Tuesday, February 13, 2007

ACC tournament key to NCAA's

If current trends continue in the middle of the standings, the ACC tournament’s first appearance in Florida could have a huge impact on which teams receive at-large selections for the NCAA tournament.
Gary Walters, Princeton’s athletics director who chairs the Division I men’s basketball committee, said Tuesday that he is observing a "lack of differentiation" among teams competing for at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.
Although Walters didn’t mention the ACC by name, it clearly fits his description. As of early Tuesday evening, eight ACC teams were in the RPI ratings’ top 35, according to RealTimeRPI.com
Virginia Tech (No. 33), Virginia (34) and Maryland (35) were bunched together. Before Tuesday’s games, seven ACC teams were within one win of a .500 conference record, and nine had at least 16 wins.
Walters is hoping for some teams throughout the nation to separate themselves by the end of the regular season.
"If there isn’t much of that, then we’ll also have the conference tournaments to help us decide what to do," he said during a teleconference with reporters.
Walters predicted that conference tournaments will have increased significance this season. If so, fans in Tampa are in for a treat.
A few years ago, North Carolina coach Roy Williams referred to the ACC tournament as a big cocktail party. His description is accurate in many seasons in which teams’ NCAA hopes don’t appear to hinge on their ACC tournament performance.
But this season, Duke, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Maryland could have their fates decided that weekend. For Carolinas fans hesitant to travel a long distance, the trip might be worthwhile.
UNBALANCED SCHEDULING: Walters said unbalanced scheduling in many conferences is causing headaches for committee members as they try to compare teams within those conferences.
The ACC, for example, played each conference opponent home and away before expanding to included Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
Now, ACC teams play some conference opponents twice and others once during the regular season. That means one team’s road to an 8-8 ACC record might be far more different than that of another team.
This is one area where crunching the numbers should favor Duke’s strength of schedule in the ACC. Duke meets ACC leaders Boston College and North Carolina twice and also plays twice against Clemson, Maryland, Georgia Tech.
Duke plays ACC bottom dwellers Miami, Wake Forest and N.C. State once each. Clemson also plays those three schools once, but meets North Carolina once.
Virginia, which meets Miami, Wake Forest and N.C. State twice each and plays once against Boston College and North Carolina, might have the easiest conference schedule.
-- Ken Tysiac


WB said...

NCAAs, not NCAA's.

Sorry, that just drives me crazy.

Feel free to delete this comment and make the correction in your title.