Apr. 21, 2017
The ACC Was Way Overhyped
"The greatest conference of all time". "Potentially 11 out of the 12 teams in the tournament field". These were the kinds of praise heaped on the Atlantic Coast Conference throughout the season. It seemed as though it was all justifiable given the nonconference records of the teams and the numerous AP poll spots that they held. Not to mention how dramatic games were during conference play. It seemed as though nearly everyone could beat anyone in the conference on a given night. They all were playing at an extremely high level. Or were they?
The ACC got 9 teams in the tournament instead of the 11 that they were at one point supposedly capable of achieving as Syracuse and Pittsburgh choked down the stretch. Nevertheless, with 9 different teams, many of them seeded highly, it was only natural to think they'd get at least 4 if not more into the Sweet 16. However, it didn't go according to plan at all.
One by one ACC schools were picked of by primarily lesser foes in dramatic fashion. Wake Forest, a middle of the pack finisher, (albeit with future NBA players in John Collins and Bryant Crawford) were beaten by another average school from another conference, Kansas State of the Big 12. Miami was overmatched by Michigan State's freshman stars, but squandered a huge early lead to get blown out. Virginia narrowly escaped a tricky UNC Wilmington team but then got destroyed by a Florida team weakened by a key injury. Notre Dame scraped by feisty Princeton and then turned over the ball so many times against West Virginia despite being very secure with the ball all season long. Florida State were poised enough to beat the second edition of Dunk City but were absolutely obliterated by a Xavier team missing several key players. Louisville eased past just happy to be there Jacksonville State but then fell to a red-hot Michigan team. Virginia Tech's loss may be the most excusable out of all of them because they were beaten by Wisconsin who then went on to beat the top overall seed Villanova. While these wins weren't the most atrocious ever seen, if the ACC was truly as good as it was advertised, its teams would have found ways to win these games.
Even the teams left fighting aren't necessarily doing fantastic either. North Carolina just had to go on a 12 point run to beat the 3rd best team in the SEC, a supposedly inferior conference. As of right now, Duke is up 28-23 on South Carolina but that lead could easily be lost given how the ACC has performed thus far. Even if the Blue Devils win, they and the Tarheels will be the only 2 teams representing their conference in the ACC. If you were to tell anyone this before the tournament began, they would probably think you were crazy. This indicates that the ACC was probably way too overhyped before the tournament. The anyone can beat anyone aspect of this league was potentially an indication that these teams were more average than we had thought. This certainly showed itself during the tournament with the many disappointing losses for this league as a whole.