Seedings, predictions, and all kinds of fun for our 3×3 ACC basketball tournament


We decided to have a little fun on Thursday, and put together rosters for each ACC team if the league were to hold a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Remember: Last month the IOC added 3-on-3 basketball to the docket for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Now, today, we will go a few steps further: seedings and predictions.



This wasn’t an easy process. Despite losing a record 10 players to the first round of the NBA Draft, the ACC is still ridiculously loaded.

It’s important to remember, too, that this isn’t an evaluation of a team’s overall roster. I’ve just handpicked four players from each program to build these hypothetical rosters. There are a lot of great ACC teams that have more than four good players — no duh, Brian.

As I stressed in the original post, these rosters were constructed with an emphasis on perimeter shooting. In 3-on-3 basketball, field goal attempts that come from beyond the arc are worth two points; shots made from within the arc are worth only one point. The expected gain of a two over a one is so significant; teams should prioritize range shooting over some other skills.

I tried to make things simple for seeding the teams, and I chose to use a catch-all metric. To do so, I added together the win shares for each team. Each team is ranked numerically; the more win shares, the higher the see.

Here’s how things shook out:

  1. Duke (15.5 wins)
  2. Notre Dame (13.5 wins)
  3. Georgia Tech (12.9 wins)
  4. North Carolina (12.2 wins)
  5. Wake Forest (12.1 wins)
  6. Virginia (11.4 wins)
  7. Louisville (11 wins)
  8. Miami (10.7 wins)
  9. Virginia Tech (9.7 wins)
  10. Florida State (8.7 wins)
  11. Clemson (8.1 wins)
  12. NC State (6.8 wins)
  13. Boston College (6.5 wins)
  14. Syracuse (6.2 wins)
  15. Pittsburgh (4.3 wins)


A little bit of housekeeping

It was simple to get win share totals for each returning player, thanks to Sports Reference. However, it was a challenge to settle on the totals for incoming freshman, redshirt freshman and a JUCO transfer. Those numbers simply don’t exist; there’s nothing to draw from.

Here’s how I went about the math of sorting that out, though. Wendell Carter and Trevon Duval at Duke are both top 10 recruits. Last season’s group of top 10 prospects averaged 4.56 win shares in 2016-17.

I assigned each of those guys with 4.5 win shares. Miami’s Lonnie Walker — the No. 15 rated prospect — got 3.5 win shares. Chaundee Brown and M.J. Walker — both rated inside the top 35 prospects — received 3 win shares.

Virginia’s redshirt freshman DeAndre Hunter, a former top 100 prospect, received 2.5 win shares. So, too, did Pitt’s Jared Wilson-Frame — one of the top JUCO players in the nation this season.

Admittedly, the math is a little rough here, and that’s putting it mildly, but I wanted something to work from.

To me, it looks like Duke’s combined total of win shares is a little too high; Carter and Duval netting a combined nine win shares is a lot. But that’s the way things go. Onward.


The Bracket

It would be neat for an event like this to have some form of pool play, like the Olympics in basketball. But for the sake of simplicity, the bracket has been organized single-elimination style — just like the ACC Basketball Tournament.

Duke, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and UNC — the top four teams — get double byes.

Five additional teams — seeds 5-9 — get a single bye; they’ll start play in the second round.

The six-team opening round is composed of seeds 10-15 in the conference: Florida State, Clemson, NC State, Boston College, Syracuse and Pitt.

  • NC State (12) opens against BC (13); the winner takes on Wake Forest (5)
  • FSU (10) opens against Pitt (15); the winner takes on Louisville (7)
  • Clemson (11) opens against Syracuse); the winner takes on UVA (6)

In the second round, Miami (8) will take on Virginia Tech (9), which has the makings of a really fun matchup. The winner of that game will advance to the quarterfinals (the third round) to take on Duke (1).



Before we jump into the predictions, remember that this is simply my own speculation. Applying any sort of advanced math or strategy to this would be a bit silly. These are done on mostly feel; so we may differ in opinion. However, feel free to conduct your own experiment, too.

Regardless, here’s how things will flow:

Round 1

  • NC State (12) defeats Boston College (13)
  • FSU (10) defeats Pitt (15)
  • Clemson (11) defeats Syracuse (14)


Round 2

  • Miami (8) defeats Virginia Tech (9) in a shootout
  • Wake Forest (5) defeats NC State (12) in a hotly-contested affair
  • Louisville (7) cruises past FSU (10)
  • UVA (6) rains twos and beats Clemson (11)


Round 3: The Quarterfinals

It’s been all chalk so far, but now things start to get a lot more interesting; there isn’t a weak team in the bunch. The fact that Miami and Louisville are seeded No. 8 and No. 7, respectively, seems disrespectful. What idiot came up with these rankings, again?

  • Led by Bruce Brown, Miami (8) defeats Duke (1)
  • UNC (4) gets past Wake Forest (5)
    • If John Collins were still around, this is a different story; however, in a meeting of two of the ACC’s best point guards — Bryant Crawford and Joel Berry — the Tar Heels advance. Theo Pinson makes a bunch of stuff happen, too.
  • Notre Dame (2) prevails over Louisville (7)
    • These are two teams we could easily see in the 2018 Final Four, so no slights here. The talent amongst these two squads is comically high, and Louisville’s roster didn’t even include 5-star freshman Brian Bowen. Anas Mahmoud is an elite rim protector, but Bonzie Colson just gets the job done.
  • UVA (6) upsets Georgia Tech (3)
    • Once again, Virginia uses the numbers to its favor and drills a bunch of two-pointers, led by Kyle Guy. Ben Lammers and Josh Okogie work their magic, but it’s not enough


The Final Four

Round 4: The Semifinals

  • Miami (8) continues its run of blue-blood upsets; this time over UNC (4)
    • Pinson tries to take Brown off the map, but with its best defender occupied, UNC has trouble corralling the jet-fast Ja’Quan Newton, who puts on a show at the hoop.
  • Notre Dame (2) continues to punish its foes, unfortunately for UVA (6)
    • Isaiah Wilkins is one of the best defenders in the nation, but even he has trouble with Colson, who is a machine. Matt Farrell gets in on the act, too, as sophomore Temple Gibbs comes off the bench with a serious spark as well.


Round 5: The Finals

  • Notre Dame (2) proves too much for Miami (8) as the Hurricanes play their fourth game in a short burst of time. Miami doesn’t have the gas to pull off another upset.