ACC Tournament Preview: Mad Max Edition
We need to preface this by saying it’s by far the most obscure pop culture reference piece we’ve done on this site to date, which is actually pretty astounding. If you’ve never seen any of the Mad Max trilogy of movies, it’s OK. You’re not alone. This feature is to placate our editor Sam, who wrote it and loves the movies. By reading this, you are humoring him.
The conference is a veritable wasteland. Amid the struggling first- and second-year coaches, there are a few more established entities that are getting by, but the general consensus is that the conference is down, and everyone needs this tournament to improve their standing. Some need it for NCAA seeding, while others need it just to survive and make the big dance. At this point in the season, wins are fuel, and Atlanta is Bartertown. Teams 1-6 are either in the tournament or have a chance to make it with some crucial wins. The rest? They all need to win out. Welcome to the Thunderdome.
1. UNC – Mad Max: UNC is driving the last of the V8 Interceptors, probably the finest machine in the league. In both Mad Max and The Road Warrior, the Interceptor gives Max an advantage because of its relative power to the rest of the cars and motorcycles still on the road. Similarly, UNC has a sizable talent advantage over the ACC. But also like the Interceptor, UNC is booby-trapped from the start because its coach typically does not put a lot of credence in winning the tournament. Can they overcome this, “it’d be a shame to blow it up.”
2. Duke – The Humungus: Duke’s probably the second most powerful team, which is why they get the title of The Humungus, the Warrior of the Wasteland, the Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rollah in the Road Warrior. While The Humungus gained power due to the fact he has a large gang, it’s mostly a gang of misfits, making you wonder how on earth they’re organized enough to have risen as high as they have. This is not a typical Duke team of All-ACC performers, yet it’s been inarguably the second-best team in the league. Despite many flaws, The Humungus’ gang puts up a good fight against the heavily defended gasoline-tanker base of Mad Max like the Blue Devils did in the Dean Dome.
3. Florida State – Blaster (big guy on the bottom): FSU has all the physical tools to cause a lot of problems for any team, it’s just at times they seem like they can’t put together a good offensive sequence. Blaster is an amazing fighter, but without the guidance of Master, he can’t do anything because he lacks the ability to think through his actions. When they’re clicking, FSU can be as good as any team in the ACC, but when they’re not, they’re as wayward as a Master-less Blaster, as evidenced by losing to Miami recently.
4. Virginia – Master (little guy on his shoulders): Who run Bartertown? Virginia is extremely well-coached and has their scheme down to a science. Its games almost run like clockwork, the way Master runs Bartertown. But with their low-scoring average, the Wahoos lack that explosive punch needed to be successful at a higher level, just like without the assistance of Blaster, Master wouldn’t have any of his power in the Wasteland.
5. Miami – The Feral Kid: Miami has a deadly strike to its offense with Malcolm Grant, Durand Scott, Kenny Kadji, and if he’s eligible, Reggie Johnson. Mostly though they just seem to disappear and not show their worth. The Feral Kid has a crippling weapon in his bladed boomerang, but rarely puts himself on the front lines, preferring to hide out in tunnels he’s dug around the tanker base.
6. N.C. State – Aunty Entity: N.C. State thinks it controls Bartertown, when actually it’s Master-Blaster (FSU+UVA). Instead of facing Master-Blaster herself, Aunty Entity would prefer that Max take on the duo in the Thunderdome. I’m sure N.C. State would prefer UNC to take out UVA before the second round, but that’s just not happening. If they make it past BC, they’ll have the Cavs in the second round Friday. To make the tourney State needs to get some critical wins just like Aunty needed to prove her power in Bartertown to truly control it.
7 through 12. – The surviving descendants of a Qantas plane crash. Maryland, Wake Forest, Boston College, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech all need a miracle run to make the big dance. They’re holding out hope. The children that rescue Max in Beyond the Thunderdome are all holding out hope that a mythic Captain Walker will rescue them by piloting the nearby crashed plane to “Tomorrow-morrow land.” Hope springs eternal, even in the Wasteland, but especially in the ACC Tournament.