Twitter is a great thing, because you can get a feel for how fans feels about things. Surprisingly a sizeable number think that the results of the NCAA don’t reveal much if anything about the conferences the teams come from. The sample size is too small they say… This makes no sense to me. The only way to compare conferences relative strength is how they perform out of conference. Is it a conclusive measure? No of course not, but it does reveal some basic truths. Never was that more evident that the performance of the ACC and it’s teams.
As the ACC dropped teams one by one, we could see weaknesses in each team we’ve seen all year. If your a fan of one those teams you just hoped those weaknesses would be masked for a little while, but they were painfully exposed in the first weekend on the NCAAs.
Pittsburgh was a solid, but not a spectacular team. They destroyed Colorado in impressive fashion, but when faced with an elite team in Florida they were outclassed most of the game. This was the Pitt were knew. A good team, that couldn’t beat the best teams on it’s schedule. The Panthers were 1-6 against Duke, UNC, Syracuse, and Virginia. Those were the best teams the ACC had to offer.
NC State couldn’t close out winnable games against good teams. We saw this against Syracuse, UNC and Missouri, and we saw it again in a meltdown to St. Louis. We saw the Wolfpack pull out a win against Syracuse in the ACCT, but as you see when we talk about the Orange, that was 2 negative trends hitting head on. N.C State prevailed, but that was the exception more than the rule.
Duke couldn’t defend the post all year. When the 3 point shot didn’t drop they were vulnerable. Against Mercer, which was still a surprise, the Blue Devils were beat time and time again in the paint. Mercer shot 55% against the Blue Devils.
North Carolina was team inconsistent all year. The Heels were capable of beating or losing to anyone they played. Brilliant stretches of basketball followed by horrendous moments. Against Iowa St. it was more of the same. The Heels go up 7 get down by 9, take an 8 point lead with just under 4 minutes, and then the meltdown. The Tar Heels simply got outworked on the glass, let Cyclone players into the lane, and gave up open 3s. Give Iowa St. credit they earned the win, but when you are down 8 late, you need help. UNC gave it to them. The Tar Heels just couldn’t put enough consistent basketball together for 40 minutes. It was the story of their season.
Syracuse hasn’t been right since their 25-0 start. When the Orange were at their best they were capable of a Final 4, but late in the year scoring became a nightmare. The Orange had become a team that couldn’t beat Georgia Tech or Boston College at home. NC State took them out in the first round of the ACC Tournament. Virginia blew them out. No surprise against Dayton, the Orange struggled to score against Dayton in a 55-53 loss in Buffalo, NY. In what should have been a virtual home game, the Orange missed missed and missed some more. They didn’t make a 3 pointer against Dayton.
It was all bound to show up sooner or later. It just happened to be sooner.
Last truth revealed, Virginia was the ACC’s best and most complete team all year. They are the only ACC basketball team in the Sweet 16. Congratulations to them and their fans!