ACC teams must win to prove conference relevance
Mar 21, 2013
In an interview Wednesday on 99.9 FM The Fan, ACC commissioner John Swofford was non-committal about where the ACC Tournament would be held beyond 2015.
It's important to keep in mind this is the Ninja Commissioner. He speaks in vague terms, giving off the impression that the conference has no real plan for the future, then he suddenly strikes a deal that keeps the ACC viable. Swofford pulled a couple of these moves last year with a renegotiation of the ESPN deal and the additions of Notre Dame and Louisville.
Swofford tipped his hand slightly when he said there was a possibility of a new ACC Tournament rotation coming out of the spring meetings in April and May. While Madison Square Garden is out of the picture thanks to the continuation of their deal with the Big East, New York could still be on the table with Brooklyn's Barclay's Center.
The probability of taking the tournament up north to accommodate new members of the ACC has touched a nerve with fans and media ever since Pete Thamel threw a bunch of shade on Greensboro in Sports Illustrated. It was unnecessary to take shots at the city, which does an excellent job hosting, but the points were valid. This isn't your grandfather's ACC anymore, and it's time to change things up.
But here's the dirty little secret about all the hand-wringing over ACC Tournament locations. It's all peripheral and not the reason why the tournament lost its luster in comparison to the Big East. The ACC just hasn't been that good lately.
The ACC only nabbing four NCAA tournament spots and facing the reality of not having a team in the Final Four for the third year in a row only drives that point further. The NCAA selection committee's seeding of the ACC certainly didn't help matters either. Is there hope for the conference? As always, it depends on each team's #goacc quotient.
West: No. 2 Miami
What to expect: The Hurricanes actually have a winnable draw. The only reason why they wouldn't get to the regional finals is because Butler will do what Butler keeps doing in March under Brad Stevens.
#goacc quotient: Mild. The Hurricanes won the ACC regular season and the ACC Tournament, but they were denied the No. 1 seed that usually comes with it. If only Miami wore a shade of blue instead of their typical orange and green, am I right?
Midwest: No. 2 Duke
What to expect: Duke's buzzword since the loss to Maryland in the ACC Tournament is "hunger." The Blue Devils have only played once in the last 13 days, so they should be rested and ready to take on the NCAA Tournament "group of death."
#goacc quotient: High. If you listen closely, the echoes of Lehigh are still bouncing around and haunt the Blue Devils. It doesn't matter if Duke had an incredible start to the season and only lost once with Ryan Kelly in the lineup since tournament success is the true measure for the program. If Duke gets Creighton in the third round, be on the lookout for winking players.
South: No. 8 North Carolina
What to expect: Villanova isn't a slouch, but the Tar Heels have been playing more to their potential in the last four weeks. The maturation of Marcus Paige has been the undersold story, overshadowed by the play of P.J. Hairston.
#goacc quotient: High. Kansas awaits in the third round, causing an overload of Roy Williams sticker talk and a philosophical discussion of the "triangle and two." If the Heels win and Virginia Commonwealth is still in the bracket, expect "sources" to emerge over Shaka Smart. It's not that he's scouting the Tar Heels for their upcoming game, he's simply getting an assessment of the program since he'll be taking over once Williams suddenly doesn't understand today's basketball again.
West: No. 8 N.C. State
What to expect: Richard Howell will sweat, C.J. Leslie will break the "Calvinometer" and Scott Wood will drop a few three-pointers. You know, the usual. The Wolfpack's success will come if Lorenzo Brown and Rodney Purvis break out of their respective mini-slumps. Defense and keeping turnovers down are the key.
#goacc quotient: Extremely high. NC State will beat Indiana and spark an intense flame war between Julius Hodge and Dan Dakich. With confidence at an all-time high, the Wolfpack should be able to beat an uninspiring Syracuse squad. Right? Wrong. NC State "stuff" is always lurking.