Four ACC teams have ranked in the top 10 through much of this calendar year, although Clemson dropped to No. 12 in this week's AP poll. The Tigers, along with Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest, have shown they are capable of beating anyone. Literally. Clemson beat Duke. UNC beat Clemson. Wake beat all three.
Certainly surprise teams from the ACC may reach the Final Four - as recently as 2004 Georgia Tech was ranked No. 14 when it advanced to the NCAA title game. Chances are, however, the league's high-rated 2009 squads are most capable of competing for the national championship.
Yet three of those squads also suffered a striking road defeat. That got us wondering, spurred by writer Mike Sosna's query, whether similar regular-seasons losses were incurred by any of the 39 Final Four entrants from the ACC era - 16 from UNC; 14 from Duke; 2 each from Georgia Tech, Maryland, N.C. State, and Virginia; and one from Wake Forest.
They have, but not to the extent of the defeats suffered by the Blue Devils and Demon Deacons.
So far this season, Clemson's worst loss was by 24 points at Chapel Hill (70-94) on Jan. 21. Duke suffered a 74-47 defeat on Feb. 4 at Clemson, a 27-point humiliation players and coaches vow to regard as a point of reference for the remainder of the season. Wake Forest likewise had a stunning 27-point setback at Miami on Feb. 4, losing 52-79.
North Carolina's worst loss to date was at home by 7 points against Boston College, 78-85. Last season UNC's only ACC defeats came at the Smith Center against Maryland and Duke.
Only one of the 39 ACC teams that reached the Final Four did so after losing a game by more than 24 points. The Tar Heels lost at Wake on Jan. 30, 1993 by 26. They went on to win the NCAA title.
|STUMBLES ON THE ROAD TO WHEREVER
Biggest Losses Incurred By Final Four Teams From ACC Prior To NCAA Tournament
|L Margin||School||Season||Opponent||Score||Result, Last NCAA Game|
|24||Duke||1978||@ N.C. State||50-74||L v. Ky, 88-94|
|24||UNC||1997||@ Wake||57-81||L v. Arizona, 58-66|
|23||Virginia||1981||Maryland||62-85||L v. UNC, 65-78|
|22||Wake||1962||Ohio State||62-84||L v. Ohio State, 68-84|
|21||Maryland||2001||@ Virginia||78-99||L v. Duke, 84-95|
|20||UNC||1977||@ Clemson||73-93||L v. Marquette, 59-67|
|20||Duke||1989||UNC||71-91||L v. Seton Hall, 78-95|
|* ACC Tournament finals.|
|L Margin||School||Season||Opponent||Score||End Game|