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ACC Title Not Necessarily A Key To Winning NCAA Tournament

Five of thirteen ACC teams won the NCAA title after failing to win the ACC Tournament.

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Bobby Hurley and Duke lost in the 1991 ACC Tournament Finals before winning the 1991 national championship.
Bobby Hurley and Duke lost in the 1991 ACC Tournament Finals before winning the 1991 national championship.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Despite its standing as a pinnacle event in the ACC season, the league tournament doesn’t do much to provide its winner with notable momentum entering the NCAAs.

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North Carolina coach Roy Williams points out that, of three squads he’s coached to the Final Four at Chapel Hill, only the 2008 team advanced after winning the ACC Tournament. Perhaps portentiously, the ’08 group was also the only one that failed to win an NCAA championship once it reached the national semifinals.

In fact, of 13 NCAA titles won by schools competing in the ACC at the time, five went to teams that did not win the conference tournament first. Those recoveries were made by Duke in 1991, UNC in 1993, Maryland in 2002, and North Carolina in both 2005 and 2009. Only the ’91 Blue Devils and ’93 Tar Heels even got to the final.

More recently, of 16 ACC champions since 2000, Duke advanced to won two national titles and UNC reached a Final Four. Two more official ACC champs were knocked out in NCAA regional finals -- Notre Dame last season and Carolina in 2007.

Remarkably, between NC State’s national championship in 1983 and the Blue Devils’ in 2001, the sole ACC Tournament victor to win an NCAA title was Duke in 1992.

Duke, incidentally, won nine of 17 ACC Tournaments since 2000, taking into account its elimination in this year’s quarterfinals against Notre Dame.

How ACC Tournament Champions Fared in Subsequent NCAAs

Year Champion Runnerup ACC Winner’s
NCAA Record
2015 Notre Dame North Carolina 3-1
2014 Virginia Duke 2-1
2013 Miami North Carolina 2-1
2012 Florida State North Carolina 1-1
2011 Duke North Carolina 2-1
2010 Duke Georgia Tech 6-0
2009 Duke Florida State 2-1
2008 North Carolina Clemson 4-1
2007 North Carolina NC State 3-1
2006 Duke Boston College 2-1
2005 Duke Georgia Tech 2-1
2004 Maryland Duke 1-1
2003 Duke NC State 2-1
2002 Duke NC State 2-1
2001 Duke North Carolina 6-0
2000 Duke Maryland 2-1