Home Mailbag: ACC, in what the experts said was a ‘down year,’ has four in the Sweet 16

Mailbag: ACC, in what the experts said was a ‘down year,’ has four in the Sweet 16

Chris Graham
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So, who holds the self-appointed pundits accountable when they berate the ACC in pre-selection talk shows and then are shown to be wholly incorrect? Four teams in the Sweet 16. How many do those conferences have that they proclaimed were so much better than the ACC?  Do they ever make on-air apologies or even acknowledge that their prejudice was unfounded?


Short answer: don’t hold your breath.

ESPN, the ACC’s media rights-holder, is, curiously, the entity most responsible for the narrative that the ACC was down this year.

Some corporate partners they are, right?

Dumb sh-ts don’t seem to get that they’re devaluing one of their media properties.


The prominent conference-related headline on the ESPN.com front page today: “UConn’s Hurley laments ‘mistake’ with Big East 6-0.”

What about, oh, I dunno, Pitt, which deserved a bid more than any of the three Big East pretenders left on the outside looking in?

It’s not been that long since Wake Forest would have been a safe in.

The ESPN story, if you follow and read, compares the Big East being 6-0 in the 2024 NCAA Tournament to the Big 12 at 3-3 and the Mountain West at 3-5.

The timestamp on the story is 12:13 a.m. this morning, so there’s no reason for it to be wrong on both of those – the Big 12 is 7-6, not 3-3, and the Mountain West is 4-5, not 3-5.

Doesn’t mention the ACC being 8-1 with four in the Sweet 16.

Also doesn’t say a word about ESPN’s favorite son, the SEC, being (hack, cough up blood) 5-6, with two (two!) of its eight NCAA teams still playing.

The Big 12 also got eight bids, and has two teams left.

But it’s all about the poor widdle Big East, whose media-rights deal is with Fox and CBS, with the three reportedly on negotiations to re-up on their deal, which comes up for renewal next year.

Maybe ESPN is using its news division (again) to try to wiggle its way in for the Big East, at the expense of the ACC.

This is why that ESPN deal that runs through 2036 is disadvantageous.

And why it won’t be the worst thing if those lawsuits from Florida State and Clemson lead to its ultimate demise.



ncaa tournament
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The Mountain West is the poster child for the problem with using in-season metrics to decide postseason bids.  They sucked when it counted, as they always have. There is no logic to conferences being able to leverage a few early season out-of-conference wins into six tourney bids. This is an example of a conference that needs to use two to three earned bids to build their case for more through postseason success. I don’t doubt that there are some quality teams out there. I do object to a system in which beating Miami counts less than beating Boise State.


The Mountain West was the seventh-rated conference in the NET, and got six bids. The ACC was the fourth-rated conference in the NET, and got five.

Yeah, something is wrong here.

Computers only spit out good info if the algorithms are fed good info.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].