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March Madness 2011 Bracket Predictions: UNC Loses Early, Duke Reaches Final Four

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For more tournament predictions, head over to SB Nation. Note: we used four ranking systems to aid in our predictions: Sokol, Massey, Pomeroy and Sagarin.

The ACC only got four teams into the 2011 NCAA Tournament, but two of the top eight teams are from the conference. How will all four do? 

Clemson Tigers (21-11, 9-7)

The Tigers, coached by first year head coach Brad Brownell, already have one tournament win under their belt. Sokol's, Massey's, Pomeroy's and Sagarin's rating systems all predict a West Virginia win on Thursday. Worst case scenario for the Tigers is a trip home after a loss on Thursday with the consolation of their first tournament win in 14 years. Best case scenario is a surprise win over the Mountaineers only to fall to Kentucky in the regional semifinals. The dream scenario would be two more wins and then a loss to Ohio State.

SB Nation Atlanta's Prediction: The Tigers head home early after a loss to West Virginia. 

Florida State Seminoles (21-10, 11-5)

The Seminoles struggled down the stretch without future NBA star Chris Singleton. Their leading scorer fractured his right foot in mid-February and is still questionable for the game. Massey, Sagarin, and Pomeroy all see a first round loss for the Seminoles, while Sokol's ratings predict a win on Friday but then a loss in the second round. Worst case scenario is a loss without Singleton in their first game, while the reasonable best case would be a win on Friday. The dream scenario for the Noles would be Singleton's return sparking a Sweet 16 run. 

SB Nation Atlanta's Prediction: More bad news for the ACC as FSU loses on Friday. 

North Carolina (26-7, 14-2)

The ACC's regular season champion and tournament runner-up earned a No. 2 seed and gets Long Island University in the first round. The predicted results for the Tar Heels are fairly spread out from the rankings: Massey has an Elite 8 appearance, Sagarin and Pomeroy predict a Sweet 16 appearance, and Sokol has them losing in the second round. Worst case scenario for the Heels is a loss in the second round to Washington. The reasonable best case is an Elite 8 loss to Ohio State, while the dream would be a run to the Final Four. 

SB Nation Atlanta's Prediction: Jason Kirk foresees a loss for the Tar Heels to Washington in the second round. I have them going one round further before a loss to Syracuse in the Sweet 16. 

Duke Blue Devils (30-4, 13-3)

The Duke Blue Devils are a very interesting case in my opinion. All of the pre-tournament talk has centered around Ohio State and Kansas, and somehow Duke, coming in as defending national champions and a number one seed with 30 wins, is seemingly under the radar. Duke returns five of the eight players that beat Butler for the national championship less than one year ago. I would feel comfortable putting them through to the Final Four as it stands now, but the impending return of Kyrie Irving will be huge for a long tournament run. Three of the rankings predict a Final Four run for Duke and Massey's numbers predict a loss to San Diego State in the Elite 8. The worst case for the Blue Devils would be an early upset in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8, while the best case would be Duke cutting down the nets in Houston. 

SB Nation Atlanta's Prediction: Kirk predicts a title game loss to Kansas for the Blue Devils, while my bracket rides on Duke winning it all and taking home their second consecutive national championship. 

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.