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Barry Jacobs On Road Losses & Titles!

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.

Biggest Losses Incurred By Final Four Teams From ACC Prior To NCAA Tournament
L Margin School Season Opponent Score Result, Last NCAA Game
26 UNC 1993 @ Wake 62-88 Champion
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
22 Duke 1991 UNC 74-96* Champion
21 Maryland 2001 @ Virginia 78-99 L v. Duke, 84-95
21 Maryland 2002 @ Duke 78-99 Champion
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.

Largest Margin Of Defeat Incurred By ACC Teams In Final Four

L Margin School Season Opponent Score End Game
30 Duke 1990 UNLV 73-103 Title game
27 UNC 1969 Purdue 65-92 Semifinals
23 UNC 1968 UCLA 55-78 Title game
22 UNC 1967 Houston 62-84 Consolation
20 UNC 1969 Drake 84-104 Consolation
19 Duke 1963 Loyola 75-94 Semifinals
18 UNC 2008 Kansas 66-84 Semifinals
17 Duke 1989 Seton Hall 78-95 Semifinals
  • To date, no Final Four entrant from the ACC lost more than four games in a row during the regular season.
  • Virginia in 1984 lost four regular-season games between Jan. 23 and Feb. 4, and UNC lost that many in 2000 between Jan. 12 and 22. Both of those squads also endured a pair of two-game losing streaks.
  • No ACC team has lost two regular-season games by 20 or more points and reached the Final Four.