Thursday, February 15, 2007

Surprising Parity in the ACC Keeps Duke and Carolina Off Balance


Patrick Kendall

The ACC currently has two teams ranked in the AP Top 25. North Carolina is one; Boston College is the other. In an effort to not beat a dead story too badly, Duke is an obvious absentee from this week's poll – the first time in over ten years that Coach K has not read about his team in that situation. And so, this by itself makes for a "BIG" story, but in my opinion the bigger story should be that the ACC currently has ONLY two teams ranked in the AP Top 25 yet experts are predicting that the conference will send the most teams to the NCAA Tournament this year. Depending on who you listen to, the ACC could send anywhere from seven to nine teams to the Big Dance this year. My gut tells me that nine is unrealistic, but eight is very likely.

Why, you ask?

Easy. At various points this year six ACC teams have found their way into (VA Tech is most likely to become the seventh this next week) the Top 25. BC, Clemson, Virginia, Maryland, and of course Duke have all enjoyed some time on the list, while UNC remains in the Top 5 (probably Top 10 after the their loss to VA Tech), which means, that seven of the arguably Top 25 teams (at various points) have been battling one another at least once, and sometimes twice, leaving scars in the form of losses that would seem to, on paper at least, indicate a danger of not making the Tournament.

I am going to submit my argument for the teams that I believe are a lock to make it in from the ACC as well as the "bubble" teams, then finally, the teams that could be surprise entries into the Tourney.


UNC – an obvious choice, although their sweep by VA Tech and the loss to NC State puts them out of consideration for a number 1 seed. Look for them at number 2.

BC – still sitting near the top of the conference, they are in good shape for a number 4 seed.

Virginia Tech – a sweep of UNC and the win over Duke, along with their position in the conference are good for a 3 or 4 seed. If Tech wins the ACC conference and regular season I see them at a 2, which would be incredible.

Virginia – if they can remain at the top with the other three then I see them as a solid 4 seed in the tourney as well.

Duke – wins over Gonzaga, Indiana, Georgetown and a sweep of BC ensure that Duke is in the tournament. They begin the second tier of teams to get in and could be anywhere from a 4 to a 6 seed depending on how they finish up in the conference and conference tournament.


Clemson – 17-0 to start the season, they have run into some ups and downs, but I believe if they win at least two more games in the conference it will be enough – 21 wins overall and 7 in a tough, deep conference will get them in at a 6 or 7 seed.

Maryland – they need a good run to finish up because of the hole they dug for themselves but I see them at a 6 to 8 seed, provided they get two more wins and one in the conference tourney.

Georgia Tech/Florida State – GA Tech is not the better team but they have one fewer loss at this point and if that holds they will get in. If Florida State leapfrogs them, pencil them in. Either of these teams, if they get in, will be an 8 or 9 seed.

So, there you have it. I don't see the ACC tying the Big East's record of nine teams (although it could be argued depending on how GA Tech and FLA State finish up in the standings) but in terms of talent from top to bottom, I think it is hard to argue that the ACC is the most deserving conference for consideration of the most teams. Of course, since I'm not on the committee (yet!) it's impossible to say that anything is certain.

Since this is a site dedicated to the rivalry between Duke and UNC I shall leave on this parting shot:

Duke is currently enjoying a one game win streak over a ranked opponent, while UNC is the throes of a one game losing streak to an unranked team.

The times, they are a' changin'.

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