At the end of the football season, ACC fans were bragging about how their conference was the best conference in college football in the 2016-2017 season (according to the postseason tournament and bowl games). This was exciting for ACC fans and annoying to SEC fans because the ACC usually stays in the realm of basketball and the SEC usually is the one to boast about their football programs. But Clemson won the title this year and ACC fans bragged away.
All of that bragging has come back to bite ACC fans in the ass in the NCAA Tournament over the last four days. At the season's end, six ACC teams were in the AP Top 25 poll including North Carolina, Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame, Florida State, and Virginia. Two SEC teams were in that list which were Kentucky and Florida.
Nine ACC teams made the tournament. Wake Forest lost in the "First Four." Virginia Tech and Miami dropped out in the Round of 64, and of the remaining six teams, only North Carolina made it to the Sweet 16. Only four SEC teams made the tournament (Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt). All but Arkansas and Vandy made the Sweet 16.
There were two games yesterday that pitted SEC teams vs ACC teams. The first was North Carolina vs Arkansas. The hogs trailed early, but made a comeback and held a small lead for almost the last 10 minutes. If it weren't for missed tip charge calls that went UNC's way, the hogs could be in the Sweet 16 and there would be no ACC teams left in this year's tournament.
The other matchup of the day was Duke vs. South Carolina. The gamecocks came away with the win, finally giving Frank Martin something to be excited about in Columbia.
Just as the SEC usually dominates football, the ACC has been dominating basketball lately. But when it comes to the postseason play in the year's football bowls and basketball's tournament, the roles have been reversed.
This is the ACC Roundup. Every Monday, I'll be breaking down the previous week and previewing the coming week. As the season winds down, analysis will include ACC and NCAA tournament implications.
Most impressive week: Notre Dame Sure, the Irish didn't get a marquee win to match the big home wins scored by Louisville, UNC, and Florida State. But winning on the road has proved to be difficult for everyone in the ACC, so winning at Miami and at Virginia Tech made for an impressive week for a Notre Dame team that is quickly exceeding expectations.
Least impressive week: NC State Duke contended for this position, but I'll give them a pass since both losses were tough road games without Amile Jefferson. For NC State, things are going downhill fast. NC State wants to be a tournament team, but losing to Boston College and Georgia Tech (at home) will do serious damage to those tournament hopes. NC State will have to turn things around quickly to save not only their postseason hopes, but also coach Gottfried's season.
Best player: Jamel Artis It's tough to give this to a player who was a part of two losses, but Artis deserves some recognition for keeping this Pitt team competitive. He put up 43 on a stingy Louisville defense, and while he followed up with only 15 in the Miami blowout, he still had a very efficient week worthy of respect. He's going to have to keep filling it up to get Pitt back in the win column.
Best play: Matt Farrell steal and assist to finish off Virginia Tech. Not the flashiest play, but I love the creativity, hustle, and importance. Some will pin this play on the Hokies, but I think very few players could make this happen. Credit to Farrell for literally laying it all out on the floor to not only get the steal, but also for making a great pass rather than forcing a contested layup.
This week's five best matchups: 5. Miami at Duke (Saturday, 8:15 p.m., ESPN) By the time Duke takes the floor for this matchup at Cameron, it will have been over two weeks since they've won a game. A tight game shouldn't be anticipated, but assuming that Amile Jefferson will still be out, the Blue Devils will need to prove that they can beat a solid team without him on the floor. Miami is coming off of a blowout win at Pittsburgh, and should they win at Wake Forest on Wednesday, they will certainly have more confidence than most teams coming to Cameron.
4. Virginia Tech at Clemson (Sunday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN) While Virginia Tech has looked far better than previous years, their road woes have persisted so far in ACC play with blowouts at NC State and Florida State to get things started. Clemson has looked great at home, taking UNC to overtime and falling narrowly to Virginia. Both teams will be hunting for a win to take some pressure off to keep their records looking pretty.
