosing. NOTE: some of the songs might have lyrics that are NSFW, so don't let your little kids listening to some of these gems!
#1 North Carolina Tar Heels (8-5 Overall, 3-1 in ACC)
You thought it'd be Notre Dame holding the top spot, but instead it's UNC, who made a ferocious comeback last week to top the Fighting Irish 17-15 behind an eight goal 4th quarter. Agent Zero Steve Pontrello made the move from midfield to attack this year and has paid off, leading the team in goals with 36 and in points with 48. Luke Goldstock is still the big name on the offense, as the junior leads the team in assists with 19 and is second on the team with 42. But the Heels have plenty of depth at midfield, with guys such as Michael Tagliaferri, Shane Simpson, Peyton Klawinski, and Brian Cannon, along with FOGO Stephen Kelly. On defense, Abington grad Austin Pifani will probably get the opposing team's top attackman, and also look out for Evan Connell and SSDM Tate Jozokos as well. Brian Balkam wasn't ready to start last week against Notre Dame, but came in relief late in the 3rd quarter to lead to Heels to a win.
Famous Rap artist: Ludacris
DISTURBING THA PEACE! Luda is more known as Tej Parker from the Fast and Furious movies than as an actual rapper. UNC is known for having a great lacrosse program, but is probably more known for being a basketball school. They're also known for not making Championship Weekend since 1993.
#2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-2, 3-1)
The Irish had a great first ten games, going 9-1 before choking in the final quarter of last week's loss to UNC, giving up EIGHT goals in the final 15 minutes. Unlike last year, Matt Kavanagh is healthy (or is he...he probably is) and is surrounded with a ton of offensive weapons. We know about the Motor City Hitman Sergio Perkovic, but there's also freshman stud Ryder Garnsey and Mikey Wynne at attack. But their strength is a defense, with Matt Landis, Edwin Glazener, and Garrett Epple. Along with goalie Shane Doss, the Irish allow only 7.55 goals a game. They hope that a lapse like last week doesn't happen tonight against Duke or hopefully Sunday in the ACC Championship as well. Oh, and give the FOGO some love too, with P.J. Finley! He's a Malvern Prep grad!
Famous Rap artist: Future
Future is a stud in the rap world now. He doesn't sing Panda, but all his other hits are bangers. Like Future, Notre Dame has been known for a pretty good amount of time, but didn't get big until a few years ago and are now known around the lacrosse world. They're indeed ballin' like the March Madness. Also considered: Trinidad James. #AllGoldEverything
#3 Duke Blue Devils (9-6, 2-2)
The Blue Devils have had a roller coaster of a regular season, with bad losses against Air Force, Harvard, and Richmond, but with good wins against Loyola, Marquette, and Syracuse. They defeated Virginia 14-8 two weeks ago to get into the ACC Tournament, but although they've had their woes in the regular season, they have the talent to get to Championship Weekend in Philly. Myles Jones, Deemer Class, and Justin Guterding were all named to the All-ACC team this week, while they also have contributors in Jack Bruckner, Case Matheis, and Chad Cohan as well on offense. Thomas Zenker has been good at the defensive middie position, while goalie Danny Fowler has made vast improvements in goal from taking over late last season.
Famous Rap artist: 2 Chainz
TRU! Duke won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014 when 2 Chainz was really big, but like the leader of the T.R.U. REALigion, they haven't been able to get back to stardom lately.
#4 Syracuse Orange (8-4, 2-2)
The Orange could easily be 11-1 if they didn't lose to Johns Hopkins, Duke, and Cornell in overtime on the road, but they're 8-4 and they need to beat UNC tonight to really keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Dylan Donahue leads the team in assists with 27 and in points with 48, but it's who that's surrounded him that have made huge contributions. Nick Mariano came from UMass and now leads the team in goals with 29, while Sergio "SKERT" Salcido has not only given swag to the Cuse team, but is also lighting the stats up with 21 goals and 13 assists this season. Add Tim Barber, Jordan Evans, and Derek DeJoe and Syracuse is going to be firing this weekend at Kevin Rice's new MLL home. On defense, Brandon Mullins, Jay McDermott, and freshman Nick Mellen are turning it on since Evan Molloy took to the cage to replace Warren Hill. Also of note, will we see the hometown kid Nate Solomon from Alpharetta this weekend, and if so, will he score at least a goal?
Famous Rap artist: Outkast
LEGENDS. Outkast and Syracuse are legends. Also, both of them have been great in the past but not so hot in today's world. Also, Outkast hasn't produced an album in over 10 years BUT THEY SHOULD PUT OUT SOME NEW MUSIC SOON! I'm talking to you Big Boi and André 3000!
And I feel like doing Virginia, so...
#5 Virginia Cavaliers (7-7, 0-4)
The Wahoos have been BAD in ACC play for the past two seasons, as they haven't won a regular season conference game since beating the Orange back in March of 2014 (their last ACC win was against UNC in the ACC Showcase Game in 2014). And they've also had a poor non-conference record too, with bad losses against High Point and Cornell. They play Brown in the ACC Showcase Game Saturday night (we won't preview Brown because they're not in the ACC!), and a win will keep their really slim hopes of an at-large bid alive. James Pannell has put the offense on his back this year, while guys such as Ryan Lukacovic, Greg Coholan, Zed Williams, AJ Fish, and Mike D'Amario helping as well. On defense, Tanner Scales is back to pre-injury form, and Matt Barrett can be very solid in net on a good day. Hopefully he can against Brown's high-powered offense.
Famous Rap artist: T.I.
T.I.P. baby! But just like T.I., Virginia has been feeling the pain the past couple of seasons. No ACC wins, and no NCAA Tournament wins. That's not good!
The two games tonight and the ACC Championship on Sunday can be seen on ESPNU, while I have no clue about the ACC Showcase game scheduled for tomorrow.