Scott German: Seeding the Ultimate ACC Tournament

1. North Carolina 1981-1982

acc basketballThe Tar Heels did win the National Championship in 1982, with an overall mark of 32-2.

UNC’s 47-45 slowdown win over Ralph Sampson-led Virginia in the ACC title game was credited with the implementation of both the shot clock and three point shot.

North Carolina’s march through the NCAA tournament began with a 52-50 win over James Madison University.

But what earned the top seed was this fact: Michael Jordan was widely considered only the third best player on the roster, behind James Worthy and Sam Perkins.

2. Virginia 2018-2019

Little discussion needed. The Cavaliers won their first ever national title, finishing 35-3.

But if you need some analytics consider these: Virginia finished the season as the second rated team in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per Only one other team, the 2007-2008 Kansas national-title winner, compares in the KenPom era, which dates back to 2001-2002.

The dramatic finishes by the Cavaliers in the tournament resulted in college basketball’s greatest redemption season ever.

3. Duke 1991-1992

The Blue Devils won the national championship with a 34-2 record.

Duke had a star-studded lineup that included Christian Laettner, Thomas Hill, Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley.

Duke’s 104-103 win over Kentucky in the East Regional final concluded with perhaps the most memorable shot in NCAA tournament history.

Laettner ended one of the greatest tourney games ever with a turnaround jumper at the overtime buzzer to give Duke the win.

4. N.C. State 1982-1983

NC State won the national championship, finishing the season at 26-10.

But what makes this season the greatest ever in Wolfpack history, considering N.C State did win the 1974 national tile as well? The answer: Lorenzo Charle’s dunk shot with one second left that gave the Wolfpack a 54-52 win over Houston.

The shot was the result of a desperation shot from 30 feet out by Derek Whittenburg that ended one foot short of the rim, and into the hands of Charles who stuffed the ball home as the buzzer sounded.

Who can ever forget both the dunk and Wolfpack coach Jim Valvano running around the court in celebration desperately searching for someone, anyone to hug.

5. Syracuse 2002-2003

The highest seed of the ACC expansion schools. Syracuse won the 2003 national championship as a member of the Big East.

The Orange finished with a mark of 30-5. Syracuse upset top-seeded Kansas in the title game 81-78.

What made this season special was that Syracuse began the season unranked.

The Orange was paced during the season by Carmelo Anthony in his only college season. Anthony is a 10-time all NBA All-Star.

6. Louisville 1985-1986

The Cardinals won the national championship with a 32-7 record. It was the second national title for Louisville.

The Cardinals were part of the Metro Conference which included Virginia Tech. Louisville was coached by Denny Crum, and was led by national freshman of the year, “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison.

The Cardinals’ 1985-1986 team edged out the 1980-1981 national title team by virtue of winning six NCAA tourney games to only five in 1979-1980 tourney.

Also the Cardinals 1985-1986 tourney included wins over highly ranked North Carolina, LSU and Duke in the final.

7. Florida State 1971-1972

Though they have played under the shadow of the football program for years, the Seminoles have had success on the hardwood, especially in recent years.

However, the 1971-1972 team, playing as an independent, finished the season 27-6, losing to UCLA in the Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, only a few miles from the Bruins home arena, Pauley Pavilion, in the NCAA title game.

FSU’s march to the title game included wins over highly-ranked Kentucky in the Mideast Regional final and North Carolina in the national semifinals.

8. Georgia Tech 2003-2004

Many associate Georgia Tech basketball success to coach Bobby Cremins, who led the Yellow Jackets to three ACC tourney titles and a Final Four appearance in 1990.

Paul Hewitt took the 2003-2004 team to the national title game, losing to Connecticut. Georgia Tech finished the season at 28-10. Despite finishing just 9-7 in league play, the Jackets had a strong run in the NCAA tourney, highlighted by a huge upset over top-seeded Kansas in the semifinals.

9. Wake Forest 1995-1996

The Deacons recorded their second consecutive 26-6 season, this time reaching the NCAA regional finals. Wake ended the 1995-1996 season ranked ninth in the Associated Press poll.

Tim Duncan was named ACC Player of the Year, and was a consensus first-team All American.

Wake Forest won the ACC Tournament in the Greensboro Coliseum in a heart-stopping 75-74 win over regular-season champion Georgia Tech.

Fun fact: Wake was coached by former Virginia assistant Dave Odom, and was assisted by former UVA great Ricky Stokes.

10. Notre Dame 2014-2015

The Irish completed the 2014-2015 season with their only 30-plus win season in school history with a 32-6 record.

Notre Dame advanced to the Elite Eight, losing to unbeaten Kentucky 68-66, after winning the ACC Tournament, defeating North Carolina in the final.

The Irish concluded the season ranked number six in the Associated Press Poll.

11. Pittsburgh 2008-2009

The 2009-09 season was historic in numerous ways for the Panthers.

Pittsburgh was ranked number number one in the Associated Press poll for the first time in school history. During the season, the Panthers knocked off the number one ranked Connecticut Huskies twice.

Pitt received its first ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Panthers finished the season losing to Villanova in the Elite Eight with a record of 31-5, and finished the campaign ranked number four in the Associated Press poll, their highest ever final ranking.

12. Clemson 1989-1990

Clemson is another football power that has had brushes with success on the hardwood.

The Tigers won the 1989-1990 ACC regular-season title, resulting in their only number one seed entering tournament action. The Tigers’ 26-9 season ended in a last second shot by Connecticut in the Sweet 16.

Fun fact: Clemson was defeated by Virginia 69-66 in the ACC tourney semifinals.

13. Miami 2012-2013

Another football school that has had some success with the round ball, for Miami, the 2012-2013 season was magical.

The Hurricanes won both the regular-season and ACC Tournament championships. In the ACC title game the Hurricanes defeated North Carolina, 87-77.

With a veteran roster, Miami finished ACC regular-season play at 15-3, in route to a 29-7 overall mark.

Miami advanced to the Sweet Sixteen where they lost to Marquette.

Fun fact: Miami became the first ever ACC school other than Duke or North Carolina to win both the ACC regular season and tournament championship in the same year.

14. Boston College 2005-2006

The Eagles went 28-8 in the 2005-2006 season, losing to Duke 78-76 in the ACC tournament championship tilt.

BC ended the season with a loss to Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen.

While the Sweet Sixteen appearance was not BC’s longest run in NCAA action (Elite Eight 1982, 1994), it was a special season for the Eagles.

The 2005-2006 was the first season of play in the ACC for Boston College, having been prior a member of the Big East.

BC finished the ACC regular season as the number three seed, and lost to Duke in the ACC Tournament championship game.

15. Virginia Tech 2018-2019

The Hokies did advance to the Elite Eight in 1967, but the 2019-2020 season gets the nod as the best ever in VPI hardcourt history.

The Hokies 26-9 mark concluded with a heart-breaking 75-73 loss to Duke in the Sweet Sixteen. Tech finished the season ranked number 16 in the Associated Press poll.

Seeding Summary

The top six seeds’ best seasons ever concluded with national championships.

The #7 and #8 seeds both played for the national championship.

The 9, 10 and 11 seeds all finished their respective seasons ranked in the Associated Press top 10.

Not one team in the ACC has never failed to advance to at least the Sweet Sixteen.

All facts demonstrating why the ACC is regarded as the best college basketball conference.

Story by Scott German

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