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Posted at 8:45 AM ET, 01/14/2011

How many ACC teams will earn NCAA tournament berths?

By Eric Prisbell

Virginia Tech lost a heartbreaker at North Carolina on Thursday. A depleted roster was nearly enough to earn a quality road victory, but the Hokies came up short. Virginia Tech is a good team, no question. But here is the problem for Virginia Tech (and a lot of these ACC teams not named Duke): The Hokies won't play another team currently ranked in the RPI's top 50 until Jan. 30, when they host Miami. And if Virginia Tech can't beat Duke on Feb. 26, from today until the ACC tournament, it gets only three more chances against current top 50 opponents (Miami, plus two games against Boston College). The issue with this season's ACC is that, unlike the Big East, it's tough to find a quality opponent (at least in the eyes of the RPI).

I wrote about the state of the ACC in Friday's newspaper. I have two questions that I'll pose here, and I'm very interested in your answers. The Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten are the three best conferences in the country this season, in whatever order you want. After that, the Mountain West is one slot ahead of the ACC. First, do you agree with that? Is the Mountain West a better league than the ACC this season? My answer is yes, because the second-best team in the MWC, Brigham Young, is better than the second-best team in the ACC. And because Duke is more vulnerable now without Kyrie Irving. Others may disagree on the ACC-MWC debate.

The other question is how many NCAA tournament bids the ACC will wind up with. It could be as few as three, but I'm not in that camp. As of today, I have six teams in the field from the ACC. My guess today is that it will wind up to be five.

By Eric Prisbell  | January 14, 2011; 8:45 AM ET
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I'm afraid the ACC may ultimately end up with 3 bids, but the possibility is there that the conference may only get 2. I can't believe VaTech blew that game last night at UNC, but Seth Greenburg can look to that one and the close losses to Purdue and UNLV as to why his team might be on the outside looking in once again come tournament time. The Hokies leaned way too much on Dullaney and his outside shot last night instead of feeding Allen, and while their zone was pretty effective against a young Carolina team, it slowed the game down to a pace that allowed the Heels to climb their way back into the game after halftime.

FSU and UNC might by the only two legitimate tournament teams outside of Duke right now, but the way Carolina played last night, I definitely see them losing a bunch of road games this year in conference, and FSU will find a way to play themselves onto the bubble. The Terps have a good chance, and a pretty favorable schedule, to get to the 10 or 11 wins that will probably be needed to distinguish themselves from the middle of the conference, but anything could happen right now. The problem is, the ACC will have a hard time making an arguement for more than 4 teams in the tournament, and it's almost a lock that one of those four is going to get left out.

Posted by: Russtinator | January 14, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I hope the ACC does only get three. Let other good teams from other conferences get a shot - especially conferences that aren't usually so well-represented.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | January 14, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The more interesting question is how many teams from the Big East will get in?

Posted by: bu74ny | January 14, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

How could anyone possibly compare the MWC to the ACC...The ACC is a far greater conference than the MWC...Is it because San Diego State and BYU are ranked (6) &(11)? I hate to say it, but thats very misleading

The fact of the matter is that San Diego State's toughest game all season will be against BYU, and the same is to be said of BYU..Other than that, their strength of schedule is pretty pathetic...If any team in the ACC was in the MWC, im pretty sure they would be 18-0 too

If schools want to hang with the big boys, they should/need to play the big boys, it's not fair to the teams in tougher conferences that end up on the bubble

Posted by: babycas2000 | January 14, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

SDSU and BYU are overrated. Neither would finish .500 in the ACC.

Posted by: MBP1 | January 14, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

SDSU won at Gonzaga, at California, and at home to UNLV. Those are all pretty good teams, especially the first two on the road.

BYU has beaten UNLV on the road, and at home against Arizona and St. Mary's. Also, not too shabby.

East coast power teams are not going to play either of these two except in a tournament situation. Unfortunately the tournaments hand out invites years in advance, and rarely invite non-traditional powers. BYU got invited to the South Padre Island Invitational, while SDSU played in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.

Also there aren't that many power teams on the west coast right now, so these teams aren't even going to improve their schedule by playing in Pac-10 buildings.

I think Ohio State will ultimate be the best of these teams because Syracuse will trip up against the torrid Big East schedule, and Kansas will get nipped off a time or two since they've just been squeaking by so far.

Posted by: Russtinator | January 14, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Maryland only has one more top 100 game left than SDSU (8 to 7) for the rest of the season (not including conf tourn). Pretty amazing. Prisbell is bang on giving the Aztecs love and criticizing the ACC.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 14, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Md could use a good win against NOVA. They gotta play well to win. I hope the ACC gets 4-5 teams in the big dance. Most ACC teams win the first game.


Posted by: Redtopper2 | January 14, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

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