Now that the ACC has grown into the greatest conference in college basketball history, it's become common to see a majority of its teams crowding the NCAA tournament field.
Wait. You mean to say the 15-member ACC has not yet shown itself to be the greatest conference ever? And its NCAA tournament fortunes have not notably improved with the addition of more members? Only 40 percent of its teams made the NCAAs in 2015, just like 2006, 2008 and 2011? No majority in the field for the sixth year in a row, the 13th time in the last 17 seasons?
Interestingly, barely a whimper was heard when the ACC got just six teams in this year's NCAA field. No great outcry accompanied Miami's exclusion despite the same 10-8 record that was good enough to earn a bid for N.C. State.
So the Hurricanes, snubbed despite a winning ACC record for the second time in Jim Larranaga's four years at the helm, went to the NIT. They drew about 1,300 fans in their opening win at home against N.C. Central. Probably if there was more support for the Miami program, agitated fans would be wondering aloud when Larranaga is going to figure out the NCAA entry code that's been cracked by the Wolfpack's Mark Gottfried.
As for the absence of an outcry over the extent of the ACC's representation in the NCAA tournament, we can think of several reasons for the silence.
First, we've all gotten used to the snubs. Low expectations yield minimal disappointment.
Second, we watched the ACC in action this season. Other than perhaps Miami, every team that deserved to get in, got in. In the case of the Hurricanes, losing three of their last seven didn't help. Pitt, the only other marginal prospect, lost its last four to finish 8-10, then got bounced on its home court in its NIT opener.
Third, there's so much talk now about power ratings, strength of schedule, and other esoterica useful in evaluating the strengths of various NCAA aspirants, we've pretty much convinced ourselves to accept the conventional wisdom, whatever it is.
This state of affairs bring to mind an apt bit of skepticism voiced by Gary Williams back when he coached Maryland and the Terps were in the ACC. "In the expansion sale, that was kind of the sell they made to the basketball coaches -- 'Well, you'll get more teams in the basketball tournament,'" he said. "I guess that's not necessarily true."
No, not necessarily.
|MORE SEEDS THAN SNUBS
ACC Invitations and Snubs In NCAA Tournament Since 1985,
When Field Went To 64 Teams by Second Round
|2014||6||6||9-9 NCS||10-8 C|
|2010||6||5||7-9 GT||10-6 VT|
|2007||7*||5||8-8 D, GT|
|2005||5||3||8-8 GT||7-9 NCS||8-8 VT|
|2004||6*||4||8-8 NC||7-9 M|
|2001||6*||4||8-8 GT, WF|
|1996||6*||3||8-8 D, M||7-9 Cle|
|1994||5*||3||8-8 M, V|
|1992||5*||3||8-8 GT||7-9 WF||8-8 V|
|1987||6*||4||7-7 GT||6-8 NCS|
|1986||6*||3||7-7 NCS, V||6-8 M|
|* Majority of teams in tournament.|
ACC ENTRANTS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT
|6||2015, 2014, 2010, 2004*, 2001*, 1997*, 1996*, 1993*, 1991*, 1989*, 1987*, 1986*|
|5||2005, 1998*, 1994*, 1992*, 1990*, 1988*, 1985*|
|4||2008, 2006, 2003, 2002, 1995|
|NOTE: The ACC had eight members at the time the NCAA tournament field expanded in 1985, and kept that membership through 1991. From the '92 season through 2004, the ACC was a nine-team league. The membership grew to 11 teams in 2005, to a dozen in 2006, and is currently 15.|