For college hoops fans, this evening is much anticipated. On CBS we will hear that all-too-familiar chime signaling the beginning of March Madness. The NCAA committee will announce which 64 (65? 68? 84?) teams are going to the Big Dance. And through it all, we'll wonder whatever happened to the ACC?
Washington Post sports columnist and bestselling author John Feinstein discussed the strange demise of the Atlantic Coast Conference in his column last week. Having witnessed the nightmarish end of the UVA-Miami first round game of the ACC tournament, Feinstein asks,
That's the National Invitation Tournament, which once upon a time was referred to mockingly by ACC people as the Not Invited Tournament. These days, a lot of ACC teams call it home.
Ouch. And Feinstein is a graduate of an ACC school (Duke), no less. Still, he calls it the way he sees it:
Apart from the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, the choices are hardly exciting. Florida State is almost certain to be in the NCAA tournament for a third straight season, but does anyone remember the last time the Seminoles won an NCAA tournament game? Try 1998. Clemson? A year earlier. Virginia has won one NCAA tournament game since firing Jeff Jones in 1998. Virginia Tech won a first-round game in 2007 - that's it in this century so far. North Carolina State reached the Sweet 16 in 2005 and went to five straight NCAA tournaments from 2002 to 2006. Wolfpack fans were so happy that they practically ran Coach Herb Sendek out of town. Now, Sidney Lowe is almost certainly going to be sent packing after five years without an NCAA tournament bid.... The Demon Deacons wrapped up a humiliating 8-24 season Thursday with their first-round ACC tournament loss to Boston College and will now go down in history as arguably the worst ACC team since Georgia Tech went 0-14 in 1981, the year before Bobby Cremins arrived to resurrect the program.
Had enough? Wasn't the expansion of the conference in 2003 supposed to make things better (at least for football)? Wasn't the Big East supposed to be doomed as a result? And exactly how good is Duke, considering the teams it faced during the season and otherwise getting throttled by the Big East's resurgent St. John's? I, for one, don't have the Blue Devils going very far. (Yes, sadly, I do have them going further than my beloved but depleted Georgetown Hoyas—I'll be delighted if they get past the first round.) Will Kansas disappoint us again? And is Kemba Walker really a Cyberdine Systems cyborg?
Happy Bracket Filling.
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