Posted: 12:32 a.m. Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Jeff Sagarin’s College Men’s Basketball Rankings for USA Today, as long-lived and defensible as any other statistical formulation for rating Division I teams, has only four ACC squads in his top 37: in order Duke, Miami, North Carolina, and N.C. State.
The coaches’ poll has two ACC teams in the top 10, Miami and Duke, and that’s it. Same with the Associated Press rankings.
So we really shouldn’t be surprised that only four ACC teams were invited to participate in the NCAA tournament.
Come on, ACC supporters. As the late advice columnist Ann Landers used to write, wake up and smell the coffee!
Any real or perceived slight suffered by the ACC in the estimation of the 2013 NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is nothing new. This stuff has been going on for quite some time.
This is the fourth season in the last eight when only four ACC squads got NCAA bids. Meanwhile the Mountain West and Atlantic 10 got five bids each this year. Seriously.
At a Durham press conference, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski cited parity, top players leaving early for the pros, and the ACC’s fixation on football to the detriment of basketball, as reasons for the conference’s declining share of tournament berths.
“We have not focused on the thing that founded us as well as we should, since expansion,” Krzyzewski said of basketball. “It’s like not forgetting your asset but not trying to improve your asset…You have something that’s going good, try to keep it really going good. I don’t think we’ve had an emphasis in that.”
Krzyzewski has lamented that lack of focus for years. But he’s a lone overt voice within the councils of the ACC; football is where the TV money is, after all.
But to return to the matter at hand, there’s a definite pattern to the ACC’s reduced stature in the eyes of the selection committee. As we first wrote back in 2008, there’s a close relationship between how well the first-place team does and how much NCAA representation the ACC receives.
Consider that from 1984 through 1999, when the ACC was comprised of either eight or nine teams, the league sent a majority of its members to the NCAAs 14 times in 15 years.
In the 15 most recent seasons since 1999, including this one, the ACC sent a majority of its membership to the NCAAs just four times. That’s a 26.7 percent fulfillment rate versus 93.3 percent in the preceding 15 years.
This while the Big East routinely got twice as many bids as the ACC and often a majority representation of its members in the NCAA field.
Clearly there’s been a shift in regard, if nothing else, for the strength of ACC squads.
The dominance of the league’s top team apparently has an effect. The fewer losses incurred by the ACC’s first-place finisher, the fewer invitations received by its conference confreres. The more defeats suffered by the top finisher or finishers, the broader the ACC’s representation in the NCAA tournament.
Perhaps that extra victory or two at the expense of less formidable league members is the difference between inclusion and exclusion. Since the leader ordinarily is either Duke or UNC, perhaps there’s a perception the ACC is a two-team league populated by anonymous also-rans.
If the top team had two or fewer losses, as happened nine times in the past 15 years, a minority of the ACC’s members went to the NCAAs. When the regular season leader had three or more losses, five times out of six, most recently in 2010, at least half of the ACC’s teams got bids.
Surely this is more than coincidence.
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NCAA Bids For ACC Since 1999 Season,
Related To Strength of First-Place Team
|* ACC went to 11 members.|
** ACC went to 12 members.