Monday, March 24, 2008

ACC, outside Chapel Hill, is hurting

ACC coaches spent last week venting about the Division I men’s basketball committee after just four conference teams were selected for the NCAA tournament.

Now it’s time for those coaches to internalize their frustrations and figure out what’s wrong with the ACC in basketball.

The ACC placed at least two teams in the Sweet 16 every year from 1980 to 2006. But in 2007 and 2008, North Carolina has been the ACC’s sole participant in the Sweet 16. While ACC coaches mistakenly rave from the pulpit about how strong their conference is, an unparalleled college basketball tradition is crumbling underneath their feet.

Critics of expansion blame the addition of Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech for damaging ACC basketball, but that’s neither accurate nor fair. Those schools represent 25 percent of the ACC but own 29 percent (five of 17) of the ACC’s NCAA tournament wins over the last three seasons.

The most obvious need for improvement comes in scheduling. The selection committee places heavy emphasis on defeating top-50 or top-100 opponents when considering at-large teams.
Virginia Tech was omitted from the 2008 tournament because it had just one top-50 win (over Miami) all season. There are two ways to improve the schedule.

One is to encourage coaches not to schedule opponents that were, say, in the bottom 200 of the previous season’s RPI. Another is to expand the ACC schedule to 18 games – an idea the coaches and ACC athletics directors rejected last spring.

If the Hokies had played North Carolina in Blacksburg, maybe they would have pulled off an upset that could have vaulted them into the NCAA tournament. We’ll never know, but it’s clear they would have benefited from a chance to play stronger opponents. Two conferences that play 18-game conference schedules – the Pac-10 and Big East – both have three teams remaining in the NCAA tournament.

Fortunately for the ACC, North Carolina’s astounding blowouts of Mount St. Mary’s and Arkansas have dulled the perception that this is a struggling conference. The Tar Heels might well win the ACC’s fourth NCAA title in eight years and give the conference more reason to boast.

But outside of Chapel Hill, the ACC is hurting in basketball. It’s time to stop complaining about external forces such as the selection committee and start coming up with solutions.

– Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Here is a solution: put more teams from the ACC in the tournament. #1 in RPI with four reps. The conference with the most reps? #5 in conf RPI! WHAT GIVES???????

Anonymous said...

How about scheduling more games against the better non-ACC schools in the area: Winthrop, Charlotte, Davidson. Charlotte went 2 and 2 against the ACC this year. Davidson gave Carolina all it could handle. Winthrop can run with the big dogs.

Anonymous said...

Serves them right. The ACC just had to raid the Big East, which subsequently led to the destruction of Conference USA. I hope they rot. Now if the Tarholes lose in the next round that would be sweet; no ACC teams in the Elite 8.

Anonymous said...

put more ACC teams in?? Yeh so more can lose? RPI isn't the deciding factor in who's good -- winning is. Right now the ACC isn't winning when it matters most.

Anonymous said...

Stop quoting the conference RPI! Most poeple have no understanding of how that number is derived and yet they spout it out as "evidence" because the ACC is #1 in that category. It's like listening to seven-year olds talk about particle physics. You might be able to teach children to say the words, but they don't grasp the nature of what they're saying.

Anonymous said...

Do you know what the RPI measures? It the teams winning percentage, their oppennets winning percentage (which is the heaviest part of the rating), and the opponents' opponent winning percentage. Let me break it down for you so you don't feel like a "seven-year olds talk about particle physics," It measures who has the best success in reference to playing teams that have also had good success. Having a high RPI means that you have a high winning percentage against teams that have a high winning percentage that have actually played other teams with high winning percentage. THAT'S WHY IT IS ALWAYS BROUGHT UP! It has been used for years to justify selection picks, yet it was not even considered (according to the head of the selection committee) this year. That makes no sense. By the way yes the ACC did lose early this year, but in case you haven't noticed there have been a lot of upsets this year. But do you know of a little friendly competition called the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge? Yeah the ACC beasts them every year. Not even close it is usually wrapped up as a ACC victory before the last couple of games are played. I would gladly invite any conference to play the ACC in such a format, I can gaurantee they would not be so eager! The ACC should have had more schools. According to RPI they had the best percentage against winning schools who actually played winning competition. SEC was rated #2 and only got 5 schools and ACC rated #1 and only got 4. What should be done is to schedule the Big East next year so that our RPI is last and we get the most in the tourney. VT not in? REALLY?

Anonymous said...

It is pretty easy to go deep into the tournament when you can cruise to your spot and then play hard at the end. I am a UNC fan and I will tell you Duke played harder than any other team this year. For a while it was TENN, but even they slacked up. DUKE plays every second of everyday of every play. They had a bad shooting day that was rare for them this season. WV lucks out because Duke was off. Their def was not impressive. They looked tired and not together until the last ten minutes. Not saying they didn't earn the win but it is not like they had a great D (low blocks, low steals, not even dominate on boards).