Home February Madness: How many ACC teams get to the Big Dance?

February Madness: How many ACC teams get to the Big Dance?


accAs good as the top of the ACC has been, the rest of the ACC has been sorely lacking, so much so that it’s hard to see the conference getting anybody outside the Power 5 into the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday.

Heresy? Not at all. The top-rated team in the ESPN Basketball Power Index outside of the Power 5 is N.C. State, at 41, with a 15-11 record overall, and a 6-7 league mark. The Pack has two wins over Top 10 teams (Duke and Louisville), but is 1-6 against the BPI Top 50 and 8-10 against the Top 100.

The schedule for State is somewhat favorable down the stretch – the Pack gets Virginia Tech and Syracuse at home, with a game at UNC (a chance to get another Top 50 win) and road games at Boston College and Clemson.

Assume State goes 3-2 to finish 9-9 in the ACC in the regular season, 18-13 overall. Two wins in Greenboro gets the Pack to the ACC Tournament semifinals and to 20 wins on the season, which still might not be enough.

Next, to Miami, at 55 in the ESPN BPI, 15-9 overall, 5-6 in the ACC. Impressive win at Duke (90-74 on Jan. 13). Inexplicably bad home loss to Eastern Kentucky (72-44 on Dec. 19). The ‘Canes are 5-4 against the BPI Top 50 and 7-7 against the Top 100.

Two resume-building games remain (at Louisville, UNC at home), along with a home-and-home vs. Virginia Tech, a game at Boston College Sunday night, a home tilt with Florida State and a game at Pitt.

Let’s give Miami a 4-3 record down the stretch, with a win against either Louisville or UNC. That’s 19-12 overall, 9-9 in the ACC, six wins against Top 50.

That’s actually not a bad at-large resume, especially if you throw in a win or two in Greensboro. Even with the lower BPI, Miami is more of a bubble team right now than N.C. State, but still far from being a lock or anything close to it.

We’ll skip past Georgia Tech, which is 63 in the ESPN BPI, but at 11-13 overall, and 2-11 in the conference, is a statistical anomaly to be rated that high, and move on to Clemson, and its 90 BPI, 15-10 overall record, and 7-6 conference record.

The Tigers have the most conference wins of any of the teams we’ve talked about thus far, a 4-4 record against the BPI Top 50, and a 6-6 record against the Top 100.

Unfortunately, there are also some bad losses on the resume, to Winthrop and Gardner-Webb of the Big South in back-to-back November home games, and nothing yet in the form of a signature win.

Two resume games remain (at Duke, at Notre Dame), along with a home-and-home with Georgia Tech and a home game with N.C. State.

Clemson will have to go 4-1 down the stretch and probably win two games in Greensboro to even get on the bubble.

Our final look-in is Pitt, BPI 93, 17-9 overall, 6-6 in conference play, big winners over UNC at home on Saturday, on the heels of a big home win over Notre Dame a week ago.

So there are two signature wins there, though both are at home. They’re also the only two Pitt wins against the Top 50, with the Panthers at 2-6 overall against the Top 50, and 4-7 against the Top 100.

The game at #2 UVA Monday night is huge, because even with the Cavs diminished in the absence of Justin Anderson for the next couple of weeks, a win at #2 is a win at #2.

A loss would be just as huge. Lose Monday night, and Pitt is likely done, absent a run of the table in Greensboro. The final five regular-season games offer little to build the resume (at Syracuse, home against BC, at Wake Forest, home with Miami, at Florida State).

Pitt could conceivably lose at Virginia Monday night, run the regular-season table from there on out, win a game in Greensboro, lose on Thursday there, finish 22-12, and be a three or four seed in the NIT.

– Column by Chris Graham



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