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Barry Jacobs On Conference Dominance!

Good as Wake Forest is this season, competitive as the rest of the league may be, ACC basketball remains defined by Duke and North Carolina.

The Tar Heels and Blue Devils combined to win 10 of the last 11 ACC Tournaments, the official means for determining the league champion. Never in the conference's 55 years have two schools been so dominant. The Triangle neighbors also finished with at least a piece of first place in 15 of the last 18 regular seasons, including the past five.

ACC In AP Top 10, Since 1989
(Through Poll of February 2, 2009)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2009 NC D WF C
2008 NC D
2007 NC
2006 D BC NC
2005 NC D WF
2004 D
2003 D WF
2002 D M
2001 D NC
2000 D
1999 D M
1998 NC D
1997 NC D WF
1996 WF
1995 WF NC M
1994 NC D
1993 NC D
1992 D
1991 NC D
1990 GT
1989 NC D
  • Through the Feb. 2 poll, Duke, Carolina and Wake were ranked in the Top 10.
    If those schools maintain that prominence until season's end, it will mark the fifth time
    since 1989, and their third season in the past five, the ACC had three finishers in the
    AP's Top 10. Duke and UNC have been in the mix each time.
  • This is the third week since mid-January that Clemson has ranked in the top 10,
    after starting the season entirely unrated. The last time the Tigers finished a season
    in the top 10 in basketball, we were all living in an alternative universe in which Clemson
    also had won a game in Chapel Hill.

Duke has been to the NCAAs every year since 1996. Except for a miss in 1995, the Devils have been automatic participants since 1984. Meanwhile the Heels have earned five straight NCAA berths and, since 1975, failed to go the tournament only in 2002 and 2003.

Both teams are virtually certain to be invited in 2009.

Perhaps most telling, of the 38 ACC squads that finished in the Associated Press Top 10 over the past two decades, 28 came from Duke (16) and UNC (12). Since 1989, those schools supplied 9 of 20 No.1 teams in the final AP polls, not counting this season. Duke, UNC and Wake Forest all have been top-ranked this season.

Of 19 ACC teams ranked in the top four during the past 20 years, 17 came from Carolina and Duke.