3. Clemson at Louisville (Thursday, 9 p.m., ESPN) This should be a win for Louisville, but as previously mentioned, this is a week low in Top 25 matchups for ACC standards. Clemson will eventually need to win a big one to solidify their resume. Louisville has already fallen in ACC play at the KFC Yum! Center, so this may be Clemson's best chance at a signature road win in ACC play.
2. Louisville at Florida State (Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN) Arguably a more intriguing matchup than Florida State's weekday showdown, this matchup should be kept close due to each team's length and athleticism. This is the last of six consecutive ranked matchups for Florida State, and should they win both matchups this week, the Seminoles should solidify themselves as a legitimate contender for a NCAA Tournament top seed.
1. Notre Dame at Florida State (Wednesday, 7 p.m., ACCN) Surprise! After unexpected great starts in conference play for each team, their combined record coming into this matchup is 9-1. Neither was considered to be in the top tier of the conference to open the season, but this matchup may solidify one of them as a legit ACC title contender. Notre Dame looks to remain the lone undefeated in ACC play, while FSU looks to bounce back from a loss in Chapel Hill.
I know you all are dying to know which Power 5 conference you belong in, so without further ado, here is a quiz to help you decide. If you don't go to one of the best basketball colleges, use this quiz to help you pick some teams or even a conference to root for.
Each conference has its unique characteristics made up by the teams within the conference and the geographical region. Even with all of the geographically confusing conference changes (i.e. Boise State to the Big East and Maryland to the Big 10), the Power 5 conference teams tend to represent their region quite well.
Another week of ACC Hoops is in the books. Gaps in the standings are beginning to widen, and we're starting to get an idea of the pecking order in the conference. Here's what stood out during the past week's slate:
Most impressive team: Florida State In a week lacking too many surprises, Florida State gets the nod due to wins over Notre Dame and Louisville. Sure, they were both at home and Louisville was missing star point guard Quentin Snider, but they completed a brutal stretch of games and put themselves in pole position to win the ACC regular season crown.
Other standout teams included Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Virginia Tech picked up one-point wins over Georgia Tech and Clemson; nothing impressive, but getting to 4-3 in conference and proving they can win on the road was critical. The Demon Deacons dominated Miami at home and picked up their first ACC road win in 26 (26!) tries, taking out a NC State team struggling to get the results expected from their talented roster.
Least impressive team: Clemson Clemson was expected to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack this season, but that appears to be the ceiling. The Tigers were drubbed at Louisville by 32 points Thursday night before falling at home to Virginia Tech on Sunday. At 1-6 and in last place in the ACC, Clemson will have to fix their defensive woes quickly (have not held a team under 70 in 2017) if they plan on dancing.
NC State also came away with poor results this week; they expected a clean sweep of home dates with Pitt and Wake Forest, and they only came away with a split. Mark Gottfried may be on his last stand as coach of the Wolfpack. Miami also had a disappointing week. Although the Duke loss does not look bad, the fact that the Hurricanes squandered a double-digit halftime lead at Cameron should not sit easy with them moving forward.
Best player: John Collins, Wake Forest Collins has quietly put together a great year so far for Wake, averaging nearly 17 points and nine boards a game. In their two wins this past week, Collins averaged 24 points and 8 rebounds per game while making 17 of 22 shot attempts. The fact that these stats were put up in two wins doesn't hurt either. Other guys that impressed me were Notre Dame's V.J. Beachem (22 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game) and Syracuse's Tyler Lydon (25 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, .555 percent from three)
Best play: Jerome Robinson Dunk vs. UNC It's not often that Boston College has or will get love in the roundup, so shout out to Robinson for this great dunk in a tight game against the Heels. The Eagles did not get the win, but this was a great play worthy of a mention.
This week's five best matchups: It's another soft slate for ACC standards, but we have a few top teams taking going into tough road environments, one elite matchup, and a non-ACC special on this week's calendar.
5. Florida State at Syracuse (Saturday, 12 p.m., ESPN2) Although Florida State's previously mentioned brutal stretch of games has finished, they now hit the road for seven of the final 11. They get started at Georgia Tech Wednesday before heading to the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse has the talent to keep up with Florida State, and could provide one of the blows the rest of the conference's elite need in order to keep up with the Seminoles.
