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Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 02/ 7/2011

NCAA tournament 2011: Sizing up the ACC

By Eric Prisbell

This week, I'm going to offer quick snapshots of the six power conferences and non-BCS leagues so you can get a big-picture overview as we head toward the stretch run of the regular season.


Conference rank: 5

NCAA tournament bids: 4-6

Locks: Duke, North Carolina

Probable: Florida State

Bubble: Boston College, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Clemson

Most likely to fade: Boston College. The Eagles have overachieved throughout. And while they snapped a three-game losing skid against Virginia Tech, they play four of their last seven on the road.

Sleeper: Florida State. The most hard-to-figure team in the ACC, the Seminoles can play exceptional defense and are capable of beating Duke. But let's not forget the Seminoles have also lost at Auburn. Can you trust them?

Player to watch: Nolan Smith. The Duke senior guard can become the first ACC player to lead the league in scoring and assists.

Most impressive coaching job:
Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg and Boston College's Steve Donahue. Donahue began his tenure with some players - namely Reggie Jackson - but depth was a concern. The Eagles weren't expected to be in the mix for an at-large bid. On the other hand, Greenberg was expected to have the second-best team in the league. But he's wound up with a different roster, one that has been depleted by injury and illness. And the Hokies are still in position to reach the NCAA tournament.

Biggest disappointment: North Carolina State. Many considered this a make-or-break season for Coach Sidney Lowe. Well, the season has been a disaster. The Wolfpack has won one game since Jan. 9.

Most compelling story line: How low can they go? The ACC has been most everyone's punching bag this season. While the league is down - and not even Duke is what most thought it would be because of the Kyrie Irving injury - North Carolina's run is giving the league a second team to make a potential tournament run. To get a sense of the league's strength, forget the number of bids. Watch the seeding. Duke will be a high seed, but after that ... can UNC get a top-four seed, can any other team earn a single-digit seed?

By Eric Prisbell  | February 7, 2011; 12:02 PM ET
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Next: NCAA tournament 2011: Calipari-Pearl clash in SEC showdown


I just don't understand the comment "The ACC has been most everyone's punching bag this season," because that's simply not true. It may be the Post's punching bag, but nationally it is not. The Pac 10 and SEC are even worse than the ACC this year, and those conferences hear comments about the quality of conference play on almost a daily basis. Not a single college basketball show goes by on ESPN without them commenting how weak the SEC West is, or how bad the team in Oregon are.

It's looking pretty solid that the ACC will get 4 or 5 teams in the NCAA tournament this year, which is on par with just about every conference ahead of it aside from the Big East.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 7, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Jay Bilas - ESPN
The ACC is undeniably down this season
Jan 6

The ACC's rough patch: The ACC is not as strong as we have come to expect. While I believe this year to be a cyclical blip for the league, there is no reasonable dispute that the ACC is not up to its usual standard of excellence. If you have watched the league's teams play, you cannot miss the drop in the level of play. And the numbers confirm that your lying eyes are not deceiving you.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 7, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Outside of Duke and UNC, the ACC has never been a strong conference. They're the basketball version of the "Big 2." The rest of the conference has lived off the reputations of Duke and UNC for over 30 years.

Posted by: mcstowy | February 7, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Outside of Duke and UNC, the ACC has never been a strong conference. They're the basketball version of the "Big 2." The rest of the conference has lived off the reputations of Duke and UNC for over 30 years.

Posted by: mcstowy | February 7, 2011 4:13 PM

Why does everyone have to make ridiculous assertions one way or the other about this? The ACC is down this year - I think (other than a few very good Duke and Carolina teams) it's been down a bit for the last 5 years. But let's not get crazy, the ACC was the best conference in the country in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. During that time, Maryland and NC State(2) won titles. Virginia and Georgia Tech went to two Final Fours each. Wake became a national power in the 90s (though somewhat of an under-achiever). There's too many middling football schools in the conference now - but it used to be all about basketball and it was the best conference from top to bottom.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 7, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Also - in the last 30 years, ten members of the current ACC have made it to the Elite Eight...

Only the Big East has more - and that's because they have 16 members. Many of their schools had their top accomplishments in other conferences.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 7, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

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