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Apr
01
2013

ACC misses Final 4 for the 3rd straight year. Why? Backcourts must get better.

Following a strong bowl season where the ACC went 4-2 highlighted by wins in the Orange Bowl by Florida State and victories over LSU and USC by Clemson and Georgia Tech, the ACC looked to carry the momentum into college basketball’s post-season. It didn’t quite happen as for the 3rd straight year the ACC didn’t get a team into the Final 4. It is the longest such streak since the 4 year gap from 1958-1961.

What’s going on with ACC basketball? Is this a big deal?

Overall I don’t think there should be a cause for panic, but theLarkinre are some places where the conference needs to improve. First the ACC has had 3 teams the last 3 years make the elite 8, that being UNC in 2011 and 2012 and Duke this year. No fewer than 2 ACC teams have made Sweet 16 during this time.

That’s not just UNC and Duke either.  NC State, Miami, and Florida State have made the Sweet 16. That’s 8 teams in 3 years in the Sweet 16. Only the Big 10 and Big East performed better. That’s hardly a basketball conference in complete decline, but still no Final 4 teams and obviously no national championships.

Now you could say the ACC will get instant basketball boost with the additions of Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Syracuse and Lousiville next year. I would agree, but I’d hesitate to stamp it as a cure all. Those are outstanding basketball programs, but remember when the Miami Hurricanes were going to elevate ACC football? The ACC was so confident in this regard that ACC Title game was set in Florida the first few years. We are still waiting on the Hurricanes to win their first division title much less a conference title. Even Boston College came into the ACC on a streak of 6 straight bowls. They’ve won 6 games the last 2 years.

Let’s focus on what the current ACC teams need to do get back to the Final 4. I think the real problem is guard play. The backcourts of Louisville and Michigan might be the 2 best in country. Syracuse’s big guards swallowed up the smaller the Indiana guards in the sweet 16. Louisville’s Peyton Siva and Russ Smith repeatedly blew by the slower footed Duke guards.

Look at the ACC’s most recent Final Four teams… Duke’s savvy backcourt with 6-5 Jon Scheyer, UNC players like Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton, Georgia Tech’ Jarrett Jack, and Maryland’s Juan Dixon and Steve Blake.

That reads like a who’s who of All-Americans and/or future NBA players.

The only potential All-American playing PG in the ACC right now is Miami’s Shane Larkin. There’s little wonder why Miami won the ACC’s regular season and tournament titles. That’s a big reason why I thought Miami could make a deep in the NCAAs. With Larkin and Durand Scott, I thought the Canes had the backcourt makeup to get to the Final 4.

Marquette to their credit double teamed Larkin nearly every time he crossed mid court. This is simply something Miami hadn’t seen in the ACC. Most ACC backcourts don’t have the athleticism to do what Marquette did, even if they had wanted to employ the same defense.

If the ACC wishes to reclaim their position as the country’s best basketball conference, then even with the new teams joining, they must become better at the guard position.

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