ACC: Statement From Virginia Tech; “If Only They Had Expanded It to 96 Teams…”
Well, it’s the Tobacco Road boys in the ACC and then everyone else (Wake Forest does not count…this year). UNC won the ACC regular season on the last day by beating Duke. Duke avenged that loss with a win going away in the ACC Tournament Championship. The next closest team finished two games back in the conference standings (Florida State at 11-5) and the three after that all went 9-7 in conference. It could be worse (look up the Big 10’s picture of middle-of-the-pack mediocrity), but the ACC, a historically good all around basketball conference, has only four teams in the tourney. Maryland missed the NCAAs for the fourth time in six seasons, Virginia Tech was left in the cold again (if I hear one more Seth Greenberg suicide watch implication…) and BC and NC State underachieved. Still, things aren’t all bad on the East Coast. Duke’s a one seed (albeit in a tough West region) and UNC snagged a two seed (albeit in the tougher East region), something even the Big XII (X?) failed to do. There are some interesting potential match ups for both teams if things fall into place (Kentucky – UNC in the Elite 8; Duke – Texas in the Sweet 16; Duke – UConn in the Elite Eight) including a potential Final Four match up between themselves for the right to play in the national title game. When you consider that these two programs have won the last two championships (not to mention that whole hating each other thing) we couldn’t have asked for a juicier potential Final Four match up. Without further ado, here are some “facts” about the conference:
- Outside of John Scheyer who did Duke lose off of its 2010 National Championship team roster? Zoubek? That gangly mess would’ve cost them the national championship had a flagrant foul been properly called at the end of the Butler game in 2010 (and had Zoubek, you know, been on any other team than Duke). Anyone calling this team vulnerable without Kyrie Irving hasn’t been watching since December…
- Clemson made it in to the NCAA field after a close ACC semi-finals loss to UNC and will play in one of the new First Four games. Are we really going to call what are essentially play-in games the First Four? That’s a relatively nice moniker that puts this round on par with the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four nick-name wise. The difference is that those games mean something, they’re a bench mark for the success of any good NCAA basketball program. The First Four? It essentially quadrupled the Terrible Two glorified play-in game that existed because…well I don’t really know why it existed. These games aren’t even on the ESPN Tournament Challenge brackets…seriously.
- Maryland effectively ruined any momentum from last year’s near run to the Sweet 16 (they lost on a last second bucket to perennial NCAA giant Michigan State) with a losing ACC record and misses in all of their major out of conference opportunities. With one win over Pittsburgh, Illinois, Temple, or Villanova this team might have had an argument for the NCAAs. Instead it lost those games by an average of 6 ppg and then went 0-4 against Duke and UNC in the ACC. This team ranked 21st in ppg, 15th in rebounds per game, 9th in assists per game and 27th in field goal percentage out of 347 teams. Their free throw percentage rank? Tied for 217th…
- Finally; Florida State. Outside of solidifying itself as America’s best number 1 killer for the past decade what, you ask, is the most interesting thing about this team? They lost to Auburn in January. Yes, that “worst team from a major conference” Auburn. We know the Tigers couldn’t give a hoot (they have football banners to hang up) but the ACC may want to do some serious soul searching if this is their third best basketball squad…
Big 10 (12?): Statement From Northwestern: “If Only They Would Let Everyone Play…”
Ok ok, that’s not fair to Northwestern. They definitely would have made the 96 team field, what with their scintillating eighth place league standing and overwhelming 18-13 record. Indeed, in a 68 team field as strong as this one, there are actually a few at-large teams with more losses than Northwestern. But enough picking on the Wildcats. After all the Big 10 (12?) did produce the tourney’s overall number 1 seed and have seven total teams in the tournament. Still, there are some worries. The third best team in the conference (Wisconsin) scored all of 33 points in the Big 10 quarterfinals after losing by 28 points in their last regular season game. The second best team in the conference (Purdue) enters the tournament on a two game losing streak. The other four Big 10 NCAA Tourney teams all went 9-9 in conference play and Penn State hasn’t broken the vaunted 66 point threshold since January 5th (and last scored 70 points on December 4th). Are you telling me it isn’t a little worrying that Penn State has still won 12 games against conference opponents during that streak? I like Ohio State because they’ve done well when entering the tournament as strong seeds in 2007 and 2010, I’m just not so sure about the rest of these guys. Without further ado, here are some “facts” about the conference.
- Northwestern is the only team from a major conference without an NCAA Tournament History section on ESPN.com…there I’m done.
- Purdue lost its best player prior to the season but still managed to get into March challenging for the Big 10 regular season crown. Shockingly, they have two great scorers in Joe Johnson (20.5 ppg) and E’twaun Moore (18.2 ppg) but those two account for more than half of the team’s offensive production. If they’re playing a poor defensive team without defenders to match up on one of these guys Purdue’s a solid pick considering their Big 10 caliber defense. Just don’t ask this team to run the floor…with anyone.
- It’s a well known fact that Wisconsin has perennially exited the tournament sooner than their seed predicted. In fact, the last serious run this team made at the final weekend was in 2005 and their last Final Four was in 2000. Still they’ve made the tournament every year since 1999 and have only lost in the first round three of those years. They also get a scorching hot 30-4 Belmont team (11th in the nation in scoring) in the first round that I talked about in my NCAA tournament preview. There are a couple of intriguing 4 seed – 13 seed match ups in the 2011 field but this one might be your best bet for an upset.
- Michigan feels a lot like Clemson to me. A non-descript team whose best wins (both in conference and out of it) might have been over Harvard and Oakland, they got in because of breaking the 20 win threshold and because of the conference’s relative strength. They’re playing a Tennessee team on a 4-7 stretch coming into the tournament in the first round, but that’s definitely the last time I’d have the Wolverines winning this season.
That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for: “How about the Fringe Four instead?,” “How Cappie Pondexter Did More for WNBA Publicity With One Horribly Thought Out Text than 10 years of Play,” “The Frio have been up-graded to Medio Caliente,” and “A Football Playing Opera Singer: At Least One of Them Beat the Lockout.”