What happened, ACC?
You used to rule the 64-team NCAA tournament. Your six titles since the tourney expanded in 1985 is more than any other league. You placed at least one school in the Final Four 17 times between 1985 and 2005. You sent at least two teams to the Sweet 16 for 15 straight years.
The last four tournaments have been a different story. You're still placing loads of teams in the tournament, but those teams aren't winning like they should.
Only one Final Four berth since 2006. Only four teams – in three tournaments – to reach the Sweet 16. No champs. Ouch.
Year Teams Record Expected wins
2006 4 6-4 7.3
2007 7 7-7 10.33
2008 4 6-4 7.83
2009 7 5-5* 10.68
(*through Saturday; expected wins courtesy Dan Hanner)
|Wake Forest's Chas McFarland, left, and L.D. Williams
Friday's putrid 0-4 mark – capped by Wake Forest's loss to No. 13 seed Cleveland State – was just the latest debacle.
"Black Sunday" still reigns as one of the bleakest days in ACC hoops history. The shockwaves of No. 1 seed UNC and No. 2 seed Duke both losing second-round NCAA tourney games reverberated throughout the 1979 tourney.
Yet Friday's 0-3 day isn't far behind because every loss was in the first-round. And those are games the ACC should win. No. 4 Wake lost. No. 5 Florida State lost. No. 7 Boston College lost.
The only team that's exceeded expectations thus far is No. 10 Maryland. The Terps' first-round win against Cal offset Clemson's loss to No. 10 seed Michigan on Thursday. The Heels and Devils also won games – that they were supposed to win.
(Side note that doesn't boost the ACC's karma: Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez popped off before the Terps' game against Memphis, saying the Tigers would "probably win all of their games outside of the league and have a losing record in the league. The ACC is too tough." Memphis won Saturday's game 89-70 as fans chanted "A-C-C-, A-C-C, A-C-C!")
Yes, it's the Big Dance, a time when upsets happen. Other conferences have struggled, but nearly every league hit expected win totals last year (the SEC and Pac-10 were just one win shy).
This year, the Big 12 and Pac-10 are both just one win shy of expected win totals, while the Big Ten just needs 3 more wins to hit their mark (the Big East needs 10 more).
Perhaps it's time re-evaluate our ACC perceptions. Perhaps the league just isn't as good as it used to be.
Put it this way: Even if Duke and North Carolina both make the Final Four, the ACC will still be at least one win short of PASE.
Just how long can a league coast on its reputation anyway?