4. Virginia Tech at North Carolina (Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPN) The Hokies are coming off two straight wins; the Heels are coming off six. UNC should cruise, but this should be a entertaining, high-scoring game as Virginia Tech looks to tread towards the conference's top tier while the Heels look to keep pace at the top.
3. North Carolina at Miami (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS) UNC has another highlighted game on Saturday as they take on Miami, who should be desperate for this win. Miami has zero wins on the year over teams expected to qualify for the NCAA tournament, and they're currently heading towards the cellar of the standings.
The 'Canes have the talent to pull the upset, so this should be a tightly contested game considering UNC's struggle to dominate on the road.
2. Virginia at Villanova (Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX) When did Villanova join the ACC? Virginia takes a break from conference play next weekend to travel to Philadelphia, where they'll take on the nation's top-ranked team in the return game of a home-and-home series.
Virginia will be playing with house money in this one, with a loss doing no harm and a win giving them the best one in the country this season. Virginia has proven their worth on the road this year with wins at Cal and Louisville; can they pull this one off?
1. Virginia at Notre Dame (Tuesday, 8 p.m., ACCN) The top game this week also features the 'Hoos as they travel to South Bend. It's the only matchup between two members of the ACC's top tier (Duke, UNC, Louisville, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Virginia) this week.
Notre Dame has never beaten Virginia since joining the ACC, but this will be their best opportunity yet. The loser of this will lose critical ground in the hotly contested races for double byes in the ACC tournament and the regular season championship.
The one-and-done rule has hurt American basketball, both collegiately and professionally. Unlike football, basketball players have to stay just one year at a school in order to declare themselves for the NBA draft, which has many implications for the sport.
First of all, it creates more of a drop-off in the skill level of teams. Teams like Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina who utilize the one-and-done rule to its greatest degree are powerhouses; and it's hard for other schools to keep up with these "elites" when they have eight McDonald's All Americans year in and year out.
In fact, this year, every single player on Kentucky's team declared for the NBA draft. Every single player! Removing the one-and-done rule could let high school players who are ready for the NBA right away go right to the league, which avoids them wasting a year in college.
Having players go to school for one year when they don't need to could dilute the product we see on the floor. If players leave after a year and are playing simply because they have to be there, how hard are they really trying? Do you think these players have passion for the name on the front of their jersey or are they just trying to impress scouts with the name on the back?
The camaraderie on college teams also suffers, because some players know they will only be there for a year. Think how much more intense rivalries would be if players had to stay even two years. It would mean these players are facing each other two years in a row and creates more meaningful relationships between players on a team and between teams in their respective conferences.
This rule also diminishes fans' interest in teams. It is a lot more fun to cheer for the same players year after year and see the players on your favorite team grow together, even if it is just one more year. Relearning a roster year after year isn't fun.
For some senior college athletes, senior day can get emotional. It has a way of making you realize sports are bigger than just the game you play. But for those one-and-done players, this never really happens.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari has an interesting stance on the rule. Calipari's goal every year is to get as many players drafted as possible rather than win a national championship. Now, before you rip on Calipari for this, consider this:
"Now, in our state, they want my mission to be win national titles! Win national titles! But my mission is bigger than that," Calipari said at the Alltech REBELation conference. "It's to be the vehicle that helps others reach their dreams, be the stone that creates the ripple in their lives that goes on and on and on."
Calipari believes that when he has players on his team that come from impoverished families, he is directly helping these families come out of poverty and allow these players to reach their dreams to play professional basketball. And he does a good job of training these kids.
There are currently 22 University of Kentucky graduates in the NBA. Some notable names are John Wall, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel, Karl Anthony-Towns, Terrence Jones, Patrick Patterson, and Eric Bledsoe. Those kids are all good ballplayers.
There are some proponents for the change, but it does not look like there is an overwhelming amount of support for the change. If the NCAA wants to regain their maximum competitiveness, fandom, and tear-jerking moments, it needs to seriously consider being done with one and dones.
Either let kids go to the league out of high school, or make them stay two years. One year just doesn't work.